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  #1  
Old 07-10-2009, 12:51 PM
Love Rhombus Love Rhombus is offline
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Are werewolves immortal?

As I understand it, general folklore holds that a werewolf can only be permenently killed by a silver weapon. Does this then mean that they are otherwise unkillable, but still age normally, or does the curse retard the aging process?
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  #2  
Old 07-10-2009, 12:58 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is online now
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Folk tradition doesn't really work that way. Traditional folklore about werewolves is solely concerned with the human-werewolf interface. There's no tradition of lore about their life in the wild. You might want to check out the chapter in Montague Sumers's The Werewolf in Lore and Legend entitled "His Science and Practice" and see if there's anything there. There's a limited preview on GoogleBooks and it's pretty widely available in the hard copy.
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Old 07-10-2009, 01:09 PM
Dan Norder Dan Norder is offline
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Originally Posted by Love Rhombus View Post
As I understand it, general folklore holds that a werewolf can only be permenently killed by a silver weapon.
Untrue. Werewolf folklore typically has werewolves able to be hurt by normal weapons. The idea that they are basically invulnerable except to weapons made of silver (or even take damage from merely contacting silver) is a feature of relatively recent (last century) fiction. In most such cases those fictional werewolves are not thought to be immortal, just difficult to wound.
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Old 07-10-2009, 01:16 PM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
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Some fiction has them ageing at 7 times the normal rate when in werewolf form.
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  #5  
Old 07-10-2009, 02:13 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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The Underworld movie series has them as not aging.
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  #6  
Old 07-10-2009, 02:30 PM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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Originally Posted by Dan Norder View Post
Untrue. Werewolf folklore typically has werewolves able to be hurt by normal weapons. The idea that they are basically invulnerable except to weapons made of silver (or even take damage from merely contacting silver) is a feature of relatively recent (last century) fiction. In most such cases those fictional werewolves are not thought to be immortal, just difficult to wound.
Last century Hollywood, to be precise. Much of the lore cited in 1941's "The Wolfman" was created out of the whole cloth on the spot by the writer, the well-known science fiction author Curtis Siodmak.
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Old 07-10-2009, 03:54 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is online now
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Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael View Post
Last century Hollywood, to be precise. Much of the lore cited in 1941's "The Wolfman" was created out of the whole cloth on the spot by the writer, the well-known science fiction author Curtis Siodmak.
Well, sort of. The silver bullet dates back to at least 1700 (see Opie and Tatem's A Dictionary of Superstitions, s.v. Silver Bullet) as an effective remedy against those who cannot be killed by lead bullets. Early sources are exclusively witches and other unholy humans, and all from Scottish or Northern English contexts. Since wolves were rare by 1700, soon to be extinct in Britain, we don't have a lot of post-medieval British werewolf material. Still, the notion that a silver bullet would do for a werewolf where a lead bullet wouldn't is perfectly consistent with traditional folklore, even if it's not explicitly expressed. I found a French source stating that a silver bullet would do for a werwolf or a witch, but it didn't cite a specific source so I can't verify that it predates 1941.
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  #8  
Old 07-10-2009, 03:57 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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I always figured Oz was aging on Buffy, and it never was stated that Angel's brief girlfriend in Season 5 wasn't aging.

Has Supernatural dealt with this? I see episode 17 of season 2 is about a werewolf, but I don't remember if they live forever or if it is even stated.
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  #9  
Old 07-10-2009, 04:02 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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Moved from General Questions to Cafe Society.

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  #10  
Old 07-10-2009, 04:10 PM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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Nope, they arent immortal. Werewolfism, ignoring modern secular retellings, is mostly associated with being cursed by god or by someone with godly powers, like a saint or other holy man. Immortality is its own curse (or reward), so it doesnt seem fair to add the two. Also, according to wikipedia attempts to help cure a werewolf sometimes ended in the death of the werewolf, so immortality doesnt seem too strongly associated with the legend.
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  #11  
Old 07-10-2009, 04:13 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Love Rhombus View Post
As I understand it, general folklore holds that a werewolf can only be permenently killed by a silver weapon. Does this then mean that they are otherwise unkillable, but still age normally, or does the curse retard the aging process?
While I'm posting, there are some other misconceptions in the OP.

general folklore:Not sure what you mean by this. Folklore is a product of culture, and varies greatly from group to group as well as within each group. Contemporary American lore about werewolves isn't really folklore because it doesn't occur in a folkloric context. There's certainly no "general folklore" about werewolves in the English-speaking world. If you mean "folklore" in the colloquial sense of "stuff that isn't true," use "fiction." (That sounds really snotty to me. I don't mean to be, but I have a hard time with my tone in writing.)

only be permenently killed by a silver weapon: There are many other ways: a weapon of iron, getting them to bleed, killing them at a crossroads. The list is endless and varies by culture, and there's a lot of overlap with offing other supernatural bad guys.

the curse: A curse is just one way to become a werewolf. It could also be done voluntarily and at will.
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  #12  
Old 07-10-2009, 04:54 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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As others have pointed out, the idea that werewolves can only be killed with silver bullets is pretty recent. In most folk stories and historic superstitions then curing a werewolf could be tricky, but they could usually be killed in all the same ways one would kill a human or wolf.

