Hippalectryon comes from the Ancient Greek meaning ‘horse-cock’.
Really people come on!
If you were actually looking for what you are now thinking about, you would be on a different website entirely!
A Hippalectryon is a fantastic beast which according to the Ancient Greeks was part horse (hippo) and part cockerel (alectryon).
In his comic play ‘The Birds’ Aristophanes describes the hippalectryon as a yellow-feathered, awkward-looking creature with a horse’s front part, including head and front legs, and the hind part of a rooster, including the wings, tail and legs. The Greeks believed any grotesque hybrid that made people laugh, drove fear away.
According to another one of Aristophanes’ comedies, ‘The Frogs’, hippalectryons were often painted on shields because… cockerels were a symbol of solar power, routing demons (demonium- terror) as they crowed at sunrise, and winged horses were psychopomps, guiding the souls of the dead to the afterlife.
I suppose hippalectryons are sort of hippogriffs in reverse. As all Harry Potter fans know a hippogriff is the offspring of a griffin and a horse. Like a griffin it has the head and wings and forelegs of an eagle but the rear of a horse. (A true griffin has the rear of a lion.)
Hippogriffs are known from Ariosto’s 1532 influential epic Italian poem ‘Orlando furioso’ or ‘Roland’s madness’. The story concerns a bout of madness afflicting one of the 9th century Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne’s paladins. There are lots of side stories. In one, the knight Ruggiero rides a hippogriff to rescue the beautiful Angelique from a dragon.
And that’s it really.
Basically I just wanted to get the horse-cock joke in.
And now who’s acting like a sniggering schoolboy?
Guilty as charged!