One day Bellerophon,
a courageous young man from Corinth, arrived at the court of King lobates
of Lycia in Asia. He handed the king a sealed letter, and the king greeted
him cordially and welcomed him as his guest.
Many days later,
the king opened the letter and read it to himself. It was from another
king, and it said, "The bearer of this letter must be put to death immediately,
for he has displeased my wife."
was disturbed, for how could he put to death a guest whom he had honored
at his own table? Instead he thought of a way to end Bellerophon's
life without having a direct hand in his death.
He said to
Bellerophon, "I have an important and difficult task for a brave warrior
such as you.
"I am eager
to serve you," said Bellerophon. "Tell me what I must do."
"You must slay
the fire breathing monster, the Chimera, who has been killing the people
of my kingdom. She has the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the
tail of a dragon, and nobody has been able to conquer her."
"This I shall
gladly attempt," said Bellerophon boldly, but actually he was shaking with
fear. How could he slay such a dreadful monster?
a seer, who advised him, "You must capture the wild winged horse, Pegasus.
Then mount this wonderful flying horse and do battle with the Chimera."
heard of Pegasus," said Bellerophon. "But how shall I capture this
"Go and sleep
in the temple of Athena," said the seer, and he would say no more.
spent the night in the temple, sleeping fitfully, dreaming of the Chimera
and of winged Pegasus. In one dream, the goddess Athena gave him
a golden bridle, saying, "Use this to capture Pegasus." When Bellerophon
awoke, the golden bridle was in his hand. The dream had been real! Athena
had visited him during the night.
He ran out
to the fields with the bridle and found Pegasus drinking from a spring.
Bellerophon approached quietly, and miraculously Pegasus did not run away.
Instead the horse raised his head and allowed Bellerophon to slip the bridle
put on his armor and mounted Pegasus, and they flew up, up into the air.
What a glorious feeling! They flew over fields and mountains until, below,
Bellerophon sighted the Chimera, breathing fire.
He put a piece
of lead on the end of his spear and directed Pegasus to circle above the
monster, lower and lower, until Bellerophon was almost near enough to touch
her Then he rammed the spear into the Chimera's mouth. The monster's fiery
breath melted the lead, which poured down her throat and charred her insides.
Quickly the Chimera died.
of Lycia were overjoyed and proclaimed Bellerophon a hero. However, King
lobates still hoped that he would die. He sent Bellerophon on other
dangerous adventures on his horse, Pegasus, but each time the hero was
accepted Bellerophon as a hero and gave him his daughter in marriage. Many
happy years followed until Bellerophon attempting immortality, tried to
fly to Olympus on Pegasus. This angered Zeus, and he caused a gadfly
to sting Pegasus. The horse reared and threw its rider, who tumbled through
the sky to earth. He landed safely but became lame and blind and
roamed the earth alone until his death. Pegasus, however, flew on
to Olympus and became the honored bearer of Zeus's thunderbolts.