A monster devised by the Greeks after models from Near Eastern art. It has a lion's body, an eagle's neck and head (sometimes with a forehead knob and long ears) and wings. From the 5th century BC on it has a spiky mane. It was a popular decorative subject on its own, or attacking other animals. The monster was identified as the 'griffin
' which guarded gold in the frozen north and was attacked by Arimasps, who are shown in classical art as easterners, often like Persians. Griffins also accompany Apollo
(as a northern, Hyperborean deity), who rides them or has them pull his chariot. The neck and head was a popular decoration for bronze cauldrons in the 8th to 6th centuries BC.
Above left: Mouth of the griffin jug from Aigina painted on one of the Cycladic islands. London, British Museum 73.8-20.385. Photo courtesy the Trustees of the British Museum. © British Museum Licence Plate 11 UK 1007 148
Above middle: Detail from Athenian red-figure clay vase, about 400-300 BC. Paris. Musée du Louvre G529. © Musée du Louvre. Licence Plate 11 UK 1007 149
Above right: Bronze griffin head from a cauldron, 7th century BC. Olympia Museum. © Olympia Museum