Griffin: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Statue of a griffin at St Mark's Basilica in Venice.
Griffin misericord, Ripon Cathedral, alleged inspiration for The Gryphon in Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
A very early appearance of gryphons, dating from before 2000 BCE, two of them shown in company with the Sumerian deity Ningishzida.

The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Latin: gryphus) is a legendary creature with the body of a lion, the head of an eagle and the wings of a dragon. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. Griffins are normally known for guarding treasure.[1] In antiquity it was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.[2]

Most contemporary illustrations give a griffin legs like an eagle's with talons, although in some older illustrations it has a lion's forelimbs; it generally has a lion's hindquarters. Its eagle's head is conventionally given prominent ears; these are sometimes described as the lion's ears, but are often elongated (more like a horse's), and are sometimes feathered.

Infrequently, a griffin is portrayed without wings, or a wingless eagle-headed lion is identified as a griffin; in 15th-century and later heraldry such a beast may be called an alce or a keythong. In heraldry, a griffin always has forelegs like an eagle's; the beast with forelimbs like a lion's forelegs was distinguished by perhaps only one English herald of later heraldry as the opinicus. The modern generalist calls it the lion-griffin, as for example, Robin Lane Fox, in Alexander the Great, 1973:31 and notes p. 506, who remarks a lion-griffin attacking a stag in a pebble mosaic at Pella, perhaps as an emblem of the kingdom of Macedon or a personal one of Alexander's successor Antipater.


Possible origins of griffin stories

Scholar Adrienne Mayor argues that the griffin was inspired by Protoceratops fossils in Central Asia.[3] Mayor noted that, like griffins, Protoceratops had beaked faces, protected eggs in nests, and were associated with gold due to their fossils often being located in or near gold-bearing ores. Another possible origin, could be the observation of natural scenes of felines trapping birds.

Illustrated in History Channel's "Ancient Monster Hunters".

From Achaemenid Persian Empire to Central Asia

The griffin appeared at least as early as the 5th-4th century BC in Central Asia, probably originating from the Achaemenid Persian Empire. There and then, the griffin was a protector from evil.[4]

Medieval lore

A 9th-century Irish writer by the name of Stephen Scotus[citation needed] asserted that griffins were strictly monogamous. They not only mated for life, but also, if either partner died, then the other would continue throughout the rest of its life alone, never to search for a new mate. The griffin was thus made an emblem of the Church's views on remarriage.

Being a union of a terrestrial beast and an aerial bird, it was seen in Christendom to be a symbol of Jesus, who was both human and divine. As such it can be found sculpted on churches.[1]

According to Stephen Friar, a griffin's claw was believed to have medicinal properties and one of its feathers could restore sight to the blind.[1] Goblets fashioned from griffin claws (actually antelope horns) and griffin eggs (actually ostrich eggs) were highly prized in medieval European courts.[5]

When it emerged as a major seafaring power in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, griffins commenced to be depicted as part of the Republic of Genoa's coat of arms, rearing at the sides of the shield bearing the Cross of St. George.

By the 12th century the appearance of the griffin was substantially fixed: "All its bodily members are like a lion's, but its wings and mask are like an eagle's."[6] It is not yet clear if its forelimbs are those of an eagle or of a lion. Although the description implies the latter, the accompanying illustration is ambiguous. It was left to the heralds to clarify that.

Heraldic significance

The Bevan family crest

In heraldry, the griffin's amalgamation of lion and eagle gains in courage and boldness, and it is always drawn as a powerful fierce monster. It is used to denote strength and military courage and leadership. Griffins are portrayed with a lion's body, an eagle's head, long ears, and an eagle's claws, to indicate that one must combine intelligence and strength.[7]

In British heraldry, a male griffin is shown with wings, its body covered in tufts of formidable spikes. The male griffin is more usually shown, as in the Bevan family crest (illustration).[8]

The griffin is the logo of Vauxhall Motors, and prior to the mid-1990s a griffin formed part of the logo of Midland Bank (now HSBC). The griffin has also been the logo of SAAB-Aircraft and the company spun-out in the 1950s, Saab Automobile.

The griffin is the mascot of Rocky Mount High School located in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. During the era of segregation, Rocky Mount High School was an all-white school while African Americans attended Booker T. Washington High School. In 1969, the two schools merged when segregation ended. During that time, the mascot of Rocky Mount High School was the blackbird, and the lion was the mascot of Booker T. Washington. In an attempt to create a new mascot for the newly merged school and at the same time maintaining the history of the two schools, the griffin, or "gryphon" as it is then spelled, mostly became the obvious choice.

