Pegasus is one of the most emblematic mythological figures of antiquity. Usually represented as a white horse with a pair of wings, this Greek legend fascinates the Internet users. We all wonder about his origin, his birth, or what was his life story? If, like many people, you want to discover the story of this mythical creature, you’ve come to the right place. 🐎
Indeed, we are going to present to you first of all the complete summary of the history of Pegasus. Then, we will talk about his origins, his family, his birth, etc… Finally, we will present some myths about this fantastic animal from Greek mythology. As a bonus, some exploits and fights ⚔️ of Pegasus will conclude this article.
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SUMMARY ON PEGASUS: THE DIVINE WINGED HORSE
Pegasus is a legendary creature of great importance in ancient Greek history. It possesses both the qualities of a horse (robustness, resistance, strength, agility, etc.), and those of a bird 🕊️ (flexibility, speed, ability to fly, etc.). Considered divine, this free horse only lets himself be ridden by valiant heroes he chooses. Some books define it as a “soul transporter”.
In ancient Greek mythology, Pegasus is a friend of the Muses (“the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne”). He is considered in several books to be the lightning carrier and the creator of the source of Hippocrene with a simple kick. Usually linked to many heroes who rode him, this horse intervened in many fights between gods, goddesses and mortals.
In addition, Pegasus (“Pegasus in Latin”) is sometimes linked to the forces of nature. Indeed, he is most often linked to water, because his father Poseidon is its god. We find this horse venerated as a god on many posters around the world. He is therefore perceived as a soul smuggler, transporting the spirits of the dead to the immortal stars. In short, Pegasus embodies wisdom and divinity, for he was born after the death of the fear embodied by his mother “Medusa“.
ORIGIN OF PEGASUS: THE STORY OF ITS BIRTH?
Legend has it that mythological references have particular and sometimes unusual stories. In the case of Pegasus, it is about a union between a god (the god of water) and a mortal (the Gorgon Medusa) who gave birth to him and who looks like a white unicorn or a black unicorn.
THE PARENTS OF THE WINGED HORSE
Known as Poseidon, the god of the sea is none other than the father of Pegasus. Despite his union with the beautiful “Amphitrite”, Poseidon sometimes ventured out with other beautiful young women. Among them, the famous Medusa (later to become “Gorgon Medusa”).
The union between Poseidon and Medusa will lead to the birth of Pegasus, Chrysaor, but also many problems. Indeed, to seduce Medusa (a mortal), the god Poseidon changed into a horse (or a bird according to the works) and led his sweetheart to the temple of the goddess of wisdom and strategy (Athena).
Once in the temple dedicated to this goddess, they mated and jellyfish became pregnant. However, Athena did not appreciate this union and decided in her anger to punish the two lovebirds. To do so, she transformed Medusa and her two sisters into a monstrous creature: the Gorgon. They were wearing wings and they were sticking out their tongues like a snake. According to some books, Poseidon’s concubine also had enormous fangs, snake-like hair, animal claws (bronze), etc.
Thus becoming ugly and terrifying, some versions even say that Medusa had the power to turn people to stone with a simple glance. To break this curse, Perseus decapitated the head of Medusa. Thus, Pegasus and Chrysaor sprang from the blood spurting from their mother’s blow.
PERSIA, THE DEATH OF JELLYFISH AND THE BIRTH OF PEGASUS.
As we have announced, the famous hero Perseus (demigod and king of Tirynthe) is closely linked to the birth of Pegasus. Indeed, King Polydectes had plans to marry the beautiful Danae (Perseus’ mother). To keep Perseus away from Perseus in order to unite with Danae, his mother, Polydectes created a ruse: that of announcing to Perseus his engagement to a young woman. Perseus, happy and proud of Polydectes (who will later become his enemy), offers to give him a gift as a token of his gratitude.
Polydectes accepts and asks for the head of Medusa (who was still pregnant with Pegasus and Chrysaor). Thus the son of Zeus (Perseus) ventures on a difficult and murderous mission to decapitate the only immortal Gorgon (the future mother of Pegasus). In order to achieve this feat, considered impossible in ancient times, the young man will be helped by “Hermes” and “Athena”.
The latter gave him many tools to accompany him in his fight. We note for example a very sharp serpent, the helmet of Hades (which has the power to make invisible), a golden magic bag, a mirror shield and winged sandals (capable of flying). With his tools and aided by the gods, Perseus flies with the sandal over the three sleeping gorgonians. Silently, he slices off Medusa’s head with a serpent received from the goddess Athena. Thus, from the blood of Medusa were born the winged horse (Pegasus) and the giant Chrysaor (the brother of Pegasus).
When the other two gorgonians woke up, Perseus, who had remained invisible, left with the head of Medusa in the golden bag he carried on his back. Later, Pegasus will accept to be Perseus’ mount (husband of the young Andromeda) despite the fact that he was the murderer of his mother.
THE MYTHOLOGIES AROUND THE ORIGIN OF PEGASUS
Since its appearance in Greek mythology, the origin of the myth of Pegasus has opposed several researchers and authors. In 1955, Edward Will announced a European origin, while the most recognized theory announces an Asian origin and dates from the 21st century. Among his theories, three relate the origin of this myth.
