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BELLEROPHON, son of Glaucus and grandson of Sisyphus, left Corinth under a cloud, disgraced by having first killed one Bellerus-which earned him nickname Bellerophontes, shortened to Bellerophon and then own brother, whose name is usually given as Deliades. He fled as suppliant to Proetus, King of Tiryns; but (so ill luck) would have Anteia, Proetus’s wife whom some call Stheneboea, fell in love wit him at sight. When he rejected her advances, she accused him of having tried to seduce her, and Proetus, who believed the story, grew incensed. Yet he dared not risk the Furies’ vengeance by the direct murder of a suppliant, and therefore sent him to Anteia’s father Iobates, King of Lycia, carrying a sealed letter, which read: ‘Pray remove the bearer from this world; he has tried to violate my wife, your daughter.’
b. Iobates, equally loth to ill-treat a royal guest, asked Bellerophon to do him the service of destroying the Chimaera, a fire-breathing she-monster with lion’s head, goat’s body, and serpent’s tail. ‘She is’, he explained, ‘a daughter of Echidne, whom my enemy, the King of Caria, has made a household pet.’ Before setting about this task, Bellerophon consulted the seer Polyeidus, and was advised to catch and tame the winged horse Pegasus, beloved by the Muses of Mount Helicon, for whom he had created the well Hippocrene by stamping his moon-shaped hoof.
c. Pegasus was absent from Helicon, but Bellerophon found him drinking at Peirene, on the Acropolis of Corinth, another of his wells; and threw over his head a golden bridle, Athene’s timely present. But some say that Athene gave Pegasus already bridled to Bellerophon; and others, that Poseidon, who was really Bellerophon’s father, did so. Be that as it may, Bellerophon overcame the Chimaera by flying above her on Pegasus’s back, riddling her with arrows, and then thrusting between her jaws a lump of lead which he had fixed to the point of his spear. The Chimaera’s fiery breath melted the lead, which trickled down her throat, searing her vitals.
d. Iobates, however, far from rewarding Bellerophon for this daring feat, sent him at once against the warlike Solymians and their allies, the Amazons; both of whom he conquered by soaring above them, well out of bow-shot, and dropping large boulders on their heads. Next, in the Lycian Plain of Xanthus, he beat off a band of Carian pirates led by one Cheimarrhus, a fiery and boastful warrior, who sailed in a ship adorned with a lion figurehead and a serpent stern. When Iobates showed no gratitude even then but, on the contrary, sent the palace  guards to ambush him on his return, Bellerophon dismounted and prayed that, while he advanced on foot, Poseidon would flood the Xanthian Plain behind him. Poseidon heard his prayer, and sent great waves rolling slowly forward as Bellerophon approached Iobates’s palace; and, because no man could persuade him to retire, the Xanthian women hoisted their skirts to the waist and came rushing towards him full butt, offering themselves to him one and all, if only he would relent. Bellerophon’s modesty was such that he turned tail and ran; and the waves retreated with him.
e. Convinced now that Proetus must have been mistaken about the attempt on Anteia’s virtue, Iobates produced the letter, and demanded an exact account of the affair. On learning the truth, he implored Bellerophon’s forgiveness, gave him his daughter Philonoë in marriage, and made him heir to the Lycian throne. He also praised the Xanthian women for their resourcefulness and ordered that, in future, all Xanthians should reckon descent from the mother, not the father.
f. Bellerophon, at the height of his fortune, presumptuously undertook a flight to Olympus as though he were an immortal; but Zeus sent a gadfly, which stung Pegasus under the tail, making him rear and fling Bellerophon ingloriously to earth. Pegasus completed the flight to Olympus, where Zeus now uses him as a pack-beast for thunderbolts; and Bellerophon, who had fallen into a thorn-bush, wandered about the earth, lame, blind, lonely and accursed, always avoiding the paths of men, until death overtook him.
1. Anteia’s attempted seduction of Bellerophon has several Greek parallels, besides a Palestinian parallel in the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, and an Egyptian parallel in The Tale of the Two Brothers. The provenience of the myth is uncertain.
