Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wolfen in the Streets of the Roman Empire

In The Making of Late Antiquity, Peter Brown startled me with this:
The towns of the Mediterranean were small towns. For all their isolation from the way of life of the villagers, they were fragile excrescences in a spreading countryside. As in medieval Italy, "Everywhere the country thrust its tendrils into the town." Not every tendril was innocent: wild animals drifted into the towns of North Africa, making their lairs in the basements and eating the citizens.
Needless to say, I had to check out where the wild animals eating the citizens came from. An accompanying footnote cites to Tertullian's Ad Martyras (c. 197 AD):
How often have wild beasts, both in their own woods and in the middle of cities, having escaped from their dens, devoured men!
I, of course, immediately thought of Wolfen.

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