Pegasus is the beautiful flying horse of mythology. Pegasus was a white horse with wings, sometimes depicted as a unicorn, a single, spiraling horn that protruded from the forehead of Pegasus; on the other hand, most depictions of Pegasus did not show the horse as a unicorn.
The Origins of Pegasus
As mentioned, Pegasus wan a creature of mythology, meaning that Pegasus never existed; it was a creature of Greek stories. Pegasus has shown up in Greek mythology for well over two thousand years.
The History of Pegasus
According t mythology Pegasus was a son of Poseidon, the earth god, and Medusa, whom at the time was a beautiful maiden. Greek mythology states that Poseidon loved Medusa and took her to the temple of Athena were he seduced her. Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom. This infuriated Athena and she decided to take her anger out on the beautiful young Medusa. The revenge that Athena put upon Medusa was to turn her into a Gorgon; Gorgons were disgusting immortal women which had snakes for hair. Any human that was to look upon a Gorgonturned into a statue of stone.
Although Gorgons were immortal, Medusa was not immortal because she was not born a Gorgon. If not for the fact that Medusa could be killed, Pegasus would not have ever been born.
The Birth of Pegasus
The birth of Pegasus came about because of the death of Medusa; let us look at the historical details about the birth of Pegasus. This part of the story begins with a king and his love for a young woman, the King was Polydetes, and the woman was Danae. Danae had a son whose name was Perseus. Although King Polydetes was in love with Danae and wanted to marry her, the feelings were not mutual. Danae refused to marry the king, and Perseus tried to protect his mother from the king, unfortunately, he had little success. In order to get Perseus out of the picture the king sent Perseus on a quest. The king made a bargain with Perseus, if he would bring him the head of a Gorgon he would allow Danae to marry whom she wished. Of course the king thought that Perseus would never return because he assumed that a Gorgon could not be killed.
Of course, Perseus agreed to the conditions of the deal without any hesitation. The first step that Perseus took was to seek the advice of Athena. Athena was very helpful to Perseus, and equipped him with everything that he needed to successfully complete his mission. Athena told Perseus that there was a Gorgon that could be killed, which was Medusa. Secondly, Athena gave Perseus magical shoes, and a shield that was polished to a high sheen making the shield as reflective as a mirror.
Perseus had the shoes take him to the lands of the Gorgons were he could find Medusa. He then found Medusa and attacked her using the shield. He watched the reflection of Medusa in the mirror, this kept him from looking directly at the Gorgon, and thus he did not become turned to stone. He then used his sword to cut off Medusa’s head.
From this point, the myth has several separate storiesabout the exact birth of Pegasus. In one story, Pegasus was born, fully grown from the blood that spilled from the neck of Medusa. Another story states that Pegasus was not formed until the blood of Medusa mixed with seafoam.
Another version of the story states Pegasus was born when the blood of Medusa combined with the dirt at her feet. Most historians and experts on Greek mythology believe that last method was the truest method of how Pegasus was born. They believe in this story because that Poseidon, along with being the god of the sea, was also the earth god. Another point is that since Poseidon’s love for Medusa began the story, it only made sense that he had something to do with the creation of Pegasus.
What Happened Once Pegasus was Born?
After Pegasus was born, he flew to the top of Mt. Helicon where he landed. Greek mythology then states that the slightest touch of the creature’s hooves made springs; one of the springs is the famous Hippocrene, or horse, spring. Greek mythology also puts another resident on mount Helicon, mount Helicon was also known as the home of the muses. Pegasus’s connection with mount Helicon is what has made Pegasus such an interesting subject for many authors down through the ages.
The Weakness of Pegasus
Although Pegasus was a mighty creature that was as strong as he was beautiful, his weakness was that with the right knowledge someone could capture and ride Pegasus. For instance, Pegasus was captured and ridden by Bellerophon, a grandson of Sisyphus. Bellerophon was an amazing warrior best known for slaying the Chimaera.
Pegasus and Bellerophon
Bellerophon rode Pegasus during his mission to kill the Chimaera. Proteus, the son of king Lobates, was the one that sent Bellerophon on the mission to kill the Chimaera. As with many stories in Greek Mythology, love of a woman was a central theme of this mission as well. Proteus thought that Bellerophon was in love with his wife, so to get rid of Bellerophon, Proteus sent him to kill the Chimaera.
Bellerophon accepted the quest and his first step was to go seek advice from the wisest man he knew, Polyeidos. Polyeidos told Bellerophon to sleep within the walls of Athena’s temple. While he was sleeping Athena came to Bellerophon, and she told him to catch the winged horse. She said Pegasus could found at the spring of Pierian. Athena left Bellerophon a magic bridle that would allow Bellerophon to ride Pegasus.
Bellerophon needed his companion complete his mission, without Pegasus, the mission would have been impossible.
Once Proteus saw how easily the pair completed the mission, he sent the two on many other missions. He did this for two reasons; the main reason was that his wife was falling further in love with Bellerophon. In the process, he cleared the world of many menacing beast. Although Proteus sent Bellerophon and Pegasus on many missions, hoping they would be killed, but that never happened. The pair lived through all of their adventures and seemed to be invincible.
With all of his many victories under his belt king Lobates concluded that the God’s must favor Bellerophon. For this reason, he offered his daughter to Bellerophon in marriage, which would have made Bellerophon the heir to the throne of King Lobates. As happens with many men, all of his success went to Bellerophon’s head, and king Lobates offer did not please Bellerophon, he desired the life of a god. Bellerophon’s next move was to attempt to fly Pegasus to the top of Mt. Olympus. This did not set well with Zeus so he sent a fly to harrass Pegasus. When the fly bit Pegasus, the great horse jumped which caused Bellerophon to crash to the earth below. Instead of having the life of a god, Bellerophon became blind and crippled.
Pegasus after Bellerophone
Zeus did not punish Pegasus; in fact, Zeus honored the flying horse. Zeus gave Pegasus the honor of carrying his thunderbolts. Later Pegasus mated with Euippe, and the two had offspring. The children of Pegasus and Euippe were Celeris and Melanippe, from this family came all other winged horses. Because Pegasus was a mortal creature, for this reason Zeus gave the great winged horse one last honor on the last day of his life. On that day Zeus changed Pegasus into a beautiful constellation where everyone on the planet can see him flying across the heavens today.