The Griffin and the Manticore are fierce mythological beasts from the Middle Ages. Although they have little in common, other than body parts of a lion, when I saw pictures of one, it immediately made me think of the other and I wondered which of these amazing creatures would win should they ever meet in battle.
The Griffin has the body, tail and back legs of a lion and the wings, beak and talons of an eagle or hawk.
The Manticore has the head of a blue-eyed man, the body of a lion and the stinging tail of a scorpion. Other depictions of the creature have it with a tail of venomous spines, similar to porcupine quills, that it can fire from a distance, paralyzing or killing its victims.
Closely linked with the lion, king of animals, and the eagle, king of all birds, the Griffin is the King of all creatures. They are known for protecting treasures and, in ancient times, they were a symbol of divine power and a protector of gods.
The beasts ripped flesh with their razor-sharp talons, and they were also known to fly their victims to great heights before dropping them to their deaths.
The Griffin fed its young with the meat of men and was strong enough to overpower an entire live ox.
In the 14th century, Sir John Mandeville described the creatures as being “more strong than eight lions and a hundred eagles”. But would that be enough to defeat the Manticore?
The Manticore was considered one of the most forbidding of all mythological creatures. It had three rows of teeth like a shark and a tuneful bellow, similar to a trumpet.
It would use its blistering speed to chase down its prey and slash them with its claws or sting them with its tail.
Can good triumph over evil?
In the Middle Ages, the Griffin became a symbol for fidelity because they were thought to mate for life and, if one partner died, the other would continue the rest of its life alone.
The Manticore had an insatiable appetite for human flesh. At one point in the Middle Ages it was thought to be a symbol of the Prophet Jeremiah, but that was short-lived.
Due to its ferocious manner and terrifying appearance, it became a symbol of evil and came to be known as an omen of evil tidings. To see one was to see a forthcoming misfortune.
I am currently revising my novel, If Not For The Knight, and working on a follow up to it. One of main characters, Calder Wyndym, has his coat of arms hanging on a tapestry in the Great Room of the castle, a golden Griffin on a deep red background.
The king of all creatures and the symbol of fidelity seemed more than appropriate for Calder’s coat of arms.
I can’t answer the question of whether or not the Griffin would defeat the Manticore in battle, although I’m thinking it probably could. I will leave it to your imagination and let you make that call for yourself.
Thanks for joining me. I welcome any comments or thoughts you might have on this or any of my other posts.