Gevaert theorized that the combination of lion and eagle parts would more or less cripple the griffin, depriving him of the ability to fly unencumbered like the eagle or walk nobly like the lion. It was associated with those who used their powers to persecute the Christians, evil personified, the Antichrist, and the Devil. There was even an imaginary creature called the griffin-dragon who had the tail of a dragon or a snake. This one always represented evil. One legend involving griffins is the Ascension of Alexander the great.
According to this story, Alexander captured a pair of griffins and, having starved them for three days, hitched them to his throne and, teasing them with chunks of roast beef held above their heads on lances, flew heavenward for seven days.
Alexander would've stolen a peek at God Himself if an angel had not asked him why he wanted to see the things of heaven when he did not yet understand the things of earth. Chastised for his presumptuousness, Alexander flew back to earth. Representations of Alexander's ascension were placed in French and Italian cathedrals during the 12th century.
The griffin's ability to soar like an eagle made him an emblem of poetic and spiritual inspiration. The eagle parts of the griffin represented the saints with their thoughts, aspirations, and souls lifted towards God. Its lion half stood for their courage in the arena and in the continuing struggle against sin, evil, and the Devil.
As emblems of the saints, griffins are sometimes pictured eating fruit picked from the Tree of Life. During captivity, Israelites would have become familiar with the griffin image. Both Persians and Assyrians decorated with images of this magical beast.
Images of two griffins drinking from a flaming cup were common in the Persian religion, Zorastrianism. Later, the Crusaders, coming across this image, would be reminded of the Eucharist and the cup of fire became associated with the Holy Grail.
During the Middle Ages, Christian nobles searched for griffin's eggs or "grypeseye" which they mounted and used for cups, believing they brought health to any beverage.. Because of the griffin's strength and powers of sight, it was believed to guard hidden treasures and hide them in their nests with their young.
Because of its association with the Holy Grail, one of the treasures most commonly guarded by griffins was emeralds. The Holy Grail was carved from a single emerald. It was used to hold the wine at the Last Supper and believed to have magical powers. The scatterbrain Epimetheus had given away all the goods to the creatures so that there was no quality to make Man a match for the beasts.
Desperate and sorry, he begged his brother for help. Prometheus he was wise and his name means "Forethought" took over the task of creation and considered ways to make humans superior. When the goddess of wisdom Athena was born out of the head of Zeus, Prometheus or some say Hephaestus assisted in the "delivery".
Wise Athena then taught Prometheus mathematics, navigation, astronomy, architecture, medicine and many other arts. That's how Prometheus got to be so smart. Along with his ability to foresee the future, that made him a formidable Titan. Prometheus had created humans in the likeness of gods, using the clay and water of Panopeus, and Athena had breathed a living soul into them.
To compensate for the lack of great qualities, which had foolishly all been given to the creatures by Epimetheus, the wise Titan made Man stand upright like the gods, to be noble and conscious, and to hold his head high, looking up at the heavens. As yet there were no mortal women on the earth. That came later, as we will see. Prometheus passed onto Man the useful arts taught him by Athena and looked with joy upon his creation.
He felt badly, however, because when Man sacrificed to the gods, the best portions of the animal were offered to the Olympians, leaving little for the people. So Prometheus tricked Zeus into choosing one pile of offerings, cleverly disguised to look delicious, but instead hiding fat and bones. Zeus fell for the trick and impulsively chose the wrong pile, and from then on humans got to keep the good and tasty parts of the animal offerings, giving to Zeus the useless portions.
This made the King of the Olympians real mad, so he punished Prometheus, who was laughing at him. Zeus took fire away from Man - "Let them eat their meat raw! Zeus knew that he would seem ungrateful if he directly hurt Prometheus, since the Titan had really helped him become King of Olympus, so he did the next best thing - Swearing revenge, he punished humans by taking away their fire.
Well, you know that didn't sit well with Prometheus. Daily he looked down with sadness upon his creation, watching them shiver in the cold and try to eat their food raw. Slowly they began to die and Prometheus could no longer sit by idly. Prometheus arranged a meeting with Athena and beseeched her for help. The wise and gracious Athena kindly revealed to Prometheus a hidden backstairs entrance to Olympus and he gained entrance to the Palace of the gods, one of few to do so.
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