Hippocampus

Also known as Hippocamp. (Hippocampi -Plural)

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  • #1518
  • Multiple Cultures Multiple Cultures (culture)
  • Aquatic Aquatic (attribute)
  • Mount Mount (attribute)
  • Heraldic Heraldic (attribute)
  • Friendly Friendly (behaviour)

The Hippocampus is commonly seen in ancient Greek art and is a mythical creature associated with the Greek god of the ocean - Poseidon (or Neptune in Roman myth). The Hippocampus has the top half of a horse including head neck and forelegs and the lower part of a fish, a dolphin or in some rare cases a serpent. Therefore the Hippocampus is literally a sea-horse. The name comes from the Greek ‘hippos’ meaning horse and ‘kampos’ meaning sea monster.

Poseidon was the god of horses as well as the god of the sea and earthquakes. Many Hippocampi were needed to draw the chariot of the sea of Poseidon. Homer describes Poseidon as driving a chariot pulled by brazen-hoofed horses across the sea. The Hippocampus appears frequently in bronzeware, silverware and paintings of the ancient Greeks and the Etruscans but also feature in the artworks of India and Mesopotamia. According to one tale when the city of Helike was submerged by an earthquake the Hippocampi swam free above the city and pulled on the lines of fisherman's rods. The Hippocampus are also the mounts for the Nerieds and spiritual beings. There are 4 other fish tailed animals like the Hippocampus:

  • Leokampos - a fish-tailed lion.
  • Taurokampos - a fish-tailed bull.
  • Pardalokampos - a fish-tailed leopard.
  • Aigikampos - a fish-tailed goat which later became Capricorn.

The Hippocampi is also a creature of medieval heraldry. However its appearance is quite different. It still has the upper-half of a horse but is has webbed feet instead of hooves and dorsal fin of a dolphin instead of a mane. It has the tail of a fish and in some cases the wings of a bird.

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