The Werewolf in the Ancient World (Hardback)
  • The Werewolf in the Ancient World (Hardback)
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The Werewolf in the Ancient World (Hardback)

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£27.49
Hardback 280 Pages
Published: 07/01/2021
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In a moonlit graveyard somewhere in southern Italy, a soldier removes his clothes in readiness to transform himself into a wolf. He depends upon the clothes to recover his human shape, and so he magically turns them to stone, but his secret is revealed when, back in human form, he is seen to carry a wound identical to that recently dealt to a marauding wolf. In Arcadia a man named Damarchus accidentally tastes the flesh of a human sacrifice and is transformed into a wolf for nine years. At Temesa Polites is stoned to death for raping a local girl, only to return to terrorize the people of the city in the form of a demon in a wolfskin.

Tales of the werewolf are by now well established as a rich sub-strand of the popular horror genre; less widely known is just how far back in time their provenance lies. These are just some of the werewolf tales that survive from the Graeco-Roman world, and this is the first book in any language to be devoted to their study. It shows how in antiquity werewolves thrived in a story-world shared by witches, ghosts, demons, and soul-flyers, and argues for the primary role of story-telling-as opposed to rites of passage-in the ancient world's general conceptualization of the werewolf. It also seeks to demonstrate how the comparison of equally intriguing medieval tales can be used to fill in gaps in our knowledge of werewolf stories in the ancient world, thereby shedding new light on the origins of the modern phenomenon. All ancient texts bearing upon the subject have been integrated into the discussion in new English translations, so that the book provides not only an accessible overview for a broad readership of all levels of familiarity with ancient languages, but also a comprehensive sourcebook for the ancient werewolf for the purposes of research and study.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198854319
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 610 g
Dimensions: 240 x 163 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Ogden sets out to prove that, in the ancient world, werewolves "inhabited the same conceptual space...as sorcerers, witches, and ghosts," and succeeds admirably. - Debbie Felton, Religious Studies Review

Ogden characteristically writes with verve, clarity, independent-mindedness and wit, and always displays an impressive breadth and depth of learning - grounded in a genuinely, not just superficially, multilingual study of previous scholarship-any reader who opens the present work can expect a treat. - Richard Buxton, GNOMON

Summing up, the importance of this work is undeniable: The Werewolf in the Ancient World is destined to become the reference treatise on lycanthropy in antiquity, and it certainly has what it takes to be so - not least, the author's familiarity with scholarly literature in languages other than English. - Tommaso Braccini, Universita di Siena, ARYS: Antiquity, Religions and Societies

This book is packed full of source material for those who are keen to research more deeply into the phenomenon - J M Lashley, Cambridge Core

Readers will most certainly find lasting value in the many long translations of primary source materials marshalled in The Werewolf in the Ancient World, which will provide a useful refernce for all future discussions of the ancient and mysterious versipellis. - Scott Bruce, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

The broad breadth of the book provides Ogden with a plethora of sources to consider, creating a thoroughly researched discussion and a meticulous sourcebook ... The Werewolf in the Ancient World is a rich scholarly resource ... Ogden's writing style is lively and engaging, creating an overall enjoyable and accessible read for scholars, students, and casual readers. - Julianne Rach, Ancient History Bulletin

Daniel Ogden's fascinating and wide-ranging study of the werewolf from ancient Greece to the Middle Ages also adopts the folklorist approach ... This fast-paced and well-researched book certainly has a broad appeal and will be both a classic study on the topic and a useful collection of ancient sources on werewolves. - Ivana Petrovic, Greece & Rome

The Greeks had a word for writer-collectors of mirabilia, or wonderful, incredible things; they were known as "paradoxographers." In The Werewolf in the Ancient World Ogden shows himself to be a keen contemporary paradoxographer. Combining detailed analysis of the sources with digressive reveries, he's aiming at "a comprehensive sourcebook" and has hunted across the centuries for buried items of lore, ranging from ancient Greek texts to Christian commentaries on pagan thinkers, then on to the medieval period, with busy digressions on Icelandic sagas, Grimm fairy tales, and Victorian ghost stories. In pursuit of his quarry, Ogden investigates sorcery, shapeshifting, initiation rites, mental derangement, spirit projection, and shamanic night flying, expounding with irrepressible enthusiasm on such things as werewolves' relations with ghosts, vampires, sorcerers, and witches. - Marina Warner, New York Review of Books

Quite probably the best book that will ever be written on the topic. - Gail Nina Anderson, The Fortean Times

The Werewolf in the Ancient World represents an immense work of scholarship. It should be praised for not succumbing to the unusually common problem of hyper-fixation on a particular time period, so as to make it appear like the werewolf is not a myth that's existed since antiquity. Raher than focusing only on ancient Greece and Rome, Ogden works to point out how the tropes established by Petronius in the Satyricon repeatedly pop up in medieval and Renaissance era folklore, and even early 20th century works of fiction like Bram Stoker's "Dracula's Guest" (1914) and Guy Endore's "Werewolf of Paris" (1933). - Justin Mullis, AIPT

Daniel Ogden is an inevitable reference for anyone who intends to study the supernatural in the Ancient World. The Werewolf in the Ancient World is the recommended reading for whoever intends to study the reason why a man turns into a wolf, not only in the Ancient World but in History. - Cadmo-Journal for Ancient History

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