Throughout history, werewolves have played an integral part in the cult literature as creatures that were not of men or wolf – but both. Most common legends attest to how these creatures can shape-shift from a man to a wolf or wolf-like creature by the light of the full moon. Silver is the only weapon that can stop them, and the disease of lycanthropy can be spread by a mere scratch or bite.
Although Hollywood has romanticized the thought of werewolves and how not all of them are vicious killing machines, is there anything to worry about for the common man walking home one night during the light of the full moon? It is doubtful since no real evidence has ever been brought to public knowledge aside from folktales and lore. Why should the belief of werewolves be met with suspicion and skepticism? Can we answer the question… do werewolves exist?
Translations from ancient times often lead to the creation of rumors and myths.
For example, Procopius of Caesarea recorded a battle between the Roman Empire and the Isaurians. These South Asian people were merely farmers when they were called to battle in the fifth century. In the recording, Procopius recalled how the Isuarians were slain due to their inability to wage war against Rome. He referred to most of these people as Lycaones. Many believe this to be related to the latin word, Lycaon – an animal of the wolf kind. In reality, Lycaones refers to the Lycaonians – a people of Asia Minor positioned relatively close to the Isuarian lands that were incapable of battle due to inexperience.
This isn’t the only incident in where misunderstanding of texts has created myths and legends.
Perpetuated by Literal Understanding
In the late 16th century, rumors of the werewolf stretched far and wide across Europe. When Peter Stubbe committed heinous crimes against the people of Bedburg, his ferocious nature was akin to that of a wolf. In much the same way that Vlad Tepes was depicted as a vampire, Stubbe’s actions earned him a reputation as he killed in much the same fashion a wolf would while taking down prey.
The story of the Werewolf of Bedburg was literature developed in order to help a people understand the cruel and inhumane nature that psychopaths can embrace. Peter Stubbe could no more change shape into a wolf as Vlad the Impaler could turn into a bat.