The Gryphon is a mythical beast with the characteristics of both the lion and the eagle. It is most easily recognized as a eagle having the hindquarters of a lion. Representations are found in many cultures, appearing as heraldic beasts, ancient sculptures, relief's, mosaics, and legends.

The Gryphon has a love precious metals, like gold as well as gemstones, both of which they are known to steal, hoard and guard. Hence the name for the planet, Gryphon, upon which Metal Hall stands.

The Gryphon is a large, fierce looking creature, about 2 ft higher than a horse. The strong wings sprouting from its back are strong enough to carry it at enormous speeds, and lift it off the ground bearing heavy prey.


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 Gryphon always has aquiline forelimbs; the beast with leonine forelimbs is known  as the Opinicus. This heraldic beast is typically shown with the short tail of a camel and sometimes with a longer neck like a camel's (but still feathered). It was granted as a crest in 1561 to City of London's Company of Barber Surgeons (now the Worshipful Company of Barbers and still going strong nearly 500 years later, that's what I am hoping for the House)


Several Gryphon-like creatures, beasts with the head of an eagle or similar bird of prey, appear in the art, architecture and mythology of many early civilizations. In Minoan Crete, such creatures were royal animals and guardians of throne rooms. In Ancient Egypt, a similar creature was depicted with a slender, feline body and the head of a falcon; this is tentatively identified as an Axex. Early statues depict them with wings that are horizontal and parallel along the back of the body. 

There are two sacred "birds" of Persian mythology, the Homa and the Simurgh, the Homa is distinctly Gryphon-like. Ancient Elamites used such a creature extensively in their architecture. During the Achaemenid Empire, homa were used widely as statues and symbols in palaces and were believed to be the guardians of light.

It was said to inhabit the Scythian steppes that reached from the modern Ukraine to central Asia; there gold and precious stones were abundant and when strangers approached to gather the stones, the creatures would leap on them and tear them to pieces. The Scythians used giant petrified bones found in this area as proof of the existence of these Gryphons and thus keep outsiders away from the gold and precious stones.

In early Greek literature, the Hellenic writers' tales of Gryphons and the Arimaspi of distant Scythia near the cave of Boreas. , the North Wind (Geskleithron), such as were elaborated in the lost archaic poem of Aristeas of Proconnesus (7th century BC), describes a Gryphon in these regions that are rich in gold. His stories were eagerly reported by Herodotus (484 BC–c.425 BC) and in Pliny the Elder's Natural History (77 AD), among others. Aeschylus (525–456 BC), in Prometheus Bound (804), has Prometheus warn Io: "Beware of the sharp-beaked hounds of Zeus that do not bark, the gryphons..."[10] In his Description of Greece (1.24.6), Pausanias (2nd century AD) says, "Gryphons are beasts like lions, but with the beak and wings of an eagle."

The Gryphon was said to build a nest, like an eagle: instead of eggs, it lays sapphires, and thus Gryphons are supposed to be female. The animal was supposed to watch over gold mines and hidden treasures, and to be the enemy of the horse. The incredibly rare offspring of Gryphon and horse was called a Hippogriff.

Stephen Friar notes that the Gryphon was regarded as an animal of the sun and pulled Apollo's chariot across the sky; but it pulled Nemesis's chariot too.

 Medieval lore

The 9th century Irish writer Stephen Scotus asserted that gryphons were highly monogamous. Not only did they mate for life, but if one partner died, the other would never re-mate. The Gryphon became an emblem of the Church's views on remarriage.

The egg-laying habits of the female were described by St. Hildegard of Bingen, a German nun writing in the 12th century. She outlined how the expectant mother would search out a cave with a very narrow entrance but plenty of room inside, sheltered from the elements. Here she would lay her eggs (about the size of Ostrich eggs), and stand guard over them, especially protecting them against the mountain lions which then roamed the areas inhabited by the gryphon. Some authorities claimed that Gryphons hatched out of chunks of agate rather than eggs.

Being a union of a terrestrial beast and an aerial bird, it was seen in Christianity to be a symbol of Jesus Christ, who was both human and divine. As such it can be found sculpted on churches.

By the 12th century the appearance of the Gryphon was substantially fixed: "All its bodily members are like a lion's, but its wings and mask are like an eagle's."However, it is not  clear if its forelimbs are the legs an eagle's or a lion's; although the description implies the latter, it was more usual (and more 'correct') for a Gryphon to have eagle forelimbs.

 The Gryphon In Heraldry

The Gryphon is often seen as a charge in heraldry. According to the Tractatus de armis of John de Bado Aureo (late fourteenth century), "A Gryphon borne in arms signifies that the first to bear it was a strong pugnacious man in whom were found two distinct natures and qualities, those of the eagle and the lion."

Bedingfeld and Gwynn-Jones suggest a far more bellicose reason for its choice as a charge: That because legendary hatred between Gryphons and horses, a Gryphon borne on a shield would instill fear in the horses of his opponents. They also note the first appearance of the Gryphon in English heraldry, in a 1167 seal of Richard de Redvers, Earl of Essex.

Arms of Södermanland, Sweden
Arms of West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Former municipality of Donath, Switzerland

Arms of Troms, Norway

Heraldic Gryphons are usually shown rearing up, facing dexter (to the right of the bearer of the shield)*, standing on one hind leg with the other hind leg and both forelegs raised (as shown in the image on the right and those in the gallery below). This posture is described in the Norman-French heraldic blazon as segreant, a term usually applied only to Gryphons (but sometimes also to dragons). The generic term for this posture, used to describe lions and other beasts, is rampant.

Modern Thoughts

Adrienne Mayor, a classical folklorist, has recently suggested that these "Gryphon bones" were actually dinosaur fossils, which are common on the Scythian steppes . She makes connections between the rich fossil beds around the Mediterranean and across the steppes to the Gobi Desert and the myths of Gryphons, centaurs and archaic giants originating in the Classical world. Mayor draws upon similarities that exist between the prehistoric Protoceratops skeletons of the steppes leading to the Gobi Desert, and the legends of the gold-hoarding Gryphon told by nomadic Scythians of the region.


Did you know?

The word Gryphon may also refer to:

From the Wikipedia

There are at least 24 ways that "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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