(urth) Griffin in The Knight
JBarach at aol.com
JBarach at aol.com
Thu May 3 17:46:57 PDT 2007
I don't recall seeing any discussion of this already on this list, and I
couldn't find any when I searched the archives, so please forgive me if this has
been brought up before.
I finished The Knight last night. It ends with Able calling upon the
griffin ("or on whoever's altar this may be") and then flying upon the griffin to
fight and conquer the dragon. In fact, the cave where Able found the altar
was once the griffin's home, though now possessed by the dragon, so that Able
in a sense is "exorcising" it, casting out the dragon. I gather that the cave
is also the place Able was looking for, the source of the Griffin river, and
Able has been looking for Griffinsford from the beginning of the book.
So with all that griffin stuff in mind, I dipped into Jorge Luis Borges'
Book of Imaginary Beings today and read what he says about the griffin. He
points out that usually in the Middle Ages the griffon is "an emblem of Christ,"
as Isidore of Seville explains in his Etymologies: "Christ is a lion because
he reigns and has great strength; and an eagle because, after the
Resurrection, he ascended to heaven."
Similarly, Dante's Purgatorio (Canto XXIX) has the church as a chariot drawn
by a griffon, Borges notes. Again, it would appear that the griffon might
be Christ, but others (says Borges) "feel that Dante wished to symbolize the
Pope, who is both priest and king. Didron, in his Manuel d'iconographie
chretienne (1845) writes: 'The pope, as pontiff or eagle, is borne aloft to the
throne of God to receive his commands, and as lion or king walks on earth with
strength and might.'"
So much for Borges. I know that Wolfe is more than a little familiar with
this work by Borges, which, of course, is the source for Baldanders in the New
Sun, so I'm wondering if he might not have the medieval symbolism of the
griffin in mind at the end of The Knight.
What think you?
John Barach (541) 531-2906
Pastor, Reformation Covenant Church (CREC)
706 Beekman Avenue
Medford, OR 97501
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