A gargoyle was originally a device mounted on the outside of a building to funnel water away from the roof. The word comes from the French "gargouille" which means "throat or pipe." This idea originated long ago, as samples of gargoyles have been found from ancient Greece. Early gargoyles (the late 1200s) were carved wooden or stone channels, mostly undecorated. The carved variety became more common in medieval times, particularly in France on expensive or religious buildings, and fantastic creatures began to be the shapes preferred. The myth that gargoyles could ward off evil spirits and protect a building was born, and the carvings became even more grotesque and frightening.

Why were gargoyles so prevalent on cathedrals and prestigious buildings? Was it just a building fad? Some art historians from the middle ages believe that gargoyles represented evil beings over which the Christian church had triumphed. Some churches represented these carvings as devils who had been frozen in stone as they fled the righteousness of Christ. Psychologists believe that gargoyles may have represented the fears and superstitions of medieval times, noting that as life became easier and less fearful, gargoyles became less evil-looking and more playful.

Gargoyles eventually became ornamental rather than functional. Few of the gargoyles created after 1400 actually served as a rainwater channel. Many buildings constructed in the 1800s and early 1900s featured fantastic carvings. Many universities have lots of gargoyles. "Gargoyle hunting" has become a popular hobby among photographers, who comb downtown buildings and older residential areas for fantastic carvings to photograph. There's even a popular coffee table book called Nightmares in the Sky featuring photographs by f-stop Fitzgerald (come on now, how can you resist that name?) with text by Stephen King. Modern stone carvers will create a gargoyle for your garden or house to your specifications. "Garden Gargoyles" are even being sold as a common lawn ornament.

According to myth - there was a dragon, by the name of Gargouille, who drowned the countryside around Paris in the 7th century. Appearently Gargouille rose from the waters of the Seine in France and, suiting to its entrance, breathed water and not fire! (which even at this time was considered the international standard for dragons)

Gargouille was, eventually, tamed by the Archbishop of Rouen, who led it back to the center Paris, where Gargouille was slain and afterwards burned. The so-called dragonslayers saved the head, as is custom in such an event, and mounted it on a building for all to see.

With this myth in mind, architects started designing gutter spouts resembling Gargouille, "breathing" water from their stone-cut mouthes when it rained. The sound of water passing through the insides of such a stone gargoyle and into thin air, is supposed to sound like an inhuman gurgle/gargle noise - This sound was later known as "the language of the gargoyles".

Some say the stone monsters still use this way to talk between themselves on a rainy night.

I once heard a fellow boast that he had a gargoyle on his porch roof, right over the front door. I winced, first because putting a large stone over a door on a wooden building was a potential hazard, and secondly because I had a mental image of how his guests would be soaked through every time it rained.

Gargoyle, you see, actually means "waterspout". It's related to the words "gurgle", "gargle", and "Gargantua", being a "throat" through which water passes. It's a European architectural term, which some younger Americans have taken to mean "winged stone monster". If you decide to emulate Gothic cathedrals in extending your aluminum rain conduit several feet away from the building, you, too, can have a resident gargoyle.

It does not mean devil, demon, dragon, or "way-cool carving that can't possibly mean anything Christian, because it's ugly and too way-cool."

It doesn't mean "winged and horned carving that's more way-cool than your usual carving". That's a grotesque. 'Strix', the winged and horned grotesque of Notre Dame de Paris, is neither very large (about one meter in height) nor is it a prominent feature of the building, it's quite high up. For the normal person who goes looking for prominent carvings, the ones that most immediately strike the eye are "Adam" and "Eve", right over the doors. Sorry if you can't find some nice convenient pagan myth about that. It's a church.

There are Cow gargoyles. Peasant, pilgrim and Beggar gargoyles. Cat, cheetah, lion, and dog gargoyles, even purely functional abstract gargoyles.

Some people say that they're ugly to ward off "evil spirits" from the church. They can't (according to Medieval thinking) be warding off "evil spirits", because the Presence of the Lord (in the Reserved Eucharist in the Tabernacle) is sufficient to ward off ALL evil.

The reason why gargoyles are ugly is because their job is to vomit. Rainwater, that is, onto the flagstones below. Don't know how "decorative" Notre Dame's gargoyles are, except I saw them spouting in Paris, and I've been told that those of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine's in New York, are also fully operational.

