Unicorn with Wings

Unicorn with Wings

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Is Pegasus a unicorn?

Are the one-horned horse and the winged horse related? Where does Pegasus, the mythical white horse, come from? Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get to the bottom of this scary question: is Pegasus a unicorn? Our best sleuths went on the trail of the two mythical animals. Then we compared the story of Pegasus to that of the unicorn. Our investigation was difficult, because the fantastic animals have been galloping with the same energy for 4,000 years in the human imagination. Well, here it is, everything is related here.

From the winged horse to Pegasus

Under the appearance of a white horse, we lend him iron hooves that never wear out, large white wings similar to those of angels, made of feathers, metal, silver or gold. The myth of the winged horse would have appeared in the Near East 5,000 years ago, at the beginning of the powerful Hittite empire (19th century BC) where it may have represented the god of the storm. It is then found almost everywhere in mythologies and religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) in India, China, Africa. In Central Asia (and still today in North Korea) he is called Chollima and it is said that he gallops daily a thousand leagues across Siberia, far too fast to be ridden. It is in Europe and in the High Antiquity, more precisely in the Greek mythology, that the equid appeared under the famous name of Pegasus. Here are the circumstances in which it happened: Poseidon, god of the sea has an affair with Medusa, one of the three Gorgons. Athena discovers it and furious, sends Perseus to avenge her. Without further ado, Perseus beheads Medusa and it is from the blood that spurts from the Gorgon that the white horse is born. Thus was born Pegasus, son of Poseidon and Medusa. The formidable animal then rises towards the sky, to reach Mount Olympus where Zeus is enthroned. There, he is in charge of driving the chariot of the dawn. Incidentally, he brings to Zeus the lightning and the thunder, from the forge of Hephaestus.

The legendary horse was later ridden by the beautiful hero Bellerophon during his fight against the terrible Chimera, after having served as a mount for Perseus and delivered Andromeda. To honor the fiery winged quadruped, Zeus placed it high in the sky in a constellation (listed in the 1st century by Ptolemy), south of Andromeda. Pegasus has become since this Greek adventure the representation of all winged horses. This chimera gathers the qualities of strength and resistance of the horse and those of vivacity and lightness of the bird. Symbol of lightning and thunder since Zeus, it is also the symbol of the air, but also of water, because it strikes the rock with its hooves to make rivers flow. Later in the Middle Ages, our flying horse was the image of fame and wisdom. During the Renaissance, his complicity with the Muses, Greek deities of the Arts and Sciences, was valued. He then became the very image of inspiration, his vigor representing the poetic impulse, while his wings push the soul to rise higher than the body, towards knowledge. It is similarly the vehicle of the soul led to knowledge in shamanism and in the Kabbalah, while in the psychoanalytical field, its wings are considered to symbolize the imagination. The cinema, television and video games relay the stories of the Pegasus in a more or less free way through characters as varied as Luno the White Stallion, a cartoon of the 60s or in a disturbing version, the sombrals in Harry Potter. We still meet them in Clash of the Titans or in Walt Disney’s cartoon Fantasia. At this point, our researchers have realized that there is no question of a unique horn or magic for Pegasus. Ladies and gentlemen, you have to accept the fact that Pegasus is not a unicorn. On the other hand, Pliny the Elder speaks in antiquity of Ethiopian pegasus, winged horses with horns (two horns, but still). Could it be that the creatures have crossed paths and sympathized to the point of… Mixing?

The winged unicorn

So we turned our eyes to the unicorn, a white horse with a long straight horn and mysterious magical powers: in this place are the details of our research on this animal. We immediately noticed thanks to our legendary perspicacity (and good eyesight) that the unicorn appeared during the Indus Valley civilization (2600 to 1900 years BC). That is 4,000 years ago my friends, just like the winged horse. Both creatures are also found on the European continent during the Ancient Greece. Well, the trouble is that at that time the unicorn looked more like a rhinoceros than a horse. Later on, one made water gush out of rocks while the other purified it thanks to the magic of its horn: there are common features. Only while Pegasus was fluttering in the skies inspiring the poets, the unicorn was prancing under the moon swooning in front of the young girls.

Nothing to see. Here, we went back in time. Until the 20th century. And Bingo! We see that in the 80s, the unicorn and the winged horse mix their attributes in a single character. These are artistic and heraldic representations of New Age style, which combine the symbolism of the two legendary beings: magic and purity combined with inspiration and knowledge. This creature has several names, mostly of Anglo-Saxon origin, such as alicorn, pegacorn, uninus or unipeg. In fantasy literature, here is Imraith-Nimphais, the red winged unicorn and killer of Dana in The Tapestry of Fionavar by Guy Gavriel Kay. Then in the movies, Nightshine, ridden by Wonder Woman, and Max, the mount of the comic book character, Princess Amethyst. Then the popular productions under license are precisely aimed at little girls: animated films around derivatives, give birth to Swift Wind the mount of She-ra the princess of power, My little Pony, Kleo the yellow unicorn, Sunstar climbed by Princess Starla. All are horned creatures as well as winged.

No, Pegasus is not a unicorn, because he doesn’t have a horn and doesn’t do magic, and then that’s it. So stop with that. There is no record of a meeting between the unicorn and the winged horse, even though both have (gloriously) crossed space on the same time scale, for 4,970 years.

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