The Manticore comes from Persian mythology, and it was brought west when Persia and Greece collided in the fifth century B.C. Stories differ, of course, as is the case with all mythical creatures. The Manticore is at times a ferocious lion that can shoot spines from its tail. In other stories, it has the full scorpion tail featured in this figure. Wings are a later addition, an artist’s touch in European heraldry to make a fascinating creature even more ominous.
Beware the Manticore. The words rang in the boy’s head as he tromped through the jungle in search of dinner. It was his first time alone in the sweltering forest, and the cacophony of sights and sounds was nearly overwhelming. Yet, to become a member of his tribe, to be considered an adult, he must pass through the jungle and return the next morning. The Manticore, the boy scoffed. No such thing could exist. He’d heard of jungle beasts from many of the elders, but he considered them children’s stories, legends to keep little ones from wandering off and getting lost. Still, though, the jungle was a mysterious place. Suddenly, the world around him went quiet. Birds stopped calling, the air itself seemed to pause. He heard his own light footsteps…and something else. The boy ducked. There. Could it be? A large, orange-haired creature, with a face framed in fur. It had stripes, perhaps those were where it shot spines at intruders? Its tail was long and ended in a black tip, the scorpion’s venom, of course. The creature moved noiselessly, swishing its tail. The boy waited, turned, and ran as fast he could back to the village. Adulthood would off to wait. The Manticore is real.