Myths and legends

The Historical Origins of the Werewolf Myth

The werewolf is a mythological creature that has been part of human culture for centuries. The werewolf is a half-human, half-wolf creature that is said to transform into a wolf on the night of a full moon. But where did this myth come from? This article will explore the history and development of the werewolf myth from its early origins to its modern incarnations.

What is
A werewolf is a mythological human-wolf hybrid, usually depicted as a half-man and half-wolf creature. They are said to transform into their wolf form on the night of a full moon and have the power to cause great destruction. Werewolf mythology has been part of human culture for centuries, with stories and legends about these creatures being found in many different cultures around the world.

History of Werewolf Myths

The werewolf myth has a long and varied history that has been shaped by different cultures and eras. Its origins can be traced back to ancient times, with evidence of werewolf-like creatures being found in prehistoric cave art and ancient mythology. The werewolf myth has also been shaped by Christianity and European folklore, with stories of werewolves being found in literature and popular culture.

Prehistoric Evidence

The earliest evidence of the werewolf myth can be found in prehistoric cave art dating back to the Paleolithic era. These images depict half-human, half-wolf creatures that are believed to represent the concept of the werewolf. This suggests that the werewolf myth has ancient origins and may have been part of prehistoric human culture.

Ancient Greece and Rome

The werewolf myth can also be found in ancient Greek and Roman mythology. In Greek mythology, the goddess Hecate was often depicted as a half-human, half-wolf creature, while the Roman god of war, Mars, was sometimes described as a werewolf. These gods were thought to be capable of transforming into their wolf form at will.

Early Christian Beliefs

The werewolf myth was also shaped by early Christian beliefs. In the Middle Ages, werewolves were often seen as demonic creatures that represented the forces of evil. This idea was likely influenced by the biblical story of Cain, who was said to have been cursed to become a wild beast. This notion of the werewolf as a demonic creature continued to be popular during the Middle Ages.

European Folklore

The werewolf myth was shaped by European folklore during the Middle Ages. In this period, stories of werewolves were widespread, with tales of people transforming into wolves at night being spread throughout Europe. These stories often depicted werewolves as monstrous creatures that were capable of causing great destruction.

The Werewolf in Literature

The werewolf myth was also popularized in literature during the Middle Ages. One of the earliest werewolf stories is found in the medieval poem Beowulf, which tells the story of a man who transforms into a wolf-like creature in order to fight a monster. Other famous works such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Dante’s Inferno also contain references to werewolves.

Werewolf Trials

Another important aspect of the werewolf myth during the Middle Ages was the belief that werewolves were real and could be found in the world. This belief led to a series of witch trials in Europe, in which people accused of being werewolves were put on trial and sometimes executed.

The Werewolf as Demon

The werewolf myth was also shaped by the Christian idea of the werewolf as a demonic creature. In this period, werewolves were often seen as the servants of the Devil, capable of spreading fear and destruction. This idea of the werewolf as a demonic creature remained popular throughout the Middle Ages.

The Werewolf in Film

The werewolf myth has remained popular in modern times, with the werewolf being a popular figure in film and television. Early werewolf films such as The Wolfman (1941) and The Howling (1981) helped to popularize the werewolf myth, while more recent films such as the Twilight series (2008-2012) and An American Werewolf in London (1981) have further popularized the werewolf in modern culture.

The Werewolf in Popular Culture

The werewolf has also become a popular figure in popular culture. The werewolf is a common figure in books, television shows, and video games, with popular examples such as the Harry Potter series (2001-2011), True Blood (2008-2014), and The Witcher (2007-present).

Modern Beliefs and Legends

Despite the modern popularity of the werewolf myth, there are still those who believe in the existence of werewolves. In some parts of the world, people still believe in the existence of werewolves and tell stories of werewolves in their local folklore.

The Werewolf in Contemporary Society

The werewolf myth has been part of human culture for centuries and continues to be popular in modern times. From its early origins in prehistoric cave art to its modern incarnation in film and popular culture, the werewolf myth has been shaped and influenced by different cultures and eras.

The Werewolf as a Symbol

The werewolf is an interesting figure in mythology, as it is a creature that is both human and animal. It is often seen as a symbol of transformation and duality, representing both the best and worst aspects of human nature. The werewolf is also a symbol of fear and the unknown, representing the dark and mysterious forces that lurk in the shadows.


1. “What is a Werewolf?”, Live Science,
2. “The History of the Werewolf Myth”, History,
3. “The Werewolf, Symbol of Transformation”, ThoughtCo,

Commonly Asked Questions

Where did the fascinating legend of werewolves begin?

The captivating tale of werewolves is believed to have originated in ancient Greece and Rome, as evidenced by ethnographic, poetic and philosophical texts. The earliest surviving example of man-to-wolf transformation is found in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates back to around 2,100 BC.

Who was the first legendary werewolf?

The first legendary werewolf is said to be King Lycaon!