Monster Monday: Griffin

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Griffin.

1660 Engraving of a Griffin by Matthius Merian
1660 Engraving of a Griffin by Matthius Merian

Though popular in European heraldry beginning in the Middle Ages, the griffin is a creature that dates back to ancient Greece. A griffin has the head, wings, and front claws of an eagle, and the back claws and tail of a lion. It’s head can be distinguished from an eagle’s head by the tufts of feathers resembling ears.

Griffins are often depicted as guarding treasures. Their claws were said to have medicinal uses, and a griffin feather was believed to cure blindness. Griffins mated for life, and of one of a pair of griffins died, the other would not seek a new mate.

In medieval folklore, the lion is regarded as the King of Beasts while the eagle is the King of Birds. The griffin, as a combination of the two was sometimes said to be the King of All Creatures, and became popular in heraldry to signify the attributes of courage, boldness, and strength.

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