In Greek myth, King Lycaon invited Zeus to eat with him. He served him the flesh of his son, Nyctimus, to see if Zeus could tell and if he truly knew everything.
Zeus, in his anger, turned Lycaon into a wolf and restored his son to life.
Werewolves stretch back to ancient times and have always been popular tales to tell.
In France, werewolves were rife.
There were various accounts of a missing hand providing proof of lycanthropy. Peter Stumpf, a man tried in Germany in 1589 for being a werewolf, was accused of his crimes on the basis of his missing hand. It had also been alleged that the 'werewolf' who had been terrorising the area had recently had his paw chopped off. After torture, Stumpf admitted that the Devil had given him the power to transform himself, and that he was responsible for a spate of recent deaths. He was executed on the breaking wheel, whilst his daughter and mistress were both sentenced to be raped then burnt at the stake. Another story, dating back from 1588, emerged from the moutainous Auvergne region of France. A hunter in the forest was startled by a werewolf but succeeded in chopping off one of its paws. He took it to show the nobleman who owned the estate, but when they unwrapped it from the piece of cloth, it had transformed into a woman's hand. The nobleman recognised the gold ring on the fourth finger as his wife's wedding ring; he dismissed the hunter and went to look for her. He found her in the kitchen, secretly nursing her bleeding wrist. When presented with the evidence, she admitted to being the werewolf, and was too burnt at the stake a few days later.
A story from 3rd Century France told of a soldier, Raimbaud de Pinetum, who was dismissed and disinherited by his nobleman, Ponce de Chapteuil. De Pinetum reacted to this dreadful news by assuming the characteristics of a wild animal, eventually turning into a wolf. His military skills made him a terrifying threat to the local area, until a woodsman was able to chop off one of his paws. At this, he became a man again, and expressed to the town that "he had decided to sacrifice one leg, because by amputating it he had got rid of his misfortune. For they say that amputation of a limb frees such men from their calamitous condition".
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