The Legend of Bellerophon

 

In ancient Corinth there lived king Glaucus, son of Sisyphus, and his fair and brave son Bellerophon, who was to
become one of the great heroes of Greek mythology. As is the case with many Greek heroes, there is some doubt about the origins of the name Bellerophon. Some sources claim he inadvertently slew his brother during the hunt, while others state he disposed of a belleros, an enemy or even a “bane to mankind.”

Whatever the truth, it was this death that caused Bellerophon to be exiled from his father’s house. He ended up in Tiryns, up as a supplicant to the Mycenean king Proetus. The king offered him sanctuary and even expiation of his crime. Unfortunately, Bellerophon attracted the eye of Anteia, also known as Stheneboea, wife to king Proetus. When Bellerophon refused her, Anteia went to the king and told him Bellerophon had attempted to ravish her. Now Proetus, bound by the laws of hospitality, could not bring harm to Bellerophon and decided to send him away to Xanthus in Lycia where Iobates, Anteias father, was king. To ensure that Iobates woul deal with Bellerophon the right way, Proetus told Bellerophon to bring Iobates a sealed letter, in which he had written that Bellerophon had attempted to ravish “my wife, your daughter”.

But Iobates received Bellerophon in accordance with the laws of hospitality, ordering a grand feast lasting nine days and nine nights. On the tenth day Iobates summoned Bellerophon and asked him to hand over Proetus’ letter. As he read the letter, Iobates realised that he too could not harm Bellerophon. On the other hand, he could also not allow “the molester of his daughter” to walk free. So Iobates decided he would send Bellerophon on a mission that would surely kill him: to kill the Chimera, a monster depicted by Homer as having a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail and a terrible fiery breath which it used to lay waste to the Lycian lands 

Even though he deemed his chances of survival to be slim, Bellerophon did not despair. He sought the aid of the goddess Athena and spent the night in a temple dedicated to her. In his dream, Bellerophon witnessed Athena setting a golden bridle beside him and instructing him to use it to capture the flying horse Pegasus as it drank from a well.Using guile and the bridle, Bellerophon managed to capture the horse and, thus strengthened, heset out to confront the Chimera. However hard he fought the monster though, Bellerophon found the Chimera impossible to beat. In a last attempt, he got a large block of lead and mounted it on his spear. Flying head-on towards the Chimera, he held out the spear as far as he could and managed to lodge the block of lead inside the monster’s throat, causing it to suffocate to death. So destructive was the Chimera’s fire, however, that even its death could not quench it: flames still erupt toady from the mountain upon which it was slain (Mount Chimera, or Yanartaş, in the village of Çıralı).

Upon his return to Xanthus, Bellerophon found king Iobates strangely reluctant to accept the story of his victory. Would the king now have to honor the man who he believed to have molested his daughter? Unthinkable! So Iobates decided to send Bellerophon on another quest, this time to fight the extremely warlike tribe of the Solymoi. But Bellerophon triumphed again and now Iobates charged him with defeating the ferocious Amazons. Again, Bellerophon returned victorious. A number of equally daunting quests followed, from all of which Bellerophon returned triumphant and, even worse, still alive. Finally, Iobates saw no other recourse than setting his palace guard on our inntrepid hero. When Bellerophon retaliated by killing them all and flooding the entire plain of Xanthus by calling upon the god Poseidon, Iobates finally relented. He gave Bellerophon the hand of his daughter Philonoe, the younger sister of Anteia, and half of his kingdom. Now nothing more seemed to stand in the way of Bellerophon’s happiness.

Unfortunately, Bellerophon had by now begun to think of himself invincible and decided his rightful plaace was among the very gods on Mount Olympus. Once more, he mounted his flying steed and flew off. This was too much for Zeus, greatest of all the Olympian gods, and he sent down a fly to sting Pegasus. Startled, the steed threw Bellerophon, sending him plummeting down to earth. Aided by Athena, Bellerophon survived the fall, but only by ending up in a thornbush, leaving him blinded and crippled. Thus Bellerophon ended up a miser, forced to spend the rest of his days wandering the land alone, grieving and avoiding man forever more.

Bellerophon wusste, das seine Überlebenschancen sehr gering waren, doch er verzweifelte nicht daran. Er suche die Hilfe der Göttin Athene und verbrachte die Nacht in einem Tempel der ihr gewidmet war. In seinem Traum sah er Athene die ihm einen goldenen Zügel gab, damit er das fliegende Pferd Pegasus damit einfangen konnte. Er überlistete Pegasus, fing ihn und legte ihm die goldenen Zügel an. So hart er auch kämpfte er konnte das Monster die Chimera unmöglich so töten. Als letzten Versuch nahm er einen großen Block aus Blei, brachte diesen auf seinem Speer an und flog mit Pegasus auf die Chimera zu. Er rahmte den Block in die Kehle des Ungeheuers, und das Monster erstickte daran und war tot. Doch das Feuer konnte auch der Tod nicht auslöschen.

Noch heute lodern Flammen aus dem Berg ( Mount Chimera oder Yanaratas im heutigen Dorf Çıralı ) wo Bellerophon die Chimera tötete.

Bellerophon kehrte nach Xanthos zurück um König Iobates von seinem Sieg zu berichten. Doch Iobates war sehr zurückhaltend, den sollte er den Mann der seine Tochter missbrauchte jetzt ehren ? Undenkbar. Iobates beschloss Bellerophon erneut  in einen Kampf zu schicken, einen Kampf gegen den kriegerischen Stamm der Solymoi. Doch Bellerophon siegte erneut. Iobates schickte ihn weiter zu den wilden Amazonen. Bellerophon siegte abermals.

Iobates sah ein das Bellerophon ein Held war und gab ihm die Hand seiner Tochter Philonoe, die jüngere Schwester von Anteia und die Hälfte seinen Reiches und somit stand dem Glück Bellerophons nichts mehr im Wege.

Doch Bellerophon hielt sich für unbesiegbar und beschloss seinen Platz im Olymp unter den Göttern wieder einzunehmen. Er flog mit seinem Pferd Pegasus Richtung Olymp. Doch das war Zeus dem Vater der Götter zu viel und er sandte eine Fliege die Bellerophon stach. Bellerophon fiel erschrocken vom Pferd und landete in einem Dornenbusch und war geblendet und gelähmt und gezwungen den Rest seiner Tage alleine zu verbringen.