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Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

Page: 132

Bellerophon, or Bellerophontes, was the son of Glaucus, king of Corinth, and grandson of Sisyphus. In consequence of an unpremeditated murder Bellerophon fled to Tiryns, where he was kindly received by King Prœtus, who purified him from his crime. Antea, the wife of Prœtus, was so charmed with the comely youth that she fell in love with him; but Bellerophon did not return her affection, and she, in revenge, slandered him to the king by a gross misrepresentation of the facts. The Chimæra

He first sent him to kill the Chimæra, a monster which was at this time devastating the country. The fore part of its body was that of a lion, the centre of a goat, and the hind part of a dragon; whilst out of its jaws issued flames of fire.

Before starting on this difficult task Bellerophon invoked the protection of the gods, and in answer to his prayer they despatched to his aid the immortal-winged horse Pegasus, the offspring of Poseidon and Medusa. But the divine animal would not suffer himself to be Bellerophon and Pegasus

Iobates next sent him on an expedition against the Solymans, a fierce neighbouring tribe with whom he was at enmity. Bellerophon succeeded in vanquishing them, and was then despatched against the much-dreaded Amazons; but greatly to the astonishment of Iobates the hero again returned victorious.

Finally, Iobates placed a number of the bravest Lycians in ambush for the purpose of destroying him, but not one returned alive, for Bellerophon bravely defended himself and slew them all. Convinced at length that Bellerophon, far from deserving death, was the special favourite of the gods, who had evidently protected him throughout his perilous exploits, the king now ceased his persecutions.

Iobates admitted him to a share in the government, and gave him his daughter in marriage. But Bellerophon having attained the summit of earthly prosperity became intoxicated with pride and vanity, and incurred the displeasure of the gods by endeavouring to mount to heaven on his winged horse, for the purpose of gratifying his idle curiosity. Zeus punished him for his impiety by sending [259]a gadfly to sting the horse, who became so restive that he threw his rider, who was precipitated to the earth. Filled with remorse at having offended the gods Bellerophon fell a prey to the deepest melancholy, and wandered about for the remainder of his life in the loneliest and most desolate places.


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