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Hippogriff - Hippogryph

The Great Race: Merkun's Tale by Boris Vallejo


Hippogriff by Drew BakerThe gryphon's only known relative is the Hippogriff. Living far beyond the seas in the Rhiphaean Mountains, the hippogryph is the result of the rare breeding of a male gryphon and a filly. It has the head, wings and front legs of a gryphon, and the back and hind legs of a horse.

It is a large powerful creature that can move through the air more swiftly than lightning. It figured in several of the legends of Charlemagne as a mount for some of the knights. Such unions are incredibly rare, since the relationship between the two species is usually one of predator and pray.

Unlike griffins, hippogriffs could be tamed and used as aerial mounts, in which role they were immortalized in the Italian Renaissance poet Ariosto's famous saga, Orlando Furioso.

Griffins and horses were supposed to be mortal enemies. The Hippogriff symbolizes an impossible thing. There is an old expression in Medieval times "Jungentur jam grypes equis" which means "To cross griffons with horses", which meant about the same as the modern expression, "When pigs fly." The hippogriff was therefore a symbol of impossibility and love.

The hippogriff seemed easier to tame than a griffin. In the few medieval legends when this fantastic creature makes an appearance, it is usually the pet of either a knight or a sorcerer. It makes an excellent steed, being able to fly as fast as lightning.



An Early Description of the Hippogriff can be found in the poem
Orlando Furioso - Canto IV
By Ludovico Ariosto

No empty fiction wrought by magic lore,
But natural was the steed the wizard pressed;
For him a filly to griffin bore;
Hight hippogryph. In wings and beak and crest,
Formed like his sire, as in the feet before;
But like the mare, his dam, in all the rest.
Such on Riphaean hills, though rarely found,
Are bred, beyond the frozen ocean's bound.

Drawn by enchantment from his distant lair,
The wizard thought but how to tame the foal;
And, in a month, instructed him to bear
Saddle and bit, and gallop to the goal;
And execute on earth or in mid air,
All shifts of manege, course and caracole;
He with such labour wrought. This only real,
Where all the rest was hollow and ideal.




Play the Game: Homing Hippogriffs from the Warner Brothers/Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban web site.

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