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Mythical Creatures -

Amazons
The race of Amazons or fighting women, is not yet extinct, ...

Pygmies
The antitheses of men--Dwarfs, and Giants--must not be over...

Giants
This last sentence seems almost a compendium of The History...

Early Men
On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, beca...

Wild Men
Sometimes a specimen of humanity has got astray in infancy,...

Hairy Men
If, as we may conjecture from the above, the ancient Briton...

The Ouran Outan
Transition from hirsute humanity to the apes, is easy, and ...

Satyrs
He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape which closely...

The Sphynx
"The SPHYNGA or Sphinx, is of the kind of Apes, but his bre...

Apes
Sluper, who could soar to the height of delineating a Cyclo...

Animal Lore
We are indebted to Pliny for much strange animal lore--whic...

The Manticora
Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having som...

The Lamia
The Lamiae are mythological--and were monsters of Africa, w...

The Centaur
This extraordinary combination of man and animal is very an...

The Gorgon
In the title-page of one edition of "The Historie of Foure-...

The Unicorn
What a curious belief was that of the Unicorn! Yet what myt...

The Rhinoceros
The true Unicorn is, of course, the Rhinoceros, and this pi...

The Gulo
Olaus Magnus thus describes the Gulo or Gulon:--"Amongst...

The Bear
As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent Bears, ...

The Fox
By Englishmen, the Fox has been raised to the height of at ...

The Wolf
The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror pec...

Were-wolves
But of all extraordinary stories connected with the Wolf, i...

The Antelope
When not taken from living specimens, or skins, the arti...

The Horse
Aldrovandus gives us a curious specimen of a horse, which t...

The Mimick Dog
"The Mimicke or Getulian Dogge," is, I take it, meant fo...

The Cat
Aldrovandus gives us a picture of a curly-legged Cat, but, ...

The Lion
Of the great Cat, the Lion, the ancients give many wonderfu...

The Leontophonus The Pegasus The Crocotta
The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, who says...

The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards
"There are oxen, too, like that of India, some with one hor...

Animal Medicine
We have already seen some of the wonderfully curative prope...

The Su
Topsell mentions a fearful beast called the Su. "There is a...

The Lamb-tree
As a change from this awful animal, let us examine the Plan...

The Chimaera
Aldrovandus gives us the accompanying illustration of a ...

The Harpy And Siren
The conjunction of the human form with birds is very eas...

The Barnacle Goose
Of all extraordinary beliefs, that in the Barnacle Goose, w...

Remarkable Egg
No wonder that a credulous age, which could see nothing ...

Moon Woman
One would have imagined that this Egg would be sufficien...

The Griffin
There always has been a tradition of birds being existent, ...

The Phoenix
Pliny says of the Phoenix:--"AEthiopia and India, more espe...

The Swallow
"And is the swallow gone? Who beheld it? Wh...

The Martlet And Footless Birds
Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, G...

Snow Birds
But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, and s...

The Swan
The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that Swans...

The Alle Alle
"There is also in this Lake (the White Lake) a kind of b...

The Hoopoe And Lapwing
Whether the following bird is meant for the Hoopoe, or the ...

The Ostrich
Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, has ...

The Halcyon
Of this bird, the Kingfisher, Aristotle thus discourses:--"...

The Pelican
The fable of the Pelican "in her piety, vulning herself,...

The Trochilus
This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of a p...

Woolly Hens
Sir John Maundeville saw in "the kingdome named Mancy, whic...

Two-headed Wild Geese
Near the land of the Cynocephali or dog-headed men, there w...

Four-footed Duck
Gesner describes a four-footed duck, which he says is li...

Fish
Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar to th...

The Sea-mouse
"The Sea-Mouse makes a hole in the Earth, and lays her Eggs...

The Sea-hare
"The Sea-Hare is found to be of divers kinds in the Ocean, ...

The Sea-pig
Again we are indebted to Gesner for the drawing of thi...

The Walrus
Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, and Ola...

The Ziphius
This Voracious Animal, whose size may be imagined by compar...

The Saw Fish
"The Saw fish is also a beast of the Sea; the body is huge ...

The Orca
is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes it:--"...

The Dolphin
Pliny says:--"The Dolphin is an animal not only friendly to...

The Narwhal
generally called the Monoceros or Sea Unicorn, is thus show...

The Swamfisck
The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapte...

The Sahab
"There is also another Sea-Monster, called Sahab, which hat...

The Circhos
"There is also another Monster like to that, called Circhos...

