Pegasus (Greek):-of the wells
A winged horse, son of Poseidon, god of the sea,
and the Gorgon Medusa. Pegasus sprang from
Medusa's neck when she was killed by the hero
Perseus. Shortly after its birth, the magical
steed struck the ground with his hoof on
Mount Helicon, and on the spot a spring,
later sacred to the Muses and believed to be
a source for poetic inspiration, began to flow.
All longed in vain to catch and tame the creature,
and this became the obsession of Bellerophon,
prince of Corinth. On the advice of a seer,
Bellerophon spent a night in the temple of
the goddess Athena. As he slept, the goddess
appeared to him with a golden bridle and told
him that it would enable him to capture Pegasus.
When Bellerophon awoke, he found the golden
bridle beside him, and with it he easily
captured and tamed the winged horse.
Excerpt from the Encyclopedia Britannica:
In Greek mythology, Pegasus was a winged horse
that sprang from the blood of the Gorgon Medusa
as she was beheaded by the hero Perseus.
With Athena's (or Poseidon's) help, another
Greek hero, Bellerophon, captured Pegasus
and rode him first in his fight with the Chimera
and later while he was taking vengeance on
St Heneboea (Anteia), who had falsely accused
Bellerophon. Subsequently Bellerophon attempted
to fly with Pegasus to heaven but was unseated
and killed, the winged horse becoming a
constellation and the servant of Zeus.
Pegasus' story became a favorite theme in
Greek art and literature, and in late
antiquity Pegasus' soaring flight was
interpreted as an allegory of the soul's
immortality; in modern times it has been
regarded as a symbol of poetic inspiration.
The History and Symbolism of the Gryphon
Hans Biedermann's Dictionary of Symbolism
has this to say about the gryphon:
A fabulous animal, symbolically significant
for its domination of both the earth and the
sky - because of its lion's body and eagle's
head and wings. It has typological antecedents
in ancient Asia, especially in the Assyrian
k'rub, which is also the source of the Hebrew
cherub. The frequent representations of
griffin-like creatures in Persian art made
them symbolize ancient Persia for the Jews.
In Greece the griffin was a symbol of vigilant
strength; Apollo rode one, and griffins guarded
the gold of the Hyperboreans of the far north.
The griffin was also an embodiment of Nemesis,
the goddess of retribution, and turned her
wheel of fortune. In legend the creature was a
symbol of superbia (arrogant pride), because
Alexander the Great was said to have tried to
fly on the backs of griffins to the edge of
the sky. At first also protrayed as a satanic
figure entrapping human souls, the creature
later became (from Dante onward) a symbol of
the dual nature (divine and human) of
Jesus Christ, precisely because of its mastery
of earth and sky. The solar associations of
both the lion and the eagle favored this
The griffin thus also became the adversary of
serpents and basilisks, both of which were
seen as embodiments of satanic demons.
Even Christ's Ascension came to be associated
with the griffin. The creature appeared as
frequently in the applied arts (tapestries,
the work of goldsmiths) as in heraldry.
In the latter domain, Boeckler (1688) offered
the following interpretation: "Griffins are
protrayed with a lion's body, an eagle's head,
long ears, and an eagle's claws, to indicate
that one must combine intelligence and strength."