The griffin is part of the coat of arms of Raffles Institution, the oldest school in Singapore. Combined with the strength of the double-headed eagle, it represents power, strength, supremacy, dignity and majesty for the school.[9]

Flag of the Utti Jaeger Regiment of the Finnish Army

In architecture

A modernist, Egyptianized guardian griffin, Washington, D.C.
Heraldic guardian griffin at Kasteel de Haar, Netherlands

In architectural decoration the griffin is usually represented as a four-footed beast with wings and the head of a leopard or tiger with horns, or with the head and beak of an eagle.[citation needed]

The griffin is the symbol of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; bronze castings of them perched on each corner of the museum's roof, protecting its collection.[10][11]

The griffin is the mascot of Missouri Western State University in Saint Joseph, Missouri. It was chosen in 1918 as the mascot of Saint Joseph Junior College, the institution which later became Missouri Western State University. The griffin was selected because it was considered a guardian of riches, and education is viewed as a precious treasure. Similarly, originating from founder Simeon Reed's family coat of arms, the griffin became the unofficial mascot of Reed College, in Portland, Oregon as the "protector of "man and beasts" and as the enemy of ignorance".[12]

Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts uses four animals and colors to represent the four class years. One of these is the green griffin, representing one of the odd graduating years. It was selected as one of the four class animals in 1909.[13]

Gryphon statues mark the entrance to the City of London.

The heraldic griffin rampant of Perugia wears the mural crown suited to a city beast.

In literature

For fictional characters named Griffin, see Griffin (surname)

"As to the gold which the griffins dig up, there are rocks which are spotted with drops of gold as with sparks, which this creature can quarry because of the strength of its beak. “For these animals do exist in India” he said, “and are held in veneration as being sacred to the Sun ; and the Indian artists, when they represent the Sun, yoke four of them abreast to draw the images ; and in size and strength they resemble lions, but having this advantage over them that they have wings, they will attack them, and they get the better of elephants and of dragons. But they have no great power of flying, not more than have birds of short flight; for they are not winged as is proper with birds, but the palms of their feet are webbed with red membranes, such that they are able to revolve them, and make a flight and fight in the air; and the tiger alone is beyond their powers of attack, because in swiftness it rivals the winds."[14]

"And the griffins of the Indians and the ants of the Ethiopians, though they are dissimilar in form, yet, from what we hear, play similar parts; for in each country they are, according to the tales of poets, the guardians of gold, and devoted to the gold reefs of the two countries."[15]

  • Sir John Mandeville famously wrote about them is his 14th century book of travels: "In that country be many griffins, more plenty than in any other country. Some men say that they have the body upward as an eagle and beneath as a lion; and truly they say sooth, that they be of that shape. But one griffin hath the body more great and is more strong than eight lions, of such lions as be on this half, and more great and stronger than an hundred eagles such as we have amongst us. For one griffin there will bear, flying to his nest, a great horse, if he may find him at the point, or two oxen yoked together as they go at the plough. For he hath his talons so long and so large and great upon his feet, as though they were horns of great oxen or of bugles or of kine, so that men make cups of them to drink of. And of their ribs and of the pens of their wings, men make bows, full strong, to shoot with arrows and quarrels."[16]
As when a Gryfon through the Wilderness

With winged course ore Hill or moarie Dale,
Pursues the ARIMASPIAN, who by stelth
Had from his wakeful custody purloind
The guarded Gold [...]

  • Griffins are used widely in Persian poetry. Rumi is one such poet who writes in reference to griffins (for example, in The Essential Rumi, translated from Persian by Coleman Barks, p 257).

In Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, Beatrice meets Dante in Earthly Paradise after his journey through Hell and Purgatory with Virgil have concluded. Beatrice takes off into the Heavens to begin Dante's journey through paradise on a flying Griffin that moves as fast as lightning. The griffin itself represents the dual nature of Christ's humanity and divinity due to the fact that the being is a mystical hybrid in mythology.

In natural history

Some large species of Old World vultures are called gryphons, including the Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), as are some breeds of dog (griffons).

The scientific species name for the Andean Condor is Vultur gryphus; Latin for "griffin-vulture".

As a first name and surname

In the mid-1990s, "Griffin" steadily became more popular as a baby name for boys in the U.S. In 1990, it was ranked 629th. In 2006, it was ranked 254th. Also rising in popularity is the various other spellings of the name such as Griffen or Gryphon.

"Griffin" occurs as a surname in English-speaking countries. Variations of the surname "Griffin" are present throughout most of Europe and even parts of Western Asia. It has its origins as an anglicised form of the Irish "Ó Gríobhtha", "O' Griffin", and "Ó Griffey".

