A werewolf in mythology and folklore is a person whose shape changes to a wolf, either intentionally, by use of magic, or under a spell.
The oldest tales about werewolf originate from ancient Greece. According to Greek methodology, King Lycaon was the son of Meliboea and Pelasgus and mythically the first king of the Arcadia land. He had so many sons including; Callisto and Arcas. One evening, King Lycaon threw a party for his fifty impious sons which was attended by the King of the Gods, Zeus. Lycaon thought of testing Zeus’s divinity by giving him a special food to confirm if he was indeed the real one: human flesh.
Some people say that King Lycaon killed and ate one of his sons, Nyctimus. Lycaon monitored the guest’s reaction after serving him the meal. The guest was indeed Zeus as he pushed the meal away with disgust and killed Lycaon’s sons with lightning blasts. However, Zeus rendered a different punishment to Lycaon. Zeus declared that the ruler will spend the rest of his life as a wolf, but can be restored to human, if he avoided human flesh for a period of ten years. The transformed Lycaon ran into the woods while screaming.
This is not the only story about the werewolf origin. There are numerous beginnings and origins in different cultures. Many popular movies have advanced the idea that the werewolves‘ stories may have been utilized to justify the serial killings in the early ages. The story is complimented by behavior of some modern serial killers to involve in practices like cyclic attacks, mutilation and cannibalism that characterized werewolf attacks.
A recent folklore has been introduced to describe werewolf events in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Ergot is a fungus which affects rye grains during wet growing seasons (after cold winters) and results in food borne illness. Ergot usually affects a significant population of the towns and it can cause death, convulsions, paranoia, mass hysteria and hallucinations. However, the folklore has raised so much controversy hence is not accepted.
Some current researchers have tied porphyria (disorder with signs such as paranoia and hallucinations), hypertrichosis (abnormal growth of hair on the entire body) or rabies to werewolf beliefs. The common symptoms of congenital erythropoietic porphyria include reddish teeth color, pink urine, poorly healing skin, hairy skin and photosensitivity. Clinical lycanthropy is a mental disorder in which the victim has a virtual belief that he is turning into an animal.
Werewolf transformations normally occur at any time of the year with or without full moon. The full moon has a characteristic meaning and is called Luna. Full moons are conventionally tied to insanity and insomnia. Most psychologists have found no evidence for behavior changes around the full moon. They also emphasize that there is a difference between causation and correlation.