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In English folklore and literature, green symbolized nature and associated attributes such as fertility and rebirth as well as decay and toxicity. It also signified witchcraft, devilry, and evil due to its association with fairies and other spirits, and the devil was often depicted as being green. At other times it represented love and also base, human desire. When combined with gold it portrayed the fading of youth. In Celtic traditions, people avoided green clothing due to its association with misfortune and death. The medieval poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" was a story of transformation from good to evil and back again, thus representing both the spoiling and regenerative connotations of the color. Fitzroy Richard Somerset (4th Baron Raglan), author of the seminal study, "The Hero, a Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama" (1936) married Julia Hamilton, who, in 1939, also made an important contribution to the field in the journal "Folklore" by coining the term "Green Man" to describe the foliate heads found in English churches and elsewhere. A Green Man in this sense is a sculpture or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves; branches or vines may sprout from the mouth, nostrils, or other parts of the face, and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. It probably symbolizes rebirth. ("The Green Man" is also a popular name for English pubs.)
The gryphon (or griffin) had the body, tail, and back legs of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle, and sometimes an eagle's talons or a lion's forelimbs as its front feet. The head often had elongated ears which may be feathered. In European heraldry it always had forelegs like an eagle's hind-legs. The creature was often portrayed as a guardian of treasures. In the First Persian (Achaemenid) Empire founded by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BCE it was regarded as a protector from evil, witchcraft, and secret slander, and in medieval Europe its claws were believed to have medicinal properties, and its feathers could restore sight to the blind. Aristeas of Proconnessus traveled to the Altai region between Mongolia and northwest China in the 7 century BCE and made the earliest written descriptions of the beast, although pictorial evidence dated back to earlier than 3000 BCE. Gaius Plinius Secundus reported that "were said to lay eggs in burrows on the grounds and these nests contained gold nuggets." Two centuries later Lucius Flavius Philostratus remarked further, "As to the gold which the griffins dig up, there are rocks which are spotted with drops of gold as with sparks, which this creature can quarry because of the strength of its beak." In the 14th century John Mandeville insisted that "one griffin hath the body more great and is more strong than eight lions, of such lions as be on this half, and more great and stronger than an hundred eagles such as we have amongst us. For one griffin there will bear, flying to his nest, a great horse, if he may find him at the point, or two oxen yoked together as they go at the plough. For he hath his talons so long and so large and great upon his feet, as though they were horns of great oxen or of bugles or of kine, so that men make cups of them to drink of. And of their ribs and of the pens of their wings, men make bows, full strong, to shoot with arrows and quarrels."Ganymedes was the son of Tros (after whom Troy was named) and Kallirrhoe (the daughter of the river god Scamander). According to Homeros' "Iliad" he "was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore / the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus' wine-pourer, / for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals." When he was tending sheep on Mt. Ida, Zeus assumed the form of an eagle and abducted him to Olympus and granted him both immortality and eternal youth. He replaced the youngest of the gods, Hebe the goddess of youth, as cupbearer; the ambrosia that was served was the source of their immortality, and she was also called Ganymeda ("Gladdening princess"). Zeus hid the sack of Troy from Ganymedes to protect his sensitivities. However, Zeus' wife Hera regarded him as a potential rival, and expressed her view that it was impious for a human to act as a divine cupbearer instead of her daughter Hebe. In the section on homoerotic desire in "Phaedrus," Platon wrote, "when his feeling continues and he is nearer to him and embraces him, in gymnastic exercises and at other times of meeting, then the fountain of that stream, which Zeus when he was in love with Ganymede named Himeros (Desire), overflows upon the lover, and some enters into his soul, and some when he is filled flows out again." The Latin form of his name was Catamitus (the source of "catamite").
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