There are a number of cultures which have were-creatures in thier mythology, usually involving large predators that hunt by night. Often the were-creatures takes the form of the most dangerous animal found in the area. India has weretigers, Africa has wereleopards, but the most famous of all are the werewolves of medieval Europe.

werewolfThe term "were" is from the old english word "wer" meaning man, Thus, werewolves , man-wolves, are half human and half animal.

References to wolf-men arose in Europe at around the time of Christ. In book Ten of Homer's Odysseus , the grandfather of the hero Odysseus is named Autolykos, meaning "he who is wolf." The people of Arcadia believed some members of thier culture had the ability to turn themselves into wolves. If they tasted human flesh during the transformation they were doomed to live out their lives as wild beasts unless they abstained from human flesh for nine years. The Roman poet Virgil wrote in the first century B.C about a sorcerer who took poisonous herbs to turn himself into a werewolf.

Werewolves were believed to have two origins, voluntary and involuntary.

Some werewolves were believed to be sinners transformed by god for thier actions. Certain saints were thought to have the power to change sinners in to werewolves. In Armenia, it was believed that an adulterous woman would be visited by the devil, who would bring her a wolf skin to wear. To pay for her sins, she had to wear the skin for seven years before she could return to human form.

Surprisingly, even today there are those who still believe in werewolves. One study showed that eighty percent of Russian farmers surveyed believed in werewolves, proving that the negative imagery associated with wolves still lives

Click here to read a Werewolf Legend.

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