Werewolfism was historically often associated with witchcraft and Satan worship, and there appears to have been concern in some cultures that dead werewolves were more likely than ordinary people to rise again as vampires or vampire-like beings. It was thus necessary to take special precautions with the corpse of a werewolf (like burning it) to be sure the werewolf didn't come back. But that's not exactly the same as being immortal.

In more recent werewolf fiction werewolves are sometimes depicted as being immune to aging or aging more slowly than ordinary humans, but more often they age normally. The relative lack of old werewolves seems to be due to their violent lifestyles. In Terry Pratchett's Discworld series werewolves are informally considered undead like vampires and zombies, but this seems to be largely prejudice on the part of other species. Discworld werewolves are vulnerable to silver, difficult but not impossible to kill by other means, and apparently do age because the mother of the main werewolf character is described as looking like a somewhat older version of her daughter.
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  #13  
Old 07-10-2009, 04:59 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
I found a French source stating that a silver bullet would do for a werwolf or a witch, but it didn't cite a specific source so I can't verify that it predates 1941.
I am neither witch nor were, and I think a silver bullet would do for *me*
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  #14  
Old 07-10-2009, 08:23 PM
Love Rhombus Love Rhombus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
While I'm posting, there are some other misconceptions in the OP.

general folklore:Not sure what you mean by this. Folklore is a product of culture, and varies greatly from group to group as well as within each group. Contemporary American lore about werewolves isn't really folklore because it doesn't occur in a folkloric context. There's certainly no "general folklore" about werewolves in the English-speaking world. If you mean "folklore" in the colloquial sense of "stuff that isn't true," use "fiction." (That sounds really snotty to me. I don't mean to be, but I have a hard time with my tone in writing.)

only be permenently killed by a silver weapon: There are many other ways: a weapon of iron, getting them to bleed, killing them at a crossroads. The list is endless and varies by culture, and there's a lot of overlap with offing other supernatural bad guys.

the curse: A curse is just one way to become a werewolf. It could also be done voluntarily and at will.
I suppose by "folklore" I really meant "general knowledge." Sorry.
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  #15  
Old 07-10-2009, 09:02 PM
Postariti Postariti is offline
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If you're talking about fiction, it's going to vary from story to story. The original Dark Shadows seemed to consider werewolves immortal. Quentin becomes a werewolf in the 19th century, then shows up in 1970.
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  #16  
Old 07-10-2009, 11:17 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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In Kelley Armstong's Otherworld series they're not immortal, but they do age quite a bit slower than us. Jeremy's in his early 50s, but people think he's in his mid 30s, that sort of thing.
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  #17  
Old 07-10-2009, 11:27 PM
tr0psn4j tr0psn4j is offline
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In "True Blood" they get hurt just like humans but can heal faster.


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the curse: A curse is just one way to become a werewolf. It could also be done voluntarily and at will.
How exactly can I voluntarily become a vampire? Need answer fast!
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  #18  
Old 07-11-2009, 08:47 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is online now
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Originally Posted by tr0psn4j View Post
How exactly can I voluntarily become a vampire? Need answer fast!
Sorry, it's a lot easier to become a werewolf. To become a vampire it's mostly down to things your mother did when she was pregnant. If you can arrange to have a cat jump over your corpse when you're dead, that should do the trick. According to Paul Barber (Vampires, Burial, and Death -- a must-read if there ever was one), pretty much any animal will do, up to and including humans. Or you could just jump over the corpse of a recently-deceased friend and have them bite you when they arise. Warning: they're more likely to bite you near the heart than on the neck. You can also be the first person to die of an epidemic, though it's too late for Swine Flu.
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Old 07-11-2009, 10:38 AM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
According to Paul Barber (Vampires, Burial, and Death -- a must-read if there ever was one)
I'll second this, Barber's book is a very interesting, scholarly look at vampire folklore, burial customs, and their relationship to pre-scientific human understanding of infection, death, and decomposition. I think most Dopers with any interest in vampires would enjoy this, it's well-researched and there's no woo-woo nonsense. The author is serious but does have a sense of humor about his subject.

Warning: there are some rather graphic descriptions of decomposing bodies, but this handled in a straightforward manner and bothered me less than I'd have thought.

Last edited by Lamia; 07-11-2009 at 10:39 AM..
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  #20  
Old 07-11-2009, 11:23 AM
Dan Norder Dan Norder is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
Still, the notion that a silver bullet would do for a werewolf where a lead bullet wouldn't is perfectly consistent with traditional folklore, even if it's not explicitly expressed.
For that to be true, traditional folklore would have to hold that a lead bullet wouldn't work, otherwise a bullet is just a bullet as far as the werewolf is concerned. Werewolves were just wolves that could change back into men later. They weren't immune to damage. In fact the point of most such folklore was that the wolf was hurt and they'd learn it wasn't a normal wolf because some neighbor would be found later with a wound in the same place.

