Lycanthropy is the condition of being a lycanthrope, which is a human that transforms into a wolf or wolf-like creature. The word comes from the Greek roots lukos ("wolf") and anthropos ("man") and translates to "werewolf," which in its turn comes from the Anglo-Saxon roots wer and wulf, which also translate to "man" and "wolf" respectively.
Recently, lycanthropy has been used as a blanket term to cover all conditions in which a human turns into an animal, usually named with the prefix "were" attached to the animal in question, e.g. werecat, werebear, or werepenguin.
Lycanthropes should not be confused with anthropomorphic animals, which are animals that have human characteristics, usually not through any transformation.
In many, though by no means all mythologies, lycanthropy is contracted when a victim is bitten by a werewolf, either because of a mystical curse, generic magic, or because of some infectious agent in the werewolf's saliva. Whichever, the condition is passed to the victim of the bite. Thereafter, the lycanthrope is forced to transform at regular intervals ever after. The best-known is the full moon.
In older European mythologies, the transformed werewolf is almost always a savage beast that hungers for human flesh. During his transformation, he has no intelligence and is a danger to anyone he encounters, and the only way to stop the carnage is to kill him. The traditional method is silver, whether it be in the form of a knife or a bullet or some other implement.
One exception to the "savage beast" trope is the Breton lai Bisclavret, in which the hero is a werewolf. For reasons unknown, he is forced to become a wolf once a week, and can return to his human form only if he can find his clothes again. When he admits his condition to his wife, she becomes mistrustful of him and steals his clothes, trapping him in wolf-form and freeing her to marry another man. However, the werewolf retains his human intelligence and befriends the king, impressing his court with his manners and good behavior. Eventually, he gets his revenge on his treacherous wife by biting off her nose, and the king pardons him when the full truth is revealed and his attack is deemed justified.
Lycanthropes in Canon
Some of the canons patrolled by the PPC contain werewolves. The following is a list of a few of them:
- Carcharoth (Tolkienverse)
- Draugluin (Tolkienverse)
- Fenrir Greyback (Harry Potter)
- Remus J. Lupin (Harry Potter)
- Sergeant Angua (Discworld)
Lycanthropes in the PPC
The following are known lycanthropes in the PPC:
- Agent Adalwulf - werewolf
- Agent Chrysocome - werepenguin (retired)
- Agent Gwen - werehawk (retired)
- Agent Ix - werewolf
- Agent Jill Greenleaf - werewolf
- Agent Jodi - were-smilodon
- Agent Lupeias - werewolf (retired)
- Agent Mariella - were-owl
- Agent Prosciuttino - werewolf
- Agent Roger Walters - werewolf
- Agent Sanguine - werewolf (retired)
- Agent Tawaki Penguin - werepenguin (retired)