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!

While researching this creature, I was surprised to find how old and widespread the legend of the gryphon truly was. In modern fantasy literature you'll have no trouble finding the dragon or the unicorn, but it is quite a challenge to find a gryphon character in a novel (visit the Library and compare the number of books). But this hadn't always been the case.

The gryphon (or griffin) is a fearsome half eagle, half lion beast whose legend spread from the Near East and whose origins date back perhaps as far as the 14th century B.C. Possibly originating in Mesopotamia, it soon began its slow but relentless spread throughout the world.

The name of the creature has been spelt in many different ways, the two most common being Gryphon and Griffin. Other variants include griffoun, griffun, griffyn, grifo, grifon, grifyn, grefyne, griphin, griphon, gryffen, gryffin, gryffon, gryfon, gryphen, and gryphin. Short versions include griff, gryph, gryf, and grifo.

I have attempted to divide this up by region, and to list the information chronologically, but of course this is not strictly possible. The stories existed at the same time in different places, flowing back and forth amongst the the different cultures, influencing each other.


Middle Ages:


"To signify impossibility or incongruence," writes Jorge Luis Borges, "Virgil spoke of breeding horses with griffons. . . In time, the expression Jungentur jam grypes equis ('To cross griffons with horses') came to be proverbial." [4] The Hippogryph, which has the front half of a gryphon and the hindquarters of a horse, was created by Ludovico Ariosto in his epic Orlando Furioso as a joke in reference to this old saying.



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.


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