The worewolf
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  Versione Italiana




(for the studying and spreading of Andreolese culture)


     The expression 'u lupuminariu' derives from the Latin Lupus Hominarius, a man like wolf or Lupus Manarius, person who walks on all fours.
     Popular belief of the werewolf is atavist and dates back to time immemorial. Already in the Bible is mentioned King Nabucodonosor who, because of his vanity, was transformed into a wolf and assumed wild, bestial behaviour.  Also, in Greek mythology, there is reference to Laconius, King of Arcadia, who was changed into a wolf by Zeus and amongst the ancient Romans, Ovid describes in his Metamorphosis a man adopting the resemblance of a wolf.
     American Indians Europeans have long spoken about men who became wolves: the process of transformation would occur during full moon nights. Furthermore, it was believed that whoever was conceived on 25th of March, day of the Annunciation of Mary, and was born at midnight of 25th of December, Christmas day, would become lupuminariu.  It was also popular belief that if a werewolf were struck the injury would still be visible once he had returned human.
     The origins of the legend are so many and vary from region to region but all seem to agree in identifying the wolf as the most fierce and ingenious animal which attack and devour his prey, so that this magnificent and intelligent canine is portrayed in several fairytales as the wicked beast and the catholic religion has often identified it as a satanic figure.
     Luckily, today the notorious legend of the lupuminariu remains only in motion pictures.
      Before continuing, however, it is worth pointing out few misconceptions as the werewolf is often linked to lycanthropy and the he-wolf.
     The werewolf is a man who in nights of full moon assumes the appearance of an animal which growls, howls and undertakes dreadful, gory crimes in order to satisfy its bestial needs. It wanders alone at night and is not capable to ascend a staircase because he walks belly up, back arched and on all fours and very rarely can be cured. 
     Lycanthropy is a different matter altogether: it is science. According to experts is to be considered a lycanthrope a person who is affected by behavioural problems linked to hysteria and feels compelled to transform himself into the growling and howling animal or is possessed by the animal spirit and is induced to attack and bite his fellow humans.  It is pure madness, not a myth and the man remains man. The he-wolf is again different and far from myth or medical condition. Here we are talking of recorded events, the child brought up by a pack of wolves from which he has acquired the behaviour: he communicates using their same growls, has claw hands, does not hold himself erect, has a fierce look, howls and so on, but does not transform himself.    
      During the dark centuries of the Holy Inquisition many went on trial and burned at the stake as heretics with the accusation of being werewolves. A famous werewolf was Gilles Garnier, burned at Dole in France in 1573 because accused of having slaughtered and feasted on some children that had strayed from home.
     The German Peter Stupper was beheaded in 1539 because found guilty of slaying and eating young children and pregnant women after boasting of being able to transform himself in a werewolf with the aid of a magic belt received by the devil.
     Sant'Andrea has also had its fair share of lupiminari and fantastic tales but thanks God nobody ended up on the pyre.
     Often people were accused of being werewolves because of envy, because they drunk too much and at night would bellow dreadfully or for revenge. Some men upheld the legend as a cunning device for having a free hand take part in nocturnal raids or visiting a cummara when her husband was away. (Cummara means 'godmother' but here of course means lover). In any case the lupuminariu was always and exclusively male. Only under these occasions woman unfaithfulness was condoned while in all other circumstances she was always declared the scandalous scarlet woman and forced to hang her head in shame.
     Usually transformation occurred at midnight in full moon, when the magnificent sphere invades our land with all its luminosity so to reveal the pearly blue transparency of our ancient districts nowadays regretfully deserted;
it used to soften the wintry freeze and encouraged better dreaming for the people prematurely aged and bent by hard work and harsh life.
     In Sant'Andrea nobody dream any longer, the districts sleep their eerie sleep, the ancient ruga is wounded and mutilated, has lost its smells and flavours, the locked up houses resemble resigned widows, desperate mothers waiting in vain the return of their loved ones; grandmothers do no longer sit on the front step waiting for their grandchildren. There are no more children. (in dialect ruga means neighbourhood, but it also means wrinkle).
     U lupuminariu converted into a nocturnal monster and begun its wandering around the populated heart of the village and would later go on to await for his victims at crossroads of dark, busy lanes.  The nails of his hands and feet would grow and curve until they became powerful, hooky claws, symbols of ruthless ferocity. The body would get covered with long, coarse, bristly hairs overflowing from the sleeves and de' carzi (trousers, pants) of his wretched clothes. His chest would expand and the body would all together become more lewd and powerful.  The eyes would get tinged of the brightest red and the canine teeth would reveal the ability of tearing and penetrating into the flesh especially when his rage and growling would show the silky, foaming slaver that would trickle menacingly from the hoary jaws.
     He wondered around belly up with a sturdy, brisk trot, supported by his beastly hands, searching every corner and growling and howling savagely.
     For whoever met him, the only hope of survival would be running up a long flight of stairs, as the beast, with his strange posture, could not master the steps.  To make him revert to his human self, you were meant to wound him, although not fatally but enough for him to loose some blood, as it was thought that blood was what infected the very being of his double nature. However, u lupuminariu was not easily tricked or caught unaware, it was very difficult to struck him as the scar would have been visible once he returned human and that would be the only incriminating proof that would reveal his true identity.
     In Sant'Andrea there always have circulated tales of several lupuminari and one of these was Antonio: 'Do not go out tonight because 'Nt¨ani 'e Palýaddhu nŔscia 'e lupuminÓriu and will eat you!'
     Of course we do not believe this. Antonio was a weired individual, nevertheless his peculiar and flamboyant behaviour was dictated, like for many of his times, by his overindulgence of the fine wine of  Tralo':  when he drunk in excess would remain sleepless. The fumes of alcohol provoked thunderous roars that were however more indicative of his lonely existence and his need of love than anything else.
     It seems that this notoriety of being a werewolf came from an impetuous, fiery lady who had proposed to Antonio an amorous encounter but he had refused in order to save the agreed sum for the favours. The lady embarked on revenge with all her might by spreading the gossips and from there to becoming a recognised lupuminariu was an easy step. G¨rditi JudŔu ca pÓsqua vinna. (loosely translated: Stuff yourself, Judas, Easter has arrived).


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