Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Mythic Animals: Cat Beasts: Pard and Panther

Pard: Aberdeen Bestiary

Because language evolves over time, “Pard” and “Panther” has changed in meaning from the Medieval Ages to modern times. “Panther” today could indicate a jaguar, leopard, or puma. However in the Medieval Ages, it had a different meaning altogether. Meanwhile during this time, “leopard” had the specific meaning of “the offspring of the adultery between a lioness and a pard.” Today, the word “Pard” is out of use.

According to various Medieval Bestiaries, a Pard was a cat-beast, “who can kill its prey in a single leap.” Other information available about the Pard is that the beast was swift and would mate with a lion. According to Homer, a Pard had a spotted coat. From this seemingly lack of information, I surmised that the Pard was an ordinary animal, not worthy of note. However, this cat-beast did do one extraordinary thing – mate outside its species.

In contrast, the writers of various Bestiaries compared the Panther to Christ. The Bestiaries add that the
Panther: Medieval Bestiary
Panther was a gentle cat-beast, who had a spotted coat with either “white or black discs.” After feasting, this cat-beast would retire to a cave for three days. When it emerged, the Panther would roar giving off sweet perfumed breath. This sweet breath would draw animals to the Panther much like Christ’s words drew people to Him. The Panther was a magical beast who could conquer Dragons, which would hide when the Panther was about. From the wealth of information about the Panther, I concluded that this was an extraordinary and magical beast unlike the common Pard. Moreover, the Panther did not mate with another species, and could only bear one offspring in its lifetime.

Works Used
Armott, Michael, “The Aberdeen Bestiary,” Aberdeen University Library, 1995,, .
Badke, David, “Medieval Bestiary,” 15 Jan. 2011,, .
Chou, Peter, “Panther Mythology,” the Wisdom Portal, 15 Feb. 2007,, .

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