Werewolf Definition | concept

The werewolf definition and concept underlying the brand owned by Transylvania World

The Werewolf, dacian protector

The fact that the werewolf legends spawned on Transylvania’s territory is mostly unknown. Modern interpretations depict the werewolf as a negative character, but in the original version, the werewolf is a positive guardian/protector.

Werewolf definition

The werewolf or the lycan is a fantastic positive hero from the Dacian mythology (the predecesor of the Romanian mythology). Its characteristic is the lycan’s ability to shapeshift into a wolf-like creature.

The oldest mentioning of the werewolf comes from 6th century BC and has its origins on the actual territory of Transylvania, according to the ancient historian Herodotus, all of this happening centuries before any other European references in regard with this subject. The legend of the Great White Wolf shows the werewolf as being a man transformed into a wolf by Zalmoxe (the supreme deity of the Dacians, nowadays Romanians’ ancestors) in order to protect the Dacian people from invaders.

The werewolf concept

The werewolf concept was undertaken from the Romanian mythology and subsequently adapted throughout the world, being intensively promoted in recent years, due to some successful screenings such as Twilight Saga, Underworld, Harry Potter or True Blood.[1] [2]

The incorrect international adaptation of the werewolf concept, due to the lack of information and folklore research, reinvented him as a negative character, although according to the Dacian mythology (the predecessor of nowadays Romanian mythology) this creature has a divine role of man’s protector.

Lycanthropy has existed since ancient times (5700-4500 BC) on Transylvania’s territory, and plenty of legends and myths were woven around this totemic animal – the wolf. The werewolf has appeared on this territory since Neolithic times and evidence exists in form of representations on the ceramics of the oldest European civilization – Cucuteni – and also on the statues of Vinca (Turdaș) Culture, where we can see dancers wearing wolf skin and wolf heads.[3] [4] [5] [6]

The Dacians (the ancestors of today’s Romanians) used to call themselves “daoi”, a word inherited from the ancient Phrygian language – daos – meaning wolf, as they had a strong connection to these animals. Their battle flag called Draco was formed out of a wolf’s head with its mouth wide open alongside the body of a dragon, symbolizing the spirit of this vivid animal guardian.[7] [8][9] [10][11]

In times of war, during the battle ceremonies but also on the battlefield, the Dacians would wear wolf skin and wolf masks and they would behave as such, their growling sending fear into the enemy’s hearts. It was their appearance, their behavior and their war ritual which made the invaders believe that the Dacians were beings which could transform into wolves.

Based on this evidence, Herodotus was the first one to mention the transformation of man into wolf on Romania’s current territory, nowadays Transylvania, his words being: “Once per year, each of the Neuris transforms into a wolf for a few days and then recaptures his original form.” The Neuri mentioned by Herodotus were an ancient tribe, assimilated into Dacia’s territory before the invasion of the Persian king Darius.[12]

Thus, the basic legend of the Great White Wolf has its origins in the Dacians’ respect for the wolf and from this picture the werewolf idea came to life. However, its purpose was a noble one, as the werewolf was protecting the Dacian people in times of war.

The Legend of the Great White Wolf states that in lost times, a high priest of Zalmoxe (the Dacians’ supreme deity) was roaming through Dacia’s forests in order to help the needy. Zalmoxe realizing the potential of his servant, called him into the mountains to be close to him. Far beyond human territory, the beasts of Dacia considered him their leader, wolves appreciating him the most. After some time Zalmoxe summoned him and asked him to serve in another way, and with his approval, the deity transformed him into a large and mighty White Wolf, the most respected and feared beast from all of Dacia. His purpose was to gather all the wolves from the forests and protect Dacia when needed. Whenever the Dacians were in danger, the wolves came to their aid when they heard the howl of the Great White Wolf.[13]

These ancient beliefs hold their continuity until present times on Transylvania’s territory. The positive elements, taken the wolf’s guardian role, are materialized in a very rich and diversified series of holidays and markings in the whole area, as many toponyms and name days have its name as their main focus.

Note: The Transylvania World concepts are an essential part of the association brand and their usage has to quote the source and reference this website. Discover the Dacian mithology on our website www.TransylvaniaOfficial.com

Research sources:

1. All time highest grossing movies (source)
2. Record audience for True Blood (source)
3. Vulcănescu R., Mitologie Română, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, Bucharest, 1987
4. Vulcănescu R., Măștile populare, Editura Științifică, Bucharest, 1970
5. Eliade Mircea, De la Zalmoxis la Genghis-Khan, Humanitas Publishing House, Bucharest, 1995
6. Eisler R., Man into wolf, Routledge and Kegan Paul LTD, London, 1951
7. Daicoviciu H., Dacii, Hyperion Publishing House, Chișinău, 1991
8. Pârvan V., Getica-o protoistorie a Daciei, Meridiane Publishing House, Bucharest, 1982
9. Wikipedia, wolves in folklore (source)
10. Wikipedia, wolf symbol for dacians (source)
11. Wikipedia, dacian Draco (source)
12. Wikipedia, Darius the Great (source)
13. The Legend of The Great White Wolf (source)

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  • Transylvania classification into three geographical areas: Central, Political and Transylvania World with its influences
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  • Cucuteni Civilization (Definition, geography, facts about the oldest civilization of Europe)
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  • Vlad the Impaler (Also known as "Vlad Draculea" or "Vlad Dracula", one of the most important European leaders who stopped the islamic takeover of Europe in the Middle Ages)
  • The traditional Transylvanian village (definition and overview)
  • Household in Transylvania (About the traditional transylvanian households)
  • Mithological concepts

  • Dacian mythology (Mythology spawned on today's territory of Transylvania, where the Dacians lived, the ancestors of today's Romanians)
  • Vampire (Definition and concept; global promotion because of the Transylvanian traditions)
  • Dracula (The fantastic character also known as "Count Dracula" or "The vampire Dracula", inspired by the transylvanian traditions and the real historical character Vlad the Impaler)

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