Where do these legends of the werewolf come from anyway? A brilliant question, if I may say so myself. And I did a little digging to answer it. It’s a really old legend, so there’s no way to tell for sure exactly where it came from. It’s also a pretty wide spread legend, which increases the difficulty of pinpointing an origin.
Most of the original legends, that we can trace, come back to stories of ancient deities turning humans as punishments or to force them to learn a lesson. For example, in The Gilgamesh Epic, the goddess Ishtar turns Gilgamesh into a wolf that even his dogs and sheep and friends can’t stand. Poor dude just refused to sleep with her, so it was more vengeance than punishment.
Another example is The Metamorphoses, where a mysterious traveler visits King Lycaon of Acadia, who decides to test his guest. The King serves human meat to his visitor, who was actually the god Jupiter. Jupiter gets mad and turns King Lycaon into a wolf. This story is where we get the word “lycanthrope” from. Lyacon and lycanthrope both stem from the Greek word lykos, meaning wolf.
In the middle ages, there were actually werewolf trials and werewolf hunts similar to the infamous witch hunts. A lot of the famous ‘werewolves’ turned out to be serial killers or the like. More on that at Historic Mysteries. From these hunts comes the popular stories about the man cutting off the limb of the wolf he was hunting and returning home to find his wife, handless, and sobbing. This is also the age where their test for werewolfism was to skin a person to find their fur under their skin. In that time with primitive medicine, most people didn’t survive a traumatic injury like that.
The Story Version
Throughout my years as a paranormal book junkie, I’ve seen authors do a lot with the origin of werewolves as part of their story. Some ignore it. They exist and that’s as far as the author goes. Others weave deities that create the wolves as part of their master plan. Those deities could be benevolent or malicious, depending on the author. That’s really up to you as the author of your paranormal world.
Have fun with that. And, as always, share away so that others can have fun with these same paranormal myths and their origins. If you have questions, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you.