Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Manticore - my favourite mythological beast!

(image:Manticore from The History of Four-footed Beasts (1607)

The manticore (aside from a Genie) is one of my most favourite mythological creatures.

A manticore is of Persian/Indian/ Mediterranean origin and is also called the manticora/mantichora. With the head of a man, the body of an enormous red lion, viciously spiked tail and rows of sharp teeth - it is generally considered to be a malevolent mythological beast. It is sometimes related to Sphynx, but, a Sphynx does not have the spiked tail nor the three rows of teeth and is of Greek / Egyptian origin.

Phil the Manticore is a character I created for my novel "Magical Gains". I created him because I confess, I am a little bored with the abundance of were-creatures that inevitably appear in most paranormal romances. Phil the manticore is the body guard of another character. As you can imagine, a beast with human intelligence and the body of an enormous lion would be a better choice of guard than a puny human with a gun especially when your foes are other magical beings.

To develop Phil's personality I looked at the creature as a whole. A strange, quirky looking thing. Imagine a human face stretched over the skull of a lion - its a bit gross and scary really. How would a person be able understand a manticore? Could you follow their expressions? Would they behave like a person, lion or something in between? Who knows?! So to combat this, I made Phil a slightly comical personality. He is not human, so he doesn't have human manners and this tends to make him rude. He makes inappropriate (but humourous) jibes and states things as he sees them.

As a result, the personality I gave to Phil enlivens a potentially incomprehensible mythological creature and enables the reader to like and understand what is otherwise quite unlikeable.

Yay for Manticores!

[There aren't many images of good manticores available - this one is from wikipedia and I confess, is NOTHING like I envision Phil. If you google manticore images, you'll find a lot of manticores seem to be lions with wings... which isn't a how they were originally described. Mythological and Magical Creatures tend to evolve over time depending on how they are used in literature and cinema, and I think the Manticore's sudden wing development is one of these evolutions.]

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