Monday, November 14, 2011

6. Lycanthropy

Lycanthropy is the study of the professed ability or power of a human being to undergo transformation into a werewolf, or to gain wolf-like characteristics. The term comes from Greek Lykànthropos.The word lycanthropy is sometimes used generically for any transformation of a human into animal form, though the precise term for that is technically "therianthropy". Sometimes, "zoanthropy" is used instead of "therianthropy". The word has also been linked to Lycaon, a king of Arcadia who, according to Ovid's Metamorphoses, was turned into a ravenous wolf in retribution for attempting to serve human flesh (his own son) to visiting Zeus in an attempt to disprove the god's divinity.
A more modern use of the word is in reference to a mental illness called lycanthropy in which a patient believes he or she is, or has transformed into, an animal and behaves accordingly. This is sometimes referred to as clinical lycanthropy to distinguish it from its use in legends.

More in depth information on Lycaon, i have researched and found on wikipedia.
The different versions of the myth are as follows:
  • According to Pausanias VIII Lycaon was instantly transformed into a wolf after sacrificing a child on the altar of Zeus and sprinkling the blood on the altar.
  • According to Apollodor, Lycaon had sired 50 sons with many wives. These sons were the most nefarious and carefree of all people. To test them Zeus visited them in the shape of a poor peon. They mixed the entrails of a child under the god's meal, whereupon the enraged Zeus threw over the table with the meal, which explains the name of the city Trapezus, and killed Lycaon and his sons with lightning. Only the youngest son was saved due to the intervention of the earth-goddess Ge.
  • According to Lykophron, all were transformed into wolves.
  • According to Hyginus, Jupiter came to Lycaon . In this version only Lycaon was transformed into a wolf man and his 50 sons were killed by lightning.
  • Nicolas Damascenus tells that Lycaon's sons were nefarious. To test Zeus they mixed the flesh of a boy under the sacrifices, whereupon all who were present during the murder of the child were killed by lightning.
  • According to Ovid, it was only Lycaon who served Zeus the flesh of a prisoner, partly cooked and partly roasted. Thereupon Zeus brought the roof down and transformed the fleeing Lycaon into a wolf.
  • According to Eratosthenes, Lycaon butchered his grandson, who was put together again by Zeus and placed upon the constellations.

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