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Griffin

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Griffin
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General Info
Mythology {{{Mythology}}}


The Griffinalso spelled Griffon or Gryphon, is a legendary creature portrayed with the rear body of a lion, the head of an eagle with erect ears and a feathered breast with the forelegs of an eagle, including talons. This combination indicates intelligence and strength. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. In heraldry, the griffin's amalgamation of lion and eagle gains in courage and boldness and it is always drawn to fierce monsters. It used to denote strength, military courage and leadership. Griffins were thought to be protectors of gold sources, particularly in India [1]

History

Griffins are normally known for guarding treasure. In antiquity it was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine. Most contemporary illustrations give the griffin the forelegs of an eagle, with an eagle's legs and talons. Its eagle's head is conventionally given prominent ears; these are sometimes described as the lion's ears, but are often elongated (more like a horse's), and are sometimes feathered. Infrequently, a griffin is portrayed without wings (or a wingless eagle-headed lion is identified as a griffin); in 15th-century and later heraldry such a beast may be called a male griffin, an alce or a keythong. In heraldry, a griffin always has aquiline forelimbs; the beast with leonine forelimbs is distinguished as the opinicus.

Medieval Lore

Griffins mated for life and never sought a new mate if their partner was to die. According to Stephen Friar's New Dictionary of Heraldry, "a griffin's claw was believed to possess medicinal properties and that it's feathers could restore sight to the blind." By the 12th century, the appearance of the griffin had been settled upon and remains relatively unchanged in modern lore. "All of its bodily members are like lion's but it's wings and mask are like an eagle's. It was not yet clear if it's forelimbs are like a lions or an eagle's or sometimes it is possible that they had the limbs of baby pigs.

In Media

Literature

  • In Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small Quartet, no lies could be spoken in their presence. In addition, wearing a band of griffin's feathers revealed hidden things and dispelled illusions.
  • In the film adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the griffins could speak the language of humans. They did not appear in the book.
  • A gryphon appears in The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Habitat

Their habitat is the air and in the high mountains to guard treasures of immortality.

Related Creatures

Fellow Lion/other hybrids.

References

  1. As to the gold which the griffins dig up, there are rocks which are spotted with drops of gold as with sparks, which this creature can quarry because of the strength of its beak. “For these animals do exist in India” he said, “and are held in veneration as being sacred to the Sun ; and the Indian artists, when they represent the Sun, yoke four of them abreast to draw the images ; and in size and strength they resemble lions, but having this advantage over them that they have wings, they will attack them, and they get the better of elephants and of dragons. But they have no great power of flying, not more than have birds of short flight; for they are not winged as is proper with birds, but the palms of their feet are webbed with red membranes, such that they are able to revolve them, and make a flight and fight in the air; and the tiger alone is beyond their powers of attack, because in swiftness it rivals the winds. Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, translated by F. C. Conybeare, volume I, book III.XLVIII., 1921, p. 333.

 

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