Bellerophon

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Bellerophon (Βελλεροφῶν) or Bellerophontes (Βελλεροφόντης) was a hero of Greek mythology. He was "the greatest hero and slayer of monsters, alongside of Cadmus and Perseus, before the days of Heracles",[1] and his greatest feat was killing the Chimera, a monster that Homer depicted with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail: "her breath came out in terrible blasts of burning flame."[2]

Contents

Etymology

Βελλεροφοντης > Βελεμνον, βελονη, βέλος (projectile, dart, javelin, needle, arrow, bullet) - φοντης (slayer). > φονευω (to slay).

Bellerophon's myth

The Iliad vi.155–203 contains an embedded narrative told by Bellerophon's grandson Glaucus, named for his great-grandfather, which recounts Bellerophon's myth. Bellerophon was a son of the King Glaucus ("sea-green"[3]) of Corinth and the grandson of death-cheating Sisyphus. Bellerophon's grandsons Sarpedon and the younger Glaucus fought in the Trojan War. In the Epitome of pseudo-Apollodorus, a genealogy is given for Chrysaor ("of the golden sword") that would make him a double of Bellerophon; he too is called the son of Glaucus the son of Sisyphus. Chrysaor has no myth save that of his birth: from the severed neck of Medusa, who was with child by Poseidon, he and Pegasus both sprang at the moment of her death. "From this moment we hear no more of Chrysaor, the rest of the tale concerning the stallion only...[who visits the spring of Pirene] perhaps also for his brother's sake, by whom in the end he let himself be caught, the immortal horse by his mortal brother."[4]

Bellerophon's brave journey began in the familiar way,[5] with an exile: he had murdered either his brother, whose name is usually given as Deliades, or killed a shadowy "enemy", a "Belleros"[6] (though the details are never directly told), and in expiation of his crime arrived as a suppliant to Proetus, king in Tiryns, one of the Mycenaean strongholds of the Argolid. Proetus, by virtue of his kingship, cleansed Bellerophon of his crime. The wife of the king, whether named Anteia[7] or Stheneboea,[8] took a fancy to him, but when he rejected her, she accused Bellerophon of attempting to ravish her.[9] Proetus dared not satisfy his anger by killing a guest, so he sent Bellerophon to King Iobates his father-in-law, in the plain of the River Xanthus in Lycia, bearing a sealed message in a folded tablet: "Pray remove the bearer from this world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter."[10] Before opening the tablets, Iobates feasted with Bellerophon for nine days. On reading the tablet's message Iobates too feared the wrath of the Erinyes if he murdered a guest; so he sent Bellerophon on a mission that he deemed impossible: to kill the fire-breathing monster the Chimera, living in neighboring Caria. The Chimera was a fire-breathing monster whose make-up comprised the body of a goat, the head of a lion and the tail being a serpent. This monster had terrorized the nearby countryside. Iobates sent Bellerophon on the quest to fight the Solymi, tribesmen bent on glory. Bellerophon defeated them but not easily. He was then sent to battle the Amazons, one-breasted fighting women, whom he again defeated in a tough battle most men would have lost.

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