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“Turn-skin.” One who changes his skin; thence, one who transforms himself, or is transformed, into another person's figure, as of Iupiter into Amphitryon (Plaut. Amphitr. 121. Prol.); and so a wily, dissembling fellow who can assume any character (id. Bacch. iv. 4.12). But the term designates more especially a man transformed into a wolf—a “were-wolf” (loup-garou). Thus, in an ancient legend of Arcadia, every member of a certain family was changed into a wolf for nine years, and after that period resumed his original shape (Pliny , Pliny H. N. viii. 22). Belief in were-wolves is very ancient. Herodotus (iv. 105) says that among the Neuri, a semi-Scythian people, each man became a wolf for a few days every year —a story repeated by Mela (ii. 1). Vergil in the Eighth Eclogue makes his enchanter, Moeris, do the same. It is supposed that the notion arose from the stories of the “wolf-boys” of India, of whom Mowgli, in Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, stands to the modern reader as a type. The best were-wolf story in ancient literature is that told by Petronius (ch. 62). See also Herz, Der Werwolf (1862); and Baring-Gould's Book of Werewolves (1866).

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Plautus, Amphitruo, 1.prol
    • Plautus, Bacchides, 4.4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.22
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