Lycaon – First Werewolf?
In Greek mythology, one of the first werewolves that is said to have existed is Lycaon. The tale of Lycaon hints at origins of why being a werewolf is considered a “curse”.
As the myths go, Lycaon was a king of Arcadia that angered the great god Zeus with his cruelty. It is said that Lycaon was so cruel, that stories of his cruelties actually reached the god Zeus. Zeus decided to pay Lycaon a visit to see if the stories were true, and to Zeus’ dismay, discovered that they were.
Meanwhile, Lycaon, when he discovered that others believed that his visitor was in fact the god Zeus, developed tests to prove it, as he did not believe it was Zeus. What happened thereafter varies from version to version of the story, but most stories say that one of the tests the King concocted was to serve a human being to Zeus at a banquet; and the other stories say that Lycaon actually attempted to kill Zeus to prove that he was not immortal as Zeus would be. In all versions of the story, Lycaon ended up angering Zeus to the point that Zeus punished the king by turning him completely into a wolf. Lycaon was said to have had 50 sons – some versions of the story also say that Zeus transformed Lycaon’s 50 sons into wolves (other versions of the story say that the 50 sons were killed by thunderbolts thrown by Zeus).
The story of Lycaon is believed to be the basis of the Greek Arcadian festival called Lycaea which celebrates Zeus. The festival involves the offering of cakes to the god, however it is believed that ancient versions of the festival may have involved the sacrifice of humans (as Lycaon is said to have sacrificed a human for Zeus…although if this made Zeus angry…why would they do this?)