Sources : Wolf

Aristotle [ca. 350 BCE] (De animalibus, Book 7, 24.2; 8, 7.1; 9, 24.5): [Book 7, 24.2] A fabulous story is told of their parturition; for they say that all the she wolves produce their young in twelve days in the year; and the reason which is given for this fable is this, that during this number of days Latona was brought from the Hyperborean regions to Delos, in the form of a wolf, for fear of Juno. Whether this is or is not the period of parturition has never yet been ascertained. At present it only rests upon tradition. It does not appear to be true, nor that other tale which says that wolves only produce once in their life. [Book 8, 7.1] Among viviparous quadrupeds, those that are wild and have pointed teeth are all carnivorous, except some wolves, which, when they are hungry, will, as they say, eat a certain kind of earth, but this is the only exception. They will not eat grass unless they are sick, for some dogs eat grass and vomit it up again, and so are purified. The solitary wolves are more eager for human flesh than those which hunt in packs. [Book 9, 24.5] On the Palus Moeotis, they say that wolves are accustomed to assist the fishermen in their calling, and if they do not give them their share of the food, they destroy the nets that are laid to dry on the ground. - [Cresswell translation, 1887]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 34): [Book 8, 34] But in Italy also it is believed that the sight of wolves is harmful, and that if they look at a man before he sees them, it temporarily deprives him of utterance. The wolves produced in Africa and Egypt are feeble and small, but those of colder regions are cruel and fierce. We are bound to pronounce with confidence that the story of men being turned into wolves and restored to themselves again is false - or else we must believe all the tales that the experience of so many centuries has taught us to be fabulous; nevertheless we will indicate the origin of the popular belief, which is so firmly rooted that it classes werewolves among persons under a curse. Evanthes, who holds no contemptible position among the authors of Greece, writes that the Arcadians have a tradition that someone chosen out of the clan of a certain Anthus by casting lots among the family is taken to a certain marsh in that region, and hanging his clothes on an oak-tree swims across the water and goes away into a desolate place and is transformed into a wolf and herds with the others of the same kind for nine years; and that if in that period he has refrained from touching a human being, he returns to the same marsh, swims across it and recovers his shape, with nine years' age added to his former appearance; Evanthes also adds the more fabulous detail that he gets back the same clothes! It is astounding to what lengths Greek credulity will go; there is no lie so shameless as to lack a supporter. [Book 8, 53] ...but none other of the fur-clad animals does so [change color] except the Indian wolf, which is reported to have a mane on the neck. [Book 10, 93] Wolves, as we have said, when hungry even eat earth. [Book 11, 54] The eyes of night-roaming animals like cats shine and flash in the dark so that one cannot look at them, and those of the wild-goat and the wolf gleam and shoot out light... [Book 11, 67] ...only in the lion and wolf and hyena is it [the neck] a stiff structure of a single straight bone. [Book 11, 83] The bladder of the wolf contains a stone named syrites; but in some human beings there continually form terribly painful stones and bristly fibers. - [Rackham translation]

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 1, 36; 3, 6; 4, 15; 10, 26): [Book 1, 36] If a horse chances to tread on the footprint of a wolf, it is at once seized with numbness. If you throw the vertebra of a wolf beneath a four-horse team in motion, it will come to a stand as though frozen, owing to the horses having trodden upon the vertebra .... And that is why ffoxes throw these leaves into the dens of wolves, and with good reason, because their hostility is due to the wolves' designs upon them. [Book 3, 6] When wolves swim across a river Nature has devised for them an original safeguard to prevent them from being forcibly carried away by the impact of the stream and has taught them how to escape from difficulties, and that with ease. Fastening their teeth in one another's tails they then breast the stream and swim across without harm or danger. [Book 4, 15] The wolf when gorged to satiety will not thereafter taste the least morsel. For his belly is distended, his tongue swells, his mouth is blocked, and he is gentle as a lamb to meet, and would have no designs on man or beast, even were he to walk through the middle of a flock. Gradually however and little by little his tongue shrinks and resumes its former shape, and he becomes once more a wolf. [Book 10, 26] The neck of a wolf is short and compressed; the animal is thus incapable of turning but always looks straight ahead. And if it wants to look back at any time, it turns its whole body. - [Scholfield translation]

