Monday, 6 March 2017

The Chimera


The Chimera of Arezzo, bronze, Etruscan, 5th century BC
In Greek mythology the Chimera was a monstrous fire-breathing hybrid, composed of the parts of more than one animal. It is usually depicted as a lion, with the head of a goat arising from its back, and a tail that ended with a snake's head. It was thought to be one of the terrifying offspring of Typhon and Echidna and a sibling of such monsters as Cerberus and the Lernaean Hydra.

The sighting of a Chimera was a certain omen for disaster. Homer's description in the Iliad: "a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle, and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire."
The Chimera was defeated by Bellerophon with the help of Pegasus, at the command of King Iobates of Lycia. Since Pegasus could fly, Bellerophon shot the Chimera from the air in safety. Homer adds that Bellerophon finished the Chimera off by equipping his spear with a lump of lead that melted when exposed to the Chimera's fiery breath.