Licantropia

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Licantropia .g. Pau. est species melancholie qua occupati nocte exiliunt per omnis lupos imitantes et usque ad diem circa monumenta morantur, est melancholia lupina a licos quod est lupus dicta.


Translation:

Licantropia in Greek according to Paul is a kind of melancholy in which the possessed (patients) go out during the night imitating wolves in all respects, and wander around sepulchres until daylight. It is called melancholia lupina / {"wolf's melancholy"} from the word licos / {"wolf"} which is the equivalent to lupus / {"wolf"}.


Commentary:

Simon alludes to Paul of Aegina’s Epitomae medicae 3, 16:

'Οἱ τῇ λυκανθρωπίᾳ κατεχόμενοι νυκτὸς ἐξίασι τὰ πάντα λύκους μιμούμενοι καὶ μέχρις ἡμέρας περὶ τὰ μνήματα διατρίβουσι.'

"Those possessed by lycanthropy go out during the night imitating wolves in all respects, and wander about sepulchres until morning."

The entry refers to the Greek term λυκανθρωπία /lycanthropia/ {"lycanthropy"}, a compound from λύκος /lykos/ {"wolf"} and ἄνθρωπος /anthrōpos/ {"human"}. In medieval Latin, it is either referred as melancolia canina or melancolia lupina or insania lupina. Simon's form Licantropia'’ reflects the change of Greek fricative consonants into non fricatives when transcribed into their medieval West European variant; in this case the Greek θ /th/ is transcribed and pronounced as 't'. Also, Greek υ /y/ is phonetically transcribed into the itacist 'i' and pronounced accordingly.

Interestingly, Galen does not refer to lycanthropy and the word is firstly attested in Oribasius and Aetius of Amida, who reproduced it from Marcellus of Side (2nd half of the second century AD). Lycanthropy was considered by Byzantine medical authors a kind of melancholy where the afflicted patients believed they could be transformed into wolves.

For example, see Oribasius, Synopsis ad Eustathium filium, 8, 9, ed. Raeder (1926: 250) [[1]]; Aetius of Amida, Libri medicinales, 6, 1, ed. Olivieri (1935-50: II.151-2) [[2]]; Paul of Nicaea Liber medicus, 24, ed. Ieraci Bio (1996: 84); Michael Psellos Poemata, 9, 838-42, ed. Westerink (1992: 217); and John Zacharias Aktouarios De Methodo Medendi, 1, 35, e.g. 1, 35, ed. Ideler (1841-2: II.387-8) [[3]].

Further discussion in Ullmann (1976: 171-84); Otten (1986: 13-4); and Poulakou-Rebelakou (2009: 468-79).

--Petros Bouras-Vallianatos 13:41, 10 November 2011 (UTC)


See also: Licos, Likos, Melancolia, Alcutub

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