What is a Catoblepas?

Posted in Arcana on November 8, 2013

By Trick Jarrett

Patrick "Trick" Jarrett oversees web content and social media for Magic, and acts as the publisher of DailyMTG.com and Magic content on the web. He's an ardent Commander player and lover of the game he's played since Ice Age.
Loathsome Catoblepas

Surely you've heard of the Catoblepas before? I don't mean specifically Loathsome Catoblepas but, perhaps that might have introduced this beast to some of you.

The Catoblepas is a mythical creature originally "sighted" in Africa and frequently attributed to Pliny's Naturalis Historia, however it can also be found to be described in Alian's On Animals. It is a beast with the body of an ox, the head of a boar, and scales on its back. Aelian says that the Catoblepas could, when threatened, emit "from its throat pungent and foul-smelling breath, so that the whole air overhead is infected, and any animals that approach and inhale it are grievously afflicted, lose their voice, and are seized with fatal convulsions."

Talk about morning breath!

This card has a unique distinction in the set, it's art was the first piece received by the art team, and at the time it's playtest name was "Noxious Ox." Based on the above description it is easy to see how this Noxious Ox turned into our Loathsome Catoblepas.

Action: Start with the ref on and design a foul, ox-like creature with deadly, toxic breath. Show it in a swampy area surrounded by dead trees. It’s facing the camera with a lowered head and aggressive body stance. Its eyes are red, and noxious purple mist leaks out of its mouth and nose.
Focus: The oxbeast
Mood: Nothing gets past it alive.

Loathsome Catoblepas | Art by Christopher Burdett

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