[man-ti-kawr, -kohr]

The manticore is a legendary creature similar to the Egyptian sphinx. It has the body of a red lion, a human head with three rows of sharp teeth, and a trumpet-like voice. Other aspects of the creature vary from story to story. It may be horned or not. The tail is that of either a dragon or a scorpion, and it may shoot poisonous spines to either paralyze or kill its victims.


The manticore myth was of Persian origin, where its name was "man-eater" (from early Middle Persian martya "man" (as in human) 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. It passed into European folklore first through a remark by Ctesias, a Greek physician at the Persian court of King Artaxerxes II in the fourth century BC, in his notes on India ("Indika"), which circulated among Greek writers on natural history, but have not survived. The Romanised Greek 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 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. (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 AD.

Pliny's book was widely enjoyed and uncritically believed through the European Middle Ages, during which the manticore was sometimes illustrated in bestiaries. The manticore made a late appearance in heraldry, during the 16th century, and it influenced some Mannerist representations, as in Bronzino's allegory The Exposure of Luxury, (National Gallery, London)— 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 by means of Cesare Ripa's Iconologia into the seventeenth and eighteenth century French conception of a sphinx.


Nowadays, the manticore is said by the natives to inhabit the forests of Asia, particularly Indonesia. The manticore is thought to have the ability to kill instantly with a bite or a scratch and will then eat the victim entirely, bones and all. The reason behind these beliefs are that the manticore is an extremely efficient hunter and is not seen or heard by its prey until it is too late. The poison, which is in each of the spines on the end of its tail, is extremely potent and fast-acting. Whenever a person disappears completely, it is said that the locals consider it the work of the manticore.

The manticore is also known as the "mantícora", the "mantichor", or by a folk etymology, even the "mantiger". 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.

Manticores appear frequently in fiction, invoked by authors as diverse as Salman Rushdie, Samit Basu, Piers Anthony, Robertson Davies and J.K. Rowling, among many others. They have appeared in films (e.g. Manticore (2005)), computer games (such as Final Fantasy XI, Archon, Golden Sun, Age of Mythology, and Heroes of Might and Magic 3), role-playing games (Dungeons and Dragons), and music (for example, in Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Tarkus" suite).

In 1781, the scientific name Manticora was given to a group of large, flightless tiger beetles from Africa; they are voracious predators with large jaws.

Fictional allusions


  • In the book by Rick Riordan, The Titan's Curse, the manticore is the headmaster of a military school named Dr. Thorn. Thorn was later killed by the Greek god Dionysus.
  • In Salman Rushdie's novel called The Satanic Verses, one of the characters has a short series of encounters with what he calls a manticore in the streets of Jahilia, an ancient Arabian town which is the setting of some of the flashback-dream sequences.
  • In Dante's Inferno, Dante and Virgil descend to the 8th circle on the back of Geryon, a Manticore. Here the manticore is a symbol of fraud with a human face to depict the uniquely human nature of the sin.
  • Piers Anthony's first Xanth novel, A Spell for Chameleon, features a manticore guarding the Good Magician Humphrey's magical demesnes, and poses one of the challenges protagonist Bink must pass to meet the wizard. The paperback printed by Del Rey features this scene with the manticore on the cover.
  • Canadian writer Robertson Davies wrote a novel entitled The Manticore, published in 1972. It is the second volume of his "Deptford trilogy," which begins with Fifth Business and concludes with World of Wonders. The manticore figures into protagonist David's psycho-analysis under Jungian analyst Dr. VonHaller. David's dream of the manticore is reflective of himself and the roles he plays interacting with other people and society.
  • In the Honorverse novels by David Weber, the Star Kingdom of Manticore is a fictional nation. The three habitable planets in the Manticore system bear the names Manticore, Sphinx, and Gryphon, references to chimerical beasts.
  • In the Japanese series Boogiepop (as well as Boogiepop and Others and Boogiepop Phantom), the manticore is portrayed as a clone made by the Towa Organization. Manticore escaped from them, and sought to hide itself in Shinyo Academy by taking the form of a student, where it killed and devoured several others.
  • A manticore appears in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. He is portrayed as having "enormous claws". He was described as "his face still human, but his body that of a huge lion. His leathery, spiky tail whipped deadly thorns in all directions".
  • A manticore is one of the mythical creatures represented in Mommy Fortuna's carnival in the book The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. The manticore is eventually revealed to be merely a lion with a magic spell placed on it to trick viewers.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, while researching for the defense of Buckbeak, they find a case of a manticore savaging a person in 1296. The manticore was found "not guilty", because everyone was too afraid to go near it.
  • In A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin, Daenerys is attacked by a manticore. In this case, a poisonous insect or arachnid with a human-like face.
  • In John Ney Reiber's version of the comic book The Books of Magic, The Manticore is one of Timothy Hunter's first and greatest foes. It wears a human skin as a disguise, but its triple rows of teeth are visible when it smiles. Though a fantastic creature itself, it employs cold logic to disprove the existence of magical creatures, killing them through banality and placing them in a museum. This latter methodology calls to mind the lethal force of Banality in the White Wolf game Changeling: The Dreaming. It should noted that Reiber's interpretation of the Manticore predates this game by several years.
  • In the Spiderwick universe, manticores are cougar-like creatures with the heads of bearded men, tails of poisoned spikes and melodious voices. They are famous man-killers.
  • Manticores make several appearances in Roger Zelazny's Amber Series.
  • Grotteschi the Red is a manticore in the second novel in Catherynne M. Valente's The Orphan's Tales, In the Cities of Coin and Spice. The manticores sing and are born of the Upas tree as helpless babies, and are frequently captured and caged.


