The History of Werewolves

Are you a fan of werewolves? If so, you’re in for a treat! In this article, we delve into the rich history of werewolves, exploring their evolution from ancient myth to modern pop culture. From their origins in Greek mythology to their portrayal in classic horror films, werewolves have captivated people for centuries.

We’ll also take a look at some of the best actor portrayals of werewolves and examine the science behind the legend. So sit back and get ready to learn all about the fascinating history of werewolves!

Intro to the History of Werewolves

Werewolves, also known as lycanthropes, are a legendary creature that has fascinated and terrified people for centuries. The concept of a human transforming into a wolf or wolf-like creature dates back to ancient civilizations, with werewolf lore appearing in various forms throughout history and across cultures.

According to legend, a person could become a werewolf through a variety of means, such as being cursed by a witch or being bitten by another werewolf. In some versions of the story, the transformation occurred only during a full moon, while in others it could happen at any time.

The History of Werewolf Variations

One of the earliest recorded accounts of werewolves comes from ancient Greek mythology, where the story of the lycanthrope King Lykaon appears.

Lykaon was a king of Arcadia who, as punishment for trying to trick the god Zeus, was turned into a wolf. The myth of Lykaon was later picked up by the Roman poet Ovid, who included it in his work “Metamorphoses.”

Werewolf stories were also popular in medieval Europe, where they were often used as cautionary tales to warn people against the dangers of giving into their primal instincts. The werewolf became a common motif in folklore and literature, appearing in stories such as “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids.”

During the 18th and 19th centuries, there were several reported cases of people being tried and executed for allegedly turning into werewolves. These cases were often fueled by superstition and mass hysteria, and it is now widely believed that the individuals accused of being werewolves were most likely suffering from mental illness or were victims of circumstance.

History of Werewolves in Modern Times

Despite being a legendary creature with roots in folklore and mythology, the history of werewolves continues to endure, thus they hold a significant place in popular culture. The werewolf has evolved over time and has been portrayed in a variety of ways, from a fearsome monster to a misunderstood outcast.

Werewolves have played a prominent role in popular culture for centuries, appearing in a variety of forms in literature, film, television, and other media. One of the earliest and most well-known werewolf stories in history is “The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids,” a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. In this story, a group of seven young kids are left home alone while their mother goes out, and a wolf comes and eats six of them. The seventh kid, however, escapes and returns home with the help of a friendly goat.

Werewolves have also appeared in a number of video games, such as “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” and “Bloodborne.” In these games, werewolves are often depicted as powerful enemies that the player must defeat.

One of the most popular modern depictions of werewolves is the Twilight series, which presents werewolves as a misunderstood minority group. In the series, werewolves are portrayed as being more in tune with nature and more in control of their transformations compared to vampires. The Twilight series has helped to popularize the idea of the werewolf as a romantic and sympathetic figure.

Werewolves have also appeared in many classic horror films, such as “The Wolf Man” (1941) and “An American Werewolf in London” (1981). These films helped to establish the modern image of the werewolf as a fearsome monster that terrorizes its victims.

In recent years, werewolves have also appeared in a number of popular TV shows, such as “True Blood” and “Teen Wolf.” These shows have helped to modernize the werewolf myth, presenting werewolves as more complex and nuanced characters.

Best Actor Portrayals of Werewolves

Throughout the years, a number of actors have portrayed werewolves on screen. Here are a few of the best actor portrayals, based on the history of werewolves:

  1. Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man: Chaney’s portrayal of the tragic werewolf Lawrence Talbot in “The Wolf Man” (1941) is widely regarded as one of the best werewolf performances of all time.
  2. David Naughton as David Kessler in “An American Werewolf in London”: Naughton’s portrayal of the reluctant werewolf David Kessler earned him a Saturn Award for Best Actor.
  3. Tyler Hoechlin as Derek Hale in “Teen Wolf”: Hoechlin’s portrayal of the brooding werewolf Derek Hale on the popular TV show “Teen Wolf” won him a Teen Choice Award for Best Actor.
  4. Joe Manganiello as Alcide Herveaux in “True Blood”: Manganiello’s portrayal of the rugged werewolf Alcide Herveaux on “True Blood” earned him critical acclaim and a number of award nominations.
  5. Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot in “The Wolfman”: Del Toro’s portrayal of the troubled werewolf Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 film “The Wolfman” received praise from critics and fans alike.


The history of werewolves stretch back to ancient civilizations. From the myth of the lycanthrope King Lykaon in Greek mythology to the cautionary tales of medieval Europe, werewolf stories have captivated people for centuries.

In modern times, the werewolf has continued to appear in popular culture, with portrayals ranging from a fearsome monster to a misunderstood outcast. Despite the enduring popularity of the werewolf myth, there is no scientific evidence to support the existence of lycanthropes. The concept of a person transforming into a wolf or wolf-like creature is likely to have originated as a way to explain unusual or inexplicable behavior in the past.

Today, the werewolf remains a popular figure in fiction and folklore, and is sure to continue to be a source of fascination for generations to come. Its enduring appeal is a testament to the enduring power of the human imagination and our fascination with the unknown.

If you enjoyed this article on the history of werewolves, check out “What are ghosts?“, learn about famous burials in Green-Wood Cemetery, or explore an old hoax about an underground city in the Grand Canyon.

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