Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pegasus

Pegasus and Bellerophon vs. the Chimera
We'll close off this iteration of Mythical Creatures Week with one of the best known out there-- Pegasus. This winged horse has its origins in Greek Mythology and has been featured in stories, art, and emblems for several thousand years.

The origin story of Pegasus is as follows-- a beautiful woman named Medusa was punished by Athena for cavorting with the god Poseidon in Athena's temple (though some stories say she was being raped... either way, she was punished). Her curse was was to have a face so terrible that it would turn onlookers to stone, and to have hair made from live snakes.

The hero Perseus was sent on a quest to kill Medusa, and did so with help from a mirrored shield that was a gift from Athena. When he beheaded the Gorgon, Pegasus was born. One story says that the winged horse (and his brother, the gold giant Chrysaor) sprung from Medusa's severed neck. Another says the the two brothers were born when her blood mixed with sea form. Either way, Medusa and Poseidon (who is, among other titles, the god of Horses) are the parents of Pegasus.

Pegasus was instrumental in Bellerophon's fight with the Amazons and the Chimera. The hero tamed him with a golden bridle and the two went to battle. After defeating their foes, Bellerophon attempted to ride to the heavens, but was bucked off by Pegasus. The horse continued to fly upward, and became a steed in Zeus's stables. He would eventually be given his own constellation.

Pegasus is typically depicted as a white horse with giant wings. He has appeared in sculpture, pottery, and art, and is the emblem of several groups and companies, including TriStar Pictures and Mobil Gasoline.

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