Griffin, Griffon, Gryphon in Mythology

Gryphon run by BronzeHaloGryphon Run by BronzeHalo

No matter how it’s spelled, there’s no denying the vitality, ferocity, courage and nobility of this most majestic of mythical creatures! Although I suppose I could be a little biased…

Dating as far back as 3000 B.C., in Ancient Egyptian and Iranian art, the Gryphon is said to rule both land and air. They are watchful, loyal, strong, and swift.

Griffin Greek Mythology

In Greek Mythology, they appear in art as early as 1500 BC. were known to have pulled the chariots of both Apollo and Nemesis. Through Apollo, they became associated with the sun. Through Nemesis, known as protectors and the bringers of swift retribution of justice. As protectors of the Palace of Minos at Knossos (minus wings), they were symbols of guardianship.

Ancient Medieval Lore

In Medieval times, legends portrays these grand mythical creatures as either evil or good, depending on the source. In art of the time they are shown devouring sinners and ripping animals apart. In Medieval heraldry they were almost always fierce, snarling and ready to strike out with their talons. In great contrast, you could also find them in church sculptures as either a symbol of Jesus (also being a union of two) or emblem of their opposition of remarriage. Griffins were said to mate for life once they found a partner. If one were to die, the other would continue a solitary life, never to search for another.

More Recent Times

By the 19th century these creatures of myth assumed the mantel of harmless, and even gentle creatures. A good example would by the 21st century Disney character, on the TV animated series Sofia the First, Jasper.

Griffin Types

With two very distinctive main characteristics, that of a lion and an eagle, bring together predatory skills that combine two of the greatest hunters. A vast majority of gryphon’s belong to one species, Raptopantthera gryphos. There are two main varieties: the northern, or Hyperborean griffon, and the Indian griffon. The northern gryphon lives in the hilly forests and mountains of north-eastern Europe and Russia. These forested areas once extended deep into the Ukraine – much further south then they do today. More the size of a cougar or mountain lion (2-3 ft. in height).

The Indian griffin is found in mountainous regions of North-Eastern India and the Middle East. More lion than eagle, the griffin of India is mentioned in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostrarus, “…these animals of myth are held in veneration as being sacred to the sun; in size and strength the resemble lions, but having this advantage over them that they have wings, they will attack… 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.”

24 ways “Gryphon” has been spelled through time: Gryffen, girphinne, greffon, grefyne, grephoun, griffen, griffin, griffion, griffon, griffoun(e), griffown, griffun, griffyn, grifon, grifyn, griphin, griphon, gryffin, gryffon, gryfon, gryfoun(e), gryphen, gryphin, and gryphon.

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