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

Griffins and hippogriffs are both mythological creatures with the parts of two different animals stuck on their body.

The main difference is that a griffin is a mythological animal that is part lion and part eagle. Meanwhile, the hippogriff is a legendary creature that is part eagle and part horse. Supposedly, the griffin is the father of the hippogriff.

Let’s take a look at these mythological creatures in more detail.

What Are The Differences?

Comparing the griffin to the hippogriff is rather interesting. Obviously, they share the similarity of the eagle in their design. Despite being supposedly related, the stories about these creatures couldn’t vary more.

On the one hand, the griffin is a legendary creature that can be found in just about every culture. Not to mention, this story is developed and gives us a very clear idea of what the griffin represents, and it’s important for legends.

In contrast, hippogriffs are a much more localized creature, specific to Greco Rome. There is also way less legend and stories about them. Instead, their striking body was used as decorations and symbols, but there weren’t many oral or written references about them.

It is really unclear how or why the hippogriff came about, especially considering some of the griffin’s legends. Perhaps, the legend of the hippogriff is lost because of the sheer volume related to the griffin.

Griffin

Other spellings: griffon, gryphon

Origin: Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Persian

The griffin is a legendary creature that is part lion and part eagle. Its body, tail, and back legs are that of a lion. Meanwhile, its head and wings are that of an eagle. It also has an eagle’s talons on its feet. It is believed that these two animals were chosen for the griffin because of their symbolic significance.

Origin

One thing that is very interesting about the griffin is that it can be found throughout many cultures. No matter the culture, it is typically regarded as a sort of guardian creature. Most other legendary creatures are only found in similar cultures. You can find versions of them in Egyptian, Greco-Roman, and even Indian cultures.

Symbolic Significance

On the one hand, the lion is considered the king of the beasts. On the other hand, the eagle is considered the king of the birds. By combining these two animals into one creature, the griffin becomes one of the most powerful and majestic beings, making it the king of all creatures.

The griffin was also viewed as a symbol of divine power and gold. The Greeks and Romans especially associated this legendary creature with gold and wealth. That is why you will often find griffins guarding priceless possessions, treasures, and gold within Greek and Roman texts. In later accounts, griffins were also known to lay gold eggs or nuggets.

Interesting Facts

The griffin is viewed as being incredibly loyal, probably because of its symbolic significance. It is supposedly so loyal that it will never mate after its partner dies. They are also viewed as incredibly brave, which is why many people have put the griffin on crests and flags.

One thing that’s unique to the griffin is that there are many stories and myths related to it. In other words, we know plenty about its lore and significance.

Hippogriff

Other spellings: hippogryph

Origin: Greco-Roman

The hippogriff is a legendary animal that is part eagle and part horse. The front half is that of an eagle, but the back half is that of a horse. The hippogriff’s legend is less clear than that of the griffin, but it is supposedly the offspring of a griffin and horse.

A Closer Look At The Name

Its name is derived from the ancient Greek word meaning horse and the Latin word meaning griffin. The name itself shows that the hippogriff has a connection with the griffin. According to some legends, this name came about because the griffin is the father of the hippogriff.

Symbolic Significance

Whereas the griffin had a lot of stories and myths surrounding its nature and importance in the world, the hippogriff does not have that many. The hippogriff seems to be more of a symbolic creature, but it is incredibly confusing to know its symbolism.

As we mentioned above, the griffin is supposed to be incredibly loyal, having never mated again after the initial mate died. That legend cannot be true if the griffin is, in fact, the parent to the hippogriff. That is because the griffin had to mate with a horse, which was not its original partner.

Some people associate the hippogriff with being the symbol of love. That’s because griffins and horses were legend to hate one another. For them to reproduce, they must have truly loved each other and overcome the obstacles.

Some other sources believe that the hippogriff is a symbol for the God Apollo, one of the leading Greek gods. The emperor Augustus used the hippogriff in Rome to decorate Apollo’s temple, which is where this interpretation comes about.

Other Creatures Commonly Confused For Griffins and Hippogriffs

Griffins and hippogriffs are not the only two creatures to behalf one animal and half another. Many other creatures within mythological history have similar structures, but they are not the same. Here are some commonly confused creatures for griffins and hippogriffs:

  • Chimera: Multiheaded; lion, goat, and snake; sometimes wings
  • Lamassu: Man, bull, and eagle
  • Manticore: Man, lion, scorpion; sometimes wings
  • Minoan Genius: Lion and crocodile; lion sometimes replaced by hippo or donkey; sometimes human female breasts
  • Sphinx: Woman, eagle, and lion

Conclusion

Griffins and hippogriffs are highly similar, so much in fact that the hippogriff is thought to be the offspring of the griffin. Despite their many similarities, they are not the same. The griffin is part lion and eagle, whereas the hippogriff is part horse and eagle.

In addition to the differences concerning their anatomy, their legend and lore differ dramatically. The griffin can be found all over the globe and comes with countless legends. The hippogriff is much more obscure and seen more in visual art than oral or written art.

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