Silver bullets do pop up here and there, but not in connection with werewolves. (The alleged silver bullet in the Beast of Gévaudan tale was added in very recent accounts of the story and does not appear in the original.)
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  #21  
Old 07-11-2009, 11:46 AM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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Originally Posted by tr0psn4j View Post
How exactly can I voluntarily become a vampire? Need answer fast!
These folks might be able to tell you...
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  #22  
Old 07-11-2009, 12:33 PM
fiddlesticks fiddlesticks is offline
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Obligatory Robot Chicken link.
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  #23  
Old 07-11-2009, 01:27 PM
tr0psn4j tr0psn4j is offline
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How exactly can I voluntarily become a vampire? Need answer fast!
WEREWOLF! How exactly can I voluntarily become a werewolf.

Stupid typos.
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  #24  
Old 07-11-2009, 02:56 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Originally Posted by tr0psn4j View Post
WEREWOLF! How exactly can I voluntarily become a werewolf.
In werewolf folklore most people who became werewolves did so deliberately and voluntarily. One of the most common methods is a pact with Satan, so you may want to give the matter some thought first.

In many folktales the werewolf transforms from human to wolf with the help of either a magic wolfskin or a magic ointment, but it's not clear how one might get ahold of such items other than by the aforementioned pact with Satan or stealing them from an existing werewolf. Some werewolves were said to have been cursed with their condition either because of their sinful behavior or because they ticked off the wrong people. But that's not really voluntary, although I guess if you knew someone with the power to curse others with werewolfism you could keep bothering them until they did it to you.

The idea that a werewolf can make other werewolves by biting people is quite recent, and was apparently borrowed from vampire lore.

Last edited by Lamia; 07-11-2009 at 03:00 PM..
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  #25  
Old 07-12-2009, 11:10 AM
Cuckoorex Cuckoorex is offline
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Originally Posted by tr0psn4j View Post
WEREWOLF! How exactly can I voluntarily become a werewolf.
Take your pick, as the following methods have been described in various cultures stretching back quite a ways in time:

Be conceived during Advent or on Christmas Eve.

Be born into a family that is cursed with werewolfism.

Drink water from the paw print of a wolf (just to be sure, I'd say it would be ideal to drink the water by lapping it up while on all fours like a wolf as well).

Eat the brains of a wolf.

Piss off a saint, a witch, or a god and hope that they give you the werewolf curse, but be advised that often the curse is more of the long-term *poof* you're a wolf and can't change back without the one who cursed you granting you release from the curse. If you still want to try this method, I recommend taunting the aforementioned saint, witch or god and then saying, "Do whatever you want to me, you silly goose...but please, PLEASE don't turn me into a wolf! ANYTHING but that!"

Sleep naked outdoors under the full moon.

Have sex with a wolf. No notes on whether it matters if you literally do it "doggy style" though.

Make, steal, or be given a magic wolfskin girdle and put it on. In some cases you also need a magic salve or ointment and rub that all over yourself first. Recipes for this ointment can be found online or in various books on the occult, but be warned; some of them call for the fat of a freshly killed animal or even a baby, along with various psychotropic herbs and such. Also with this method, it is sometimes necessary to recite an incantation or two, which can also be found online or in various books.

Make a pact with Satan, a demon, or some other powerful supernatural entity to gain the ability to turn into a wolf. Very often this leads to the wolfskin girdle situation described above.

Perform a ritual designed to send your spirit into the body of a wolf; this method of course doesn't physically change the practitioner, but it does put your consciousness into a wolf body for a while.

Meditate on achieving "spiritual shifting" which would be kind of like the stepchild of the previous method, in that you don't physically change but try to bring your mind into a wilder, more primal state of consciousness.

Be a skinwalker. See various Navajo traditions for methods of becoming one, though honestly I haven't seen any detailed descriptions online. I do know it involves an extensive ritual and special conditions must be met to undergo the training.

Last edited by Cuckoorex; 07-12-2009 at 11:13 AM..
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  #26  
Old 07-12-2009, 12:46 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Originally Posted by Cuckoorex View Post
Sleep naked outdoors under the full moon.
I can't tell you how I know this but... this does not work.
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  #27  
Old 07-12-2009, 02:11 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers at night
can become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the Autumn moon shines bright
Does that mean he only becomes a wolf at the end of the year?
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  #28  
Old 07-12-2009, 06:27 PM
Leaper Leaper is online now
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I did read a book once that made werewolves immortal, and that was part of the entire point of the curse.

It was also kind of silly, in many ways, now that I think of it. For one thing, the "protagonist" werewolf was an ancient priest cursed by equally ancient god Ahura Mazda. He was Barabbas in the Bible, and in turn cursed Pointus Pilate's wife. The epilogue fast-forwarded to a sci-fi future.

Yeah, it was pretty silly.
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