Bellerophon

21.05.2015 |

Episode #7 of the course “Heroes of Greek Legend”

One of the greatest heroes before Heracles, Bellerophon was known for slaying the Chimera and riding the winged horse Pegasus. His mother was definitely Eurynome, and he was fathered by either her husband Glaucus or the sea god Poseidon. While in exile for an earlier crime, Bellerophon was at the court of King Proetus of Tiryns and was accused of inappropriate conduct with the queen. Proetus sent him to his father-in-law, King Iobates, with a letter instructing to kill him. Iobates instead sends him on the impossible mission of killing the beast known as the Chimera—a monster who breathed fire and had a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a snake’s tail.

Accounts vary as to how Bellerophon came to ride Pegasus as a mount. Some say the winged horse was given to him by his horse-master father, Poseidon. Other accounts claim that the goddess of wisdom, Athena, gave Pegasus to Bellerophon or told him how to catch the horse after Bellerophon slept in her temple and made sacrifices to her.

Together, Pegasus and Bellerophon defeated the Chimera when Bellerophon had the idea to heave a hunk of lead down the monster’s throat. Its fiery breath melted the metal and blocked its own airway. However, Iobates sent Bellerophon on multiple additional quests, all of which the hero completed successfully. After many trials, Iobates decided to offer his daughter in marriage to Bellerophon and gave up trying to kill him. He gave him half his kingdom. Despite this success, Bellerophon felt he deserved more and attempted to fly Pegasus up to Mount Olympus, to meet and converse with the gods. The king of the gods, Zeus, was angry at Bellerophon for his pride and caused him to fall from Pegasus at a great height. Bellerophon died alone on the Plain of Wandering, blinded and crippled.


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