Happy Halloween: Here’s Some Byzantine Verse on Lycanthropy

There is a Byzantine didactic poem based on Greek medical treatises. Thankfully, it does not skip the good stuff.

Master Psellos, What can you tell us about wolves about men and anything else you embellish?

Master Psellos,
What can you tell us
about wolves
about men
and anything else you embellish?

The poem is from a collection of didactic verses attributed to Michael Psellos of Constantinople who lived and worked in the 11th century CE. The text comes from the Teubner edition of his poems edited by L. G. Westernik (1982).

Poemata 9.841

“One kind of melancholy is lykanthropy.
And it is clearly a type of misanthropy.
Mark thus a man who rushes from the day
When you see him at night running round graves,
With a pale face, dumb dry eyes, not a care in his rage.”

Μελάγχολόν τι πρᾶγμα λυκανθρωπία·
ἔστι γὰρ αὐτόχρημα μισανθρωπία,
καὶ γνωριεῖς ἄνθρωπον εἰσπεπτωκότα
ὁρῶν περιτρέχοντα νυκτὸς τοὺς τάφους,
ὠχρόν, κατηφῆ, ξηρόν, ἠμελημένον.

 

wolfbyz2

One thought on “Happy Halloween: Here’s Some Byzantine Verse on Lycanthropy

  1. Does anyone recognize the icon, purportedly of a lykanthropoic saintly individual, and its location? It reminds me of one in a Medieval church on the island of Rhodes, of St. Christopher. That one seems to carry out the Greek for ‘Christ-Bearer’ quite literally, with the human having a donkey-face, and this one appears quite similar.

    I wonder if this one is a similar ‘translation’, or if this is more likely a continuation of an Aubis-headed individual.

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