Sketchbook Page 32: Lycanthrope

December 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

Homo lupus

A werewolf , also known as a lycanthrope (from the Greek λυκάνθρωπος: λύκος, lukos, “wolf”, and άνθρωπος, anthrōpos, man), is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shape-shift into a wolf or an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon, as popularly noted by the medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury, and perhaps in earlier times among the ancient Greeks through the writings of Petronius.

Werewolves are often attributed superhuman strength and senses, far beyond those of both wolves and men. The werewolf is generally held as a European character, although its lore spread through the world in later times. Shape-shifters, similar to werewolves, are common in tales from all over the world, most notably amongst the Native Americans, though most of them involve animal forms other than wolves.

Werewolves are a frequent subject of modern fiction, although fictional werewolves have been attributed traits distinct from those of original folklore. For example, the notions that werewolves are only vulnerable to silver bullets or that they can cause others to become werewolves by biting or wounding them derive from works of modern fiction. Werewolves continue to endure in modern culture and fiction, with books, films and television shows cementing the werewolf’s stance as a dominant figure in the fantasy or horror genres.

The lycanthrope has achieved something of a cult status in recent times through the popularity of The Twilight Saga; a series of five supernatural romantic fantasy films based on the four Twilight Series novels by the American author Stephanie Meyer.

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§ 2 Responses to Sketchbook Page 32: Lycanthrope

  • palecorbie says:

    Actually, lycanthropy is a genuine schitzophrenic condition, not a synonym for ‘werewolf’. If all lycanthropes were werewolves, there’d be nothing wrong with the poor sods.

    It’s a nice skull, though, well-drawn if a bit too humanoid around the mandible to be a functional creature. Since folklore claims werewolves revert to the form they were born to upon death, you might want to look at humanoid skeletons with the potential for bones to shift and change their places when seeking werewolf burials. You might even ‘find’ some of considerable status, since the “werewolf as devourer” thing is relatively recent – Roman versipelli and their Gaulish equivalents, for instance, were considered to be protectors of flocks and children from real, wild wolves.

    • pkevans says:

      Many thanks for your wonderful comments palecorbie – this is exactly the kind of informed and knowledgeable response that I hope for when I make these drawings!

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