2. Echidne’s daughter, the Chimaera, who is depicted on a Hittite building at Carchemish, was a symbol of the Great Goddess’s tripartite Sacred Year-lion for spring, goat for summer, serpent for winter. A damaged glass plaque found at Dendra near Mycenae shows her tussling with a lion, from the back of which emerges what appears to be a goat’s head; the tail is long and serpentine. Since the plaque dates from a period when the goddess was still supreme, this icon-paralleled in an Etruscan fresco at Tarquinia, though the hero here is mounted, like Bellerophon-must be read as a king’s coronation combat against men in beast disguise who represent the different seasons of the year. After the Achaean religious revolution which subordinated the goddess Hera to Zeus, the icon became ambivalent: it could also be read as recording the suppression, by Hellenic invaders, of the ancient Carian calendar.
3. Bellerophon’s taming of Pegasus, the Moon-horse used in rain-making, with a bridle provided by Athene, suggests that the candidate for the sacred kingship was charged by the Triple Muse (‘mountain goddess’), or her representative, with the capture of a wild horse;  thus Heracles later rode Arion (‘moon-creature on high’) when he took possession of Elis. To judge from primitive Danish and Irish practice, the flesh of this horse was sacramentally eaten by the king after his symbolic rebirth from the Mare-headed Mountain-goddess. But this part of the myth is equally ambivalent: it can also be read as recording the seizure by Hellenic invaders of the Mountain-goddess’s shrines at Ascra on Mount Helicon, and Corinth. A similar event is recorded in Poseidon’s violation of the Mare-headed Arcadian Demeter, on whom he begot this same Moon-horse Arion; and of Medusa, on whom he begot Pegasus; which explains Poseidon’s intrusion into the story of Bellerophon. How Zeus humbled Bellerophon is a moral anecdote told to discourage revolt against the Olympian faith; Bellerophon, the dart-bearer, flying across the sky, is the same character as his grandfather Sisyphus, or Tesup, a solar hero whose cult was replaced by that of solar Zeus; he is therefore given a similarly luckless end, which recalls that of Helius’s son Phaëthon.
4. Bellerophon’s enemies, the Solymians, were Children of Salma. Since all titles and capes beginning with the syllable salm have an easterly situation, she was probably the Goddess of the Spring Equinox; but she soon became masculinized as the Sun-god Solyma, or Selim, Solomon, or Ab-Salom, who gave his name to Jerusalem. The Amazons were the Moon-goddess’s fighting priestesses.
5. Bellerophon’s retreat from the Xanthian women may have been deduced from an icon which showed the Wild Women maddened with hippomanes-either a herb, or the slimy vaginal issue of a mare in heat, or the black membrane cut from the forehead of a new-born foal-closing in on the sacred king by the seashore at the end of his reign. Their skirts were hoisted, as in the erotic worship of Egyptian Apis (Diodorus Siculus), so that when they dismembered him, his spurting blood would quicken their wombs. Since Xanthus (‘yellow’)  is the name of one of Achilles’s horses, and of one belonging to Hector, and of one given to Peleus by Poseidon, these women perhaps wore ritual horse-masks with moon-yellow manes, like those of palominos; for wild mares had eaten Bellerophon’s father Glaucus by the seashore of Corinth. Yet this reformed myth retains a primitive element: the approach, naked women from the chieftain’s own clan, with whom intercourse was forbidden, would force him to retreat and hide his face, and in Irish legend this same ruse was employed against Cuchulain, when his fury could not otherwise be checked. The account of the Xanthian matrilineal reckoning of descent has been turned inside out: it was the Hellenes who, on the contrary, managed to enforce patrilineal reckoning on all Carians except the conservative Xanthians.
6. Cheimarrhus’s name is derived from chimaros, or chimaera (‘goat’); both his fiery nature and his ship with the lion figure-head and serpent stern have been introduced into Bellerophon’s story by some euhemerists to explain away the fire-breathing Chimaera. Mount Chimaera (‘goat mountain’) was also the name of an active volcano near Phaselis in Lycia (Pliny: Natural History), which accounts for the fierce breath.


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