Greek Mythology abounds with fantastic animals and creatures, and one of the most recognisable is Pegasus, the Winged Horse. Connected with the God Poseidon and the heroic Bellerophon, he appears on pottery and bronze works dating as far back as the 7th century BC. Read on to discover his legend …
The Winged Horse
The symbol of Pegasus is an enduring one, and instantly recognisable. Pictured as a strong white stallion with wings, he is one of Greek Mythology’s most beloved creatures. There are several different versions as to the origins of his birth. Often described as a child of Poseidon, he is said to have been born from the neck of the severed head of the Medusa, or a mix of the Medusa’s blood and sea foam created by Poseidon. Whilst many people associated Pegasus with the legendary hero Perseus, he was in fact most strongly associated with a lesser known Greek hero called Bellerophon.
The Myth of Bellerophon
The hero Bellerophon is sometimes thought to be a forerunner of Hercules. Like his more famous counterpart, Bellerophon was instructed to serve a King who set him a series of impossible tasks to complete. One of these tasks was to kill a fearsome creature known as the Chimaera. This strange creature had a lion’s body, the tail of a snake, and the head of a goat sprouting from its back. It also breathed fire, and killed anyone who tried to go near it!
Pegasus and Bellerophon Meet
Understandably, Bellerophon was worried and concerned when he found out that he had to kill the Chimaera, and so he consulted a famous seer in Corinth called Polyidus. This wise seer said that Bellerophon should sleep in the Temple of Athena (thought to be the Parthenon in the Acropolis but most likely to be in Corinth itself), and wait for the Gods to speak to him. Sure enough, Athena herself appeared in a vision, and gave Bellerophon a golden bridle that he should use on Pegasus. The very next day, Bellerophon saw the winged horse Pegasus drinking water at a spring in Corinth called the Pierian spring, and managed to capture and then tame the horse.
Killing the Chimaera and other adventures
Now that he was riding a winged horse that could fly, Bellerophon had an advantage over the Chimaera. Flying above the fearsome creature, he attacked it with his spear, eventually killing the beast. This success against such a monster encouraged Bellerophon to have more adventures with Pegasus, one of which even included a battle against the Amazons (similar to Hercules).
Bellerophon falls from grace
As he succeeded in each battle, so did Bellerophon’s ego grow as well. Boasting that he could fly to the homes of the Gods themselves, he flew up on Pegasus in an attempt to enter Mount Olympus itself! On the way up though, Bellerophon was somehow thrown from the horse, and went crashing back to earth. Pegasus however, carried on flying upwards, where he eventually reached Olympus. There, Zeus gave him the task of bringing his thunderbolts whenever he needed them.
Pegasus and Corinth
The image of Pegasus appeared on both pottery and coins in ancient Corinth from about the 7th century BC onward. This is a good indicator that the Greek myth of the winged horse was even older than this by perhaps even hundreds of years. There are also two water sources or fountains in Corinth that are connected with Pegasus.
There is a fountain area in ancient Corinth known as the Peirene Fountain, which legend says is where Bellerophon caught Pegasus. Less well known though, is that there is another spring up on the Acrocorinth which also has the same name. Apparently this spring has never run out of water in thousands of years!
Greek Mythology Tours
If you would like to find out more about Corinth, Pegasus and stories from ancient Greece, our Greek Mythology Tours are ideal. Each one has been put together in a way that both informs and engages. Our expert guides will show you around the most important sites in Greece, combining a tour of each with tales from Greek Mythology.
For Percy Jackson fans there’s an added twist as well – Our guides know all about the Percy Jackson books, and will also point out places where scene from the books took place. They will also explain where the inspiration for some of the plots in the books came from, and explain the real Greek myths which inspired the stories.
Contact the team at Greek Mythology Tours for more details, or have a look around our site for more details. Whether you choose to take a day tour from Athens or opt for the full 7 day Greek Mythology Tour , we’re sure you are going to love every minute of your time on vacation in Greece!