Everyday I'm featuring one of my favorite monsters and today is werewolves! Werwolves are such a classic monster it's hard to trace them back to one story or "first" but the first I came across in my research comes to us from the Greeks (our first organized recorders of history). Greek mythology tells the story of Lycaon, a king of Arcadia, who decided to test Zeus by making him a nice meal of a child’s flesh. Zeus, terribly angered by this, punished him by turning him into a wolf. There are several different versions of the story, some of which involve not only Lycaon but also his 50 sons being turned into wolves, but all involve Zeus’ wrath in the form of transformation into a wolf.
This myth led the citizens of Arcadia to adapt an annual ritual called Lykaia which involved the testing of young adolescent males coming age by the offering of human flesh from a victim of sacrifice. It was said that whoever ate the human meat would turn into a wolf and remain so until they abstained from human flesh for nine years. Although this ritual and the myth it’s based on are presumably metaphorical and not literal the stories of such events tell that people actually turned into wolves. These early rituals and their stories paint the scene for much of the werewolf story common today: nocturnal transformation into a wolf, the consumption of human flesh, and the bestial behavior of werewolves.
In addition to Odin’s story of the Arcadia kingdom there are also reports of men turning into wolves from Virgil, Pliny the Elder and Agriopas. From there, the mythos of the werewolf spread throughout Europe and the world through verbal tradition and mysticism.
Perhaps because of how far back their history goes, you can now find them in books, movies, TV shows, songs, art, graphic novels, video games, LARPs and table-tops and just about any other form of media you can think of. They are a staple of Halloween costumes. They have a cult following as large and rabid as vampires, zombies, ghosts and the other big contenders for world's most popular monster. They're big, is what I'm saying.
And, as if all that weren't enough, contemporary werewolves have been joined by a whole host of other weranimals- tigers, leopards, bats, rats, hyenas, even mice. You name it and there's a were-form of it somewhere in the world of entertainment.
Because of this, it's impossible for me to name a favorite movie or book I've read staring our furry friends. Suffice it to say that I'm a fan of the genre in general and will contiue to enjoy their exploits in any format they come in. Rock on, guys! Ah-oo!
And now, as always, I invite you to hop along and keep the monster lovin' goin'.