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In Italy also it is believed that there is a noxious influence in the eye of a wolf; it is supposed that it will instantly take away the voice of a man,1 if it is the first to see him. Africa and Egypt produce wolves of a sluggish and stunted nature;2 those of the colder climates are fierce and savage. That men have been turned into wolves, and again restored to their original form,3 we must confidently look upon as untrue, unless, indeed, we are ready to believe all the tales, which, for so many ages, have been found to be fabulous. But, as the belief of it has become so firmly fixed in the minds of the common people, as to have caused the term "Versipellis"4 to be used as a common form of imprecation, I will here point out its origin. Euanthes, a Grecian author of no mean reputation, informs us that the Arcadians assert that a member of the family of one Anthus is chosen by lot, and then taken to a certain lake in that district, where, after suspending his clothes on an oak, he swims across the water and goes away into the desert, where he is changed into a wolf and associates with other animals of the same species for a space of nine years. If he has kept himself from beholding a man during the whole of that time, he returns to the same lake, and, after swimming across it, resumes his original form, only with the addition of nine years in age to his former appearance. To this Fabius5 adds, that he takes his former clothes as well. It is really wonderful to what a length the credulity6 of the Greeks will go! There is no falsehood, if ever so barefaced, to which some of them cannot be found to bear testimony.

So too, Agriopas, who wrote the Olympionics,7 informs us that Demænetus, the Parrhasian, during a sacrifice of human victims, which the Arcadians were offering up to the Lycæan8 Jupiter, tasted the entrails of a boy who had been slaughtered; upon which he was turned into a wolf, but, ten years afterwards, was restored to his original shape and his calling of an athlete, and returned victorious in the pugilistic contests at the Olympic games.

It is also commonly supposed, that the tail of this animal contains a small lock of hair, which possesses an amatory power; and that when the creature is caught, this hair is shed by it, but has no virtue whatever, unless it is procured from the animal while alive.9 It is said that these animals couple for no more than twelve days in the year;10 and that when pressed by hunger they will eat earth. Among the points of augury, to have our progress cut short to the right by a wolf, if at the time its mouth is full, is the best of omens. There is a species, which is known as the stag-wolf, such as we have already said11 were brought from Gaul and exhibited in the Circus by Pompeius Magnus. It is said, that however hungry this animal may chance to be, if it only turns its head while eating, it immediately becomes oblivious of the food that is before it, and takes its departure to seek it elsewhere.12

1 Hence the proverbial expression applied to a person who is suddenly silent upon the entrance of another; "Lupus est tibi visus."

2 Cuvier says, that the wolves of Africa are of the ordinary size, and conjectures that this remark probably applies to the chakale, or "Canis aureus" of Linnæus, which is of the colour of the wolf, and the size of the fox, and is common throughout all Africa.—B.

3 The opinion that men were converted into wolves by enchantment, or a preternatural agency, was at one time so generally received, as to have led to judicial processes, and the condemnation of the supposed criminal. —B. To the relator of the above story that men lose their voice on seeing a wolf, Scaliger wishes as many blows as at different times he had seen a wolf without losing his voice.

4 This literally means "changing the skin;" it was applied by some ancient medical writers to a peculiar form of insanity, where the patient conceives himself changed into a wolf, and named λυκανθρώπια, "lycanthropy." The word appears to have been in common use among the Romans, and to have been applied by them to any one who had undergone a remarkable change in his character and habits; in this sense it is used by Plautus, Amphitryon, Prol. 1. 123, and Bacchides, A. iv. sc. 4, 1. 12.—B.

5 It is not known who is here referred to; it is not probable that it is Fabius Pictor, the Roman historian.—B.

6 It is rather curious to find Pliny censuring others for credulity; indeed he loses no opportunity of a hit at the Greeks, to whom, after all, he is greatly indebted. See Introduction to vol. i. p. 17.

7 An account of the victories gained at the Olympic games.—B.

8 It has been conjectured, that the epithet, "Lycæan," αύκαιος, was given to Jupiter by the Arcadians, for this supposed conversion of men into wolves, which was conceived to be effected by divine interposition.—B.

9 It does not appear what is the foundation of this opinion; of course, it is without truth.—B.

10 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. vi. c. 35, says that they couple once only in the year. Ælian, Anim. Nat. B. iv. c. 4, says that their bringing forth continues twelve days.—B.

11 See c. 28 of the present Book. He alludes probably to the lynx.

12 It is not easy to say whence this opinion was derived; the general character of the wolf is that of quickness and watchfulness, rather than stupidity.—B. But it would appear that it is the lynx that is alluded to.

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