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The manticore, considered to be the most dangerous predator in Asia, has the body of a lion and a head with human. The beast is also known as the "manticora", the "mantichor", for short "manty" or by a folk etymology, even the "mantiger".

Ancient representation


Manticore means "the Eater of People" from early Middle Persian martya "human, mortal being" and xwar- "to eat". The English term "manticore" was borrowed from Latin mantichora, itself borrowed from Greek mantikhoras - an erroneous pronunciation of the original Persian name.


Physically, the manticore was know as having the body of a red lion, the face and ears of a blue eyes human and a tail ending in a sting like that of a scorpion. The mouth contains three rows of razor-sharp teeth and poisoned spines along the tail could be shot, like arrows in any direction. The manticore was also attributed with having a voice that was the mixture of pipes and a trumpet. The beast is very swift and makes very powerful leaps. Occasionally, a manticore will possess wings of some description. Size reports range from lion-sized up to horse-sized.


The monster stalks through the forest in search of humans. Upon an encounter with a human, the manticore fires darts at the victim, who dies immediately. This unfortunate person is eaten completely, even the bones and clothing, as well as the possessions this person carried, vanish. When a villager has completely disappeared, this is considered proof of the presence of a manticore. Some later traditions added that it would often challenge its prey with riddles before killing but it is untrue.


The manticore is reputed to roam in the jungles of India and Indonesia, and is known to have an appetite for humans.


The earliest accounts seem to be from Persian legend. The name itself is from the Old Persian martikhoras meaning 'man-eater'. It passed into European mythology first through a remark by Ctesias, a Greek physician at the Persian court of King Artaxerxes II in the fourth century BCE, in his notes on India ("Indika"), which circulated among Greek writers on natural history, but have not survived.

Pausanias, in his Description of Greece, recalled strange animals he had seen at Rome and commented,

The beast described by Ctesias in his Indian history, which he says is called martichoras by the Indians and "man-eater" by the Greeks, I am inclined to think is the lion. 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. (Description, xxi, 5)

Pliny the Elder did not share Pausanias' skepticism. He followed Aristotle's natural history by including the martichoras — mistranscribed as manticorus in his copy of Aristotle and thus passing into European languages — among his descriptions of animals in Naturalis Historia, c. 77 CE.

Pliny's book was widely enjoyed and uncritically believed through the European Middle Ages, during which the manticore was sometimes illustrated in bestiaries.

A thirteenth century romance about Alexander the Great called Kyng Alisaunder, says that he lost 30 000 men to such beasts as adders, lions, bears, dragons, unicorns, and manticeros. However, as early as the second century A.D., writers thought that the manticore was nothing more than a man-eating Indian tiger. The physical embellishments, either indicative of the fears the people had for the beast or anecdotal exaggeration or misinterpretations of Indian sculptures.

The manticore made a late appearance in heraldry, during the 16th century, and it influenced some Mannerist representations — sometimes in paintings but more often in the decorative schemes called 'grotteschi' — of the sin of Fraud, conceived as a monstrous chimera with a beautiful woman's face, and in this way it passed into the 17th and 18th century French conception of a sphinx.


In the middle ages, the manticore was the emblem for the prophet Jeremhia because the manticore lives in the depths of the earth and Jeremiah had been thrown into a dung pit. At the same time, the manticore became the symbol of tyranny, disparagement and envy, and ultimately the embodiment of evil. As late as the 1930s it was still considered by the peasants of Spain, to be a beast of ill omen. Outside occultist circles, the manticore was still an arcane creature in the Western world when Gian Carlo Menotti wrote his ballet The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore in 1956.


Bartholomaeus Anglicus' De proprietatibus rerum

"Thre huge grete teeth in his throte...the voys of a serpente in suche wyse that by his swete songe he draweth to hym the peple and deuoureth them."


"If we may believe Ctesias...he mentions an Indian animal called Martichora, which had three rows of teeth in each jaw; it is as large and rough as a lion, and has similar feet, but its ears and face are like those of a man; its eye is grey, and its body red; it has a tail like a land scorpion, in which there is a sting; it darts forth the spines with which it is covered, instead of hair, and it utters a noise resembling the united sound of a pipe and a trumpet; it is not less swift of foot than a stag, and is wild, and devours men."


"A triple row of teeth meeting like the teeth of a comb, the face and ears of a human being, grey eyes, a blood-red color, a lion's body, inflicting stings with its tail like a scorpion...with a special appetite for human flesh."


"When the Indians take a Whelp of this beast, they fall to and bruise the buttockes and taile thereof, so that it may never be fit to bring sharp quills, afterwards it is tamed without peril. This, also, is the same beast which is called Leucrocuta, about the bigness of a wilde Asse, being in legs and hoofes like a Hart, having his mouth reaching on both sides to his eares, and the head and face of a female like unto a Badgers."


