Pegasus, griffins, basilisks, hippogriffs and rocs are all examples of mythical flying creatures. Pegasus, the winged horse from Greek mythology, may be the best known of the bunch.
The griffin is a mix between an eagle and lion. The griffin developed in the Middle East, possibly due to dinosaur fossils, and was soon adopted by the Greeks. Mythology described this creature as an intelligent, monogamous and ferocious beast. It would pick up its prey and drop it from great heights.
The hippogriff had the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a horse. Virgil first mentioned this creature in his writings. It became an important component of English culture, appearing on heraldic coats of arms. The hippogriff symbolizes love, seen in the merging of horse and griffin.
The basilisk first appeared in Roman writings, changing over the centuries from a large snake to a serpent with wings. It was dangerous due to its venom and deadly gaze.
The roc is a mythical flying creature that developed from Arabic fairy tales spread by travelers. This large bird was so big that it could blot out the sun and pick up elephants in its giant claws.
Many of these creatures continue to appear in contemporary fantasy writing. J.K. Rowling made use of hippogriffs and a basilisk in the Harry Potter series.