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Thursday, April 01, 2021

A To Z Blogging Challenge 2021 - B Is For Bellerophon!

 This is the story of a man, a monster and a winged horse. 


Public domain

Bellerophon was a grandson of Sisyphus, the crafty character who so annoyed the gods that he ended up rolling a stone up a hill in the underworld, only to have it roll back eternally.


 Bellerophon started his adventures by killing two people, including his own brother. In the Greek myths, this doesn’t always lead to punishment and doesn’t always make you a villain. He ran away and took refuge with a King called Proetus, whose wife Anteia fancied him and, when he said no, did a Potiphar’s wife and accused him of rape to her husband. Proetus didn’t want to kill a guest, but did want to get rid of him, so sent him to his father in law, King Iobates, with a sealed note asking him to kill the bearer for what he had done. 


But the guest thing was strong in that part of the world. You just didn’t kill your guest. Iobates figured a fight with a monster would do the trick, so asked him nicely if he’d very much mind killing the Chimaera, a fire breathing female monster who was part lion, part goat and part snake. Robert Graves thinks she was a symbol of the seasons, though frankly, if a fire breathing monster was heading my way, I wouldn’t stop to worry about whether she was a symbol. 


Public domain 


Neither did Bellerophon. But he wasn’t stupid. He got himself something to help. The goddess Athena gave him a golden bridle, which he used to catch the winged horse Pegasus. You may have seen Pegasus in Clash Of The Titans, only in that film he was ridden by Perseus on his quest to kill the Gorgon Medusa. Pegasus doesn’t belong to that story, except that he sprang from Medusa’s blood, but when you have Ray Harryhausen doing special effects, you don’t worry too much. 


Bellerophon rode his winged steed and killed the Chimaera with a spear that had lead on the end, which melted in her own fire and ran down her throat. 


As Bellerophon came back alive from that quest, Iobates came up with some more little jobs for him. He survived the lot.


Finally, Iobates became curious and asked Bellerophon for his side of the Anteia story, apologised and gave him his other daughter in marriage. 


Because this is Greek myth, not a fairy tale, it didn’t end up happily ever after. Bellerophon got cocky enough to ride Pegasus to Olympus. Zeus sent a gadfly to sting Pegasus, who reared and flung off his rider. Bellerophon survived, but was injured and blinded and ended up wandering the earth alone and miserable. As for Pegasus, he ended up as Zeus’s pack horse to carry his thunderbolts.


You can decide if that was an honour or not. 


Tomorrow I will be telling you about the goddess Circe and putting in links to some connected fiction.

24 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Pegasus! Who doesn't like the idea of a flying horse? In Greek mythology, does ANY hero ever have a truly happy ending? No, it seems the gods end up punishing them one way or another.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I like the idea of a flying horse, but how would you catch it in the morning? We can’t all have golden bridles. Plus, you’d have a lot further to fall! But they are pretty, aren’t they? Agreed, Greek myths almost never end well. Even the story of Odysseus, who got home safely - eventually - to the wife and son, was killed by his own son by someone other than Penelope.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

I laughed :D I wouldn't stop to think if the monster was a symbol either...

The Multicolored Diary

Sue Bursztynski said...

Perhaps Robert Graves might, though! Now I’m imagining him standing there, watching this triple monster heading for him, and yelling,”You’re a symbol, Madame! A symbol!” 😂

Jayashree Srivatsan said...

Mythology fascinates me especially stories from Greece. Last year I read the whole Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Yes its more child/young adult fiction but the Greek mythology parts and the way they were woven into the story was so interesting and I could not put the book down and I did a lot of Wikipedia reading after that about various characters and creatures.

https://pagesfromjayashree.blogspot.com/2021/04/b-boggarts-and-fears-from-potter-series.html

Stuart Nager said...

Hi Sue. Happy A to Z.

So many things about the characters. "Hey, you didn't rape my married daughter. Here, take my other one." And then he wanders the earth alone? Where's the wife? Father-in-law? I mean, really? :)

I had never heard that Pegasis was begotten by Medusa's blood. Now I have to do some research.

