The Satyricon

The place to talk about where a lot of things started. Stories and history, references, etc.
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The Satyricon

Post by Descendent of a Druid »

Written circa 60 C.E. one section tells the story of a man becoming a wolf:
When I looked for my friend I saw he'd stripped and piled his clothes by the roadside...He urinated in a circle round his clothes and then, just like that, turned into a wolf!...after he turned into a wolf he started howling and then ran off into the woods.

It kind of makes you wander how he figured out that stripping naked and peeing in a circle would make him a wolf. :shift:
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Post by RedEye »

Well, it DOES refer to a Lycanthrope Legend... So let's leave it here for now.

That fellow in the Satyricon was probably a Lupaeus, or priest of Lupa; the she-wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus.
They existed from the earliest days of the Republic, were of Patrician families (the creme de la creme of Roman society); and were believed to actually BE Werewolves! Their temple was just off the old Forum, and the Lupercal was the sacred day they celebrated by running through the streets of Rome wearing Wolf skins and whipping infertile women.
That made them desirable (demi-gods) and frightening at the same time (wolves).

Interesting to note: in Latium, the nomen "Lupa" meant either a Wolf-b**** or a Prostitute. :wink:
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Post by Lycanthrope »

There is an additional interpretation of urinating around one's clothes. As the narrator mentions later on, the clothes his companion left on the road were stone hard and impossible to move from their place. A researcher whose book I read believes, that urinating was a mean to prevent the clothes from being moved out of their position because, as it was believed, doing so would disable the shapechanger from resuming his human form. The same belief prevails in Middle ages as we can see in Marie de France's Lai du Bisclavret.
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Post by RedEye »

By the act of urination, the clothing was "removed from time" by means of the liquid used.
One of the Latin terms for the stuff was "Aqua Morbida" or dead water. The clothing was thus "dead" to the world while the metamorph was out being the "other".
That also resurfaces in the idea that comatose people should not be moved, since the coma meant the soul was absent from the body; and movement would make it impossible for the soul to "fit" back into the body when it returned.
This also was applied to Shamans; when out seeking things in the Spirit world, they were un-touchable.
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Post by WerewolfKeeper3 »

Lycanthrope wrote:There is an additional interpretation of urinating around one's clothes. As the narrator mentions later on, the clothes his companion left on the road were stone hard and impossible to move from their place. A researcher whose book I read believes, that urinating was a mean to prevent the clothes from being moved out of their position because, as it was believed, doing so would disable the shapechanger from resuming his human form. The same belief prevails in Middle ages as we can see in Marie de France's Lai du Bisclavret.
I don't know if that's the storyi heard about, but heres the basis...
A man tells his wife he is a werewolf after she asks why he leaves her every so often. He tells her where he hides his clothes, and that if he can't find them, he won't be able to turn back. One night, she follows him, and steals his clothes from the hollow tree he'd hidden them in, and then rushes off to a new lover {a knight if i remember correctly}. This leaves the man as a wolf. One day, the king of that land goes out on a hunt, and spots our shapeshifter, intending to make him a prize on the king's wall. But the wolf acts like a tamed dog, and the king cannot bare to kill it. He brings the wolf home and treats it as part of the family. years later, the wolf's wife and her new lover arrive at the kings palace, i think for a party or something. The wolf starts growling and snapping at them. The king orders them to be thrown into a dungeon, until she eventually confesses the crime. The man's given back his clothes, and they all, {excpet the wife and her lover,} live happily ever after.

One of the few good stories from that time period about werewolves. There are a few others, but that one i like most of all, mostly because it is not the human that prevails, but the shapeshifter. :) Anywya, if it was your were referring to, i apologize. I can't seem to remember the name at all.
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Post by Lycanthrope »

Yes, that's the story I was referring to. Don't worry, though. I can see no reason to apologise. Interestingly enough, there is a very similar story coming from the British Isles. The details are quite different, but the premise is identical. I can't recall the title, I'm afraid.

You've mentioned knowing other stories from that period. Did you mean fictional tales or genuine werewolf trials? I haven't heard many of the former and would be quite grateful if you shared them.
RedEye wrote:By the act of urination, the clothing was "removed from time" by means of the liquid used.
One of the Latin terms for the stuff was "Aqua Morbida" or dead water. The clothing was thus "dead" to the world while the metamorph was out being the "other".
That also resurfaces in the idea that comatose people should not be moved, since the coma meant the soul was absent from the body; and movement would make it impossible for the soul to "fit" back into the body when it returned.
This also was applied to Shamans; when out seeking things in the Spirit world, they were un-touchable.
I didn't know about that. Thank you.
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Re: The Satyricon

Post by RedWolf »

What do you think is the oldest English-language story that mentions lycanthropy? I would guess that "The Duchess of Malfi," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Duchess_of_Malfi, a John Webster play that was first performed at the Globe Theatre in London in 1614 might qualify.

Here's an excerpt from the part that describes lycanthropy:

Act V, scene ii

. . . . PESCARA: Pray thee, what's his disease?

DOCTOR: A very pestilent disease, my lord,
They call lycanthropia.

PESCARA: What's that?
I need a dictionary . . . .

DOCTOR: I'll tell you.
In those that are possess'd with't there o'erflows
Such melancholy humour, they imagine
Themselves to be transformed into wolves;
Steal forth to churchyards in the dead of night,
And dig dead bodies up: as two nights since
One met the Duke 'bout midnight in a lane
Behind St. Mark's Church, with the leg of a man
Upon his shoulder, and he howl'd fearfully;
Said he was a wolf, only the difference
Was, a wolf's skin was hairy on the outside,
His on the inside; bade them take their swords,
Rip up his flesh, and try: straight, I was sent for,
And having minister'd unto him, found his grace
Very well recover'd . . . .

See http://larryavisbrown.homestead.com/fil ... lfi_Vb.htm

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