Beast

Sources : Wolf

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 34): If a wolf looks at a man before the man sees the wolf, the man will temporarily be unable to speak. The wolves of cold regions are cruel and fierce, but those of Africa and Egypt are weak. It is not true that men can be turned into wolves and back into men (werewolves), though the Greeks believed it. If a wolf while eating looks away from its food, it forgets what it is eating and goes to look for something else. The tail of the wolf contains a love potion in a small tuft of hair, which is only effective if the tuft is plucked from the wolf while it is still alive; for this reason a wolf when caught will shed the tuft of hair, rendering it worthless. Wolves breed only twelve days of the year. It is considered to be the finest of omens if a wolf eats large mouthfuls of earth when barring the way of travellers who come upon it on their right hand side.

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 1, chapter 36): If a horse chance 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, chapter 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, chapter 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, chapter 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): 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. [36] 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, chapter 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): The name wolf (lupus) comes from the Greeks, who call the animal lukos. This word also indicates the morals of wolves, which rapaciously kill whatever they encounter, and always desire blood. Some say lupus is from leo-pos because like the lion the wolf has its strength in its feet. Country folk say that a man will lose his voice if a wolf sees him first. If a wolf senses that it is being watched, it loses its ferocity. Wolves can go a long time without eating, but then they eat a great deal. They mate only twelve days in a year.

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 wordly 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.