Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Ovid Book 1: Lycaon: Lycanthropy and Vampyres
20 Oct 04 Ovid Bk 1 Lycaon

Ovid recalls the Four Ages of Man, describing the destruction of creation and the corruption of the world. The First Millenium was Gold: Men were content to live at peace and indeed so peaceful with one another that they had not yet begn to explore the earth. No cities crowded the rivers or crowned hills. Life was simple without need for fortifications. The trees bent over to give their fruit from extended fingers, the grapes and strawberries ripened in the sun while man was content to eat his fill without quarrelling with his neighbor.

The Second Age was Silver when Saturn fell to Death's dark contry and Jove began to rule. This age was not so rich as change came when Autumn brought her shifty winds and wild Winter ravaged earth, stripping the trees barren of their fruit. Ice crystallized the winter air and Spring restored the world with greenery, but lived a life too short. In this time, man learned to plough the land and work by the sweat of his brow to plant the seed and harvest the wheat, grinding gain for bread. His back against the wind, man built shelters for the winter, shutting his world into little boxes—each one defending for himself.

The Third Age followed, filled with Bronze. Trumpets rang as men turned their ploughshares to swords and fought with one another still in fear of almighty Jove. And soon thereafter, came the Fourth, the Age of Iron in which we live today: man against man; each striving to maintain his selfish gain. The breast of Mother Earth sodden with men's blood as strife breaks out between the bitter quarrels of kingdoms and countries, each fighting for superiority. The values of the past are gone. No man trusts his brother while Piety, Faith, Love and Truth are all exchanged for Violence, Cheating, Deceit and Usury—the world turns with trade.

So it was when Jove decided to visit Earth disguised as a peasant to discover the ways of men and bring justice to the world. Death trod the earth as man watched warily of one another. Driven by greed to raid the bowels of earth, they succumbed to avarice and murder, each taking what he could. Brother distrusted brother and stepmothers devised poison as choice desserts for their sons. Fury raged within the walls of homes and spread across the lnd as countries fought with one another, threatening to destroy the oundations of the world. In this time in Lycaeus, there lived one tyrant, Lycaon, more cruel than all the others. He had no fear of any man and less of Jove above. Inhumane, he was beastly to those who dwelt within his domain. Imprisoning men within his cells and slaying them to fill his cooking-pot, he slit their bowels and devoured their entrails. This was the feast he prepared for the ruler of the gods and so ppalled by the horror o it all, Jove struck him with a thunderbolt. His cry we hear as he stalks his prey at night now. his cloak turned to coarse hair and his legs became those of a wolf as he seeks to tear the life-blood from helpless animals with his canine teeth.

So Ovid introduced the story of the werewolf into the Western world, taking it from other sources including the Trojan War. Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus entertained a wandering Zeus, cooking up a meal from one of his sons. (Apollodorus III: 8 Later the wolf tales, particularly the adaption of Romulus and Remus were brought into western literature through the Tarzan stories and Kipling's Jungle Books in a begnine manner as men run with the wolf-pack and live half-wild lives, yet always maintaining their identity as human.)

Such shape-changers originated from the east through the stories of Vikram the Vampyre which were incorporated into Apuleius, Golden Ass. Below are links for meeting with the Indian Vampyre which invaded the western world before Apuleius birth ca 130. The Gandharba-Sena, originator of the Vikram stories, lived in the century before the dawn of Christianity and with the east-west trade, his stories spread in the same manner as the Jatarka and Bidpai Tales which incorporated with the Aesop's Fables.

Dryden, transl Metamorphoses

Book 1

Kline, A. S., (poetry translation) “Ovid, The Metamorphoses
full downloadable Metamorphoses in .pdf with index and hyperlinked text for quick searching.
Author email :

Description of text : This is the most accessible translation of Ovid's "The Metamorphoses" ever produced. It combines readable contemporary language with an in-depth mythological index which is fully hyper-linked to the main text and vice versa. Experience a narration of Greek and Roman mythology from the Creation, to the foundation of Rome. Theseus, Hercules and Achilles are among the many characters illuminated by this 4 MB .pdf 880 MR

Wikipedia: Lycaon
gives a summary of texts and sources in classical literature where Lycaon appears and their differences

Wikipedia: Werewolf
definition with history of the word

Wikipedia: Lycanthropy
gives a history and description of the myth

Captain Sir Richard F. Burton's, Vikram and The Vampire
Classic Hindu Tales of Adventure, Magic, and Romance
Edited by his Wife, Isabel Burton
from the preface 1870 version:

"The Baital-Pachisi, or Twenty-five Tales of a Baital is the history
of a huge Bat, Vampire, or Evil Spirit which inhabited and
animated dead bodies. It is an old, and thoroughly Hindu, Legend
composed in Sanskrit, and is the germ which culminated in the
Arabian Nights, and which inspired the "Golden Ass" of Apuleius,
Boccacio's "Decamerone," the "Pentamerone," and all that class of
facetious fictitious literature.

The story turns chiefly on a great king named Vikram, the King
Arthur of the East, who in pursuance of his promise to a Jogi or
Magician, brings to him the Baital (Vampire), who is hanging on a
tree. The difficulties King Vikram and his son have in bringing the
Vampire into the presence of the Jogi are truly laughable; and on
this thread is strung a series of Hindu fairy stories, which contain
much interesting information on Indian customs and manners. It
also alludes to that state, which induces Hindu devotees to allow
themselves to be buried alive, and to appear dead for weeks or
months, and then to return to life again; a curious state of
mesmeric catalepsy, into which they work themselves by
concentrating the mind and abstaining from food "

Tales of King Vikram and Betaal the Vampire
very short fables are available here

vampyre codex
"The prototype of this work was first set to paper in late 1991. A specially printed version was offered to select students in conjunction with the International Society of Vampires beginning in 1995. Later revisions led to the Sanguinarium edition, published by the Sanguiarium Press in October 2000. This version is derived from the Sanguinarium edition which also came to be circulated widely on the Internet"

Wikipedia: Vampires


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