Gaius Julius Solinus [3rd century CE] (De mirabilibus mundi / Polyhistor, Chapter 2.35-36): [Chapter 2.35] Italy has wolves which are different to others; when one of these wolves sees a man before the man sees the wolf, he is stricken dumb. Regarded by a baleful gaze, he does not have the use of his voice, even though he may wish to shout. [Chapter 2.35] I pass over much I know about wolves, and include this as the most worthy of observance: a very small tuft of hair in the tail of this animal procures love. When he fears to be caught after being injured, the wolf willingly casts away this tuft, but it does not have the power unless it is pulled from the wolf while he is alive. Wolves do not breed on more than twelve days per year in total. In famines, they feed on the earth. - [Arwen Apps translation, 2011]

Saint Ambrose [4th century CE] (Hexameron, Book 6, 4.26): A wolf takes away a man's power of speech by first staring at him. The wolf despises this man over whom he is victorious by reason of his loss of speech. On the other hand, if a wolf perceives that he has been seen first, he loses his fierce character and is unable to run away. ... If a wolf should attack you, pick up a rock - and he turns in flight! - [Savage translation, 1961]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 2:23-24): [Book 12, 2.23] Wolf [lupus] comes into our language derived from Greek, for they call wolves lýkos; and is named in Greek from its behavior, because it slaughters whatever it finds in a frenzy of violence. Others say wolves are named as if the word were leopos, because their strength, just like the lion's [leo], is in their paws [pes]. Whence whatever they tread on with their paws does not live. [Book 12, 2.24] It is a violent beast, eager for gore. Concerning the wolf, country folk say that a person loses his voice if a wolf sees him first. Whence to someone who suddenly falls silent one says, "The wolf in the story". Certainly if a wolf perceives that he is seen first, he puts aside his bold ferocity. Wolves do not copulate more than twelve days during the entire year. They endure hunger for a long time, and devour a large amount after a lengthy fast. Ethiopia produces wolves that have manes about the neck, and of such a variety of shades that people say that there is no color these wolves do not possess. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Aberdeen Bestiary [circa 1200 CE] (folio 16v-17v): The wolf is rapacious beast and craves blood. It strength lies in its chest or its jaws, least of all in its loins. It cannot turn its neck around. It is said to live sometimes on its prey, sometimes on earth and sometimes, even, on the wind. The she-wolf bears cubs only in the month of May, when it thunders. Such is the wolf's cunning that it does not catch food for its cubs near its lair but far away. If it has to hunt its prey at night, it goes like a tame dog here and there to a sheepfold, and lest the sheepdogs catch its scent and wake the shepherds, it goes upwind. And if a twig or anything, under the pressure of its paw, makes a noise, it nips the the paw as a punishment. The wolf's eyes shine in the night like lamps. It has this characteristic, that if it sees a man first, it takes away his power of speech and looks at him with scorn, as victor over the voiceless. If it senses that the man has seen it first, it loses its fierceness and its power to run. ... The wolf's eyes shine in the night like lamps because the works of the Devil seem beautiful and wholesome to blind and foolish men. When the she-wolf bears her young, she will only catch food for them far away from her lair, because the Devil cherishes with worldly goods those he is sure will suffer punishment with him in the confines of hell. ... The fact that the wolf cannot turn his neck without turning the whole of his body signifies that the Devil never turns towards the correction of penitence. Now what is to be done for a man when the wolf has taken away his power of shouting, when he has lost even the power of speech; he loses the help of those who are at a distance. But what is to be done? The man should take off his clothes and trample them underfoot, and taking two stones in his hands, he should beat one against the other. What happens then? The wolf, losing the boldness that comes with its courage will run away.

