Bellerophon and the Chimera

The dreaded Chimera took up residence in Caria, one of Greece’s neighbors and trade partners. Great havoc did it cause, killing and terrorizing the area. As his people (and economy, no doubt) were suffering, the ruler of neighboring Lycia at the time, King Iobates, wished to put an end to it.

Pegasus vs Chimera

Pegasus vs Chimera by TheBeke

Soon, as luck would have it, a gallant young warrior called Bellerophon came into his court. Born in Corinth, Bellerophon was the son of a mortal and, some would say, Poseidon. Bellerophon came bearing letters from King Iobates’ son-in-law, King Proteus of Tiryns. After feasting for 9 days with his honorable guest, Iobates finally reads the letters from Proteus which includes the following damning line “Pray remove the bearer from this world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter.”.

Unbeknownst to the two kings, Proteus’ wife Antea had looked upon the young warrior with a little too much admiration, but when he rejected her, she accused Bellerophon of attempting to ravish her. Bellerophon, thinking the whole unsavory matter was behind him, was now unknowingly the bearer of his very own death warrant.

Iobates, upon perusing the letters, was puzzled and did not know what to do, trying to keep the claims of hospitality intact without angering his son-in-law and avenging his sullied daughter. Then it came to him. Send Bellerophon on what he thought to be an impossible mission to fight his biggest problem, the mythical monster, Chimera.

Bellerophon accepted the challenge but first consulted the soothsayer Polyidus. Polyidus advised him to procure, if possible, the horse Pegasus for the conflict. For this purpose, he directed Bellerophon to pass the night in the temple of Minerva. He did this, and Minerva placed a golden bridle in his hand while he slept. When he awoke, she showed him Pegasus drinking from the well of Pirene, and (upon seeing the bridle) the winged steed came willingly and allowed himself to be taken. Bellerophon, mounting, rose with him into the air, soon finding the Chimera.

Bellerophon & Pegasus vs. the Chimera

Bellerophon & Pegasus vs. the Chimera by Damon Hellandbrand

Flying above, the warrior rained arrows on the creature only to have their tips melt in the raging inferno departing from her maw. The beast was too strong, and even with the help of Pegasus, Bellerophon was nearly overpowered. Feeling the great heat on the breath of the mythical creature, he was struck by an idea. Thinking quickly (and just in time), he attached a lump of lead to the point of his spear and thrust it into the Chimera’s jaws. The lead melted on her fiery breath and trickled down her throat to close off her airway – suffocating her.

Bellerophon returned victorious to King Iobates. But Iobates didn’t believe his story and sent him off on further quests.

Bellerophon became known as the greatest hero and slayer of monsters in his time, alongside Cadmus and Perseus (this is before the days of Heracles). Unfortunately, all this hero business went to his head. He felt he was deserving of a great many things which in the end only brought him misery… but that is a tale for another time.

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