Bellerophone the Corinthian gained repute as an unparalled horse-tamer. Heeding advice from the astute seer Polyidus, he sought slumber one bright night within Athena’s myrtle-scented temple, aching for the one horse worth pursuit. When aerial Eos “expelled all stars and raised her rose lamp”, sounded an owl’s hoot, then appeared goddess Athena. With the Chimaera’s defeat in mind she discreetly posed a magic bridle beside Corinth’s unsuspecting athlete.*5 Upon awakening he quickly guessed this his opportunity. Racing off to catch Pegasos he found his prey thirstily lapping fresh waters where Corinth’s Sisyphus river lay. Forward he crept the pathway. Slipping the bridle over the winged steed he leaped triumphantly, racing away in glee, lashing his new carrier to speed. We may read Pindar tracing these feats and the ignominious descent. Meanwhile celebrating events, Bellerophone sacrificed a bull to Poseidon and ordered an altar dedicated to Athena. Hermes brought him winged sandals (talaria) enabling flight, and Hades a helmet rendering invisible as light. Pausanias tells us horse and rider next migrated to Lycia.
Bertoldo di Giovanni
by kind permission of : Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
From Cilicia Tarsus, obverse of a circa 390 silver stater. Bellerophone riding Pegasos and spearing the Chimaera below.
Bellerophon and Pegasos killing the Chimaera.
Laconian Black Figure cup, 570 - 565 BC
Malibu, The J. Paul Getty Museum 85.AE.121

J. Paul Getty

Sorrowing Urania missed her protégé but soon came tidings. The pair Bellerophone and Pegasos shared mighty feats, attacking Amazons and Solymi. Upon entreaty of Lycia’s King Iobates, as Hesiod and Homer proclaimed and as goddess Athena intended, the adventurers rid Lycia of the raging, flame-breathing Chimaera related to the Sphinx.*20 A deadly task to pursue and only accomplished once Bellerophone considered tipping his javelin with lead which he sped through the creature’s jaws. Its own breath doomed the Chimaera, burned within to the very heart till Death sighed in a rush of black fume. In gratitude, commemorative coins widely ensued portraying the heroes, a hissing Chimaera crouching upon the reverse (see page 7 paragraph 1). .

But as fame zenithed, came Nemesis flashing as a comet, her chariot pulled by four Grypes. Spinning fortune’s wheel she vigilantly heeled the rider’s prowess. Corinth’s much-favoured hero soon lured by Vanity and fancying invincibility, attempted impious flight towards Mount Olympos, aspiring to a seat amongst the gods as he thought his right. Zeus incensed prompted Pegasos to throw the athlete overhead that fate-falling day. The dread spiral earthward was the horse tamer’s end, a predictable one end when frequenting Vanity. Henceforth his destiny was to wander solitary, avoiding mankind and dying alone miserably. (see page 6 paragraph 1).*21
"Speak sense to a fool and he calls you foolish."
Euripides, 407 BC
Airborne beneath the stellae, Pegasos forlorn pondered his companion’s lot. Alike the Delphian Oracle he scrutinized the sky with searching eye. Hovering midst Aeolian harp-winds, a sharp impulse eventually glided him soaring towards hoary Mount Olympos . Pushing aside the mists “thunder-voiced” Zeus rejoiced. The god of the heavens boomed a hearty welcome treating his now fully-grown nephew as a son, obligingly providing shelter and as solace, offering high service. Bending brow in awed reverence the horse surely marvelled at Zeus’s likeness to his father, the slim differences being Poseidon possessed a stronger build and fanning, entangled hair.

“Pegasos, soaring, left the earth, and came to the immortals. There he lives in the household of Zeus, and carries the thunder and lightning for him.”

Olympos dazzled with speeding chariots spinning golden spokes: Artemis drawn by four immortal deer, Dionysus by four panthers, and so on. Saffron-browed Eos, radiant “in her flowery garments of gold” requested the newcomer accompany her dawn progress as lead to Lampos and Phaithon her speedy steeds, till fair Apollo upon a shaft of light approached sublime with flaming hair, claiming in turn his daily chariot climb.*4 Pegasos also accompanied the Muses’ toing and froing between Olympos and Mount Parnassos where the horse presently fares.
As emissary between Earth and Olympos Pegasos carried thunderbolts for the god of the heavens till eventually Zeus positioned his nephew mid night’s timeless stars, lighting forever the horse’s spirit. In homage mankind fashioned coins depicting Pegasos and Zeus. (Coins bearing the Pegasos image are tokenised as Pegasi. see Biblio). Astrologers welcomed the Pegasean stars sensing these would guide cavalry through battle ado. Muse Urania exulted and Muse of Poetry, Erato “o'er her silken chords sweet notes of gladness rung” while Euterpe sounded a trumpet .

“Now it enjoys the sky, which its wings sought before, and gleams resplendent with five stars and ten”. - Ovid.


Thus enstarred Pegasos forms a constellation named Hypos (horse) by the Ancients, South-oriented in northern latitudes, famed to mortals observing from earthy depths as flying upside down! *18 The formation proclaims winter dying and the advance of spring incarnadine. The brightest star to adorn Hypos is borne upon its neck at wing-junction. While Pegasos points his head towards nearby urn-tipping Aquarius, Pisces glides off easterly with a flick of the tail. In admiration, Etruscans, Hittites and many others formed the horse’s image on artefacts and mintage. Ptolemy listed the constellation amongst his forty-eight.*19 The 51st Pegasi star was the first of memoir to be discovered orbited by extra solar planets. These therefore orbit a star other than the sun. Pegasos is visible from August through to December.

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