A Hippogriff (also spelled Hippogryph and Hippogryphe, Italian: Ippogrifo) is a legendary creature, supposedly the offspring of a griffin and a mare. Ludovico Ariosto's poem, Orlando furioso (1516) contains an early description (canto IV):
According to Thomas Bulfinch's Legends of Charlemagne:
The reason for its great rarity is that griffins regard horses as prey. It has been suggested this idea was strong enough in medieval times to produce an expression, "to mate griffins with horses", which meant about the same as the modern expression, "When pigs fly". The hippogriff was therefore a symbol of impossibility and love. The hippogriff, in legends is said to be far faster, stronger and more intelligent than their fathers, the griffin, apparently traveling at the "speed of lightning". This was supposedly inspired by Virgil's Ecologues: ... mate Gryphons with mares, and in the coming age shy deer and hounds together come to drink.., which would also be the source for the reputed medieval expression, if indeed it was one.
Among the animal combat themes in Scythian gold adornments may be found griffins attacking horses.
The hippogriff seemed easier to tame than a griffin. In the few medieval legends when this fantastic creature makes an appearance, it is usually the pet of either a knight or a sorcerer. It makes an excellent steed, being able to fly as fast as lightning. The hippogriff is said to be an omnivore, eating either plants or meat.
Hippogriffs in popular culture
Hippogriffs and hippogriff eggs play a key role in Eric Rücker Eddison's 1922 novel The Worm Ouroboros.
British author J. K. Rowling introduced a hippogriff named Buckbeak, later renamed as Witherwings, as a character in her Harry Potter book series.
In the Warhammer Fantasy Tabletop Game, Hippogriffs are a monster-mount option for Bretonnian Lords. The Bretonnian King rides a Hippogriff.
In World of Warcraft, Hippogryffs are flying mounts that can be bought from the Silver Convenant (Alliance), the Cenarion Expedition (Alliance and Horde), or the Argent Crusade (Alliance and Horde) quartermasters when at exalted with their faction.
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