The history of Pegasus: summary, origin and mythology
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Pegasus is one of the most emblematic mythological figures of antiquity. Usually depicted as a white horse with a pair of wings, this Greek legend fascinates Internet users. We all wonder about his origin, his birth or what was his life experience. If, like many people, you want to discover the story of this mythical creature, you've come to the right place. 🐎
In fact, we are going to present you first of all the complete summary of the history of Pegasus. Then, we will talk about his origins, his family, his birth, etc.... Finally, we will present some myths about this fantastic animal of Greek mythology. As a bonus, some feats and fights ⚔️ of Pegasus will conclude this article.
Summary about Pegasus: the divine winged horse
Pegasus is a legendary creature very important in the history of ancient Greece. He possesses both the qualities of a horse (robustness, endurance, strength, agility, etc.), and those of a bird 🕊️ (flexibility, speed, ability to fly, etc.). Considered divine, this free horse only allows itself to be ridden by the brave heroes it chooses. Some books define it as a "transporter of souls".
In ancient Greek mythology, Pegasus is a friend of the Muses ("the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne"). In several books he is considered the bearer of lightning and the creator of the fountain of Hippocrates 🌩️ with a simple blow of the hoof. Generally linked to many heroes who rode him, this horse was involved in many battles between gods, goddesses and mortals.
In addition, Pegasus ("Pegasus in Latin") is sometimes linked to the forces of nature. In fact, he is most often linked to water, because his father Poseidon is his god. This horse is revered as a god on many posters around the world. Therefore, he is perceived as a smuggler of souls, who transports the spirits of the dead to the immortal stars. In short, Pegasus embodies wisdom and divinity, as he was born after the death of fear embodied by his mother "Medusa".
The origin of Pegasus: the story of his birth...
Legend has it that mythological references have particular and sometimes unusual stories. In the case of Pegasus, it is a union between a god (the god of water) and a mortal (the Gorgon Medusa) who gave birth to him and who resembles a white unicorn or a black unicorn.
The parents of the winged horse
Known as Poseidon, the god of the sea is none other than the father of Pegasus. Despite his union with the beautiful "Amphitrite", Poseidon sometimes ventured out with other beautiful young women. Among them, the famous Medusa (who would later become "Medusa Gorgon").
The union between Poseidon and Medusa will lead to the birth of Pegasus, Chrysaor, but also to many problems. In fact, to seduce Medusa (a mortal), the god Poseidon transformed himself into a horse (or a bird, depending on the plays) and took his bride to the temple of the goddess of wisdom and strategy (Athena).
Once in the temple dedicated to this goddess, they mated and the jellyfish became pregnant. However, Athena did not appreciate this union and decided in her anger to punish the two lovebirds. To do so, she transformed Medusa and her two sisters into a monstrous creature: the Gorgon. They wore wings and stuck out their tongues like a snake. According to some books, Poseidon's concubine also had huge fangs, snake-like hair, animal (bronze) claws, etc.
Thus becoming ugly and terrifying, some versions even say that Medusa had the power to turn people to stone with a simple look. To break this curse, Perseus decapitated Medusa's head. Thus, Pegasus and Chrysanthemum sprang from the blood that flowed from their mother's blow.
Perseus, the death of Medusa and the birth of Pegasus...
As we have announced, the famous hero Perseus (demigod and king of Tirynthe) is closely linked to the birth of Pegasus. In fact, King Polydectes had plans to marry the beautiful Danae (Perseus' mother). In order to keep Perseus away to join Danae his mother, Polydectes created a ruse: that of announcing to Perseus his engagement to a young woman. Perseus, happy and proud of Polydectes (who will later become his enemy), offers him a gift as a token of his gratitude.
Polydectes accepts and asks him for the head of Medusa (who was still pregnant by Pegasus and Chrysanthemum). Thus, the son of Zeus (Perseus) ventures on a difficult and murderous mission to decapitate the one and only immortal Gorgon (the future mother of Pegasus). To accomplish this feat, which was considered impossible in ancient times, the young man will be helped by "Hermes" and "Athena".
The latter gave him many tools to accompany him in his struggle. We note for example a very sharp snake, the helmet of Hades (which has the power to make invisible), a golden magic bag, a mirrored shield and winged sandals (able to fly). With his tools and aided by the gods, Perseus flies with the sandal over the three sleeping gorgonians. Silently, he cuts off Medusa's head with the snake he received from the goddess Athena. Thus, from Medusa's blood were born the winged horse (Pegasus) and the giant Chrysaor (Pegasus' brother).
When the other two gorgonians awoke, Perseus, who had remained invisible, left with Medusa's head in the golden bag on his back. Later, Pegasus will accept to be the mount of Perseus (husband of the young Andromeda) even though he was the murderer of his mother.
Mythologies surrounding the origin of Pegasus
Since its appearance in Greek mythology, the origin of the myth of Pegasus has been opposed by several researchers and authors. In 1955, Edward Will announced a European origin, while the most recognized theory announces an Asian origin and dates from the 21st century. Among their theories, three relate the origin of this myth.
