griffin, in ancient and medieval legend, creature with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. Its name also appears as griffon and gryphon. The griffin originated in ancient Middle Eastern legend and is often found in Persian sculpture and the decorative arts. Although its significance is obscure, it is often thought to have been a protective symbol, representing strength and vigilance.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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