Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In Search of the Gryphon

Suppose everything in the epic odyssey Arimaspea was true?

Around 675 BC, the poet and mystic Aristeas of Prokonnesus composed this awesome work based on his travels “while possessed” by the Greek god Apollo. For centuries, the Arimaspea influenced what was believed about the ancient world’s uncharted North—lands peopled by the Skythians, the wolf-like Neuri, the man-eating Androphagi, the Issedones, the one-eyed Arimaspoi forever in conflict with the gold-guarding Gryphon, and the otherworldly Hyperboreans. It was also home to Boreas, god of the North Wind.

The mythic adventure novel, THE HOUNDS OF ZEUS (working title was Gryphon Gold), revisits this fantastic world.

As I prepared to write The Hounds of Zeus, I mined reference books and online sources for background information—what is known about the Arimaspea, the poet Aristeas, and the world of 553 BC as seen through the eyes of both the Babylonians and Greeks. Though there are great holes in what is known, I managed to unearth, with lots of digging, many intriguing facts, legends, myths, and beliefs, which I’ll pass on to you here.

In no way will this be an exhaustive study of any subject. Just the interesting tidbits I gathered as part of the process of writing. By the way, for anyone wondering about my spelling choices for words like Gryphon (griffin) or Skythians (Scythians), they were purely an editorial decision.  

Enjoy, and feel free to add your own thoughts and nuggets of information.

P. A. Peirson

“But now listen to another and fearsome spectacle. Beware the sharp-beaked hounds of Zeus that do nott bark, the Grypes, and the one-eyed Arimaspoi, mounted on horses, who dwell about the flood of Plouton’s stream that flows with gold. Do not approach them.”

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, C5th B.C. (trans. Weir Smyth, H.)

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