Manticore vs. Sphinx (What’s The Difference?)

If you are familiar with the various kinds of mythological creatures that exist in various stories and lore that have been created by cultures all over the world, then it is likely that you have heard of creatures like the manticore and the sphinx.

Both of these creatures have a lot of similarities, but where do they differ? Do they have any real difference? As a matter of fact, they do!

The biggest differences between a manticore and a sphinx are the country of origin and the lore associated with each creature. So let’s take a look at each of these mythical creatures and see how they differ based on their origins. 

Manticore

Manticores, and the lore about them, originates from ancient Persian mythology. Though the lore and depictions of the manticore would go on to inspire medieval art in Europe. The lore surrounding a manticore depicts it as being made out of parts of various creatures.

The manticore is said to have a human head, a lion’s body (or any large cat similar to a lion), and sometimes a tail similar to that of a scorpion. 

Some depictions of a manticore say that it has poisonous spines sticking out of its tail instead of a scorpion-like tail. According to some legends, those spines could be used as projectiles. It is also said that a manticore has up to three rows of teeth. Some cultures depicted the manticore with wings, while others did not. 

Manticore Lore 101

As far as mythology goes, there isn’t a whole of information about manticores. However, ancient art has depicted manticores to be like some kind of super predator that has a preference for eating humans.

In fact, manticore loosely translated from various languages throughout the years means man-eater. It is said that the manticore could swallow its prey whole.

Though not considered mythology at the time, the manticore was depicted in various books written between the years of 1200 – 1600 AD. 

Also Read: Manticore vs. Chimera

Sphinx

Unlike the manticore, the legend and myth behind the sphinx seem to originate from two places. To be more specific, the sphinx originates from ancient Egypt and Greece. Though Greek myth suggests that the sphinx originated from a region near Egypt known as Aethiopia.

Just like a manticore, a sphinx is a creature that is said to be composed of the parts of several other types of creatures. 

Again it is often depicted that the sphinx has a human head (female in Greek mythology and male in Egyptian mythology. Some depictions of the sphinx state that rather than having the head of a human, it has the head of another creature like a cat or a falcon. The body is usually that of a lion, and often the sphinx is depicted with wings. 

Sphinx Lore 101

There is a great deal of lore associated with a sphinx, and that lore differs greatly depending on the country. In Greek mythology, the sphinx is an insidious creature that asks riddles to those that encounter it.

Those who cannot answer the riddle, or give the incorrect answer, are eaten. The sphinx is also depicted in the legend of Oedipus, where she guarded the entrance to the city of Thebes. 

In contrast to its Greek counterpart, the Egyptian sphinx is seen more as a symbol of royalty. Not only that, but the sphinx is said to represent the Egyptian god of the sun, Ra.

The culture of ancient Egypt depicts the sphinx as a protector of ancient Egyptian temples and tombs. The most well-known example of this is the giant sphinx statue located in Giza, Egypt. 

Conclusion

As you can see, the manticore and the sphinx are similar in appearance to an extent. But beyond that, they are very different types of creatures. While the manticore could be seen more like a mythological monster, the sphinx is seen as a protector of sacred buildings.

Though both creatures originated from different cultures at different points in history, it is interesting to see how they both came up with some sort of cat-like creature.

Interestingly, other countries from all over the world have also depicted creatures similar in appearance to the manticore and the sphinx. Though the lore surrounding these similar figures varies, the physical similarities between them are certainly uncanny. 

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