A Metamorphic Tale

There are no wolves artwork October 15

Ovid tells us that the first werewolf was Lycaon, the cannibal king of Arcadia. He tells us that unspeakable crimes and insufferable pride brought lightning down upon the head of the king. Quite literally so. The shock of primal force evidently drove Lycaon from his wits. In his madness Lycaon believed he had metamorphosed into a wolf. He behaved as a wolf. He lived as a wolf. And over time he became a wolf.

Lancashire wolf

What Ovid fails us tell us, though, is how the other wolves – the natural-born wolves – responded to the interloper.

There are no wolves in Lancashire

“There are no wolves in Lancashire,” Riley told them, “not nowadays at any rate. Time was, Lancashire was full of wolves. The whole of England teemed with wolves. Wolves lived side by side with men, some say outnumbered them ten to one. But men did not care to share their country with wolves. They hunted them, traded their pelts, made hats out of their fur, necklaces and charms from their teeth. Until there came a time when the last wolf in England was tracked down and killed. And that—“ Here the storyteller’s eyes narrowed to slits, his voice dropped to almost a growl. “That happened right here in Lancashire. In fact…” The grizzled head rose. Eyes glinting golden in the firelight swept the spellbound circle. “In fact it happened over yonder—“ He pointed into the darkness. Nine sets of eyes automatically turned although all knew nothing could be seen. “—in the forest surrounding the great hill you can see from the top of the causey-way. That was the last wolf,” Riley concluded. “And his name was Farrer.”

There are no wolves in Lancashire – A metamorphic tale

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