Saturday, July 4, 2009
Introduction to Interview with King Lycaon, Werewolf from Greek Mythology
“The story of Lycaon, which originated in Greek mythology, has been viewed as one of the first werewolf stories ever. Publius Ovidius Naso or Ovid born in 43 B.C., in Sulmo, to an upper class Roman family introduced the story of Lycaon in his classic work, Metamorphoses. There are many versions of the legend about why Zeus punished Lycaon by turning him into a wolf. Most interpretations explain that Lycaon fed Zeus human flesh causing the King of the Gods to become enraged, killing most of his sons with thunderbolts and transforming Lycaon into a wolf. Some say Lycaon was a cruel ruler while others viewed him as a benevolent king.
I believe in parallel universes whereby each version can be true. Through the magic of my Lunar Orb I have brought back Lycaon to ask him about his life and let you the reader, decide, was he evil or misunderstood. We met here at the Werewolf Café. Feel free to send your comment questions to Lycaon.
Eva: He walked in, a tall muscular confidant alpha male radiating authority. Graying hair, but attractive in a Sean Connery sort of way. He cast a wolfish smile with a hint of white sharp fangs and gave me a deep bow. I tried to remain cool and gestured for him to sit while the server brought two glasses of fine Greek wine. “Good evening King Lycaon. Glad you can join us for the interview.”
Lycaon: With flirting eyes he smiled. “Pleasure is mine. I must say, the moonlight and the scent of humans make me hungry.”
Eva: I tried not to squirm. Here I was interviewing a known cannibal. “Tell us a little bit about your family history.”
Lycaon: “I was the first King of Arcadia. My parents were Pelasgus and Meliboea. I had 49 sons and one daughter, Callisto.”
Eva: “Did you say 49 sons? Can you even remember their names?”
Lycaon: “Grrrrr. Yes, all of them. It’s their mothers I can’t recall. Below I’ve listed them all.”
1. Melaeneus 2.Thesprotus 3. Helix. 4. Nyctimus. 5. Peucetius. 6. Caucon
7. Mecisteus 8.Mecisteus 9. Holpeus 10.Macareus 11.Oenotrus 12 Plichus
13. Acontes 14.Euaemon 15.Ancyor 16. Archebates 17.Carteron 18.Aegaeon
19. Pallas20. Eumon 21. Canethus 22. Prothos 23. Linus 24. Corethon
25. Maenalus 26. Teleboas 27. Physius 28. Phassus 29. Phthius 3130. Lycius
31. Alipherus 32. Genetor 33. Bucolion 34. Socleus 35. Phineus 36. Eumetes
37. Harpaleus 38. Portheus 39. Plato 40. Haemon 41. Cynaethus 42. Leo(n)
43. Harpalycus 44. Heraeeus 45. Titanas 46. Mantineus 47. Cleitor
48. Stymphalus 49. Orchomenus
Eva: “Hmmm. I see. Tell me a little bit about your kingdom and your accomplishments.”
Lycaon: “I lived in the region of Arcadia, which was called Pelasgia in ancient times. I was a fair and benevolent king, not ruthless as others would have you think. I raised civilization in this region to a higher level than previously during the period of my father Pelasgus’reign. I founded the town Lycosoura in the mountains of Lycaeon and that is where I became the first king. I started the Lycaean Games. I even set up a sanctuary for Zeus Lycaeus. Grrr. That ungrateful and lecherous god!”
Eva: Our server brought us a menu and hastily left. Would Lycaon be disappointed man-flesh was not listed as the main course? “I heard you would sacrifice humans to Zeus and that he became enraged because you fed him the flesh of one of your sons. Is that true?” He fidgeted in his seat before he pierced me with his dark wolfish eyes. I instinctively cast my eyes down at his domineering intensity.
Lycaon: “Grrrr. Lies, lies, all lies!!!”
Eva: He pounded a clawed fist on the table. I try to keep my cool as I watch his head shift from that of a man’s to that of a big grey wolf. I sipped my wine. “Care to explain?” He inhaled and was once again human.
Lycaon: “I never fed him my son or any other child. I fed him the intestines of some criminals from my dungeon in a well spiced stew.” He snorted a laugh. “He enjoyed the meal and had several helpings.”
