Werewolf Fact of the Day

Werewolf Book 2e
ISBN: 9781578593675

What beast is considered the first literary mention of a werewolf-like creature?

  • He is recorded on a Babylonian fragment circa 2000 b.c.e.
  • He was created out of spit and clay to fight an out-of-control king.
  • He is civilized by a woman, who teaches him to wear clothes.
  • He is the companion of Gilgamesh.


Perhaps our earliest written record of a manbeast appears on a Babylonian fragment circa 2000 b.c.e. which tells the story of King Gilgamesh and his werewolf-like friend, Enkidu. The Epic of Gilgamesh remains to date the oldest known literary work in the world. Although it comprises twelve cantos of about 300 verses each, ancient records indicate that the original epic was at least twice as long as its present length.

Pieced together from 30,000 fragments discovered in the library at Ninevah in 1853, the story tells of Gilgamesh, the legendary Sumerian king of Uruk, and his quest for immortality. At first perceiving the physical aspect of his quest lies in perpetuating his seed, Gilgamesh becomes such a lustful monarch that no woman in his kingdom is safe from his advances. The goddess Aruru, assessing the situation, decides to take matters into her own hands, and she forms the beastman Enkidu from clay and her spittle in order to create an opponent powerful enough to challenge Gilgamesh.

Gilgamesh soon learns of this hairy wildman of the desert who protects the beasts from all those who would hunt in his desolate domain, and the king begins to have uncomfortable dreams of wrestling with a strong opponent whom he could not defeat. Gilgamesh sends a woman into the wilderness to seduce the wild beastman and to tame him. She accomplishes her mission, teaching him such social graces as the wearing of clothing and other amenities of civilization as they wend they way to Uruk. When Enkidu eventually arrives in the city, the two giants engage in fierce hand-to-hand combat. The king manages to throw the beastman, but instead of killing him, the two become fast friends, combining their strength to battle formidable giants and even the gods themselves. It is the jealous goddess Ishtar who causes the fatal illness that leads to Enkidu's death.

Gilgamesh finally abandons his search for immortality when the goddess Siduri Sabitu, dispenser of the Wine of Immortality to the gods, confides in him that his quest will forever be in vain--the cruel gods have decreed that all mortals shall die. Each day should be treasured, she advises, and one should enjoy the good things of life--a wife, family, friends, eating, and drinking.

From The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings, Second Edition by Brad Steiger, (c) 2012 Visible Ink Press(R) Steiger's homage to the beast within provides meaty facts for the lycanthropic in all of us.

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