The Griffin

French late Victorian early Art Nouveau expressive golden griffin brooch pendant

A guardian of treasures

The griffin, a strange and legendary hybrid creature, usually represented as being part eagle and part lion is normally known for guarding treasures. The griffin motif is found in sculptures of the
ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greek and Romans; in beast allegories of the early Christians; and in Gothic architecture of the late Middle Ages. The griffin remains common in heraldy, representing strength and vigilance.

A hybrid is a composite of two or more species of animal and/or human, and the seven most known hybrids are:

  • The centaur
    In Greek mythology and art, the centaur has the torso of a human combined with the body of a horse.

  • The cockatrice
    This creature was also known as a basilisk ("king of serpents"), and its very glance could kill; the cockatrice was composed of a dragon's tail and assorted poultry parts.

  • The giants (gigantes)
    These fierce and frightening beings were the offspring of Gaia (the Earth).

  • The griffin
    According to myth, the griffin was a creature with a lion's body attached to the head, wings, and claws of an eagle.

  • The harpy
    Harpies had female torsos melded with vulture parts; the name harpy is derived from the Greek word that means "snatcher".

  • The satyrs (faun)
    Satyrs were often the companions of Dionysos, and these creatures were depicted in myth and art with the legs of goats and bestial natures.

  • The sirens
    Women with bird-like bodies; sirens were legendary for luring sailors by singing their enchanted songs.

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