A pricolici (same form in plural) is a werewolf in Romanian mythology. Similar to a varcolac, although the latter sometimes symbolises a goblin, whereas the pricolici always has wolf-like characteristics.
The first written reference to pricolici is dated 1716 in a Latin manuscript about history of Moldavia, where the pricolici is compared to the French loup-garou, or werewolf.
The pricolici usually feeds on its relatives. If exhumed its body is found facedown with blood smearing its lips. The blood must be fed to those attacked by the pricolici in order to regain their fading health.
The orgin of the word “pricoloci” is not certain, though –lici has been related to the modern Greek term standing for “wolf”.
Pricolici, like strigoi, are undead souls that have risen from the grave to harm living people.
While a strigoi possesses anthropomorphic qualities similar to the ones it had before death, a pricolici always resembles a wolf or large dog. Malicious, violent men are often said to become pricolici after death, in order to continue harming other humans.
In Romanian Lore the pricolici is the returning dead, associated with the eclipse vampire, the so-called varcolac.
An infant suckling after being weaned will become a pricolici after death and will torment his/her relatives, especially the mother.
Even as recently as modern times, many people living in rural areas of Romania have claimed to have been viciously attacked by abnormally large and fierce wolves.
Apparently, these wolves attack silently, unexpectedly and only solitary targets.
Victims of such attacks often claim that their aggressor wasn't an ordinary wolf, but a pricolici who came back to life to continue wreaking havoc.
In his article “The Romanian Folkloric Vampire” published in the September, 1982 issue of the journal Eastern European Quarterly, Jan Petrowski tales anecdotes heard and recorded by the Romanian linguist Emil Petrovici in his travels through Romania during the 1930's. In one of these, it is said that:
- “A dead peson becomes a pricolici and he feeds on his relatives. When he is exhumed his rump is facing upwards and he has blood on his lips. You have to take some of that blood and feed it to the person at home who is suffering from the pricolici. In this way the relative regains his health.”
- "If a baby steals milk from his mother's breasts after he has been weaned at one year or more, he will become a pricolici after he dies. He then tries to return to his mother or relatives to torment them."