Glad to "see" you.

Stuart
Tale Spinning

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Well, the Gods were kinda jerks to be honest. They were mean, petty and full of all the foibles that the storytellers had as well.

But this also points to a common theme in Greek myth; don't get too full of hubris or get too cocky.

Still, I do love these tales.

--
Tim Brannan, 2021: The A to Z of Monsters

Iain Kelly said...

I mean, the main thing is these Greek myths are absolutely mad, aren't they!? And so much of these tales filters through into our modern stories! Really enjoying these posts.
https://iainkellywriting.com/2021/04/02/the-state-trilogy-a-z-guide-b/

Sue Bursztynski said...

Yep, hubris is definitely a theme in Greek myth, Timothy!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Stuart! Yes, Medusa had kids, who didn’t turn up till after her death. Read the story of Perseus fo4 the details.

Glad to “see” you too! Looking forward to seeing what you’ve com3 up with this year.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Zalka! Glad I could give you a giggle!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Jayashree, and welcom3cto my blog. I have only read a couple of the Percy Jackson books, myself - teacher librarian here, so YA and children’s fiction is my favourite - and I imagine that quite a lot of kids would have done the same as you after reading. By the way, there is a Percy Jackson introduction to the Greek myths, in case you haven’t read it, but I think it’s always better to look it up and find it in unexpected places. Looking forward to visiting your blog,

Sue Bursztynski said...

Trim, welcome to my blog and looking forward to discovering yours! And yeah, hubris was a big thing in the Greek myths. Precisely because the gods WERE such jerks!

David said...

Ray Harryhausen was a genius. Clash of the Titans (the original) was a formative part of my childhood, together with Jason and the Argonauts, of course.

David - @BreakerOfThings from
Fiction Can Be Fun
Saying hello as part of the #A2ZChallenge

Sue Bursztynski said...

Ray Harryhausen was amazing! I have a boxed set of some of his fantasy films, including Jason And The Argonauts. A totally irrelevant bit of trivia: he was a good friend of Ray Bradbury, who wrote him into a novel set in Hollywood. I remember that one starting on Halloween, in a cemetery, and it was a murder mystery, not a horror novel! AND Ray Harryhausen was in it, under a different name.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Glad you’re enjoying, Iain! And yes, we have a lot of myths filtering into our own lives, for example, when we say something is someone’s Achilles heel, or talk of the Achilles tendon. Even poor Hector has had his name used as a verb - hectoring is a word meaning bullying, because Hector, in some versions, is called a bully.

AJ Blythe said...

I love that you didn't just kill your guest. Manners obviously had to be worked around, lol.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Oh, yes, a lot of early societies had that rule. I think in Ancient Greece there were guest gifts, even. I guess the way they travelled in those days, you needed some reassurance you wouldn’t get stabbed in your sleep.

James Pailly said...

This was one of my favorite myths growing up, though I imagine I read a kid-friendly version. But anyway, the hero gets to ride Pegasus and fight a cool monster. What's not to like?

Sue Bursztynski said...

Absolutely, James! Which kid wouldn’t love the idea of defeating a monster from the back of a gorgeous flying horse? And yes, I imagine a kid friendly version would leave out the reasons WHY Bellerophon was there monster fighting in the first place! 😉

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

I like your point about the symbolism. If a symbol is trying to kill me, I'm not sure I care that much what it's a symbol of. lol

Debs Carey said...

My oh my, the original hero to zero concept came from Greek mythology - who knew? Well, clearly me being utterly ignorant of this subject certainly didn't.

I'm loving learning the stories behind the sayings which are now commonplace.

A-Zing from Fiction Can Be Fun
Normally found at Debs Despatches

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Debs! Check out my Jason post for another hero to zero. Cheers!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Forever rolling that stone uphill sounds like a metaphor for so many things we do...

Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge with an A-Z of Faerie: Black Sun