Werewolves page 4
Various methods have existed for removing the werewolf form. In antiquity, the Ancient Greeks and Romans believed in the power of exhaustion in curing people of lycanthropy. The victim would be subjected to long periods of physical activity in the hope of being purged of the malady. This practice stemmed from the fact that many alleged werewolves would be left feeling weak and debilitated after committing depredations.
In medieval Europe, traditionally, there are three methods one can use to cure a victim of werewolfism; medicinally, surgically or by exorcism. However, many of the cures advocated by medieval medical practitioners proved fatal to the patients. A Sicilian belief of Arabic origin holds that a werewolf can be cured of its ailment by striking it on the forehead or scalp with a knife. Another belief from the same culture involves the piercing of the werewolf's hands with nails. Sometimes, less extreme methods were used. In the German lowland of Schleswig-Holstein, a werewolf could be cured if one were to simply address it three times by its Christian name, while one Danish belief holds that simply scolding a werewolf will cure it. Conversion to Christianity is also a common method of removing werewolfism in the medieval period. A devotion to St. Hubert has also been cited as both cure for and protection from lycanthropes.
Herodotus in his Histories wrote that the Neuri, a tribe he places to the north-east of Scythia, were transformed into wolves once every nine years. These rituals were apparently meant to symbolise earthly regeneration and rebirth.Virgil was also familiar with human beings transforming into wolves.
In Greek mythology, the story of Lycaon provides one of the earliest examples of a werewolf legend. According to one version, Lycaon was transformed into a wolf as a result of eating human flesh; one of those who were present at periodical sacrifice on Mount Lycæon was said to suffer a similar fate.
In Metamorphoses, the Roman poet Ovid vividly described stories of men who roamed the woods of Arcadia in the form of wolves.
The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, relates two tales of lycanthropy. Quoting Euanthes, he mentions a man who hung his clothes on an ash tree and swam across an Arcadian lake, transforming him into a wolf. On the condition that he attacked no human being for nine years, he would be free to swim back across the lake to resume human form. Pliny also quotes Agriopas regarding a tale of a man who was turned into a wolf after tasting the entrails of a human child.
In the Latin work of prose, the Satyricon, written about 60 C.E. by Gaius Petronius Arbiter, one of the characters, Niceros, tells a story at a banquet about a friend who turned into a wolf. He describes the incident as follows, "When I look for my buddy I see he'd stripped and piled his clothes by the roadside...He pees in a circle round his clothes and then, just like that, turns into a wolf!...after he turned into a wolf he started howling and then ran off into the woods."
Many European countries and cultures influenced by them have stories of werewolves, including Albania (oik), Armenia (mardagayl) France (loup-garou), Greece (lycanthropos), Spain (hombre lobo), Argentina (lobizón), Mexico (hombre lobo and nahual), Bulgaria (върколак - varkolak), Turkey (kurtadam), Czech Republic/Slovakia (vlkodlak), Serbia/Montenegro/Bosnia (vukodlak, вукодлак), Belarus (vaukalak, ваўкалак), Russia (vourdalak, оборотень), Ukraine (vovkulak(a), vurdalak(a), vovkun, перевертень), Croatia (vukodlak), Poland (wilkołak), Romania (vârcolac, priculici), Macedonia (vrkolak), Slovenia (volkodlak), Scotland (werewolf, wulver), England (werewolf), Ireland (faoladh or conriocht), Germany (Werwolf), the Netherlands (weerwolf), Denmark/Sweden/Norway (Varulv), Norway/Iceland (kveld-ulf, varúlfur), Galicia (lobishome), Portugal/Brazil (lobisomem), Lithuania (vilkolakis and vilkatlakis), Latvia (vilkatis and vilkacis), Andorra/Catalonia (home llop), Hungary (Vérfarkas and Farkasember), Estonia (libahunt), Finland (ihmissusi and vironsusi), and Italy (lupo mannaro). In northern Europe, there are also tales about people changing into animals including bears, as well as wolves.
Werewolves in European tradition were mostly evil men who terrorized people in the form of wolves on command of the Devil, though there were rare narratives of people being transformed involuntarily. In the 10 century, they were given the binomial name of melancholia canina and in the 14th century, daemonium lupum. In Marie de France's poem Bisclavret (c. 1200), the nobleman Bizuneh, for reasons not described in the lai, had to transform into a wolf every week. When his treacherous wife stole his clothing needed to restore his human form, he escaped the king's wolf hunt by imploring the king for mercy and accompanied the king thereafter. His behaviour at court was so much gentler than when his wife and her new husband appeared at court, that his hateful attack on the couple was deemed justly motivated, and the truth was revealed. Other tales of this sort include the German fairy tales Märchen, in which several aristocrats temporarily transform into beasts. See Snow White and Rose Red, where the tame bear is really a bewitched prince, and The Golden Bird where the talking fox is also a man.
Werewolf folklore is rare in England, possibly because wolves had been eradicated by authorities in the Anglo-Saxon period.
Harald I of Norway is known to have had a body of Úlfhednar (wolf coated), which are mentioned in Vatnsdœla saga, Haraldskvæði, and the Völsunga saga resemble some werewolf legends. The Úlfhednar were fighters similar to the berserkers, though they dressed in wolf hides rather than those of bears and were reputed to channel the spirits of these animals to enhance effectiveness in battle. These warriors were resistant to pain and killed viciously in battle, much like wild animals. Ulfhednar and berserkers are closely associated with the Norse god Odin.
In Latvian folklore, a vilkacis was someone who transformed into a wolf-like monster, which could be benevolent at times. Another collection of stories concern the skin-walkers. The vilkacis and skin-walkers probably have a common origin in Proto-Indo-European society, where a class of young unwed warriors were apparently associated with wolves.
According to the first dictionary of modern Serbian language (published by Vuk Stefanović-Karadžić in 1818) vukodlak / вукодлак (werewolf) and vampir / вампир (vampire) are synonyms, meaning a man who returns from his grave for purposes of fornicating with his widow. The dictionary states this to be a common folk tale.
Common amongst the Kashubs of what is now northern Poland, and the Serbs and Slovenes, was the belief that if a child was born with hair, a birthmark or a caul on their head, they were supposed to possess shape-shifting abilities. Though capable of turning into any animal they wished, it was commonly believed that such people preferred to turn into a wolf.