Like many other legendary creatures, the manticore is a popular monster and allegory in fiction:

  • "Manticore" is the name of the yacht of the Janus Organization, in the film GoldenEye (1995) of James Bond 007.
  • Gian Carlo Menotti's above-mentioned ballet, The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore.
  • There is an entry on the manticore in Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings.
  • A manticore appears as a character in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses (novel)|The Satanic Verses
  • Manticore is Monster in My Pocket #14. They appear in the oriental garden, stage 5, of the video game, hiding behind poles, throwing bones, and projecting a dangerous gaze.
  • Manticores, both in name only and in full, appear in many videogames as both allies and enemies, in games such as Tales of Symphonia, Archon, Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard's Throne, as Myth Units in Age of Mythology and its expansion pack Age of Mythology: The Titans. Manticores appear in full as flying mounts in Total Chaos, and in World of Warcraft as a flying mount, though named Wyvern, it clearly mimics a manticore.
  • The Caldari State's stealth bomber in MMORPG EVE Online is code-named "Manticore"
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling includes manticores in its bestiary. In one novel, manticores are crossbred with Fire-crabs to create a new manticore/arthropod species called "Blast-Ended Skrewt". It is also referenced offhand in Prisoner of Azkaban when Hermione is looking for historical cases of out-of-control beasts being let off. A manticore was let off... but only because the Ministry of Magic was afraid to get near it.
  • In 2005, The Sci Fi Channel showed a TV movie called Manticore. It is about American soldiers in Iraq who discover a real manticore. [1][2]
  • The rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer used the name "Manticore" for their own Atlantic Records releases. Prior to this, they featured the Manticore in their Tarkus-Suite battling another made-up creature (armadillo/tank). Additionally, their 4-CD-Compilation-Box is called Return of the Manticore. [3]
  • In 2003, Roy Horn of the magic duo Siegfried & Roy was seriously injured when bitten by one of his white tigers named Montecore, a name likely derived from 'manticore'.
  • The manticore appears in Indian fantasy author Samit Basu's 2005 novel,The Manticore's Secret.
  • In Canadian writer Robertson Davies' "The Deptford Trilogy|Deptford Trilogy", the middle novel is entitled "The Manticore".
  • Manticores also appear in the strategy game Heroes of Might and Magic III as creatures controlable by the Overlord and Warlock player classes.
  • A creature named Manticore appears in the anime Boogiepop Phantom. It feeds on people but does not devour theam.
  • In the 2004 hit film Napoleon Dynamite, the protagonist Napoleon elects the liger as his favourite animal; however, as he attempts to sketch it, he produces a ghastly image resembling a manticore.
  • In the hit online MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, players have the option to fight Manticores in various areas throughout the game. Additionally, a Manticore is the boss of the Bloodpool level in ActRaiser for the Super Nintendo.
  • The television show '|Dark Angel' featured a government initiative known as Manticore that created super soldiers by splicing together the genes of animals and humans.
  • The graphic novel series The Books of Magic originally created by Neil Gaiman, though carried on by others, features a character which is found to be a Manticore, creatyed by John Ney Rieber, Gary Amaro, and Peter Gross.
  • Canadian Metal band 3 Inches of Blood released a bonus track on their Japanese release of Advance & Vanquish CD called "Quest for the Manticore".
  • The manticore appears in The Worm Ouroboros (1922) by Eric Rucker Eddison.
  • The manticore appears in the Xanth series by Piers Anthony in the book A Spell for Chameleon (1977).
  • The manticore appears in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin.
  • The manticore is pictured in Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You by Tony DiTerlizzi.
  • The Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game City of Heroes features a superhero named Manticore, who appears in game and in a series of comics based on the game. His name probably derives from the fact that his costume is red with a type of metal mane around his head and neck, and his primary weapon is a bow and arrow.
  • The online flash game Which Way Adventure ( often ended with the player being killed by a manticore.
  • The Manticore appeared in the television series Charmed.
  • The Manticore in mentioned by the American rock band Clutch in the lyrics of its song "Circus Maximus," from the 2005 CD release Robot Hive/Exodus: "From the fiery depths of the planet’s core / The never sleeping for want of eating unholy stench of the manticore."
  • The manticore was one of four contenders in a campus-wide vote for a new Swarthmore College mascot. The school also has a student band named Manticore.
  • Manticores appear in Madeleine L'Engle's novel Many Waters.
  • When the Mystic Rangers got Legend Armor to become Legend Warriors, the got a new Megazord called the Manticore Megazord which makes its 1st appearance in part 3 of the Power Rangers: Mystic Force 3-parter, "Dark Wish".
  • The Manticore was featured as a Hades Beast in the Japanese Super Sentai series, Mahou Sentai Magiranger. It had the power to use itself as an instrument to make people dance, leaving them helpless so that it could devour them.
  • The Manticore appeared as creatures of chaos in Rodger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber.
  • In the original He-Man series (1983) episode 'Orko's Favorite Uncle', Adam, Cringer and Orko stumble into a cave and disturb a manticore in his lair. They incapacitate the territorial manticore and flee from his cave. Taking some creative liberties on the creature, this version of a manticore is 20 feet or so tall and bipedal but slouched in posture, and as it was originally scripted, he was to actually breathe fire, but that part was never animated.
  • In David Weber's Honorverse Science Fiction universe, Manticore is the homeworld of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, the primary faction and home nation of the primary protagonist, Honor Harrington.
  • In the Birthright campaign setting, the Manticore is an honorable warrior, corrupted by the power of the dead god Azrai. He attempts to control the savagery within.
  • The Manticore serves as a mounstrous mount for the Dark Elves in Warhammer Fantasy Battles