Your Weekend Creature Comforts: The Manticore
All too often we find ourselves talking about chimeras here, and sure enough I have another one for you. The chimera we will be talking about today is closely related to the sphinx. You can see some of the similarities with the manticore having a lion like body and human head. But the creature also has several rows of sharp shark teeth, the tail of a scorpion, and occasionally large bat-like wings. This creature is not one you want to mess with, and continue on for some of the best appearances of this creature in modern culture.
Though the name is Greek, this monster actually originated in Persia and closely thereafter in India. The name manticore loosely translates to “man-eater” and many of the early stories about this creature were ones that struck terror in the hearts of many.
There are many classic fantasy novels featuring manticores, but of course being a Madeleine L’Engle fan I have to mention her novel Many Waters as probably one of the first that I read featuring manticores. They were not important characters, but mentioned nonetheless, and inspired me to look in to where else they might crop up.
Our favorite blast-ended skrewts from the Harry Potter novels were actually bred by Hagrid by mating a manticore with fire crabs. Certainly sounds like something Hagrid would do.
A version of the manticore that is all scorpion is a creature encountered in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The venom taken from this creature can be used as a poison that is untreatable, so it is no wonder those in Westeros value this monster.
And lastly my favorite appearance of the manticore in pop culture is in a personal favorite TV show: Merlin. In season 3 we see this creature possess a close friend of Gaius’. The manticore uses its dark magic to try to poison the king only to be stopped in the last minute by our beloved Merlin. The CGI created manticore in this episode is quite creepy, with a face that looks like Bilbo Baggins on crack.
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