Eva: “I heard you served him human flesh to test to see if he really was a god. Why would you do such a thing knowing how appalled he was about cannibalism?”
Lycaon: His dark eyes looked distant and pained. “It was on account on how he ruined my daughter Callisto and caused her own son to nearly kill her.”
Eva: “Yes, I heard Zeus was a cad, but was it really his fault? I heard he was a lady’s man or rather god.”
Lycaon: He glanced at me with those stalking eyes before continuing. “My daughter, Callisto vowed to preserve her virginity to remain the hunting companion of Artemis.
His eyes glistened but he continued. “However, one day as she sat alone in the wood Zeus came and seduced her. She became pregnant and gave birth to my grandson Arkas. In a fit of jealous rage, his wife, Hera turned my dear wonderful daughter into a bear. Later, when Arkas was grown, a bear wondered into the sanctuary of Zeus. Arkas decided to hunt her and before my grandson killed his own mother, Zeus transferred her to the stars. When Arkas died long after, he too was placed amongst the stars next to his mother. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.”
Eva: I watched as he dabbed at a tear. I no longer viewed him as a ruthless cannibal but a father seeking justice for a wronged daughter. “What exactly happened after Zeus found out you fed him human meat?”
Lycaon: He gulped down his entire glass and smacked his lips. “He struck all my sons with thunderbolts turning them all into werewolves. I ran but as I hid in the open market he struck at me and I too was transformed into a powerful wolf.” He poured himself another glass.
Eva: What was this transformation like?”
Lycaon: My fine garments tore as fur bristled on my skin and my face elongated into a snout and feet became paws. I dropped to all fours and began to alter painfully. My ears grew pointy and my gums bled profusely, turning my teeth into sharp fangs. I was chased out of my own kingdom. At first I ran in terror above the fields and howled in despair. I was famished and greedy for the blood of livestock and man.”
Eva: “I see you have the ability to shift at will. Did you learn to live with the curse?”
Lycaon: He inhaled the air as if a fresh loaf of bread had just been brought in. “I embraced the wolf in me wholeheartedly. I headed toward the mountains of Arkadia to join my pack made up of my sons. My sense of smell and hearing became enhanced. I had the stamina of a wild wolf and laughed at Zeus for making me stronger than man. Later my son’s and I learned to mix amongst my people and only hunted wild game. My people feared but revered me.”
Eva: I had always heard that his sons were killed. I like his version so much better. “So, any regrets?”
Lycaon: “My only regret was not protecting my daughter from Zeus and his spiteful queen, Hera. Yet, Callisto is forever immortal in the heavens. Even one of Jupiter’s moons is named for her.”
Eva: “May I add that your name is popular. You know that the Greek word for wolf is lykos.”
Lycaon: He laughed. “I have heard that werewolves are often called lycans.” He waved his hand dismissively. “And that lycan is part of some sort of mental miasma.”
Eva: “Lycanthropy is a clinical illness where the victim has the delusion that they have transformed into a real animal. A few clinical studies have shown that the part of the brain that perceives body image makes the person think they are animals. Body image distortions are common conditions, like the anorexic that perceives a fat body. You might like a book called The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales a 1985 book by neurologist Oliver Sacks. His case study was of a man with visual agnosia, who saw a hat instead of his wife.”
Lycaon: He shook his head. Most likely Zeus might have turned his wife into a hat.”
Eva: I should have remembered that Lycaon was not part of this realm.
“And you should be honored that the African wild dog was named after you. Lycaon pictus and the Eastern Timber wolf is Canis lupus lycaon
Lycaon: He lifted a brow. “I’m not keen on a wild dog named after’ Lycaon’ but naming a wolf after me does my heart good.”
Eva: I wanted to tell him more about movies such as Underworld Rise of the Lycans and my novels about the secret lycan society but knew that we had run out of time. He was breathing rapidly and his clothing began to expand. His hands became furred and his joints began to crack. “I would like to thank you for the informative interview and hope you can come back later to answer more questions.”
Lycaon: He stood abruptly and snarled. “It was indeed a pleasure.”
Lycaon flung the door open with clawed hands and the bartender quickly shut and bolted it. I peered out the window as his grey wolf form ran up a hill. The night soon vibrated with the distant howls of Lycaon and his pack. I closed my laptop and asked for another glass of wine