• Ancient Greek culture is the birthing grounds for many supernatural
stories including ghosts, vampires, and werewolves
• Wolves started out as protectors of humankind; similar to us
• pack structure
• spouse/raising offspring
• Agricultural lifestyle: wolves became competitors
• Identified with hostile forces
• Dangerous and savage
• Untamed and uncivilized
• Humans associated with wolves identified in a similar manner; predatory
LycaonTurned Into Wolf, Hendrick Goltzius, 1589
; later: Ovid (Roman)
Worshipper of Zeus Lykaios
Pausanias:Slew a child at the altar
of Zeus; transformed into a wolf
Apollodorus:Zeus, testing the
king, arrived as a traveler. Lycaon
killed a child and served it up to
Zeus; transformed into a wolf
Lycophron: He and his sons slew
the child and fed it to Zeus; king
killed by lightning bolt, sons
became a pack of wolves
(Note: Ovid, Metamorphosis)
Possible story trying to determine the lost root of the lyk- root (Zeus
Lyk- means “light” and ties to another part of the myth – Lycaon’s
city was the first one upon whom the sun’s rays touched each day; it
Myth is where the term lycanthropy originates (λυκάνθρωπος:
λύκος, lykos, "wolf" and ἄνθρωπος, anthrōpos, "man").
Wolf represents predatory aspects of human nature, exploitation
and barbarity toward our own species and others (Lawrence).
Herodotus: reports the story of the tribe, Neuri
• People transformed into wolves once a year
• Had no law or justice, no customs, and no sense of civilization
• Travelled as nomads through the lands, dressed in black and
eating meals consisting only of human flesh (Poulakou-
Rebelakou, et al 471).
• Though skeptical of the story, Herodotus does record it,
perhaps as a reminder of what happens to humanity without
the solid Greek concepts of culture.
• Both stories do maintain a strong link between cannibalism
Hecuba: transforms into a dog
• As a captive of Odysseus, the
queen’s last shred of sanity
vanishes. She barks like a dog and
the gods match her physical form
to that of the mind – she becomes a
fire-eyed bitch who leaps from the
ship and drowns
• In the second century AD, the Roman
doctor, Galen, and his contemporaries
recognized lycanthropy (identity of a
wolf) and cynanthropy (identity of a dog)
as forms of mental illness manifest from
melancholy and deep depression
(Poulakou-Rebelakou, et al 471).
• Euripides shows the descent into
madness with TheTrojan Women and
• The psychological power of the queen’s fall finds a natural home on
stage and within the falsified realities of theater.
• Euripides presents Hecuba in a powerfully moving manner through his plays
adds a greater depth to the queen on stage
• Permitted her to go well beyond the bounds of either a regent or a
• In the nature of the Greek duality, Euripides reminds his audience of
the “intangible forces which govern human life: natural cause and
effect, moral impulse both good and bad, and unpredictable chance”
• In both plays her presence is a reminder of the chaos that ensued
before: the fall of Troy, the destruction of the army, a sense of lost
security, betrayal, and the state of pathos that accompanies their
Shows a dignified queen slowly descending into rage
Hecuba is no longer a queen controlling fate
-- victim of a fate.
O little child, son of my dear lost son, your life is ravished from us by murderers. What will
become of us? What can I do for you? Only to beat the head and bruise the breast – this
we can give; no more. Lost city, lost child: What climax of suffering lacks now? Have we
not reached in a headlong plunge the abyss of pain?
Fury at Helen emerges.
The play ends with Helen returning to her husband as theTrojan women are dragged
away into slavery.
•The queen spends a great deal of time
pleading for the life of her
daughter, Polyxena from her fate as a
sacrifice to the ghost of Achilles.
• Odysseus, saved by Hecuba, still drags
•Youngest and last living
son, Polydorus, was murdered at the
hands of a trusted ally, King
• Tricks Polymestor with promise for more
• Mob of women meet king and his two
sons; sons are killed
• Hecuba claws out Polymestor’s eyes
Hecuba Blinding Polymestor, Giuseppe Maria Crespi
(1665–1747)Oil on canvas, 173 x 184 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
•Dialogue from the play:
Hecuba: I am avenged on thee; have I not cause for joy?
Polymestor:The joy will soon cease, in the day when ocean’s [sic] flood – “
Hecuba: Shall convey me to the shores of Hellas?
