I’m pretty sure you’ve wondered this yourself; just what is the difference, and why does it matter?
For this post, I won’t discuss their traits in too much detail, as this great article does a wonderful job!
Confusion is perhaps modern
What I mean by this, is that I think the confusion between the two terms, is due to modern societies tendency to generalize.
I feel that, as mythology has become less integral to life, the lines have been blurred under blanket terms – think about it, on Halloween, would you expect to see Werewolf or Lycan costumes/masks?
Ironically, this also seems to work in the favour of us who like to explore these creatures. If I tell you that my character is a Lycan, not a Werewolf, that promotes curiosity, and allows for a story to be told.
The only thing is, the story already exists so to speak.
Why it is a story that should be told
From my linked article:
“Werewolf” comes from Old English wer or were- meaning man and the ancestor of modern English wulf- which I’m quite sure you can figure out. This basically translates to man-wolf.
“Lycanthrope” comes from a different background, deriving in Ancient Greek. Lykos- meaning wolf and anthropos- meaning human, lykanthropos or lycanthrope. These two pieces can be put together to form wolf-human, easier understood as wolf-man.
When we have two different aspects like this, I think it is only right that we do them both justice, and with correct representation.
I found it pretty boring, if I am honest, to have a character who has to transform once a month, every month, and let that be their calling card.
I also found it annoying, that Lycans were just the best of both worlds, conveniently and easily stitched together as seen in modern media, such as Twilight.
This is a far cry from the true details of the myths, that show much greater depth in their portrayal of such creatures.
The first mentioning of a lycanthrope is actually in Greek mythology…King Lycaon, in the most popular version of the myth, killed one of his sons and, to test and see if Zeus was really omniscient, fed him to the king of the gods.
What a story! Isn’t that something that lends great weight, rather than just a mere, last minute detail, thrown in?
So, how do I use these creatures in a way that feels original and honest?
In Dawn of Eternity, I always try to explore themes and meanings that relatable, and correspond with the real world; challenging what you are told is right and wrong, for example.
For my Wolves, they are both Lycans and Werewolves, as to me they are one and the same, and there is greater reason for this I will discuss throughout the books.
However, as for how it affects them, it is a very personal thing.
Lycanthropy has been imposed upon their lives, most likely without consent, and now they have no choice but to live with it.
It is a theme of life; you can’t control what is dealt to you, but you can be conscious of the actions you take and adapt.
What governs the influence of the disease/curse/blessing, is how those affected manage the condition.
Either they can, through great effort, adapt and retain their humanity, or give in, and sink into the nature of beast, becoming Werewolves in the process.