Griffin vs. Chimera (What’s The Difference?)

The Griffins and the Chimera are both mythical creatures which are derived from Greek mythology.

These creatures can be easily confused as they both use a lion as the primary part of their body; however they have more differences than they do similarities. In fact, a Chimera is actually known as the opposite of a Griffin. 

Physical Differences

A Griffin is formed of a lion’s body with the head of an eagle, sometimes with the eagle’s claws on the front feet. Griffins can either be with or without eagles’ wings. 

A Chimera on the other hand is a hybrid of three different animals; a lion, a goat and a snake. Like the Griffin, the Chimera has the body of a lion; however, it also has a lion’s head. The Chimera also uses a goat as a second head which protrudes from the centre of its back. It’s tail is the body of a snake, tipped with a snake’s head. 

Griffins are closely related to the Hippogriff, Sphinx and Simurgh, whereas the Chimera is more similar to the Manticore

Symbolic and Behavior Differences

Griffins were widely known as the king of all mythical creatures. This is why it uses two of the most renowned, powerful animals. The lion, known as the king of the land; and the eagle, known as the king of the sky. Since a Griffin often has an eagle’s wings, they have the ability to fly. 

Griffins were known as protectors, and often used to guard treasure. They are associated with wisdom, courage, boldness and gold; with healing powers held inside their feathers and claws. It has even been said that their feathers can cure blindness, and their claws are an antidote for poison. 

On the other hand, the Chimera was seen as a bad omen. The Chimera was a vicious, temperamental female with no regard to civilization. If she was spotted, she was thought to bring disaster and death. The Chimera terrorized people, had the ability to breathe fire from the goat’s head, and spit poison from the head of it’s serpent tail. 

Normally the Chimera would prey on cattle, although she was also known to kill innocent people and ransack villages. She often appeared before natural disasters occurred such as volcanic eruptions. 

Time Era and Origin Differences

Although Griffins are creatures from Greek mythology, they were first seen in Egypt. It wasn’t until the 14th century that they spread to Greece. The Chimera resided in Lycia, and has been mentioned in paintings as far back as the 6th and 8th century. 

For years the Chimera was unchallenged, and thought to be invincible. However, it did come to it’s timely demise when Porteus challenged Bellerophon to kill the Chimera. Porteus’s wife requested that Bellerophon slayed her husband so that they could be together; when Bellerophon refused, the wife accused him of raping her. Porteus was outraged, and sent him into battle, expecting that the Chimera would be the victorious one. 

Bellerophon was known as the slayer of beasts, and used Pegasus to fly up into the air above the Chimera, where he threw spears into the creature’s back. Once weakened, they flew down and Bellerophon gave the deadly blow from a spear into the creature’s throat. The spear caught with the creature’s fire and burnt it from the inside. 

It is unknown what happened to the Griffin, however there have been many scientific findings to show that this creature was based on a real animal, due to findings of bones and fossils that match the creature’s description. 

The Griffin was spread around Asia and Europe, with one theory suggesting that the Griffin was brought to Europe via the Silk Road from Mongolia by traders. In Europe, as legend goes, the Griffin mated for life. If a Griffin’s partner died, they would spend the rest of their lifetime without looking for another mate. 


The Griffin and the Chimera share the body of a lion, however, that is as far as their comparisons go. Even down to eating habits, a Griffin would prey on eggs or prime meat, whereas the Chimera was an opportunist eater. With three heads to feed, it would eat almost everything. 

The most obvious difference however, is what each creature represents. Griffins are seen as protectors and often appreciated by mortals, whereas the Chimera was a creature to be feared and avoided. 

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