If "gargoyle" sounds more fun than "grotesque" or "Strix", than so be it.

But it still doesn't mean that fun carvings that don't spout water, no matter how cool they look, are gargoyles.

A term from Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. It is meant to be a person who is decked out in computer gear such that they are able to catalog all data collected through their senses as well as get data that is useful to whatever goal that they have. The main difference between the system the gargoyles use and everything, is that everything:

  • isn't noded directly by people wandering around (for the most part)
  • has more sarcastic ego boosting waste
  • does not have any information that might be useful for someone trying to figure out the link between an ancient babylonian mythos, a religion, and an intellectual disease

Also a comic book character by Marvel Comics. Gargoyle was a man over 70 who was tricked by a devil into switching bodies with an animated evil gargoyle. He attempted to atone for this by becoming a hero and fighting with The Defenders.

He joined the team (I believe) in issue 97, and remained with them as the only constant member until the end of the comic (or there abouts - in one of the team's final battles his body was carbonized and his soul freed to wander the universe - I will consult the specifics as soon as I pull out the collection).

He had a excellent 4 issue limited series devoted to himself, and I hear he came back briefly after the Defenders were dismantled - but I heard that story wasn't any good and never pursued reading it.

If you can't tell, he was always my favorite character. :)

In the Ultima series of games, the Gargoyles were another race of creatures that once inhabited a world parallel to that of humans in Britannia. They are a much wiser and older race than the humans are, and it is they who had originally summoned the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom from the Ethereal Void. In Ultima IV, the Avatar descends the Stygian Abyss into what turns out to be the Gargoyle Temple of the Codex and brings its knowledge to the Britannians.

Shortly afterwards, the greatest mages of Britannia begin an effort to raise the Codex from the Abyss into the Shrine, in the process creating a vast Underworld into which Lord British becomes trapped by the Shadowlords in Ultima V. The Underworld collapses at the conclusion of Ultima V, destroying much of the Gargoyle world in the process.

By then, the Gargoyles were desperate, and decided that their ancient prophecies regarding a False Prophet were fulfilled by the Avatar, and the prophecies further stated that the only way to avert the prophecies, which spelled utter extinction for their entire race, was to sacrifice the Avatar. At the start of Ultima VI they trick the Avatar into entering what is left of their realm and prepare to begin the sacrifice, but are prevented by the timely intervention of the Avatar's companions. The rest of Ultima VI concerns the Avatar's attempts to find a way to forge a lasting peace between the two races.

In Ultima VII, the Gargoyles have settled in diverse places across Britannia, and are the subject of prejudice and oppression all throughout. Their rich culture is endangered by the encroachments of the Fellowship.

Physically, gargoyles are large, red-skinned creatures, with horns and skull-like faces. They present a demonic appearance to ordinary humans but they are far from evil. Anyway, they are no more evil than humans can be. Two castes of gargoyles exist, winged and wingless. The former were the ruling class in the original Gargish society, having the ability of speech and abstract thought. As originally presented in Ultima VI, the wingless gargoyles did not have the ability to speak, were physically and mentally inferior in all ways to the winged, and yet were cared for and protected as full members of gargoyle society.

The Gargoyles also had their own version of the Eight Virtues based on different principles from that of the human Virtues: the principles of Control, Passion, and Diligence. They extolled Mondain, Minax, and Exodus, the three villains of the first Ultima trilogy as embodiments of these principles.

As presented in Ultima VI, the gargoyles reproduced asexually, and this fact is borne out by the detailed Latinesque language that was invented for them: there are no pronouns in their language (Gargish) that denote the gender of the subject. A strange, contradictory departure from this fact which all other Ultimas that referred to Gargoyle society concur with is seen in Ultima IX, which shows a Gargoyle "queen". The natural lifespan of a typical Gargoyle is much longer than a human's, as Naxatilor the Gargoyle seer is said to have lived more than a thousand years, and the Gargoyle king Draxinusom lived from Ultima VI to Ultima VII, a span of 200 years.

Gargoyle society as it existed in their destroyed world was egalitarian, and no concept of money or of property ownership existed before they migrated to Britannia at the end of Ultima VI. Whatever one needed, one was given. It seems that only after exposure and tentative integration with Britannian society were these notions brought into their minds.

