Pegasus is the famed flying horse from Greek mythology. Here he goes on an adventure with Bellerophon, a young hero who is not quite your Greek god.
Bellerophon was a young man who lived in the Greek city of Corinth. Although he was known as the son of King Glaucus rumour had it that he was in reality the son of Poseidon, the sea god.
An adventure-seeking lad, he travelled far, looking for something exciting to come his way. Unfortunately, this nature did cause him more than his fair share of troubles. And so it came to be that he was asked to deliver a letter from King Proteus of Tiryns to his father-in-law Iobates, the ruler of Lycia.
What Bellerophon did not know was that the letter instructed King Iobates to have the young man put to death. Iobates looked at the young man and thought he’d give him half a chance, maybe. Besides, he didn’t want to anger the Corinthians for he had his problems already.
“You appear to be a brave young man,” he told Bellerophon, ”Maybe you can help us. Every night, there is this monster Chimera who roams our lands and carries away our people and animals. The next day all we’re left with are the bones of those unfortunate ones. If you go to the mountain side you’ll see the pathways and the forests strewed with the remains of our people. “
Bellerophon was only too happy to oblige. “Don’t worry. I’m not afraid of any monster. I’ll help you get rid of him.”
Now, Chimera was a frightful creature, a three-bodied one – part lion, part goat and part dragon. And by sending the youth on this quest Iobates knew he had signed his death warrant.
Bellerophon, on his part knew he needed help with this one. So he went to seek counsel from a wise man in Lycia, Polyeidos. “You cannot do this alone boy,” said the seer.
“What you need is Pegasus, the white-winged horse. And you’ve to ask goddess Athena to give him to you. Honour the goddess and offer her gifts. Only she can help you.“
Now for a little back story on the flying horse Pegasus. He was under the care of goddess Athena who had deputed the Muses (the singing damsels) to look after him. So if anyone wanted to use the winged horse they had to ask her.
Bellerophon, as advised by Polyeidos, built an altar for Athena and made her many offerings. That night he slept beside the altar waiting to hear from the goddess. In those times it was not unusual for gods to appear in dreams and offer solutions to your problems.
Sure enough, Athena appeared in his dreams that night. “Here… take this golden bridle and approach Pegasus without fear. You’ll find him drinking at the fountain of Pirene. Now sleep well Prince, for tomorrow is another day.”
On waking up the next morning Bellarophon found a golden bridle by his side. Picking up the bridle he made his way to the fountain of Pirene. There he found the white-winged Pegasus – unbroken, wild and majestic. As the horse bent down to drink from the spring Bellarophon mounted the horse and gently slipped the golden bridle on to the horse’s neck. The horse lifted its head and shook its dazzling mane. It was ready to fly! Together Bellerophon and Pegasus rose up to the skies.
Now to find the Chimera! Bellerophon realised that he could control and direct the horse. He was a very skilled horseman anyway. He had done his homework and knew where the creature’s lair was and headed there. As they approached, a great heat was upon them, blowing in the wind. All around the earth appeared scorched and burnt. It was the fire from the monster’s breath that was causing all that heat.
Suddenly Bellerophon had an idea. He directed Pegasus to descend to the ground and found a large piece of lead. Picking it up with his spear, he soared skywards again and flew towards the creature. As they approached close, the dreaded monster opened its cavernous mouth wide as if to swallow them. Bellerophon thrust the spear right down the throat of the creature. The lead at the tip of the spear melted in the heat of its fiery breath and the molten lead dripped down the throat, choking Chimera. The gigantic creature staggered backwards and fell down dead.
Bellerophon returned to the palace to inform King Iobates that he had rid the land of the monster. Iobates was surprised to see the young man return triumphant.
He didn’t quite expect this. Off he was sent on another quest, and yet another, but Bellerophon with Pegasus was a winning combination. The king had no choice but acknowledge the valour and bravery of the prince that he finally decided to get his other daughter Philonoe married to him.
Bellarophon and the winged horse would have more adventures together, but those are stories we save for another day.