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Quadrupeds 4.60): The wolf, as Jacobus says, is a most rapacious and deceitful animal. ... Wolves have been said by some to be wild dogs: for their form is like that of a dog, howling like a dog, but lacking in barking. Jacobus: It is said that after the wolf has snatched a sheep, the shepherd following it does not injure the sheep with its teeth, but makes it lie gently on his back, so that perhaps, sensing the injury of the sheep, while it was moving itself, the wolf would slow down its flight. Ambrose: A man whom a wolf first sees, shrinks back and blindly anticipates the attack, for although he has the will to cry out, he does not have control of his voice; and the wolf looks down upon him as if it had taken away the voice of the conqueror. And this is the reason, as the Experimentator says: It sends the rays of its eyes into the man and dries up his visible spirit, which, being dried, dries up the other spirits of the man, and finally desiccates his arteries, and thus the man becomes hoarse. It has a liver that is different than that of other animals, like it is armored. As Aristotle says, by the sea they break the nets of the fishermen, which are laid out to dry, unless they leave fish in their place. The Experimentator: It gathers the leaves of the willow in its mouth and hides itself under them, so that it can secretly catch the goats coming to the leaves. When a wolf walks among the leaves, so as not to be perceived by the noise, it licks his feet with his tongue, and thus makes them slippery and moist, so that the dogs may not hear them. A wolf has dull vision by day, but sees more clearly at night. But the animals which see more clearly at night are often overshadowed by day. Pliny: If a wolf feels that it is being looked down upon by a man, it lays down his ferocity, for it does not usually have the energy of speed in running. Ambrose: If the wolf sees you, it takes away your voice; and if you are dumb, drop your cloak, that you may resolve the confrontation. If a wolf rises up against you, throw a rock and run away; if it pursues you, gradually falling behind, so that it may lie in wait for you, when it sees you, place some intermediate signal between you and it, and it will stop for fear of being overtaken. And this same thing is the sign of the cross against the devil, so that he ceases to attack. Liber rerum:Wolves come together throughout the year for no more than twelve days. But they are a virgin of their bones. Only at the time when they come together do they march together; and howling at the same time, with only one exclamation, and the others exclaiming, and then they are more formidable and fierce. The eat earth during a famine. But even then they burden themselves with the food of the earth, when they attack an ox, or a horse, or such a robust animal. They attack it through the nostrils; when the animal wants to shake it off, it is exhausted by its deceitful weight, and falls to the ground defeated. Then, dishonoring themselves, they return to the prey. Pliny: In the bladder of the wolf the stone which is called syrtites is created, but in some males it is by severe torture. The wolf does not grow fat, because it devours the food it eats and does not chew it, so that it may pass into the nourishment of the body. Ambrose: A wolf, when he is sick, eats earth and herbs for medicine; and after it eats the herb immediately vomits and is cured. For no animal that feeds on flesh eats herbs with impunity (besides man and thebear); dogs do the same thing when they are sick. Aristotle: It happens that wolves are often sick, because they swallow a lot of food without cutting and chewing it, and they remain without food for two days while digesting the food they ate. But it lives on a little water, and this for the reason that with undigested food it does not help it to drink. Its dung is dry, and it comes out without any moisture and with difficulty, and a strong wind comes out with it from the lower region; and it smells of urine. But it lifts its leg when it urinates, as dogs do. Wolves sometimes eat men, and this by chance: for it seldom happens. But it is said that this should not be done, unless by some chance it had first eaten of the corpse of a slain man, which it might have found dead in the field. Then tasting the sweet meat of human flesh, which is the most delicious of all meats, it repeatedly wants to eat the chosen flesh with its sweetness, and does not fear the