Story of the Mythical Griffin

Dragons and Beasts Live

Story of the Mythical Griffin

23 November 2021

Dragons and mythical beasts have starred in books, movies, songs and even kid shows live on stage for many years, with griffins being a huge part of ancient mythology. It’s thought that myths around these creatures were brought to countries like Egypt and Greece by traders from Asia who had travelled the Silk Road (more on that later). But what’s the story behind griffins and what powers were they thought to have? Let’s find out more…

What is a Griffin?

According to legend, Griffins have the head of an eagle and the body of a lion. They were often shown with wings – but not always. And they had pointed ears and front talons. As the eagle was considered the ‘king of the birds,’ and the lion the ‘king of the beasts,’ the griffin was perceived as a powerful and majestic creature that could protect from evil, witchcraft and slander. Griffins were also thought to be greedy creatures, hoarding and guarding gold much like dragons did. In fact, griffins guarded the treasures and priceless possessions of kings and other royals. It’s even thought that griffins laid eggs in nests lined with gold nuggets. Other accounts say that griffins built nests like an eagle’s, and laid eggs of agate, which is a semi-precious stone.

Griffins in Greek Mythology

The griffin features heavily in Greek mythology. It was said that a griffin pulled the chariot of Apollo, the sun god. This seems an appropriate role for a creature thought to be stronger than an ox or a horse. Its ability to fly also made it easy for a griffin to transport the sun god to and from the sun and earth.

Where did the Griffin Story Come From?
Silk Road Traders

Many stories about mythical griffins came from traders exploring the famous Silk Road. This was a network of paths connecting civilisations in the East and West, and was used for trading goods such as silk, spices, tea, ivory, cotton, wool, precious metals, ideas – and stories. As people travelled, they talked. Many explorers shared elaborate tales of their adventures and what they had encountered along the way. Griffins became entwined in folklore, with each and every story becoming even more exciting.

Dinosaur Fossils

Historians also believe that the mystical story of the griffin might not have been completely imagined or made up by tired and weary traders. It’s thought that anyone digging for gold or exploring popular gold routes might have come across the fossils of a dinosaur called the pentaceratops. This had a beaked face with a four-legged body. This is similar to how a griffin has been described, and could explain how this creature came to be imagined. It also explains why griffins are closely associated with hoarding gold.

If you’re fascinated by mythical creatures and folklore, don’t miss Dragons and Mythical Beasts Live on stage. This sensational, child-friendly show features masterful puppetry and makes for a great day out for the whole family. Book your tickets today.

Story of the Mythical Griffin

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