Bellerophon in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
or BELLEROPHON (Βελλεροφῶν or Βελλεροφόντης), properly
called Hipponous, was a son of the Corinthian king, Glaucus
and Eurymede, and a grandson of Sisyphus. (Apollod. 1.9.3;
Hom. il. 6.155.) According to Hyginus (Hyg. Fab. 157; comp.
Pind. O. 13.66), he was a son of Poseidon and Eurymede. He
is said to have received the name Bellerophon or
Bellerophontes from having slain the noble Corinthian,
Bellerus. (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 17; Eustath. Hom. p. 632.)
Others related, that he had slain his own brother, Deliades,
Peiren, or Alcimenes. (Apollod. 2.3.1, &c.) In order to be
purified from the murder, whichever it may have been, he
fled to Proetus, whose wife Anteia fell in love with the
young hero; but her offers being rejected by him, she
accused him to her husband of having made improper proposals
to her, and insisted upon his being put to death. Proetus,
unwilling to kill him with his own hands, sent him to his
father-in-law, Iobates, king in Lycia, with a sealed letter
in which the latter was requested to put the young man to
death. Iobates accordingly sent him to kill the monster
Chimaera, thinking that he was sure to perish in the
contest. Bellerophon mounted the winged horse, Pegasus, and
rising up with him into the air, killed the Chimaera from on
high with his arrows. Iobates, being thus disappointed, sent
Bellerophon out again, first against the Solymi and next
against the Amazons. In these contests too he was
victorious; and when, on his return to Lycia, he was
attacked by the bravest Lycians, whom Iobates had placed in
ambush for the purpose, Bellerophon slew them all. Iobates,
now seeing that it was hopeless to attempt to kill the hero,
shewed him the letter he had received from Proetus, gave him
his daughter (Philonoe, Anticleia, or Cassandra) for his
wife, and made him his successor on the throne. Bellerophon
became the father of Isander, Hippolochus, and Laodameia.
Here Apollodorus breaks off the story; and Homer, whose
account (6.155-202) differs in some points from that of
Apollodorus, describes the later period of Bellerophon's
life only by saying, that he drew upon himself the hatred of
the gods, and, consumed by grief, wandered lonely through
the Aleian field, avoiding the paths of men. We must here
remark with Eustathius, that Homer knows nothing of
Bellerophon killing the Chimaera with the help of Pegasus,
which must therefore be regarded in all probability as a
later embellishment of the story. The manner in which he
destroyed the Chimaera is thus described by Tzetzes (l.c.):
he fixed lead to the point of his lance, and thrust it into
the fire-breathing mouth of the Chimaera, who was
accordingly killed by the molten lead. According to others,
Bellerophon was assisted by Athena Chalinitis or Hippia.
(Paus. 2.1.4; Pind. l.c.; Strab. viii. p.379.) Some
traditions stated, that he attempted to rise with Pegasus
into heaven, but that Zeus sent a gad-fly, which stung
Pegasus so, that he threw off the rider upon the earth, who
became lame or blind in consequence. (Pind. I. 7.44; Schol.
ad Pind. Ol. 13.130; Hor. Carm. 4.11. 26.) A peculiar story
about Bellerophon is related by Plutarch. (De Virt. Mul. p.
247, &c.) Bellerophon was worshipped as a hero at Corinth,
and had a sanctuary near the town in the cypress grove,
Craneion. (Paus. 2.2.4.) Scenes of the story of Bellerophon
were frequently represented in ancient works of art. His
contest with the Chimaera was seen on the throne of Amyclae
(2.18.7), and in the vestibule of the Delphic temple. (Eur.
Ion 203.) On coins, gems, and vases he is often seen
fighting against the Chimaera, taking leave of Proetus,
taming Pegasus or giving him to drink, or falling from him.
But, until the recent discoveries in Lycia by Mr. Fellows,
no representation of Bellerophon in any important work of
art was known; in Lycian sculptures, however, he is seen
riding on Pegasus and conquering the Chimaera. [Comp.
CHIMAERA and PEGASUS.] - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman
biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.
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