Fantastic Beasts and where to… etc 13



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.)

Gustav Dore- Orland Furioso- Ruggiero rescues Angelique

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!

13 thoughts on “Fantastic Beasts and where to… etc

  1. Pingback: Fantastic Beasts & where to… 4 ← Odds n Sods: A cabinet of curiosities

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  5. Reply Jan Malique Jan 28,2017 4:15 pm

    Wonderful article, informative and edged with a hint of naughtiness.

  6. Reply Tina Frisco Jan 27,2017 1:19 am

    I wouldn’t mind reincarnating as a hippalectryon. The speed and power of a horse with wings to fly … Wow! The only thing I’d miss is my opposable thumbs 🙂

  7. Reply Sally cronin Jan 26,2017 11:34 pm

    I am sure that they were laughing at the name of this mythical beast.. in the taverna, a few goblets of wine and some bright spark coming up with it… excellent as usual Paul.. will be painting one on my shield.

  8. Reply JTFried Jan 26,2017 8:55 pm

    Men often wish for a horse cock, but in reality that would be quite a curse, dooming one to a lifetime of self-gratification! ☺
    As Robbie said above, I learned a bit as well, and enjoyed reading this. Well done Paul.
    (this is Jerry)

  9. Reply Robbie Cheadle Jan 26,2017 2:53 am

    This is a brilliant article and I learned a lot from it. The horse-cock joke was quite funny too [smile].

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