"Griffin" (and variants in other languages) may also have been adopted as a surname by other families who used arms charged with a griffin or a griffin's head (just as the House of Plantagenet took its name from the badge of a sprig of broom or planta genista). This is ostensibly the origin of the Swedish surname "Grip" (see main article).

The surname Agius has a coat of arms which is a griffin

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c Friar, Stephen (1987). A New Dictionary of Heraldry. London: Alphabooks/A & C Black. p. 173. ISBN 0906670446. 
  2. ^ von Volborth, Carl-Alexander (1981). Heraldry: Customs, Rules and Styles. Poole: New Orchard Editions. pp. 44–45. ISBN 185079037X. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Central Asian Jewelry and their Symbols in Ancient Time Dr. Elena Neva
  5. ^ Bedingfeld, Henry; Gwynn-Jones, Peter (1993). Heraldry. Wigston: Magna Books. pp. 80–81. ISBN 1854224336. 
  6. ^ White, T. H. (1992 (1954)). The Book of Beasts: Being a Translation From a Latin Bestiary of the Twelfth Century. Stroud: Alan Sutton. pp. 22–24. ISBN 075090206X. 
  7. ^ Stefan Oliver, Introduction to Heraldry. David & Charles, 2002. P. 44.
  8. ^ For a recent use of a griffin in heraldry see the Baty Griffin and millstone
  9. ^ Raffles Institution Handbook
  10. ^ Philadelphia Museum of Art - Giving : Giving to the Museum : Specialty License Plates
  11. ^ Philadelphia Museum of Art :: Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States :: Glass Steel and Stone
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Mount Holyoke College - Traditions: Class Colors and Symbols
  14. ^ Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, translated by F. C. Conybeare, volume I, book III.XLVIII., 1921, p. 333.
  15. ^ Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, translated by F. C. Conybeare, volume II, book VI.I., 1921, p. 5.
  16. ^ The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, Chapter XXIX, Macmillan and Co. edition, 1900.

Further reading

  • Bisi, Anna Maria, Il grifone: Storia di un motivo iconografico nell'antico Oriente mediterraneo (Rome: Università) 1965.
  • This article incorporates text from the public domain 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Central Georgia : Griffin

Griffin is a city in Central Georgia near Atlanta. It is the southernmost town included in the Atlanta Metro Area and has held on vehemently to it's "small town" appeal. At the same time the town is being forced into modernization. This has caused an interesting contrast between the deeply religious and devout churches and the packed night clubs and bars. The people will almost always display classic southern hospitality as long as they are given the same in return.


Griffin is steeped in tradition and history. Many of the locals are keen to retain as much of this as possible while moving forward to greater commercialization. There is also a strong sense of regional pride here with a deep foundation in religion. Most of the residences are strict conservatives and fervently fight about their beliefs and views. It would be considered very rude to challenge these ideals. At the same time the people are generally welcoming and will do their best to make sure you feel at home, usually by offering a glass of "sweet tea".

Many of the older locals still speak in a very thick accent that can be difficult to understand. It is also considered rude to ask them to repeat something more than once. Usually it is best to discreetly ask a younger person what they have said. It is also the norm to address those older than you as "Sir" and "Ma'am" whenever possible and you will be looked at strangely if you don't despite this custom being so out of date even people in Utah have stopped using it.

It's also best to keep in mind that many places will be closed on Sunday as most people will be in church.

Get in

Griffin is easily accessed by Interstate I-75 as well as State Route 19/41 which runs directly through town before splitting into separate highways. But seriously, there are easier and safer ways to get from Atlanta to Macon.

Get around

Griffin is lacking in any public transportation and taxis are not common and usually must be phoned for service. Walking is also not advisable as most major commercial and historical areas are miles apart. Renting a car would most certainly be the easiest and cheapest form of transport.


Downtown has changed little since the 20's and many new shops and restaurants are moving in to take advantage of renewed interest in the historical area. This is also where you will find the historical society and local museum. The museum complex contains the Doc Holiday museum to commemorate the western celebrity that was born in town. Many of the houses in the area hold historical significance dating back to the antebellum era (when most of the residents were born). You can find a map showing their locations and significance by contacting the historical society.


Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is located about 15 miles north, offers tours when arranged in advance. There is also the Griffin Ballet which frequently presents shows in the auditorium.

High school football is a large event in town and if you happen to stop by on a Friday night in the fall, we recommend you fork up$5 for a ticket and watch one of the home teams for a while. Griffin has no less than 10 official county parks which offer everything from golf to little league sports. Many are shaded by large oaks and offer a nice chance to escape from the heat and relax on the grass.


