Chimaera in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

(*Xi/maira), a fire-breathing monster, which, according to the Homeric poems, was of divine origin. She was brought up by Amisodarus, king of Caria, and afterwards made great havoc in all the country around and among men. The fore part of her body was that of a lion, and the hind part that of a dragon, while the middle was that of a goat. (Hom. Il. 6.180, 16.328 ; comp. Ov. Met. 9.646.) According to Hesiod (Hes. Th. 319, &c.), she was a daughter of Typhaon and Echidna, and had three heads, one of each of the three animals before mentioned, whence she is called τρικέφαλος or τρισώματος. (Eustath. ad Hom. p. 634; Eur. Ion 203, &c.; Apollod. 1.9.3, 2.3.1.) She was killed by Bellerophon, and Virgil (Aen. 6.288) places her together with other monsters at the entrance of Orcus. The origin of the notion of this fire-breathing monster must probably be sought for in the volcano of the name of Chimaera near Phaselis, in Lycia (Plin. Nat. 2.106, 5.27; Mela. 1.15), or in the volcanic valley near the Cragus (Strab. xiv. p.665, &c.), which is described as the scene of the events connected with the Chimaera. In the works of art recently discovered in Lycia, we find several representations of the Chimaera in the simple form of a species of lion still occurring in that country. - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.

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