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In heraldry, the griffin is a fabulous animal, with the head and forefeet of an eagle, and the body, hind legs, and tail of a lion. The head is represented with pricked ears, symbolical of its vigilance. In mythology, the griffin was a creature similar in form to the griffin of heraldry, which was supposed to find its especial function in watching over hidden treasure, especially in Scythia. It was dedicated to the sun-god Apollo, whose chariot appears in early art as drawn by griffins. It was a favorite ornamental ‘theme’ in ancient Babylonian and Persian art, and is also found in a similar way on art objects of the Phoenicians, the Mycenæan civilization, and the ancient Greeks. The Romans and art-workers of the renaissance used it as a purely decorative device.


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