Shopping in Griffin can be disappointing for people from out of town. You will be shocked to see very few major department stores outside of wall-mart and home improvement corporations. There are also very few small independent shops and boutiques.

The best place to look for any specialized stores will be downtown which, besides the pawn shops, contain a few specialized family owned stores. But seriously, it's mostly just pawn shops.

It is usually advised to avoid the local Wall-Mart as it is typically overcrowded and known to be somewhat rude to it's customers.


Aside from the typical fare there are many privately owned restaurants that offer a cheap meal. Nice authentic meals can be had at any of the numerous bbq joints usually for less than $10. The best meals found in town are usually at church functions where the deep fried southern food is top notch. Most dishes are from recipes passed down from generations and prepared with traditional methods. However be warned that if you choose to go this rout you will be visited at your house by religious zealots and fundamentalists that will bug you endlessly.

Griffin is also home to one of the few Chik-Fil-A "Dwarfhouses" this specialized Chik-Fil-A combines a typical fast-food setting on one side with a full service restaurant on the other. It's one of the few places on earth where you can get a Chik-Fil-A steak or burger.


Every restaurant in town serves iced tea that is sweetened beyond anything you are likely to encounter anywhere else. It's certainly worth a try if you've never had it.

There is a growing selection of bars and nightclubs that are packed on Friday and Saturday nights. However you can expect to pay $4-5 for the usual domestic beer in plastic cups. While the acceptance of the party scene is getting better it may not be easy to find a bar or pub. It's usually easiest to ask a local and they may even join you for a drink at their favorite watering hole. Most of these are ran by an overweight d-bag named "Cracker" who is usually so high on blow and meth that you can go in for free.

Also, if you do happen to be high enough on meth to into any of these said bars some asshat will most likely try and fight you. This is easily avoided by screaming "I love Nascar" or bringing a fatty with you so you can fit in.

Please remember that you are deep within the Bible Belt and public drunkenness is frowned upon. The local police are very adamant about the DUI laws and will usually wait outside the bar to pick out any obviously intoxicated person. A few local gems to try are:

  • Hollywood Hills in downtown which is usually so full of people that you can't get in. Not to mention they have an exorbitant cover.
  • GTO's bar and grill beside the old wall-mart building. This is Griffin's largest bar and nightclub.
  • Buffalo's Southwest Grill, one of the towns first bars.
  • J-Henry's, while mainly a restaurant, the bar packs out early in the evening
  • Manhattan's, same as above
  • El Charro, home of the best Mexican food and cheapest drinks
  • The Moose Lodge, it's mostly retirees but the conversation can get quite interesting, interesting of course if you were born in 1938


A large array of commercial as well as independent hotels can be found on the north side of town on 19/14. Due to Atlanta Motor Speedway, these places easily lose vacancy during March and November but otherwise will have plenty of rooms for a very reasonable price.

  • Griffin Inn & Suites, 676 North Expressway, +1 770 412-1184, [1].  edit

Get out

Interstate 75 north will take you straight to Atlanta while going south will lead you to Macon. East on State Route 16 will bring you to McDonough and west on State Route 92 goes to Fayetteville although using both of these routes can easily get you lost without knowledge of the local roads.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GRIFFIN, a city and the county-seat of Spalding county, Georgia, U.S.A., 43 m. S. of Atlanta; and about 970 ft. above the sea. Pop. (1890) 4503; (1900) 6857, of whom 3258 were negroes. It is served by the Southern and the Central of Georgia railways, and is the southern terminus of the Griffin & Chattanooga Division of the latter. The city is situated in a rich agricultural region, and just outside the corporate limits is an agricultural experiment station, established by the state but maintained by the Federal government. Griffin has a large trade in cotton and fruit. The principal industry is the manufacture of cotton and cotton-seed oil. Buggies, wagons, chairs and harness are among the other manufactures. The municipality owns and operates the water and electric-lighting systems. Griffin was founded in 1840 and was chartered as a city in 1846.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also griffin


Proper noun




  1. A male given name derived from Griffinus, a latinized form of Griffith.
  2. A Welsh patronymic surname.


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|200px|Griffin]] The griffin or gryphon (less often called gryphen, griffon, griffen, or gryphin) is a legendary creature, an animal belonging to the world of mythology, story telling and fantasy. It has the head, front legs, and wings of an eagle. The rest of the body looks like a part of a lion.

In the past griffin was a symbol of strength and dexterity. It often looked after a treasure.

The Griffin is used as the symbol for Brisbane Waters Secondary College on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia. following the griffin is the Collegiate phrase "Strength Through Unity"

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