Mythology Mondays: Manticore

Welcome to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series. The first two books, Lightning in the Dark and Storm in the Mountains, are out now. Letters in the Snow (Turning Creek 3) comes out in February.

A Greek historian and physician, Ctesias, who lived in the 4th century B.C., and served in the court of Artexerxes II, wrote a book called Indica (India) which included descriptions of many terrible animals he said could be found in the land of Persia. One such monster he described had a diet which consisted mainly of human flesh.

A brass engraving of a manticore by Joannes Jonstonus.
A brass engraving of a manticore by Joannes Jonstonus.

The Manticore (“man-eater” in Persian) was called Anthropophagos (“man-eater”) by the Greeks. Ctesias described it this way:

It has a face like a man’s, a skin red as cinnabar, and is as large as a lion. It has three rows of teeth, ears and light-blue eyes like those of a man; its tail is like that of a land scorpion, containing a sting more than a cubit long at the end.

The manticore’s stinger had the unpleasant and deadly ability to launch poison darts, like arrows, at its prey. Later, historians theorized the tale of the manticore originated from sightings of nothing more exotic than tigers.

Pliny the Elder, writing in the 1st century A.D., described the sound of the manticore as a horrifying combination of pan-pipe and trumpet.

Manticores are a staple of many different mythologies and have made appearances in modern fantasy stories and worlds like Westeros (George R.R. Martin) and Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling).

In Turning Creek, the matriarch of the Neal family is a manticore. I will close this post with an amazing picture of some fabulous street art from Australia.

Art by McMillan and Gage from
Art by McMillan and Gage from

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