Your Weekend Creature Comforts: The Griffin
Hello again my faithful followers, I am saddened to say that this weekend’s creature comforts column is probably going to be dismal in proportion to last week’s spotlight of the awe-inspiring dragon, but we are focusing on another pretty famous monster this weekend. Today I bring you the griffin, closely related to some of the previous creatures we’ve talked about here like the hippogriff and sphinx. This creature is a mixture of the most powerful creatures of the animal kingdom on land and in the air: it has the body and tail of a lion while it adorns the head, wings, and front talons of an eagle.
Griffins became famous because of Greek mythology, but depictions of this beast can be found back as far as 3,300 BC in ancient Egyptian art. In addition to the mixture of lion and eagle, many griffins sport large ears, but whether or not these are of a lion or a wolf is not easily discerned. Amazingly this is one of the first creatures we have talked about in this column that the Christian church did not vilify. In fact, the church embraced stories of the griffins as mating for life and never searching for a new mate if their soulmate died. According to Christian believes, this creature representing God’s apposition to remarriage.
Overall the griffin represents courage and boldness, which is probably why J.K. Rowling called the Hogwarts house of the courageous Gryfinndor. And the griffin has been stolen as an important emblem by many more than Rowling: the griffin is on the coats of arms and is the school mascot for many institutions.
Where can you go to get your fix of the griffin in more recent movies and literature? Sadly not a lot of places. I could not think of a single novel where I have read about griffins. Luckily there is the internet, and I found out from a quick search that there about a half dozen fantasy series that feature the creatures. The Griffin Mage series, the Derkholm series, the Chaos Knight series, the Valdemar Mage Wars series, the Fallen Moon series, The Gryphon Taint series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The King of Trees series, and The Disposition of Ashes series all feature griffins, so there are now a lot more books on my amazon wishlist.
Amongst movies the Spiderwick Chronicles has a clip of the kids flying a griffin, which reminded very much of Harry Potter’s flight of the hippogriff. And yes there was an Attack of the Gryphon movie for all of you wondering.
But my favorite griffin depiction in modern culture was from the first The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe movie. There are tons of great creatures in this movie, and as a child I adored the book. The battle scene with the griffins dropping rocks on the charging evil army is probably my favorite depiction of griffins thus far. I am hoping that this infamous column of mine inspires some Hollywood writers to find more spots for griffins in the future!
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