The Gryphon:

Legend and Myth

SunBlind 2007
Please do not use this text without my permission. [see footnote below]

If you find any errors or omission, please drop me a note to let me know!

This region contained the ancient lands of Assyria, Babylonia and Sumeria. It is unknown what the Mesopotamians called this creature, the name gryphon appearing much later. Based on the artwork of the time, the gryphon appears to have been considered a dangerous beast, as it was often depicted attacking other animals. The gryphon is also often depicted with long feathered ears resembling those of an equine, and the best guess as to what animal this came from is the Mesopotamian wild ass, a creature considered to be agressive and represented the untameable Nature, while being the one of the swiftest creatures know at the time.

As Michael D. Winkle[1] writes, another long-eared connection may be with the goddess Lamastu whose animal was the donkey. She herself was depicted as a "hairy, lion-headed being with donkey's ears and bird talons". The long ears where then associated with other monsters and demons to indicate their evil natures.

The gryphon often appeared seals. There was another being that may have lead to the legend of the gryphon, and this is the Apkallu Gryphon, essentially replacing the lion parts with human parts.

There were also other varions on the gryphon, such as the Snake-griffin which had the body of a lion, the head of a snake and the legs of a bird. The Lion-griffin, found in Babylonian, Assyrian, Hittite and Persian legend had hindlegs shaped like a bird, but was otherwise like a lion.

In Assyria, it was the protector of the Tree of Life. It also assisted in keeping evil in check. In Sumeria it is the mount of the weather God Iskur. It spits water and/or lightning from it's mouth onto the parched lands below.

More info:
Apkallu Gryphon
The Eyrie Vol. 1 No.2 [1]

Footnote I just want to clear up when you actually need my permission to use this information. What I generally don't want is for you to simply copy this page and stick it up on your own website without asking me first, especially if you claim to have written it yourself. If you are using it for a school project, that's fine, you don't need to ask me first. Depending on your grade level, you'll know how your teacher wants you to reference the information to avoid plagirism.


Background and images (unless otherwise noted) are SunBlind
Do not use without permission.