Monday, August 27, 2007
In Tolkien's Silmarillion, the human Beren donned a wolf-hame, or coat made of wolf skins. In Old Norse, the expression úlfa-hamir (wolf-coats) occurs.
All of the above comes from Peter Gilliver et al., The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 140-141.
In Homer, Iliad 10.334 (cf. 10.459) Dolon puts on the skin of a grey wolf (ῥινὸν πολιοῖο λύκοιο) before going on a scouting expedition at night. Euripides, Rhesus 201-215 (a dialogue between Dolon and the chorus leader, tr. E.P. Coleridge), describes the donning of the wolf-hame in detail:
DOL. I will set forth; but going within my house I will clothe myself in fitting attire, and then I will hasten to the Argive fleet.There are also wolf skin helmets in Vergil, Aeneid 7.689-690 and 11.680-681.
CHO. Why, what dress in place of this will you assume?
DOL. One that fits my task and furtive steps.
CHO. One should ever learn wisdom from the wise; tell me, what will be your equipment?
DOL. I will fasten a wolf-skin about my back, and over my head put the brute's gaping jaws; then fitting its fore-feet to my hands and its hind-feet to my legs, I will go on all fours in imitation of a wolf's gait to puzzle the enemy, when I approach their trenches and barriers round the ships. But whenever I come to a deserted spot, I will walk on two feet; such is the ruse I have decided on.