Werewolf and Rise of Beliefs in Such Creatures

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Stories about people who turn into animals, especially a wolf, are not new to the current generations. However, many people interact with such tales through the media, particularly the horrific movies featuring medieval or sci-fiction characters. The werewolf is a typical feature in ancient accounts, indicating the possible link between humans and animals. The term refers to mythical personalities with the potential to change from humans to wolves and back. Unlike in the past, when werewolves appeared as everyday creatures, these beings are not common today, posing a philosophical inquiry into their existence. Accordingly, the present work is an argumentative piece focusing on the background of werewolves. The paper maintains that the desire to discourage social vices and the absence of clinical capacity to explain psychological disorders in the ancient world led to the existence of werewolf narratives in the medieval period. The claim acquires its basis from the conceptual incompatibility between the magical and paranormal powers and modern scientific understanding, which disqualifies the former aspects’ philosophical defense of werewolves’ existence.

The Desire to Discourage Social Vices

Currently, humans use ethical education to promote virtues while discouraging vices. Studies about legends such as Mahatma Gandhi, Aristotle, King Jr., and Mother Theresa, among other outstanding personalities, provide the world with the appropriate mannerism to promote a healthy society. Moreover, accounts about Adolf Hitler and other aristocratic rulers whose deeds caused severe pain and suffering to humanity warn people about inhumane traits to avoid. The world uses these aspects due to supporting features such as shared language and globalization. Nonetheless, the human desire to promote social good for humanity’s sake is significantly old. Such means that people shared and promoted virtues among societies even in the past. George (2019) provides tales as an excellent learning tool for ancient communities. Ethnic groups and other social settings developed stories to pass knowledge about almost everything to the next generations as a way of preserving culture since prehistoric times, according to George (2019). A major focus of these narratives covered basic skills and morals.

The medieval communities applied werewolf narratives to discourage immorality among humans. According to Singh (2021), the creature “wolf” generally depicts human nature’s dark, irrepressibly belligerent, and immoral side. Guðmundsdóttir (2007) argues that the wolf is a once-domesticated animal in the dog family. The animal exhibits aggression and unmatched hunting efforts, and it greedily feasts on its prey. The traits are generally inhumane, making the creature a perfect match for the greedy society members who use force to cause harm to other humans. Looking at the werewolf’s original application proves the name’s mythical application to denote vices. Singh (2021) reports the name’s initial utilization in Mesopotamia and Greece around 2000 BC. The poem “Epic of Gilgamesh” provides the oldest version of the werewolf, where the goddess Ishtar converts her lover into a beast as punishment due to disobedience (Singh, 2021). On the other hand, the Greek myth involves the character Lycaon, who transforms into a wolf due to cannibalism (Singh, 2021). The king (Lycaon) faces the transformation as a penalty from Zeus, a mythical Greek god, after shading an innocent child’s blood while offering sacrifice to an alien deity.

The association of unfaithful wives with werewolves also proves the term’s utilization to discourage immoralities in ancient societies. For example, Marie de France’s Bisclavret describes a case of a king’s wife who engages in immorality with young men. As per Podruchny (2004), the woman’s husband trusts his wife a lot but suggests that women are untrustworthy after realizing his wife’s wickedness. The account is also told in the Welsh story Arthur and Gorlagon, where the wife is openly adulterous, miscreant, and a traitor. Due to their greed for power and immortality, the wife develops a plot with several young male lovers to kill the king. However, the community realizes before the wife’s fiendish plot succeeds, leading to the spouse and her lovers’ arrest and sentence. The community members force the immoral woman to kiss and feed on the executed lovers’ blood. The act comes from the lady’s wolf-like behavior, proving the ancient communities’ association of the werewolf with vices. The story intends to discourage community members from disloyalty by branding the disloyal persons as punishable wolves.

The medieval British culture presents the werewolf nature as a terminal punishment humans received after engaging in misdeeds that contradicted the deity’s doctrines. The Neuri ritual provides an example of this belief, according to Giraldus Cambrensis’ Topographia Hibernica (Singh, 2021). Giraldus describes a priest’s encounter with Ossory, a werewolf imploring forgiveness after receiving a seven-year sentence into the werewolf nature by a former bishop. The priest is convinced by the man-animal being and pardons him, allowing him to regain humanity (Saniotis, 2019). This werewolf fiction thus provides the situation as one caused by a curse. Singh (2021) maintains that tales like this convinced community members to avoid vices as a way of shunning hurting punishments. Accordingly, becoming a beast is an awful experience that leads to solitude and discomfort. By passing messages about the consequences of anti-social deeds, the ancient communities purposed to control people’s behavior and not suppose that humans could exist as people and wolves at the same time.