Polymestor: Nay but close o’er thee when thou fallest from the masthead….of thy
own accord wilt thou climb the ship’s mast…thou wilt become a dog with bloodshot
eyes. Dionysus, our Thracian prophet, told me so. … Thou hapless hound’s grave, ‘a
mark for mariners’” (Hecuba).
Euripides can twist his characters into unique forms as a manner of expressing what
happens when societal expectations are violated.
In this way, story productions may also be stretched to legitimize countercultural
ideals that come with the breaking of social or religious taboo.
Hecuba lives in the unnatural state of a mother whose children precede her in
death, which she acknowledges in the plays
Ah! What wilt thou say? Art thou not come, as I had thought, to fetch me to my
doom, but to announce ill news? Lost, lost, my child! Snatched from thy mother’s arms!
And I am childless now, at least as touches thee; ah, woe is me” (Hecuba).
The audience is privy to her change of mental states (cultivated queen to avenging
Though painted in a sympathetic light, her irrational mind is as unnatural as her state
TrojanWomen: Hecuba remains a passive captive
Hecuba: Hecuba acts upon her dark emotions
As per the demands of vengeance the queen doubles the pain
done to her:
• Polymestor robs Hecuba of one child so she and her women
rob him of two
• Hecuba lives, but Polymestor lives blinded.
• Like Hecuba, Polymestor lives in a fallen state, not only to
that which he witnessed but with the added burden of a
warrior’s shame that it was done by the hand of women.
Animal mind (revenge) over human mind (rational)
After the Greeks:
•The Romans added elements such as the removal of clothes and
transformation during the full moon.
•Byzantine doctors expanded the concept of lycanthropy as a mental
•The Anglo-Saxons renamed the creature from the words wer- (man) and
• During the Middle Ages, the werewolf was linked to devil’s curses and
witches’ broods, with several accounts of accused werewolves tortured to
•Modernity: the werewolf does not emerge on the stage until the modern
adaption of the silver screen (Lawrence).
Two Eons Condensed
Universal Studios: wary of copyright issues, created its own
brand of “inferior Wolf Man myth which has been slavishly
followed ever since” (Lloyd 140).
The Wolf Man (1941): the werewolf becomes a tragic hero
who is “forced to behave like an animal against his conscious
will” (Bourgault du Coudray 60).
• Unique monster movie
• No Zeus; werewolfism spreads like a disease transmitted
from the bite of the infected upon an innocent bystander
• The movie’s main character, Larry Tolbot, is an
everyman, not royalty.
• Not guilty of blood sins; a good man
• The only warning he has of any impending doom is the
pentagram that magically appears on his hand; in modernity the
werewolf became an aspect of random [bad] luck (Ruehl xi).
• Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnGhskFaOf0
Modernity: TheWolf Man
Questions sanity: Father attributes an aspect of the monster to legend but the
actual lycanthropy he asserts is a form of schizophrenia.
• Seeks medical aid; fails.
Instead of studying the spiritual nature of humanity, The Wolf Man explored the
animalistic side to the human persona.
• New, as prior movies were likened to theories of Darwinism
• Transformation scenes were censored after the Scopes Monkey Trial
Humanity needed a way to overcome the animal, to literally and figuratively put it
• Hollywood again responded by adding a lupine weakness to silver
• The animal spirit exorcised, the postmortemTalbot resumed his human
form(In Search of). It was proof that animal and human could not co-exist
within the same individual.
As the werewolf evolved into postmodernism, a distinctive paradox formed. The
aspect of transformation turns from a debilitating curse to an empowering
Wolf (1994): Jack Nicholson plays timid Will Randall; impotent, wife having
affair, rival trying to take his job
Bitten by the wolf: An Indian shaman tells him that he has been given the gift of a
wolf’s spirit which reinvigorates him.
• Regains his sexual vigor, gets wife back; leaves to start his own business; eats
• Randall is better suited to survival in the modern world of the concrete jungle
as a werewolf than he was as a man (Lawrence).
Connecting to Lycaon of the ancient Greek myth, he also takes his power too
• Attacks humans and in a scene reminiscent of the former king’s
sacrifice, he spits out the fingers of a child he attacked; kills wife; bites
arch-enemy and turns him into a werewolf (empowers him)
• In the end he ultimately loses himself entirely to his wolfish side and flees
into the forest, no longer able to interact with or engage in his humanity.
