Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- No empty fiction wrought by magic lore,
- But natural was the steed the wizard pressed;
- For him a filly to griffin bore;
- Hight hippogryph. In wings and beak and crest,
- Formed like his sire, as in the feet before;
- But like the mare, his dam, in all the rest.
- Such on Riphaean hills, though rarely found,
- Are bred, beyond the frozen ocean's bound.
- Drawn by enchantment from his distant lair,
- The wizard thought but how to tame the foal;
- And, in a month, instructed him to bear
- Saddle and bit, and gallop to the goal;
- And execute on earth or in mid air,
- All shifts of manege, course and caracole;
- He with such labour wrought. This only real,
- Where all the rest was hollow and ideal.
The reason for its great rarity is that griffins despise horses, which they regard with the same feelings a dog has about a cat. In medieval times there was an expression, "To mate griffins with horses", which meant about the same as the modern expression, "When pigs fly". The hippogriff was therefore a symbol of impossibility and love. This was supposedly inspired by Virgil's Ecologues: ... mate Gryphons with mares, and in the coming age shy deer and hounds together come to drink.., which would also be the source for the reputed medieval expression, if indeed it was one.
Among the animal combat themes in Scythian gold adornments may be found griffins attacking horses.
The hippogriff seemed easier to tame than a griffin. In the few medieval legends when this fantastic creature makes an appearance, it is usually the pet of either a knight or a sorcerer. It makes an excellent steed, being able to fly as fast as lightning. One appears in the legends of Orlando Furioso.
The hippogriff is said to be an omnivore, eating either plants or meat.
Hippogriffs in art
One or more hippogriffs feature in:
- Many role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons
- The third, fourth and fifth books of the Harry Potter series, as well as in the third movie
- The Castlevania: Circle of the Moon game for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance
- Various books of Piers Anthony's Xanth series, most notably Xap Hippogriff
- The PC game Warcraft III, as the flying combat unit of the Night Elves
Hippogriffs in heraldry
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