The First Lycan
Few people are aware that even the legend of the werewolf can be tracked back to ancient Greek mythology. Werewolves are also often referred to as lycanthropes. Perhaps because the very first werewolf was a human by the name of Lycaon.
As the story goes, a lot of humans believed that they owed their lives to Prometheus rather than to the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. For that reason, many refused to worship them according to Zeus's rules.
A few chose to do more than refuse to worship the gods, however. They went so far as to challenge them out right. The worst of the bunch was a a man named Lycaon. He constantly spoke out against the Olympians, cursing their names and uttering blasphemies.
Zeus grew tired of Lycaon's attitude and decided to teach him a lesson. He took mortal form and went into Lycaon's village, sharing his identity with many of the humans that he met along the way. Most humans, once they knew who he really was, began to worship the king of the gods according to his will.
Of course Lycaon wasn't about to do that. Still, he gave the appearance that he was going to listen to what Zeus had to say. He invited him to dinner to discuss what he needed to do in order to gain favor with the gods.
However, Lycaon never intended to keep his end of the bargain. Quite the opposite, in fact, he intended to commit the most grievous act of desecration of which he could conceive.
In his dungeon, Lycaon had many prisoners because he was a wealthy man who could get away with almost any act imaginable. His prisoners were all people that he had decided had dishonored him in some way or who had dared to try and take a morsel of bread from his table.
He took one of his prisoners and slit his throat. He then dismembered the poor soul, to use his body as meat for the stew that he planned to serve for dinner.
Once the meal was prepared and set on the table, Lycaon invited Zeus and his entourage into the dining area. But Zeus immediately smelled the meat and knew what Lycaon had done. Using his thunderbolts, he struck the table, sending the food flying and finally capturing the attention of his so-called host.
Suddenly Lycaon realized he had made a grave error and he began running for his life, with Zeus in hot pursuit. But as he ran, he realized that something was happening to him. His cries became snarls and growls.
His body dropped to all fours and began to alter painfully. His nose became a snout and his ears became pointed. Hair sprung up all over his body and his teetch became sharp and pointed.
Zeus laughed, thinking that he had taught the human a valuable lesson; but the joke was on him. Lycaon discovered that he liked his new condition because it allowed him to continue his bloodthirsty ways. He killed sheep, goats, and humans with reckless abandon until the villagers grew tired of his reign of terror and dispatched him to Tatarus.
Over the years, the concept behind the lycanthrope changed to that of someone who was human during the day and a wolf only at night, when the moon was full. How and why that change came about remains a mystery, although there are a number of theories espoused.
The first lycanthrope, it would seem, may have come to be because of his disrespect of the Greek gods. He wasn't the first to dishonor them and would not be the last. He may, however, have the been the one to pay the heaviest price of all.
Our Mobile Application
Check out Our Mobile Application "Ancient Greece Reloaded"