THE GRIFFIN, OR GRYPHON
THE Griffin is a monster with the body of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle, and back covered with feathers. Like birds it builds its nest, and instead of an egg lays an agate therein. It has long claws and talons of such a size that the people of that country make them into drinking-cups. India was assigned as the native country of the Griffins. They found gold in the mountains and built their nests of it, for which reason their nests were very tempting to the hunters, and they were forced to keep vigilant guard over them. Their instinct led them to know where buried treasures lay, and they did their best to keep plunderers at a distance. The Arimaspians, among whom the Griffins flourished, were a one-eyed people of Scythia.
Milton borrows a simile from the Griffins, Paradise Lost, Book II.:
"As when a Gryphon through the wilderness, With winged course, o'er hill and moory dale, Pursues the Arimaspian who by stealth Hath from his wakeful custody purloined His guarded gold."