For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals
Although the hippogriff creature is most commonly recognized as the scourge of Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter Series in the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, this strange hybrid creature actually appears much further back, in the 1500s! The hippogriff appears to have been a unique creation of Ludovico Ariosto in his Italian epic poem, Orlando Furioso. In it, he references a brilliant airborne steed born of a mare and a griffin, a Greek mythological being. Thus, the Hippogriff is born! In both the original source material and Harry Potter, the hippogriff entertains the company of heroes and magicians alike, assisting them on their difficult journeys with its incredible speed and swiftness of flight.
To understand the hippogriff, let’s first look into the historical anatomy of the griffin, another mythical creature that is combined with the steed to spawn a hippogriff. The griffin has the body, tail and back legs of a lion, the head, wings and occasionally talons of an eagle. It was a fearsome guardian of gold deposits in the mountains of Scythia in Greek and Middle Eastern legends. The tribe of griffins even received the favor of the gods, often used as mounts for the god Apollo. In ancient mythology, it actually wouldn’t have been a stretch to imagine that a griffin may breed with a steed; in fact, most of the legends surrounding griffins mention their hostility towards the thieving, one-eyed Arismaspians, which commonly rode on horseback.
In this sense, we can consider the hippogriff a fearsome union between two powerful rival creatures. With the razor-sharp bird-of-prey talons and claws of the eagle, made to rip and tear into flesh, and the immense muscular power of a plumed lion, there is no doubt that the hippogriff would be a magnificent ally and a terrifying enemy. Although horses may not immediately strike you as dangerous animals, there’s a reason why “horsepower” is a unit of measurement. The fastest horse reached a maximum sprint of 54 miles an hour and the estimated kicking force of the average horse is 2,000 pounds a square inch—easily strong enough to kill an adult man. WOW! I guess we should be glad that the hippogriff is mythically seen as doing good, huh?