danger of harming a human being. As long as the wolf mother lives, none of her daughters is supposed to conceive or beget. And this is quite probable, because if they could conceive and breed, the multiplication of wolves would become too troublesome to other animals. And in this nature kindly provided for much. It has been found that wolves have frequently abducted the children of men, and fed them for many years on a diet of raw flesh. Its paws are hardened with the firmness of calluses. It moves very quickly on its paws and feet. Wolves, when they flee, carry their cubs with them, and if they are caught by a hunter, they jump on trees, which they can reach by jumping, and hide among the leaves until the hunters have passed. When they come out of their caves, they eat grass and chew with their teeth to sharpen them. It is characteristic of wolves to fear fire. And when the wolves grow old, they go to places near the cities, that they may more easily find prey, since the old can only hunt with great difficulty. The life of wolves is very long, and in old age they lose their teeth. The internal members are weak, they easily receive corruption in their wounds, and the rest of his body suffers many blows. Its head is perhaps too large, and the wounds that occur from its bites or claws are very bad, because poison comes out of them; and there is the same poison in its bites as in the bite of a rabid dog. The dispositions of its soul are such: it is bold, and this is more of their kind, which is short lived than that which is long. But it will be domesticated without anger and will be kept with love among men, and will play with them like a puppy. It will naturally flee from hunters, and will not forget the perpetual hatred and treachery which it had for lambs and the small animals which it used to eat. As Isidore says, Ethiopia nurtures wolves with maned necks and so many colors that they say they lack no color. A wolf passing through a fence, as some say [i.e. Liber rerum], going to secretly lie in wait for the sheep, if by chance it makes a noise with its foot, immediately bites the foot as if it is guilty. The wolf digs food for the survivors in the ground [?]. If it finds and captures stray dogs, it buries the dead in the ground. The wolf's brain is said to grow and shrink, according to the position of the Moon; and this, though in all quadrupeds, yet more so in the wolf, with the exception of the dog, in which nature has contributed the same. The heart of a wolf burnt and reduced to ashes, given in a drink, helps the epileptic, as it is said, and this if the sufferer is not afterwards tainted by lust. The wolf's heart, if dried and preserved, is said to be very aromatic. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book18.70): The Woolfe is called Lupus, and hath that name as Isid. sayth, as it were Leopos, for he hath vertue in the féete, as the Lyon hath, and so what he treadeth with his feete, liveth not: and is a ravenous beast, and desireth and coveteth bloud, and slayeth him that he may finde in woodes or ravine. Husbandmen speake of him and say, that a man léeseth his voyce, if the Woolfe séeth him first: therefore to a man that is sodainly still and leaveth to speake, it is sayd, Lupus est in fabula, the Woolfe is in the tale: and certainly if he know, that he is seene first, he léeseth his boldnesse, hardinesse, & fiercenesse. In all the yeare, Wolves do not the déed of generation but xii. daies, and he may not dure with hunger long time, and devoureth much after long fasting. In Aethiopia are Wolves with haire and maanes in the necke, and are so speckeled, and have so manye divers colours, that they lacke no manner colour, as he telleth. Huc usque Isid[ore] li. 13. cap. 23. Plin[y] saith the same, and saith also that Wolves of Affrica be slender & lyttle: and those that are bred in colde countries and landes be lesse of bodies than other, and more sharpe and fierce. Libro secundo.Arist[otle] saith, that in Indie is a Woolfe that hath thrée rowes of téeth above, and hath féete like a Lyon, and face as a man, and tayle as a Scorpion, and his voyce is as it wer a mans voyce, and dreadfull, as a trumpe: and the beast is swifte as an Harte, and is right fierce and cruell, and eateth men [this "wolf" is the manticore]. Also libr. 6. Aristo[tle] saith, that in time of generation, Wolves are full cruell and fierce, and be worse when they have whelpes, as the females of hounds. Also lib. 7. Wolves have sawie téeth, & eate flesh, and