Pegasus is an Asian emblem of storms.
According to the historian Marc-André Wagner, the first appearances of winged horses date back to the 19th century B.C. According to him, the myth of Pegasus certainly originated with the Assyrian and Lycian gods. Based on certain works such as that of philologists, we can believe that Pegasus is the fruit of an ancient god of storms with the influence of the Iranians. Thus, Pegasus is considered the emblem of this people.
The myth of Pegasus is just a simple fantasy.
Other theories, also widespread, see Pegasus as a simple imaginary creature resulting from the observation of the forces of nature. For example, some say that this myth appeared after a storm, or even after a river had passed. Although the biological existence of the winged horse would be highly improbable, an observation arises. Like the griffin, the centaur or the sphinx, Pegasus has no supernatural element.
It is essentially composed of existing elements such as the body of a horse or the wings of a bird. Therefore, his creative process simply consisted of assembling elements of his two animals. That is why each person has a particular way of representing "his Pegasus". Each person attributes to him a way of flying, a way of moving, and also a color. Some have even invented the Alicorn (a representation of a winged horse with a "Pegasus + unicorn" horn). You can also discover our article on the 15 mythical animals.
The mythology of Pegasus was born from the combat of a ship.
Ancient theories link Pegasus with a naval battle, or even with a simple figure. According to "Plutarch" in his moral works, he tells the story in a different way. In fact, Chimera is a pirate captain named Chimarros. The latter caused much harm to the Letians. To take revenge, a Lycian prince (Bellerophon) went to fight Chimarros and killed him and his captain. Pegasus and Chrysaor were released from this ship and Medusa would probably be the commander. Although this version is not the most popular, it was a great success.
Some notable exploits of the "white" winged horse....
The legend of the ancient Greeks, Pegasus, is notable for some of the feats he accomplished during his existence.
Pegasus succeeds in defeating the Chimera with his faithful friend Bellerophon.
In Greek mythology, the Chimera is a monster that frightened mortals with its physique and power. In fact, it was morphologically comparable to three animals. Its body was that of a distant person, its head that of a goat, and its tail a snake. Thus, this creature defeated by Pegasus and Bellerophon possessed the assets of each animal that composed it (power, strength, vivacity, etc.). In addition, some books described the Chimera as a fire-eater, like a dragon in the air.
To defeat this creature, Bellerophon (a Greek warrior) managed to ride Pegasus to become the master of the air. Thus, he was able to take advantage of both the speed and agility of this equine to dodge the flames produced by the Chimera. Thanks to his lead arrows, this hero and his ally Pegasus emerged victorious from this battle. The two heroes continued their adventure with a series of other battles in which they were always victorious.
Perseus and the winged horse save Andromeda
After Perseus killed Medusa's Gorgon, it was impossible to believe that he would have the opportunity to use Pegasus as a mount. However, this occurred some time before the return of Perseus, son of Zeus, near Polydectes. Some sources explain that Pegasus had agreed to be mounted because Perseus had left him and his brother alive when their mother was killed near the ocean.
Now, Perseus in flight delivered on the back of the winged horse was crossing Ethiopia where he saw a woman (Andromeda). She was threatened with death by a sea monster. The girl's parents, terrified by what was about to happen, saw the bird-winged horse and the famous son of Zeus approaching them. The young man proposed to Andromeda's parents to help their daughter on the condition that he would marry her later. Thanks to the agility of Pegasus, who used the rays of the sun and the reflections of the sea to advance, Perseus managed to decapitate the monster and thus save his future wife.
Bellerophon does not reach the kingdom of heaven....
The sacred mountain of Olympus is considered a heavenly and sacred place. This mountain shelters the various gods after their earthly journey. Belerephon, who had become proud, had only one goal left: to reach Mount Olympus. However, despite the feats performed by this knight, some deities such as Zeus did not recognize in him the qualities of a "true god".
To reach this sacred mountain, Belerephon intended to use the flying horse (Pegasus). The two beings begin their journey to the heavens which will be stopped by the fall of the vain hero Belerephon. Pegasus continues the journey and is received by the god Zeus himself in his stables. As for his friend, he survives his fall and returns to his earthly world. Where he will remain alone until the end of his mortal life.
To justify the failure of Bellerophon, several versions have emerged. According to some ancient authors, it was the wisdom of the winged horse that prevented the hero from reaching the sacred mountain of the gods. However, other versions accuse Zeus of having sent a bee to sting Pegasus to agitate him.
The story of Pegasus: To conclude
Pegasus, the winged knight, has a very special history. Although his origins, or even his experiences are sometimes controversial for some authors, this fantastic animal remains a legend. Like unicorns, representations of this imaginary heraldic figure are all the rage in the cinema. Everyone attributes to it a color and sometimes a little extra dandruff like a horn.