The Gryphon myth originates somewhere in the Near or Middle East. It is found depicted in ancient Babylonian, Assyrian, and Persian paintings and sculptures. It is believed the myths found life around 3,000 B.C. to be the Pharoah's companion in Ancient Egypt, and later became sacred guardians in Minoa.
India was assigned as the native country of the Gryphon, and the people of that land made Gryphon talons and claws into drinking cups, they were of so great a size. Like the Unicorn and other species of myth, magickal traits were assigned to the talons. While the alicorn, or horn of the Unicorn, was said to be an aphrodisiac, the talon of a Gryphon was said to detect poison in a liquid when used as a drinking cup. Very handy for the nobility, as this was a common form of assassination.
Gryphons, like birds, built nests, or eyries (aeries), as the nest of a bird of prey is called. The Gryphon laid an agate, rather than an egg, therein. Gryphons found gold in the mountains and made their nests from it.
This made their eyries very tempting to hunters, so Gryphons were forced to keep vigilant guard over their nests. Gryphons had instinct which allowed them to know where buried treasure was, and they would apply themselves to guarding it as best they could, keeping plunderers at distance.
They are found in Greek mythology, neighbors of the Hyperboreans and belonging to Zeus, they took gold from the stream Arimaspias, the one-eyed people of Scythia.
It was written by Pomponius Mela, that a certain area was uninhabitable, "because the Griffons (a cruel and eager kind of wild beast) do wonderfully love the gold, which lies discovered above the ground, and do wonderfully keep it, and are very fierce upon them that touch it." Gryphons have always been depicted as guardians of treasure. Gryphons themselves depict gold, as they represent the wealth of the sun at dawn, the gold in the east. They are also said to line their nests, called Eyries, with pure gold, woe be to the traveler looking to steal it.
Romans later used the Gryphon for decoration and in Christian times the Gryphon motif appears.
In Christian symbolism, the Gryphon originally represented Satan and evil, but later came to represent Christ, especially his dual nature, both divine and earthly, as the Gryphon had mastery of both land and sky, and was noble and majestic. Gryphons were said to kill serpents and basilisks, both embodiments of evil, thus protecting mankind. Gryphons symbolize both strength and wisdom combined in heraldry. On medieval buildings, Gryphons were often used as gargoyles, great stone guardians.
The Gryphon has relinquished most of these roles, and today appears mostly in literature and heraldry.