Chimera is a mythical creature that is both intimidating and fascinating. Its Greek name means “she-goat“. Although there are speculations that the mythical being is a male, the mere meaning of the name alone and the description of the creature can clearly say that the beast is a female.
Family, Appearance, and Characteristics
Chimera’s father was Typhon and her mother was Echidna (half-serpent). Her brothers were Cerberus known as the hound of hell, Hydra the water snake with nine heads, and Orthrus (also a multi-headed dog).
The Chimera has a lioness head, a goat’s head on the body, and its tail has a head of the snake. The lioness head has close-cropped mane and visible ears (things that a lion does not possess); in other occasions it has flames or rays surrounding the head instead of a mane. The head of the goat is usually facing backwards but there are other descriptions that say otherwise. The tail’s end is usually the head of a snake and other times it is a head of a dragon. It has a fiery breath that can immediately snort out flames of incredible intensity.
No one would like to dare cross the mythical beast‘s path because of its speed and strength. According to accounts, it ravaged the areas and places it inhabited or visited. It created havoc of unknown proportion and brought fear within the hearts of many. The appearance of Chimera brought nothing but ill prophesy of destruction.
Over time, Chimera became an epitome of evil, more particularly a female evil. During the medieval period there was even a book which denounced female population in general. The book described women as creatures of utmost wickedness and carnality – women were compared to Chimera. The book said that a woman is indeed beautiful to gaze upon, poison to the touch, and dangerous to be with.
Chimera’s Early Beginnings
The early accounts regarding Chimera came from Homer in The Illiad and another writer named Heriod. Both authors described Chimera as a creature with the features of the three animals namely lion, goat, and snake. The beast was swift and merciless with her breath of fire and no one dared crossed her.
According to the story, the creature took Lycia as its home and created mayhem.
It terrorized neighboring areas and killed people on a whim. The killings brought fear to the people and the good King Iobates decided to seek help from someone to destroy the beast. Bellorophon came with a letter upon the orders of Proeteus (King Iobate’s son-in-law). Proteus told King Iobates (in the letter) that Bellorophon was an undefeated hero who could help him. At the close of the letter, Proteus added a request to his father-in-law to kill Bellorophon after the task. The reason was pure jealousy because his wife bore admiration to Bellorophon. The young warrior was unsuspectingly became the messenger of his own death.
The king was puzzled because he did not want to violate the hospitality yet he would also like to grant the request of his son-in-law. The king has decided to send Bellorophon to kill Chimera instead. The young warrior accepted the task but consulted Polyidus (a soothsayer) first.
He was advised to procure Pegasus in order to ensure victory. Bellorophon spent the night in Minerva’s temple and while he was sleeping the goddess gave him a golden bridle which remained in his hand when he woke up. Minerva showed him Pegasus drinking water at the well and upon seeing the bridle, the fine steed willingly came to Bellorophon. The young warrior rode Pegasus and hunt Chimera.
From above the air, Bellorophon rained his arrows on the beast but did not even scratch her. The creature’s breath was so hot that it melted the arrows. Bellorophon put a lump of lead at his spear’s point and shove it between the jaws of the beast. The creature’s breath melted the lead which oozed down its gullet and burned the beast from inside and killed her.
For four or five centuries, people believed that Chimera did not exist and viewed it as nothing but a mythical beastuntil an account that explains the possible emergence of the mythical creature was uncovered.
In Lycia, there was Mount Chimaera which throws blaze at night and there was also a nearby mountain range that was frequently on fire. On the said mountain were three creatures which might have given birth to the stories about the mythical Chimera.
Chimera and the Science World
Although the term Chimera might have mythical origins, the world of science is also using such name to describe a condition wherein a human body possesses two distinct genes. It is like another human being lives within the body. The condition is not something as mythical as the creature – human Chimeras are real.
Human Chimera exists when an individual has a genetic make up of two distinct and different persons. No one can possibly know if he or she has the said condition unless that person undergoes some series of tests. There are cases where the condition can be seen physically. There are instances where an individual may have different color for each eye; one eye might be blue and the other green. Some might show different color of hair patches or multi colored strands of hair.
The existence of human Chimera was discovered when a 52-year old woman had gone through customary testing for her kidney transplant. Her husband and three children were tested for possible kidney donor and the result shocked her.
The result showed that two of her three children were not her biological children but they were related to her husband. It paved way to different speculations including switched birth, but the possibility of switched birth to happen twice in a family was too hard to believe.
A team of experts worked together for two years to find the answer. They tested cells of different tissues and found that the woman’s body actually contained genetic make up of two different persons.
The experts knew the condition called blood Chimera which is usually found in fraternal twins. Twins with blood Chimera may be genetically unique but they share two different blood types. It is believed that around 8% of fraternal twins have such condition.
The woman had no twin, but further study showed that the woman began her life as a fraternal twin. Simply put, there were two embryos that merged and created one fetus. The woman’s body has the genes from both embryos. The cells of her cheeks contain the genes of one embryo while the cells of her ovary contain the genes of the other embryo. Research showed that there were other cases of such condition.
In 1998, a patient was referred to University of Edinburgh. The doctors were trying to find out what happened to the other testicle of the patient. To their surprise, they found a fallopian tube and an ovary. The patient turned out to be a human Chimera from a female and male embryo fusion.
Most people will never know if they are human Chimera unless a person undergoes a genetic testing.
Chimera is indeed a fascinating creature that will always baffle the mind – be it mythical or for real.