How Pegasus Got Me Through this News Cycle

While brushing my teeth this morning, I got the best news of the entire year of 2020.

I have a feeling that my distractions of listening to music, playing scrabble and cribbage with the husband, and watching several cable dramas and comedies at the same time will continue, because even though the rather pathetic Democratic Party has somehow managed to install a president elect and the first female vice-president elect, despite their chronic plodding style, we’ve got 4 years of zombie circus to clean up.

There, got that off my chest. Now I’ll write about something more interesting, I hope. Although what could be more interesting than finally showing the star clown the door, hoping he will pick up his giant shoes and go home.

So because 2020 will be logged into the Big Book of Disasters and Monsters, I’l going to write about some. Monsters, in particular.

Chimera

The Chimera is bizarre in a rather nauseating way. Let me back up to provide the New Oxford American Dictionary’s definition of the word, monster, found between mons pubis and monstera.

“an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly and frightening.”

Ok, perhaps that does describe our newly former president, but the nausea doesn’t play in, at least to me. A Chimera is a trifecta of ugliness, with the head of a lioness whose tail is either a serpent or a dragon, depending on who you ask, and of that’s not bad enough, a goat head emerges from her flank. She was born in the ancient realm of Lycia, present day Anatolia. Her frightful and destructive talent is breathing fire, apparently, according to the ancients, from each of her three mouths.

Bellerophon and Pegasus

Anyone who can put forth three torrants of fire cannot be allowed to live. Her end came at the hands—and hooves—of Bellerophon and Pegasus (a subject of a few blogs ago). Like any great hero, Bellerophon murdered a relative and spurned the advances of a queen, so to atone for these sins, he had to go to Lycia to kill the Chimera. He was advised to engage the help of Pegasus, which he luckily took to heart. The story of how the warrior acquired the winged-horse’s cooperation is rather sweet. He slipped a golden bridle provided by the gods on Pegasus’ head while she drank. (Records refer to Pegasus using a neuter pronoun, but I know she was female. I just know.)

Bellerophon killed the Chimera using a unique form of suffocation. Tales of who the Chimera killed or what she did while terrorizing Lycia are hard to find, but as previously said, the need to kill her might have had more to do with her startling appearance.

Congenital anomalies in animals, including humans, have been called monsters; feared and revolting, these offspring were usually killed or abandoned to die. In the human realm, if they survived, they were ridiculed and shunned. And probably, eventually killed out of fright.

What’s interesting in Bellerophon’s story is what happened after he accomplished his feat. Obviously earning gratitude from frightened locals, he didn’t earn the same gratitude from his patrons, who didn’t believe him. He was sent on more missions, including one against the Amazons. Eventually he proved himself, married the king’s daughter, and had kids.

But the family life wasn’t enough for Bellerophon, who, in looking for amusement and feeling a little miffed that Olympus didn’t seem to care about him, flew up to the mountain on Pegasus. The gods were not amused, caused Pegasus to be stung by a murder hornet (not really) and Bellerophon fell back to earth. Blinded by the thorns in which he landed, he lived the rest of his days in misery and pain.

I wonder what became of Pegasus. The horse participated in a nymber of capers with various heroes. To investigate, I just googled “the death of Pegasus” and thought that would be a great title for a short story. Pegasus ended her long life on Olympus. Depending on whose account you read, she was either used as Zeus’s packhorse, carrying his bolts and weapons around, or she proudly served Zeus, and was cared for by Urania, the Muse of Astronomy. This is the end I prefer, of course; at the very last Pegasus was honored with a constellation. I like to think Urania had something to do with that.

A winged horse could also be considered a monster, but instead of a being of frightening ugliness, she is a thing of beauty. Rather like the outcome of a certain election.

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About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison

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