Sunday, 10 November 2013

Unicorns Etc II

Sphinx = human head + lion's body;
Gryphon = eagle's head & wings + lion's body;
Hippogriff (1) = eagle's head & wings + horse's body;
Centaur = human head, arms & torso + horse's body;
Wyvern = dragon's head + reptilian body;
Hippogriff (2) = winged horse;
Unicorn = horned horse.

Does this make any sense?

Two of the creatures are horses with extra features. The remaining five are composites. Of these, the wyvern has no features in common with any of the others.

The sphinx and the centaur have a human head;
the sphinx and the gryphon have a lion's body;
the hippogriff (1) and the centaur have a horse's body.

I started on this trail because the Andersons' The Unicorn Trade has a winged horse on its cover, because Neil Gaiman's Sandman is guarded by a wyvern, a gryphon and a hippogriff (2) and because Narnians include some of the above. (Also, Alice meets a gryphon.)

The Unicorn Trade cover art is by Tom Kidd while, inside the covers, the title poem and the two short stories called "Landscape With Sphinxes" and "The Piebald Hippogriff" are by Karen Anderson, so the mythological creatures have led us away from the works of Poul Anderson as such although they are sufficiently closely related to warrant some attention here. But maybe that is enough.

Addendum: Further reading discloses that the piebald hippogriff has a feathered head, so is Hippogriff (1), while "Treaty In Tartessos" by Karen Anderson features centaurs. (To continue the comparison with graphic fiction, Lucifer, Mike Carey's sequel to Gaiman's The Sandman, presents a world jointly inhabited by human beings and centaurs.)

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