The Gargoyle warriors also took the venom of a silver serpent as a powerful stimulant that caused them to become berserkers in battle and nearly unstoppable killing machines. The drug has somewhat different effects on humans as was presented in Ultima VII, where it became a social problem.

Sources: mostly Ultima VI and Ultima VII.

One of two airborne units available to the Undead in the 2002 hit game, Warcraft III

Updated: server time Friday, October 11, 2002 at 00:37:56

Physical Description: A grey, bat-like creature, the Gargoyle has a huge wingspan of leathery material, coloured a darker grey than the rest of its body. Its wing struts and webbing support are coloured the teams colours, making them easy to identify. It has taloned feet and hands, with bands of the team colour around its ankles, and a sweeping head drawn back from it's viscious teeth. It's attack is a tringular green wedge that trails green vapour, shot at both ground and air targets.

Requirements: Built at: Crypt, requires: Graveyard, Black Citadel, allows: none

Spells and Abilities: Apart from being one of the only two flying creatures for the Scourge, Gargoyles are one of the hardest flying creatures to get in the game, only just easier than the Orc Wyvern rider. Gargoyles, being viscious creatures, get creature attack and creature carapace upgrades at the Undead Graveyard. At the Crypt they can also research Stone Form, a much under-used ability that makes the Gargoyle land for 30 seconds, wherein it cannot attack, but it gains not only full spell immunity (including beneficial spells) but also a huge 8 HP per second regeneration and a bonus massive 10 additional armour - yes, 10! Once the 30 seconds is up, regeneration continues, but the gargoyles can take to the air again.

Gameplay: The Gargoyle is the BEST anti-air unit available to the Scourge. While it is able to attack ground targets (unlike the Night Elf hippogryph), it's air attack is much stronger (compare 17 against 51). Once two or three are built, set your Gargoyles to patrol your main base mine and any expansions, repelling sneak air attacks. Another sneaky tactic is to mass a small band of Gargs, then accompany a melee force. When embroiled in battle, run your melee troops away and Stone Form the Gargs as a wall in between your army and the enemy. Unless using focussed fire, the enemy will attack their closest targets (Gargs) and come against the huge 11 armour and 8 HP regen, and your troops can counter attack with a moments safety. Any Gargs that survive this diversionary tactic can then launch in to the air after 30 seconds and continue the attack!

In Patch 1.03, Gargoyles have much stronger land attacks and slightly better air attacks, however with reduced armour (3 rather than 5) - their massive 10 armour gain when in stone form is still in full effect however, making them even better in combat and more flexible.

Warcraft III Undead Guide

<<< Crypt fiend -- Gargoyle -- Necromancer >>>

Information gleaned from:
  • My own lovingly played copy of Warcraft III
  • www.battle.net/war3
  • www.warcraftiii.net
Copyright information is the property of their respective owners.

Many-faced madman made of stone:
the rain tears at you tonight.
But the chalk girl you once loved
from your grotesque height
has washed away, has been reborn
as a woman you will never know
with prayers you never did hear
whose echoes dissipated years ago.

She will admit that her own ghost
comes to taunt her when the sky
is filled with those red night clouds
you both had been so taken by.
But she left the sidewalk drenched
with rain for a chance to walk upright
and left you perched upon your spire,
an ancient relic of her forgotten fright.

--for JKT


Gargoyle is an open source interactive fiction game file interpreter.

It supports many game formats through the use of Glk.

Its most outstanding feature is its simplicity and typographical elegance.

Typewritten documents : games played in Frotz :: TeX-formatted documents : games played in Gargoyle.

Gargoyle is available from its website (which, as of this writing, points you to its Google Code project downloads page) for Windows and Mac. For Linux, check your distro's package repository or compile it from source. On Debian/Ubuntu, the package is gargoyle-free. (It doesn't include the non-free Alan and Hugo interpreters, and uses a free font.)

Gar"goyle (?), n. [OE. garguilie, gargouille, cf. Sp. g�xa0;rgola, prob. fr. the same source as F. gorge throat, influenced by L. gargarizare to gargle. See Gorge and cf. Gargle, Gargarize.] Arch.

A spout projecting from the roof gutter of a building, often carved grotesquely.

[Written also gargle, gargyle, and gurgoyle.]


© Webster 1913.

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