The story of Lycaon the king explains how werewolves first came into the world.

Lycaon was a very fierce and cruel king.  His cruelty was legendary. When the powerful God, Zeus heard of his mischievous actions, he decided to come down to see for himself.  To his surprise the truth was worse than what he had heard.   Zeus went at once to meet with King Lycaon. When Zeus revealed himself at Lycaon's kingdom, Lycaon's servants got on their knees to pray. Lycaon however did not believe that Zeus was a god and made a plan to test him. Lycaon planned to kill him. If he was a god he would survive but if he wasn't then he would die. First he invited Zeus to a feast that he had prepared himself. The feast was human flesh from an innocent messenger that he had killed. Zeus, since he was a god knew at once what was happening and was furious with Lycaon’s cannibalism. As a punishment Zeus turned Lycaon into a wolf. Lycaon's entire body changed, only his eyes were human.

Peter Stumpe

One of the famous stories from Cologne, Germany was about a man named a Peter Stumpe who lived in the late 1500's.

Peter Stumpe practiced witchcraft since the age of 12 and had given his soul and body to the devil.  In return the Devil granted him a wish.  Stumpe's wish was to be able to turn into a animal cable of attacking people.  The Devil gave him a belt that would turn him into a werewolf when he put it on and back to a human when he took it off.  With this "gift" Stumpe began his killings.  He would attack people in wolf form and turn back into a human so no one knew that it was him.  The number of killings grew and he continued to get away with it.  His luck soon ran out and he was caught by a group of suspicious hunters.  He confessed to the killings and to possessing the magic belt from the Devil.  But the belt itself was never found.  Stumpe was tortured, his arms and legs were broken off and he was beheaded and burned on October 28, 1589.  Now a monument stands in the town of Bedburg, where Stumpe was executed.  It has the torture wheel, where his body was broken, wooden figures of all the people he had killed, and Stumpe's head on top of a stake.   

The Beast of Le Gevaduan

This tale takes place in a mountainous region in France called Le Gevaduan where the people lived off of cattle herding.  These cattle were mostly watched by children.  The first person killed was a young girl who was watching a herd of cattle and did not return home.  The villagers  went out looking for her and found her dead body and her heart torn out.  Many other followed and families began to keep their children home because they feared for their lives.  Then a peasant women reported that she had seen a weird looking creature that walked on two legs like a human but had a pig like snout and was as big as a donkey.  No one believed her until another man named Jean-Pierre witnessed the creature himself. 

News quickly spread to King Louis the XV and he immediately sent a group of soldiers to find and kill the animal.  They came upon the animal and they killed it.   But they were wrong because the killings continued.  The King sent the soldiers out a second time but again the soldiers failed and the killings continued.  The third time a group of hunters were determined to kill the creature, especially Jean Chastel who would not rest until he killed the animal.  He even brought a rifle full of silver bullets, that were known to kill werewolves.  The group of hunters met up with the creature and Jean Chastel shot two of his silver bullets.   One piercing the werewolf's heart killing it.

The description of this animal is unclear and we only know that it was a "strange-looking wolf, with close-cropped ears and unusual hooflike feet." The animal was buried but no actually knows where.  The only remaining evidence is Jean Chastel's rifle at the church in Saint Martin-de-Bouchaux.

The characteristics of a werewolf are pretty well known from modern day movies and books. Though they are exaggerated they are pretty similar to the folklore description. Here are some of their characteristics:

  • They look like a combination of a wolf and a human--a human body but a wolf’s head. Sometimes they turn into a full wolf only bigger and stronger. 
  • They have long hair and sharp teeth.
  • They may run on all fours like a wolf, but may sometimes run up right.
  • They howl at the moon.
  • A full moon causes the transformation of the werewolf and also causes them to act more violently
  • Hair exists on the palm of their hand.
  • In some places the werewolf's third finger is longer than the middle finger.
  • When transforming, a werewolf's hands & feet turn into paws and its ears become pointed.
  • Howls replace the person’s voice.
  • The eyes are the only thing that do not change during transformation into a wolf.
  • Some Werewolves have short tails but others many not have one at all.
  • They are more intelligent, dangerous, and fierce than a regular wolf.
  • In human form a werewolf wears its skin inside out, meaning that its fur is inside of its body.