When an Entered Apprentice is presented his apron in Lodge, he is told, among other things, that it is “a badge … more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle …”
What is the significance of these references?
The Golden Fleece was an order of knighthood. It was founded by Phillip, Duke of Burgundy and ruler of Austria, on the occasion of his marriage to Isabella of Portugal in 1429.
This order used the winged golden ram for its badge, and the motto, “wealth, not servile labor.”
This order was considered “ancient” even in 1717 when the Grand Lodge of England was founded.
The Romans used the golden figure of an eagle to stand for strength, skill, and bravery. They placed it on the tip of a spear and carried it as a standard at the head of the legion.
The Romans used figures of other animals too. But, in 104 B.C., the golden eagle became Rome’s distinctive design of imperial power.
The Roman eagle is used in Masonic ritual, probably because it represents strength, skill, and bravery.
(Source: The Philalethes Magazine, from an article by E. Milton Skelton)