PEGASUS IS AN ASIAN EMBLEM OF THUNDERSTORMS
According to the historian Marc-André Wagner, the first appearances of winged horses date back to the 19th century BC. According to him, the myth of Pegasus certainly comes from the Assyrian and Lycian gods. Based on certain works such as that of philologists, we can believe that Pegasus is the fruit of an ancient god of storms with the influence of the Iranians. Thus, Pegasus is considered the emblem of this people.
THE MYTH OF PEGASUS IS JUST A MERE FANTASY
- Other theories, which are also widespread, see Pegasus as a simple imaginary creature resulting from the observation of the forces of nature. For example, some say that this myth appeared after a storm, or after a river had passed through.
- Although the biological existence of the winged horse would be highly unlikely, a remark does arise. Like the griffon, centaur or sphinx, Pegasus has no supernatural element.
- It is essentially composed of existing elements such as the body of a horse or the wings of a bird. Thus, his creative process simply consisted of assembling elements of his two animals. This is why each person has a particular way of representing “his Pegasus”.
- Each person attributes to it a way of flying, a way of moving, and also a colour. Some have even gone so far as to invent the Alicorn (a representation of a winged horse with a “Pegasus + unicorn” horn). You can also discover our article on the 15 mythical animals.
THE MYTHOLOGY OF PEGASUS WAS BORN OUT OF A SHIP'S BATTLE
Ancient theories link Pegasus to a naval battle, or even to a simple figure. According to “Plutarch” in his moral works, he tells the story in a different way. Indeed, Chimera is a pirate captain named Chimarros. The latter caused a lot of damage to the lycians. In order to take revenge, a prince of Lycia (Bellerophon) went to fight Chimarros and killed him and his captain. Pegasus and Chrysaor were liberated from this ship and Medusa would probably be the commander. Although this version is not the most popular, it was a great success.
The legend of the ancient Greeks, Pegasus, is distinguished by certain feats achieved during its existence.
PEGASUS SUCCEEDS IN DEFEATING THE CHIMERA WITH HIS FAITHFUL FRIEND BELEROPHON
In Greek mythology, the Chimera is a monster that frightened mortals with its physique and power. Indeed, she was morphologically comparable to three animals. Its body was that of a faraway, its head that of a goat, and its tail a snake. Thus, this creature beaten by Pegasus and Bellerophon possessed the assets of each animal that made it up (power, strength, vivacity, etc.). In addition, some books described the Chimera as a fire-eater, like a dragon in the air.
To defeat this creature, Bellerophon (a Greek warrior) managed to ride Pegasus to become the master of the air. Thus, he was able to take advantage of both the speed and agility of this equine to dodge the flames produced by the Chimera. Thanks to his lead weighted arrows, this hero and his Pegasus ally emerged victorious from this battle. The two heroes continued their adventure with a series of other battles in which they always emerged victorious.
PERSEUS AND THE WINGED HORSE SAVE ANDROMEDA
After Perseus murdered the Gorgon Medusa, it was impossible to believe he would have a chance to use Pegasus as a mount. However, this happened some time before the return of Perseus, son of Zeus, near Polydectes. Some sources explain that Pegasus had agreed to be ridden, because Perseus had left him and his brother alive at the time of their mother’s murder near the ocean.
Now, Perseus in flight delivered on the back of the winged horse was crossing Ethiopia where he saw a woman (Andromeda). She was threatened to death by a sea monster. The girl’s parents, terrified of what was about to happen, saw the horse with the wings of birds and the famous son of Zeus coming towards them. The young man proposed to Andromeda’s parents to help their daughter on the condition that he could marry her later. Thanks to the agility of Pegasus, who used the sun’s rays and the reflections of the sea to move forward, Perseus succeeded in beheading the monster and thus saving his future wife.
BELLEROPHON DOES NOT REACH THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
The sacred mountain of Olympus is considered to be a heavenly and holy place. This mountain shelters the different gods after their earthly journey. Belerephon, who had become proud, had only one goal: to reach Mount Olympus. However, in spite of the exploits accomplished by this knight, some deities like Zeus did not recognize in him the qualities of a “true god”.
To reach this sacred mountain, Belerephon intends to use the flying horse (Pegasus). The two beings begin their journey towards the heavens which will be stopped by a fall of the vain hero Belerephon. Pegasus continues the journey and is welcomed by the god Zeus himself in his stables. As for his friend, he survives his fall and returns to his earthly world. Where he will remain alone until the end of his mortal life.
To justify the failure of Bellerophon, several versions have emerged. According to some ancient authors, it was the wisdom of the winged horse that prevented the hero from reaching the sacred mountain of the gods. However, other versions accuse Zeus of having sent a stinging bee Pegasus to stir him up.
THE STORY OF PEGASUS: IN CONCLUSION
Pegasus, the winged knight, has a very special history. Although its origins, or even its experiences are sometimes controversial by some authors, this fantastic animal remains a legend. Like unicorns, representations of this imaginary heraldic figure are in vogue in the cinema. Everyone assigns a colour to it and sometimes a few extra dander like a horn.
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