Griffins / Griffons
Don't forget to check out Gryphons Aerie II for a history background of this beautiful mythical creature.
The Gryphon (and the many spellings there of) is a fabulous beast with the characteristics of two of the most noble of beasts ~ the lion and the eagle. It is most easily recognized as a eagle having the hindquarters of a lion. Representations are found in art wide-spread through many cultures, appearing as heraldic beasts, ancient sculptures, relief's, mosaics, and legends.
Once upon an ancient time, three mythical creatures engaged in mortal combat in the skies above the world: the dragon, the chimera and the gryphon. The dragon used fire and his ability to fly to crushing effect, while the chimera looked in all directions at once with his many heads, appearing an invincible enemy. The gryphon watched his two foe for a long time, seeking out their strengths and weaknesses. At last he engaged in conflict. Using his wit and intelligence he lured the dragon into the depths of the ocean where his fire was extinguished forever. Burrowing through the earth beneath the chimera, the gryphon attacked from the one direction the chimera had not expected. The chimera never recovered from the surprise and was easily vanquished. In this way a creature thought much smaller and weaker than its adversaries won a great victory!
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 egg-laying habits of the female were first properly 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 griffins hatched out of chunks of agate rather than eggs.
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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.