The Remora
Of this fish Pliny writes:--"There is a very small fish tha...

The Dog-fish And Ray
Olaus Magnus writes of "The cruelty of some Fish, and th...

The Sea Dragon
Of the Ray tribe of fishes, the Sea Dragon is the most ...

The Sting Ray
Pliny mentions the Sting Ray, and ascribes to it marvellous...

Senses Of Fishes
He also tells us about the senses of fishes, and first of t...

Zoophytes
Writing on the lower phases of Marine Animal life, he says:...

Sponges
"We find three kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are th...

The Kraken
This enormous monster, peculiar to the Northern Seas, is sc...

Crayfish And Crabs
Pliny tells us that in the Indian Ocean are Crayfish four c...

The Sea-serpent
Of the antiquity of the belief in the Sea-Serpent there can...

Serpents
Of Serpents Topsell has written a "Historie," which, if not...

The Crocodile
The largest of the Saurians which we have left us, is the C...

The Basilisk And Cockatrice
Aldrovandus portrays the Basilisk with eight legs. Topse...

The Salamander
Many writers have essayed this fabled creature, but almost ...

The Toad
Toads were always considered venomous and spiteful, and the...

The Leech
The Leech has, from a very early age, been used as a means ...

The Scorpion
Of the Scorpion, Pliny says:--"This animal is a dangerous s...

The Ant
No one would credit the industrious Ant, whose ways we are ...

The Bee
The Busy Bee, too, according to Olaus Magnus, developed, in...

The Hornet
So also, up North, they seem to have had a special breed...



The Manticora








Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having some approach to
the human countenance, perhaps the most curious is the Manticora. It is
not a parvenu; it is of ancient date, for Aristotle mentions it.
Speaking of the dentition of animals, he says:--"None of these genera
have a double row of teeth. But, if we may believe Ctesias, there are
some which have this peculiarity, for he mentions an Indian animal
called Martichora, which had three rows of teeth in each jaw; it is as
large and rough as a lion, and has similar feet, but its ears and face
are like those of a man; its eye is grey, and its body red; it has a
tail like a land Scorpion, in which there is a sting; it darts forth the
spines with which it is covered, instead of hair, and it utters a noise
resembling the united sound of a pipe and a trumpet; it is not less
swift of foot than a stag, and is wild, and devours men."

Pliny also quotes Ctesias, but he slightly diverges, for he says it has
azure eyes, and is of the colour of blood; he also affirms it can
imitate the human speech. Par parenthese he mentions, in conjunction
with the Manticora, another animal similarly gifted:--"By the union of
the hyaena with the AEthiopian lioness, the Corocotta is produced, which
has the same faculty of imitating the voices of men and cattle. Its gaze
is always fixed and immoveable; it has no gums in either of its jaws,
and the teeth are one continuous piece of bone; they are enclosed in a
sort of box, as it were, that they may not be blunted by rubbing against
each other."

Mais, revenons a nos moutons, or rather Mantichora. Topsell, in making
mention of this beast, recapitulates all that Ctesias has said on the
subject, and adds:--"And I take it to be the same Beast which Avicen
calleth Marion, and Maricomorion, with her taile she woundeth her
Hunters, whether they come before her or behinde her, and, presently,
when the quils are cast forth, new ones grow up in their roome,
wherewithal she overcometh all the hunters; and, although India be full
of divers ravening beastes, yet none of them are stiled with a title of
Andropophagi, that is to say, Men-eaters; except onely this
Mantichora. When the Indians take a Whelp of this beast, they fall to
and bruise the buttockes and taile thereof, so that it may never be fit
to bring (forth) sharp quils, afterwards it is tamed without peril.
This, also, is the same beast which is called Leucrocuta, about the
bignesse of a wilde Asse, being in legs and hoofes like a Hart, having
his mouth reaching on both sides to his eares, and the head and face
of a female like unto a Badgers. It is also called Martiora, which in
the Parsian tongue, signifieth a devourer of men."



Du Bartas, in "His First Week, or the Birth of the World," mentions our
friend as being created:--

"Then th' Vnicorn, th' Hyaena tearing tombs,
Swift Mantichor', and Nubian Cephus comes;
Of which last three, each hath, (as heer they stand)
Man's voice, Man's visage, Man like foot and hand."

It is mentioned by other writers--but I have a theory of my own about
it, and that is, that it is only an idealised laughing hyaena.





Next: The Lamia

Previous: Animal Lore



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