Recently, while trying to win an argument about Dragons, I started thinking about my high school mascot. Fair warning, this post is going to get nerday. This all started because, in my opinion, Hollywood parades Wyverns all over their movies as if they are Dragons. Below, to your left: a Dragon. Below, to your right: a Wyvern.
The person I was arguing with (read: okay, talking at) didn’t hold a strong opinion one way or another on what Hollywood chooses to sell as “Dragons.” This is probably because he didn’t realize that this point was even in contention and didn’t have the foresight to realize that this is something on which he should choose a side, like who shot first: Han or Greedo.
It was Han.
The thing is, the large lizards you so often see in feature-length films almost always have two back legs and winged front appendages (similar to bats) instead of four legs and wings on their backs (for a total of six actual appendages). They go around spitting fire all over everything like they own the place. I can only assume that rendering the extra appendages is more difficult and someone is cutting corners somewhere, which wouldn’t surprise me since directors like Ang Lee don’t legitimize the battalions of animators who work their asses off to get them Oscars. Hrmph. Still pissed about that one.
According to Wikipedia, however, I have a tenuous argument about the exact “proper” structural makeup of a Dragon since there are so many types and their mythology hails from so many different countries. What’s more, the real nature of the Wyvern’s leg-to-wing composition isn’t really set in stone: sometimes the Wyvern has fore legs, wings on its back, and a long, serpent-like tail; sometimes the Wyvern has sort of fore-wings, hind legs, and a slightly less-long, serpent-like tail. It could be argued that the “Dragons” being CGI’d by Hollywood are in a Dragon Gray Area.
So as a result of being in a Wyverns Aren’t Dragons Stalemate, I shifted focus to other Wikipediable things. Things like what in the hell was my high school mascot?
I went to high school in Greenville, North Carolina. It’s The Other Greenville people think about in the south…if there is a land where people think of Greenvilles…? Anyway. The school is called “Junius H. Rose High School” and its mascot is, when paired with the truncated “Rose High,” the alliterative “Rampant.” For years I figured that “Rampants” were some kind of cousin of the Griffin but without wings: look at that beaky thing over there: it totally looks like a Griffin, right? I went to high school in a time before Wikipedia, mind you, when people didn’t really question things like this and couldn’t resolve disputes instantaneously with their smartphones. It was a heady time, making shit up as you went along and getting people to buy into it based on your conviction of delivery…like all those times you could be like, “THAT IS TOTALLY A WORD, DAVID,” when playing Scrabble.
So I googled “rampant animal,” like you do, and was bewildered to find that the school’s mascot was not, in fact, a distant cousin of a cool-ass Griffin. “Rampant” is an adjective, not a noun; my school was and is playing fast and loose with heraldic terminology in the name of mellifluousness (which totally is a word, David, I checked). Now I knew that part, really: I knew what “rampant” meant in general, but some part of my brain had told myself the story that the mythological creature “existed” and that was that…kind of like the way I cling to the spelling of Berenstein with an EIN.
So a lion (comma) rampant, is a heraldic “attitude” or feature of the animal’s depiction as a part or a coat of arms or other heraldry (seen at right). And, while I am delighted to have this new chapter added to the Jeopardy Category Holding Area of my brain, I am somewhat disheartened to learn that my school’s mascot was nothing more than a lion.
Well, a lion, freaking out on you, fighting with all of its appendages, I reckon.