Bellerophon and the Pegasus

This is a post for my March book challenge, #marchmonthofmythology.

Bellerophon’s story starts with his exile. It is unclear why he was exiled, but it seems to have had something to do with a murder. He arrived in Tiryns as a suppliant, where king Proetus cleared him of his crime. Bellerophon stayed in the palace as a guest. He got in trouble again, however, when the king’s wife fell in love with him. Because he rejected her, she accused him of assaulting her. King Proetus was angry, but he didn’t dare hurt a guest: that would mean breaking a divine law. So he sent Bellerophon to his father-in-law, a king in Lycia, with a message on a sealed tablet.

Bellerophon received a warm welcome in Lycia. They feasted for several days before the king opened the message. As you might have guessed, the message was to kill Bellerophon – but now he had been received as a guest here as well! The king could not kill Bellerophon outright, but he came up with a plan that would work just as well: he sent him on an impossible mission. He ordered Bellerophon to kill the Chimaera. This monster lived in a neighbouring land. It had the body of a goat, the head of a lion and a serpent for tail, and on top of all that it could breathe fire.

On the way to the Chimaera, Bellerophon met a seer who could tell him how to prepare for the battle. He told him that he would need to tame the Pegasus, a horse with wings, so he could attack the Chimaera from the air. To find and tame the Pegasus, Bellerophon first had to sleep in a temple of Athena.

In the temple, he dreamed that Athena appeared to him and gave him a golden bridle. When he awoke, the bridle was actually there! Next, he went to a well in Corinth, the Pirene, where the Pegasus often came to drink, according to the seer. There, Bellerophon approached the horse as it drank, and managed to bridle him. He climbed the Pegasus’s back and they flew off to the Chimaera.

Even with the Pegasus, the battle wasn’t easy. The Chimaera’s breath was so hot it was impossible to get near enough to stab it. Bellerophon found a solution: he lodged a large piece of lead to his spear, and getting as near as possible to the monster, he managed to throw the piece of lead into the Chimaera’s throat. The fiery breath melted the lead, which then blocked the Chimaera’s windpipe, and the monster suffocated.

Bellerophon – fantastic creature (Tolkien Reading Day)

IMG_0578Dragons! I love dragons! A friend and I even wrote a version of the Bellerophon myth for a school assignment where he rode a dragon instead of the Pegasus. We had to do something creative with a myth, so we took the Bellerophon myth and mixed it up with a bunch of other myths. Our teacher loved it and we got a 9 out of 10! (I’m still proud.)

Do you have a favourite fantastic creature?


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