henryherz.com

Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books

Meet the Monsters – Manticores

Leave a comment

MtMheader

Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

mgnr

MANTICORES

According to Persian mythology, manticores were fierce, man-eating creatures with the body of a lion, the head of a man (except for three rows of sharp teeth), and sometimes horns or wings. They sport a dragon or scorpion tail, from which they can shoot poisonous spines! And if that wasn’t charming enough, it is said to eat its prey whole, leaving behind no trace.

For a pretty odd-sounding creature, it provoked some actual historical discussion. The Greek Pausanias referred to a description of manticores by a physician at the court of person King Artaxerxes II, Ctesias:

“The beast described by Ctesias in his Indian history, which he says is called martichoras by the Indians and “man-eater” [androphagos] by the Greeks, I am inclined to think is the tiger. But that it has three rows of teeth along each jaw and spikes at the tip of its tail with which it defends itself at close quarters, while it hurls them like an archer’s arrows at more distant enemies; all this is, I think, a false story that the Indians pass on from one to another owing to their excessive dread of the beast.”

manticore01Famous Greek author, naturalist and philosopher Gaius Plinius Secundus included manticores, mis-transcribed as manticorus, in his encyclopedia, NATURALIS HISTORIA.

The Greek Flavius Philostratus, author of THE LIFE OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA, was more skeptical:

“Accordingly Apollonius asked the question, whether there was there an animal called the man-eater (martichoras); and Iarchas replied: “And what have you heard about the make of this animal? For it is probable that there is some account given of its shape.” “There are,” replied Apollonius, “tall stories current which I cannot believe; for they say that the creature has four feet, and that his head resembles that of a man, but that in size it is comparable to a lion; while the tail of this animal puts out hairs a cubit long and sharp as thorns, which it shoots like arrows at those who hunt it.”

Manticores appear in the movies The Last Unicorn and Napoleon Dynamite (!), in the tabletop games Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer, and in the books A SPELL FOR CHAMELEON by Piers Anthony, THE SATANIC VERSES by Salman Rushdie, the Harry Potter series and FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM by J.K. Rowling, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

manticore02

Manticore in an illustration from the Rochester Bestiary (c.1230-1240)

manticore03

Manticore or mantyger badge of William, Lord Hastings, c.1470.

manticore04

Manticora Topsell 1607

manticore05

Stone relief of a manticore with a slain ram in its fangs. Exterior atrium south wall of the parish church Our Lady at Maria Gail in Villach, Austria

manticore06

Pictish stone, showing a manticore and a human. Things are not looking good for the human…

Advertisements

Author: Henry Herz

Children's book author

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s