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Griffin

The griffin (also spelt gryphon) is a mythical beast with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.

It is generally represented with four legs, wings and a beak, with eagle-like talons in place of a lion's forelegs. Some writers describe the tail as a serpent. It was said to build a nest, like an eagle. Instead of eggs, it lays agates.

The animal was supposed to watch over gold mines and hidden treasures, and to be the enemy of the horse. It was consecrated to the Sun; and ancient painters represented the chariot of the Sun as drawn by griffins. The griffin was said to inhabit Scythia (central to western Asia), where gold and precious stones were abundant; and when strangers approached to gather the stones, the creatures would leap on them and tear them to pieces.

The griffin is often seen as a charge in heraldry ; and in architectural decoration 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.

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



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