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What is the name of a mythical wolf?

What is the name of a mythical wolf?

Wolves have played an important role in many mythologies and folklore traditions around the world. In particular, wolves are common subjects of stories and legends in European, Native American, and Asian cultures. Mythical wolves are often portrayed as powerful, dangerous creatures, but also as wise teachers or noble protectors. Some of the most well-known mythical wolves include Fenrir from Norse mythology, Amarok from Inuit legends, and the Lupa Capitolina who nursed Romulus and Remus in Roman myth. The prevalence of wolves in mythology reflects both their important ecological role as apex predators, as well as a mix of fear and respect in human attitudes towards these animals throughout history.


One of the most famous mythical wolves is Fenrir (also called Fenrisulf) from Norse mythology. Fenrir was one of three monstrous wolves born to the god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. Along with his siblings – the Midgard Serpent and Hel – Fenrir was prophesied to bring great calamity to the gods. As such, the gods took steps to bind Fenrir in order to prevent the fulfillment of these prophecies.

As a pup, Fenrir was taken to Asgard and raised by the gods. Only the god Tyr was brave enough to feed the growing wolf. However, the gods soon realized that Fenrir was growing at an alarming rate and would pose a threat. They decided to bind Fenrir, which they achieved through trickery twice before the wolf grew too large to restrain.

The gods then turned to the dwarves who constructed an unbreakable chain called Gleipnir. Fenrir sensed the gods’ deceit in asking him to test his strength against Gleipnir but agreed as long as one god placed their hand between his jaws as a pledge of good faith. Tyr agreed and Fenrir was bound. When he was unable to break free, Fenrir bit off Tyr’s hand as recompense. Fenrir is prophesied to break free during the events of Ragnarök and will devour several gods including Odin. However, Fenrir will be killed by Odin’s son Vidar.


In Inuit mythology and folklore, Amarok is a gigantic wolf who stalks and devours any hunter foolish enough to hunt alone at night. Unlike wolves who hunt in packs, Amarok is always solitary and is thought to roam the icy barren lands outside of human villages.

Amarok is said to appear as a giant wolf larger than a man, sometimes glowing white or red, who can appear and disappear with the wind. Accounts of encounters with Amarok describe the wolf’s blood-chilling howls that signal a hunter is about to become prey. When Amarok finds a lone hunter it circles and provokes fear before moving in for the attack.

Stories of Amarok serve as a cautionary tale against excessive pride in one’s abilities as well as the dangers of hunting alone. According to legend, many boastful hunters ignore warnings to only hunt in groups at night and meet their demise at the jaws of the fearsome Amarok. More experienced hunters know to show respect and humility when hunting on Amarok’s territory.

Lupa Capitolina

The Lupa Capitolina, or Capitoline Wolf, refers to the iconic image of the she-wolf who nursed and cared for the abandoned twins Romulus and Remus in Roman mythology. The twins went on to found the city of Rome. This legend was part of Rome’s origin myth and explains how the city came to be named after Romulus.

According to the myth, Romulus and Remus were the sons of Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor who was king of Alba Longa. Amulius, Numitor’s brother, seized the throne and forced Rhea Silvia to become a vestal virgin who were sworn to celibacy. When she gave birth to the twins, Amulius had the infants placed in a basket on the Tiber River to drown. However, the river carried them to safety on the bank where a she-wolf found and suckled them. A woodpecker, sacred to Mars, the god of war, brought the wolf food as the babies were nurtured back to health.

Eventually, a shepherd named Faustulus discovered the boys and took them as his own. As young adults, Romulus and Remus learned of their true origins and decided to establish a city on the site where they were rescued. However, conflict arose between the twins and Remus was killed by his brother who then ruled Rome as its first king. He named the city after himself and the Roman Lupercalia festival commemorated the Lupa Capitolina who nurtured the founders.

Other Significant Mythical Wolves

In addition to Fenrir, Amarok, and Lupa Capitolina, wolves play a prominent role in the folklore and legends of many other cultures:

– Sköll and Hati from Norse mythology are wolves that chase the sun and moon through the sky. It was believed that during solar or lunar eclipses, Sköll and Hati had managed to catch their prey.

– The Wolf of Gubbio was a wolf terrorizing a village in Italy who was tamed by St. Francis of Assisi. The wolf came to represent the saint’s piety and rapport with nature.

– Wepwawet was an ancient Egyptian wolf god pictured with a grey, jackal-like appearance. Wepwawet was seen as a scout and opener of the way associated with war and funerary practices.

– Wolves feature prominently in many Native American origin stories and beliefs as ancestors, knowledge-bringers, and fierce protectors. Tribes differ on the spiritual meaning and nature of wolves.

– Moro is a white she-wolf goddess in Filipino mythology who nurtured infants to build tribes. She tests the character of individuals before bestowing blessings upon them.

– The Legend of Gelert is a Welsh folktale about a loyal wolfhound wrongfully slain after being mistaken for harming his owner’s child.

Why Wolves Were Significant in Mythology

Wolves held an important place in the cosmology and oral traditions of many cultures for a variety of reasons:

  • As apex predators who hunt in sophisticated social units, wolves symbolized cunning, teamwork, and valor which human societies often aspired towards or wished to embody.
  • The howling and nocturnal habits of wolves made them mysterious and intimidating creatures, giving rise to their menacing treatment in myth.
  • Wolves preyed on livestock vital to earlier agricultural societies. As such, they were seen as destructive forces needing to be overcome.
  • Due to their association with the wilderness, wolves represented the untamed aspects of nature and humanity that cultures struggled to control.
  • Native American reverence for wolves reflected their spiritual worldview of intrinsic kinship and connection with all living beings.

Whether portrayed as deities, demons, omens, or guides, wolves inhabited a crucial symbolic niche in the belief systems of many indigenous peoples. They represent humanity’s complex relationship with nature and the animal world. Even as apex predators, wolves also embody social virtues that cultures aspire towards.


Wolves have served as the subjects of captivating myths and legends across civilizations for thousands of years. Major mythical wolves like Fenrir, Amarok, and Lupa Capitolina convey cultural values and perspectives on nature, danger, and community. The prominence of wolves in oral narratives underscores their ecological importance while revealing human attitudes of awe, fear, and respect towards these powerful animals. Whether antagonist, teacher, or noble guardian, wolves remain an impactful symbol in our shared mythological heritage.