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One thing is figurative mentions, another is the film industry, where beastly humans manage to sell well.

The werewolf is generally held to be a European character first. The 'wer' in werewolf translates as "man" (male human), Old Norse verr. The last part of the world means wolf or beast. The symptoms of the werewolf, as given by the Roman poet Ovid, have remarkable similarities to those shown by rabies victims. According to some European traditions, being bitten by a werewolf could result in the victim turning into one. Being bitten by a rabid wolf or person would have spread the condition in the same way. To the medieval mind, a rabid wolf or person might have been seen as a werewolf.

Rolf Schulte (2009, 5) examines werewolf trials and witch trials in Europe. He says,

Werewolves were considered to be people who through some magic ritual had metamorphosed into wolves. The concept of animal metamorphosis is a cross-cultural one and is, indeed, one of the central myths of humanity. (Schulte 2009, 18)

Details about alleged werewolves can be found in sources and literature from the French-speaking areas of Central and Western Europe. In 12th century novels by Guillaume de Palerme a prince, turned by his stepmother into a wolf, cares like a mother for an abducted child, protects absconding young couples from their pursuers, and finally becomes a human being again (Schulte 2009, 19)

Gervase of Tilbury . . . related folklore and tales from the French-speaking region where he lived around 1214. He was also interested in werewolf reports and described two alleged animal metamorphoses in which men became wolves out of sheer despair . . . nonetheless, they were able, by chance, to cast off the spell by which they had been bound and revert to being non-aggressive human beings. (Schulte 2009, 20)

Theologically . . . werewolves did not exist in the High Middle Ages. (Schulte 2009, 21)

In French-speaking regions [the] view was that werewolves were victims – and men. A collection of folkloristic and popular sayings published in old French in the 15th century makes this quite clear: 'If it is a man's fate to become a werewolf, then it is very likely that his son will also do so. And if he has a daughter and no son, she will become a "mar", a "night mare" [and she] could, by creating a feeling of suffocation, cause bad dreams, so-called nightmares. (Schulte 2009, 21)

People believed in the existence of werewolf families. (Schulte 2009, 21)

By Early Modern times, however, male werewolves in the area around St Claude in Franche-Comté were no longer victims (as their counterparts in the Middle Ages had been), but had become evil-doers. (Schulte 2009, 21)

The robust legacy of the werewolf spans from prehistory, through ancient Greece and Rome, to the Middle Ages, into the Early Modern period, and finally into present-day popular culture. - Maegan Stebbins, 2017, abstract.

Some of the earliest [werewolf legends] to be recorded, were the ones told by the ancient Greeks . . . but the werewolf also independently arose in other cultures around the world, particularly Europe. Maegan Stebbins, 2017, 6)


Do not presume your enemy is a man if he is a werewolf.

Even if a werewolf should travel a thousand miles, it will stop at last.

Having caught sight of a werewolf, a man runs fast.

How can any writer call werewolves the sanitarians of nature?

If the werewolf had stayed in a very large wood there would perhaps have been less hue and cry after him.

If you should happen to see the werewolf, you don't have to look for his track.

In the last hundred years there hasn't been a single recorded case of a person, or even a part of a person, anywhere in Europe, being eaten by a werewolf.

Is there a well-meaning werewolf?

Once, long ago, there was a good mother-in-law, but a werewolf ate her.

One werewolf could possibly drive off a regiment.

Some are caught in traps like werewolves in coffins.

Suspicion seldom helps werewolves.

The werewolf can do that in the course of the week which hinders him from going to mass on Sunday.

The werewolf is usually left out of the reckoning in statistics.

To continue to study the werewolf in vain is to go a long way in an awkward direction.

To put the blame on some others is the nature of the werewolf.

We have doomed the werewolf, which is no more than an animalistic reflection of ourselves.

Werewolves are said to travel on devious paths.

Werewolves are said to be harmful to humans in many respects - name one.

Werewolves housed in cages which are far too small, are supposedly caged for good.

When the werewolf is in, the wit is out.


Art quotations for young folks, Martin Conway, Literature  

Schulte, Rolf. Man as Witch: Male Witches in Central Europe. Tr. Linda Froome-Döo;ring. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Stebbins, Maegan. The Werewolf: Past and Future. MA Thesis. Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2017.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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