• “Hunky” Jacob Black of the Twilight (2008)series
• Jacob presents a powerful, sexy, and self-assured werewolf
who absorbs the animal nature and lives with it in relative
comfort. Though there are some issues with the wolf
nature, for the most part Black’s animal nature became
appealing to the audience for its “unbelievable
strength…power and freedom” (Horror ofWerewolves).
• Born to a Native AmericaTribe
• Inherited condition from a mythical ancestor: Taha
• Spiritual connection: Taha Aki was so in tune with the wolf
spirit that he did not age, led the tribe for many years, and
was able to pass on the wolf lineage via his descendants.
• Modern werewolf: “competent, self-assured, [and]
organized” (Bourgault du Coudray 58)
• Able to find satisfaction, love, and personal growth
• Black’s connection to nature through his tribal heritage and the wolf transformation
moves the werewolf away from its fearsome savagery and into modern romanticism.
• Nature offers a key insight into spiritual experience; nature is not separate from man but connected
• Jacob does not reject his wolf, fight its influence, or see it as a separate part of himself
• Maintains control of himself through a reasoning human mind
• Anger blocks transformations
• Unlike Hecuba and Lycaon, theTwilight werewolf is
no longer a predator of humans
• Depending on a vampires, a fellow predator, to be present
• No vampires, no werewolves; more vampires, more
• The larger pack of TheTwilight Saga: New
Moon(2009)corresponds to the large number of vampires in
the area (Becoming a Werewolf)
• Thus, the rational wolf defends a weaker humanity
• The manifestation of Jacob and his pack allows for the ferocity of a fighter but
counterbalances it with the domesticity of a dog
• The Greeks have a rich history of mythological stories that describe the
transformations of man into beast.
• A combination of symbolism and divine retribution, the werewolf was a predatory creature that
prayed on its own kind (Lycaon and the Neuri)
• It was also a warning against falling to the overwhelming power of the dark emotions leading to
animalistic vengeance (Hecuba).
• Through its evolutionary journey, the werewolf of modernity shared the angst of an
individual lost to animalistic impulses (The Wolf Man and Wolf)
• Today: At one with nature, a fierce protector, a powerful ally for humanity, and a
mortal danger to other predatory threats (Jacob Black, Twilight Saga).
Which werewolf prototype will win out? With luck, the protective Jacob Black will
dominate the pack. He shows a renewed realization that we are both empowered and
protective, able to control the predator in order to maintain order for the greater good.
“Becoming a Werewolf”.Twilight Lexicon. Jan. 1, 2008. http://www.twilightlexicon.com/2008/01/01/becoming-a-werewolf/. Web. 13
Bell, Robert. Women of Classical Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print.
Bourgault du Coudray, Chantal. "The Cycle Of The Werewolf: Romantic Ecologies Of Selfhood In Popular Fantasy." Australian
Feminist Studies 18.40 (2003): 57-72. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.
Epstein, Stephen J. “Longus’ Werewolves”. Classical Philology, Vol. 90. No. 1 (Jan., 1995), 58 – 73. Print.
“Hecuba.” http://public.wsu.edu/~hughesc/hecuba.htm.Web. 6 Feb., 2013.
"The Horror Of Werewolves." Scholastic Scope 60.4 (2011): 17-19. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.
In Search of History: Legends of the Werewolves. A&E Television Networks, 2002.DVD.
Lawrence, Elizabeth A. "Werewolves In Psyche And Cinema: Man-Beast Transformation And Paradox." Journal Of American Culture
(01911813) 19.(1996): 103-112. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson).Web. 11 Feb. 2013.
Lloyd, Ann (ed). 70 Years at the Movies: From Silent Films to Today’s Screen Hits. New York: Crescent Books, 1982. Print.
Oettinger, N. ‘Entstehung von Mythos ausRituas. Das Beispiel des hethitischen texts CTH 390A’.M.Hutter and S., Hutter-Braunsar
(eds), Offizielle Religion, locale Kulte and individuelleReligiositat. (Munster, 2004).347-56.(Translated by author into English). Print.
Poulakou-Rebelakou, E, C. Tsiamis, G. Panteleakos, and D. Ploumpidis. “Lycantrhopy in Byzantine Times (AD 330-1453). History of
Psychiatry, Vol. 20, 2009.468-479. Print.
Ruehl, Franklin, PhD. Foreword. The Werewolf Book.BySteiger. Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 1999. Ix – xiv. Print.
Steiger, Brad. “Introduction: We have met the werewolves and they are us!”The Werewolf Book. BySteiger. Michigan: Visible Ink
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Works Cited (Paper)
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