Pegasus the Winged Horse of Myth and Legend
Pegasus and Bellerophon
There are many amazing horses to be found in the realms of fantasia and mythology. However it would be hard to find one as mysteriously majestic as the mighty winged horse Pegasus. One of the most famous myths in Greek Mythology he is a creature to be found on numerous occasions both in works of art and in poetry.
Stunning battle horses the Pegasi were amazing creatures, prized for their speed and eroticity and a fantastic sight to behold awesome both in flight and when resting with beautiful and mysterious wings stretching skywards and spreading as if to capture the air currents, jumpy and edgy as they readied for flight.
The Flight to Olympus – Home of the Gods
Pegasus was the son of Perseus (in some versions, the sea god, Poseidon) and Medusa, the Queen of the Gorgons. The beautiful winged horse was born from the spilled blood of Medusa, when a fight between her and Perseus broke out, resulting in Perseus severing Medusa’s head, causing droplets of her blood to land in the sea. Frothing, white sea foam mingled with the blood-red droplets and so Pegasus was born gaining from the sea foam, his stunning white colour.
From the same blood droplets shed by Medusa Pegasus’s brother was born. Named Chrysaor he was described as a winged Boar. Both creatures were born in adult form.
Following his capture and taming at the hands of the goddess Athena, Pegasus was presented to the Muses at Mount Parnassus, where he provided help and assistance to the poets. It is said in legend that whenever Pegasus struck the ground with his hoof, a beautiful spring burst into life there. One such spring, at Perseus’s command, appeared on a mountain of the Muses’. Known as Mount Helicon, the Hippocrene meaning "horse spring", it was intended to regulate the growth of the mountain. Likewise at the strike of Pegasus’s hoof another spring burst into life at Troezen.
The Flight To Mount Olympus – Home Of The Gods
As the conquests of Bellerophon a Greek Corinthian hero and monster slayer grew he became ambitious, and was soon determined to seek out the gods on Mt. Olympus. Hearing tales of the winged horse, he set out to track Pegasus down.
Bellerophon was instructed by Polyeidos to sleep in the temple of Athena, where the goddess visited him in the night and presented him with a golden bridle. He awoke next morning, bridle in hand to discover, Pegasus who was drinking at the Pierian spring. On seeing the magical bridle, he approached Bellerophon and allowed him to ride. His remarkable speed was a of major assistance to Bellerophon who at various points along the way rode Pegasus into battle against both the Amazons and the Chimera, a creature that breathed fire, had a lion’s mane and head, with a goat’s head rising out of its back. It also had the udders of a goat and a serpent’s tail.
Bellerophon and Pegasus rode into and survived many battles and in time Bellerophon came to believe he was a son of a god. Driven by this wrongful assumption he set off to try to ride his flying horse Pegasus Mt. Olympus’s highest peak to meet with the Gods as was his ambition. Zeus was highly displeased when he learned of this audacity and sent a horsefly to bite the Pegasus’s hindquarters. In great pain Pegasus reared up, throwing Bellerophon from his back, causing him to tumble helplessly to the earth below. Some say that wise as Pegasus was he knew what awaited Bellerophon at the hands of the gods and consequently deliberately bucked him off.
Pegasus continued alone on his journey until he arrived in Olympus where he found shelter and safety on the sacred mountain. In return he transported the thunderbolts that Cyclops forged for Zeus and was ridden by Eos, the goddess of dawn. Pegasus was allowed to roam freely on Mount Olympus, wandering happily amongst the meadows and springs and mountains.
In later life Pegasus mated with Euippe (or Ocyrrhoe) and so, it is said, Celeris and Melanippe were conceived, forming the constellation Equeus.
On the last day of his life as reward for his faithful service, Zeus immortalized the winged horse by transforming him into a night sky constellation. As he did so it was said that a single feather fell to the earth near the city of Tarsus.
Modern Day Pegasi
In modern terminology, the word "Pegasus" (plural "pegasusses" or "pegasi") has come to refer to any winged horse, though the term "pterippus" (meaning winged horse, plural "pterippi") is also used. Part of the horse zebra and unicorn family the Pegasi is the only creature in it’s genus. How they became so spectacularly winged is a mystery that remains to this day.
Although they are native to the Balklands they are now extinct in that region. The only ones that remain and have survived exist far away on their grazing grounds in the highest peaks of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Living in herds and rearing foals in the same fashion as normal horses the Pegasi are now studied by cryptozoologists.
Pegasi stallions are larger than thoroughbreds and more often than not boast coats of shimmering white, though they can be varying shades of browns through to pure star black. They compete for up to 5 mares and fight for dominance during the mating season. The Pegasi’s most striking feature, is their huge wings, which can on larger stallions span as wide as 7.3m+. Bulges of muscles around the area of their withers, shoulders and rib cage are the point at which their flight muscles attach to their breast bone.
Pegasi foals do not develop their flying skills until they are around 6 months old although they learn the skill of walking practically from birth. The first few weeks of life are also utilised with wings flexing and development of muscles necessary for flight, in the same way as young birds would.
Pegasus – The Constellation
The constellation of Pegasus is home to several galaxies and even a bright globular cluster. It is one of the very first of the 48 constellations to be listed, in the 2nd century by the well-known astronomer Ptolemy. It remains one of the 88 constellations that we see today shining brightly in the Northern sky.
In 1995 a planet at least half the size of Jupiter was discovered orbiting the star 51 Pegasus, which is about 40 light-years from the earth; this marked the first time a planet was detected orbiting a sun like star outside the solar system.