The Armenian folklore provides a more detailed account of werewolves and how people turned from humans into these funny creatures. According to Shyovitz (2014), people committing deadly sins such as adultery and murder turned into inhuman animals with aggressive traits typical to the wolf for seven years before turning back into normal humans. The transformation occurred due to condemnation by the public or a religious fellow. As per the Armenian belief, a wolf skin-bearing spirit visits the convicted individuals and makes them clad the skin, after which they develop appalling longings for hominid flesh. Consequently, the human-turn-wolves start eating their children and families before extending the murderer’s acts to the other society members. The creatures operate mainly at night, with locks and doors opening at their approach. A standard practice by the Armenian werewolves involves reverting to the human form by removing the animal’s skin in the morning through an involuntary makeover. However, other accounts regarding this belief maintain that persons exhibiting the werewolf trait can change at will. Therefore, the Armenian narrative shows the community’s application of these stories to discourage social vices.

The ancient Christianity tales involving the conversion of humans into wolves also show the concept’s intention to promote virtues. Singh (2021) describes the connection between the wolf transformation with St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Patrick, and St. Natalis. The three saints convert rebellious people into wolf-like creatures for a specific period as a punishment. For example, Thomas Aquinas maintains that angels bear the capacity to influence matter and cause changes in humanity. According to the angel, humans paying allegiance to the failed angels risk forfeiting their humanity and becoming wolves as a punishment (Dewhurst, 2018). Narratives concerning St. Patrick further report the saint’s transformation of king Vereticus of Welch into a wolf after the latter’s contemptuous deeds towards Christianity and the holy liturgical objects. Lastly, St. Natalis allegedly cursed an Irish family whose members turned into wolves and vampires for years (Friedman, 2014). The story discourages religious people from disobeying deities, proving that werewolves are mythical creatures with a legendary background that cannot be realized logically.

Absence of Clinical Capacity to Explain Psychological Disorders

Another explanation for werewolves’ existence in the ancient days, unlike nowadays, is the lack of clinical ability to explain specific psychological problems affecting humans since the pre-historic era. Shyovitz (2014) provides psycho-personality, Pitt-Hopkins disorder, Lycanthropy, rabies, Hallucination due to hallucinogenic herbs, Hypertrichosis, and Porphyria as mental conditions exhibiting traits similar to wolves. Shyovitz (2014) argues that serial killers still existed during the medieval period. A serial killer is an unfeeling sadist who rejoices in causing suffering to others. The folks are aggressive, cunning, and influential, just like the contemporary John Gacy (Singh, 2021). Accordingly, the Greek Lycaon provides psycho-personality elements due to his tendency to cause pain to young children. The narrative about this character exists as one of the oldest werewolves accounts in history, where Lycaon becomes a wolf after a curse by Zeus (Singh, 2021). The fellow resulted in killing and feeding on the youngsters’ remains like a world animal, perhaps a wolf. Anyone judging the king based on his behavior would refer to him as the beast, even without a mythical connotation.

There is a possibility that persons falling under the werewolf category during the medieval age exhibited mental illness and hallucination, which scholars could not explain.

Singh (2021) provides cases of Verdun, Garnier, and Burgot as ancient folk with troubled brains but who fell under the werewolf category due to a lack of better understanding. According to Friedman (2014), Burgot’s dog-like behaviors resulted from using hallucinogenic herbs due to the lack of clinically developed safe drugs. The fellow walked on four and tried barking at people, thus showing a wolf’s characteristics. Verdun and Garnier further acted aggressively towards young people, leading to several murder cases due to mental conditions. The three characters’ behaviors lacked meaning due to society’s lack of information concerning mental health. Moreover, the prevailing superstitious European culture hardly allowed individuals to link the occurrences to mental disabilities manageable through treatment, thus adopting the werewolf narrative to explain the matter.

Science and Witchcraft

Some people oppose the argument that werewolves are only mythical beings without real existence. The group mostly focuses on things such as the mythical lace believed to transform persons with werewolf characters into animals and back to normal humans. Those defending the existence of witchcraft also argue that using science to explain the werewolf mania is a big mistake. The lot with such ideas may have their support, which is likely, not scientific, making their case hard to prove logically.


Understanding a philosophical concept requires seeking the meaning from its etymology to have a complete indulgence. Following this guideline necessitates investigating the werewolf issue from the medieval and pre-historic European cultures where the subject started. Consequently, accounts from these periods show the characters as legendary, with the werewolf idea mainly serving to discourage social vices due to the attached consequences. Moreover, various scholars provide solid proof of the existence of mental conditions that the past societies could not explain, thus branding them as werewolf traits, as argued in the above work. Intrinsically, this paper maintains that werewolves are mythical creations without real existence, as reinforced by the genetic accounts on the issue.


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