Latin name: Lycaon
Other names: Licaon
Category: Beast

A wolf-like beast with multi-colored fur

General Attributes

The lycaon appears in some medieval encyclopedias. It is a wolf-like animal and has multi-colored fur. It is a swift leaper; it lives by hunting; it is harmless to humans. In winter it is shaggy and covered with hair, but in summer it is naked.

In Ovid's Metamorphoses is the story of King Lycaon of Arcadian who offended the god Zeus by serving him the roasted flesh of a child, in order to see whether Zeus was truly all-knowing. Lycaon fled from the angry god, went mad, and turned into a wolf. This led to the lycaon being identified by some as the werewolf (lycanthrope), a man who turns into a wolf.


This animal signifies sycophants or detractors of their subjects, who, while their superiors are in the persecution of some, then dress as if they were ruffians, and with a spirit of maligning their comrades, and believe that this is honorable to themselves. But in the time of peace they die of envy. - [Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum]


The lycaon may be the African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus), which has multi-colored fur.