  • In the television show Charmed, manticores are vicious demons that, according to the Book of Shadows, have supernatural strength and venomous claws. They communicate in high-pitched cries and tend to travel in packs.
  • In the Power Rangers Mystic Force series the Legend Mode's Megazord is called the Manticore Megazord and has the body of a lion and the head of human
  • "Manticore" was the name of the fictional military project/facility in the Fox Network's television series, Dark Angel. The name Manticore was chosen because the company was in the business of combining DNA from several species into a single being. The title character of the series was said to possess, amongst others, feline DNA.
  • In March 2008 Stephen Colbert mentioned on his late-night talk show, The Colbert Report, that since acquiring his magical amulet he has not once been attacked by a manticore.


Video games

  • Manticore is the name of a NPC and Contact in the MMORPG City of Heroes.
  • It is a troop unit available for hire in Heroes of Might and Magic III
  • In Titan Quest there is a Manticore in Chapter 2 in a cave. It is characterized as a legendary beast.
  • The Manticore is an enemy creature on the Sega Master System game Phantasy Star.
  • The Manticore, along with several variations, are enemies in Golden Sun.
  • In Descent: FreeSpace - The Great War, the Manticore is a class of Shivan interceptor, and is the fastest ship in the game.
  • Manticore appears as a boss monster in the Super Nintendo game Final Fantasy V.
  • Manticore is the name of a (L) unit in Vrael@USEast's Feyvern RolePlay on the online game StarCraft: Brood War.
  • Manticores and variations appear as monsters in the MMORPG game Final Fantasy XI.
  • Manticore is the name of one of the more powerful civilian / privateer vessels in the PC & Mac game from Ambrosia Software, Escape Velocity Nova.
  • Manticores were present in an early Windows video game entitled "Castle of the Winds: A Quest for Vengeance" and in its sequel "Castle of the Winds: Lifthransir's Bane"
  • Manticores were also used in Electronic Arts "Archon" 1984 which was available on several computer systems and game consoles including Atari and Commodore .

Sony Entertainment's Everquest Also used the Beasts In Mid Level Zone.

  • Manticores appear as flying mounts in Total Chaos.
  • A Manticore is a creature in the Castlevania video game series. It has the tail of a scorpion, wings of a bat and the body/head of a lion.
  • Manticores also appear in the popular computer game Age of Mythology and Age of Mythology: The Titans Expansion Pack.
  • In Disgaea : Hour/Afternoon of Darkness a manticore type creature appears as an enemy, when once defeated can be used as an ally
  • Manticores appear in the Online games called 'Which Way?' and 'Get lost'
  • A Manticore appears at the end of stage 2-1 of the Super Nintendo game ActRaiser

in lost kingdoms 2 there is a manticore card

  • In the MMORPG EVE Online there is a Caldari Stealth Bomber class ship called a "Manticore"


Real Life Applications

In 2008, t-shirt enthusiast website featured several articles concerning the mythical Manticore. Members of the community adopted the Manticore as their official mascot, thusly The Manticores (an abbreviation for "The West Side Mordor Manticores") were created. Consisting primarily of artists' rights proponents, the group was originally founded by a UK based artist by the name of Godmachine in February of 2008 who subsequently designed the Manticore logo. The objective of the Manticores is to expose instances of design thievery in the design community, namely to protect intellectual properties displayed, sold or otherwise promoted, be it on apparel, websites, portfolios, or anything else wherein the original artist goes unaccredited or is used without legal authorization.

Since their inception, the Manticores have succeeded in thwarting several instances of stolen work, by publicly shaming various individuals of ill repute in the design community.


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