not grasse, but when they are sicke, for then they eate some grasse or hearb for medicine: for when the woolfe féeleth himselfe too full, he séeketh a certaine hearbe and eateth it, that he maye cast up that that he hath eaten. Also li. 8. when they flye, they beare with them their whelpes, and eate Origanum, and chew it when they go out of their dens to whet and sharpe their téeth therwith. Also he saith, that the Woolfe is a full evill beast when he eateth, and resteth much when he hath no hunger: he is full hardie, and loveth well to playe with a childe, if he maye take him, and slayeth him afterward, and eateth him at ye last. And Homer saith, that the Wolfe is a full wakefull beast, and flyeth from the sight of the fire. And it is said, that if the Woolfe be stoned, he taketh héed of him that throweth the first stone, and if that stone grieveth him, he will pursue him that hurt him: and if it grieveth him not, and if he may take him that throweth that stone, he doeth him not much harme, but some harme he doth him, as it were in wrath, and leveth him at last: and the elder the Wolves be, the worse they be, and greve men, for they may not hunt beasts because they be olde, and by reason that their vange téeth be weked, and they live long time, and the age of the Woolfe is perceived in the téeth, for they are constrained in age. And ther he saith, that there is double manner kinde of wolves: for some be as it wer round, and some long, and those be more rough of haire and thicke and more bolde and hardie of hart, & the entrailes of wolves be right féeble, and take soone corruption when they be wounded, & the other deale of the bodie suffereth many strokes, and hath great strengthe in the necke and in the head. Also woundes of theyr biting are evill, for venimme commeth of them, and these wounds be heled, as the biting of a mad hound, as Aristo[tle] saith, Also lib. 13. he saith, yt the woolfes mouth openeth most wide, & hath most strength in his mouth, and that Beast is a great glutton and devoureth much. Also li. 7. Avicen[na] speaketh of the woolfe, and saith: that the woolfe desireth kindlye to eate fish, & eateth the fish that fishers throw out of their nets: and when hée findeth nothing to eate that the Fishers leave, then he goeth to their nets, and breaketh and renteth them. Phisiologus speaketh of wolves and saith, that their vertue & strength is in the breast, & in the clawes, and in the mouth, and lest in the hinder parts. And the woolfe may not bend his neck backward in no month of the yere but in Maye alone, when it thundereth: and hath a cruell warinesse, so that hée taketh no pray of meate nigh to ye place where he nourisheth his whelpes, but he hunteth in places that be far thence: and when he goeth by night to a Folde for to take his pray, he goeth against the winde, for hounds should not smel him. And if it hapneth in any wise, that his foote maketh noyse, treading uppon any thing, then he chasteth that foote with hard biting. His eyen shine by night, as lanternes, and as Solinus saith, he beareth in his taile, a locke of haire that exciteth love, and doth it away with his téeth, when he dreadeth to be taken. The woolfe dreadeth greatly stones, so that if a man take two stones, and smite them togethers, the woolfe looseth boldnes and hardinesse, & flyeth away, if the noyse of the stones commeth to his hearing. The Woolfe whelpeth blinde whelps, and loveth and nourisheth them full tenderly, and eateth earth when he is sore an hungred and findeth none other praye, and hideth him in grasse, bushes, and shrubs, and in leaves, to ravish and take Goates, that gather leaves and crops of Trées, and deceiveth shéepe more with guile and wrenches, than with might & strength, but when he hath the mastery, if he be suffered, he biteth and slayeth all the flocke, and the part that he may not devoure, he burieth and hideth under the earth, and diggeth and taketh up a part when he is agayne an hungred. He infecteth the wool of the shéepe that he slaieth, and maketh the cloth lowsie that is made of that wooll, as Isidore saith. Also Arist[otle] saith, that all the kinde of wolves is contrarie and adversarie to all the kinde of shéepe: and so I have read in a booke, that a string made of Wolves gut, put among harp strings made of the guts of sheepe, destroyeth and corrupteth them: as the Eagles fethers, put among Culvers, pilleth and gnaweth them, if they be there lefte together long in one place, as he saith. Looke before De Aquila. - [Batman]