In these meadows were the most glorious
fountains. At certain times they sent their
waters spouting far up into the blue sky,
whence they came tumbling down again, to
rise once more in a fine spray, in which
could be seen a thousand rainbows.
The most beautiful fountain of all, and the
one where the water was the sweetest and the
coolest, was called the Fountain of
Hippocrene. The waters of this fountain had
a wonderful magic. There had been a time
when no such fountain was to be seen on
Mount Helicon. One bright moonlight night
Pegasus, the winged horse, alighted in these
meadows. He uttered a silvery neigh, and
then struck the ground a sharp blow with his
hoof. Immediately this Fountain of Hippocrene gushed forth. Pegasus drank of
its sweet waters, and then flew away, far
above the clouds. But he sometimes came back
to drink of those waters again. There was no
place on earth where a plain mortal would be
more likely to see him.
Muses, too, haunted these beautiful
meadows of Helicon. They were nine sisters,
with hair so black that it seemed violet in
the moonlight. On nights when a full moon
was in the sky, they used to come and dance
around the Fountain of Hippocrene. Some
people believed that Pegasus belonged to
Shepherds who fed their sheep at the foot of
Mount Helicon, and watched all night long,
lest some prowling wolf should attack the
flock, sometimes caught a glimpse of Pegasus
or the Muses; but very few people in the
towns below even believed that either the
winged horse or the nine sisters really
existed at all.
Now it happened one day that a certain young
hero, named Bellerophon, came to Mount
Helicon to look for Pegasus. He had been
sent by a king to slay the Chimaera, a kind
of monstrous dragon with three heads, that
was laying waste the country in a certain
part of Asia. He thought that, with the help
of the winged horse, he might win an easy
victory over any earth-born monster.
So, night after night, Bellerophon came to
the Fountain of Hippocrene and watched for
Pegasus. For a long time he could not see so
much as a feather of the horse's glorious
wings; although, once or twice, when the
moon was shining more brightly than usual,
he did think that a shadow passed lightly
over the grass, but when he looked up, there
was nothing to be seen. Another time he
heard a sudden rush of wings, and caught a
glimpse of something white among the trees.
At last, it chanced one night that he found
a lost child on the lower slopes of Mount
Helicon, and knowing that it was in great
danger of being devoured by wild beasts, he
took it to one of the shepherds who were
watching their sheep near by. Then he went
on to the spring, where he arrived much
later than usual.
That night he saw Pegasus careering gayly
about the meadows. The horse's silvery wings
were held high over his back, and his dainty
pink hoofs scarcely touched the ground. His
whinnying was like the tremulous music of a
flute; but when he saw Bellerophon, he
spread his great white wings, and soared
away up into the depths of the sky.
Catch Pegasus! Bellerophon saw that it was
of no use to try, and gave it up. Then he
lay down and slept on the soft grass of the
But people who slept near the Fountain of
Hippocrene were apt to dream. While
Bellerophon slept, he dreamed that
stood at his side with a golden bridle in
her hand. In the dream she gave him the
bridle, and then Pegasus came up to him, and
bent his beautiful head to have it put on.
He woke in the morning with the first
sunbeams shining in his face, and found the
golden bridle of his dream in his hands. The
head-piece was set with jewels, and the
whole bridle was so gorgeous that it seemed
fit, even for so wonderful a horse as
Bellerophon did not go down to the town that
day, but stayed on Mount Helicon, and lived
on berries and sweet acorns. When night
came, he again waited by the fountain for
With a light heart, he went to his usual
place, where he was screened by the bushes.
He had hardly seated himself before he saw a
faint white speck in the sky, which grew
larger and larger, and soon took the shape
of a winged horse.
As the beautiful creature descended lower,
he began to fly in great circles, as you
have seen a hawk fly. But his shining white
wings were more like the wings of an
albatross than like those of any other bird
we know. He came lower, and lower, till his
feet touched the meadow; and then he
cantered up to Bellerophon, and held down
his head for the jewelled bridle, just as he
had done in Bellerophon's dream. A moment
more, and the bridle was over his head.
A more gentle horse than Pegasus never
lived, nor one fonder of his rider. He
seemed willing to take the owner of the
bridle for his master, and was obedient to
the slightest touch of the rein. It was
wonderful when he tried his wings. Up above
the clouds he soared, with Bellerophon on
his back. Who need fear the Chimaera now?
This Chimaera was a frightful monster with
three heads - the head of a lion, the head of
a goat, and the head of a snake. Its body
was something like the shaggy body of a goat
in the middle, but ended in a dragon's tail.
When the creature was roused, it could belch
out fire and smoke from its three cavernous
throats. Nearly the whole of the mountainous
country it inhabited was a waste of ashes.
The few people who had not lost their lives,
nor left their homes and their flocks, but
still inhabited that region, lived in
constant terror of this creature. So if one
brave enough and strong enough could be
found, there was need of a hero to slay the
When Bellerophon felt that he had perfect
control of Pegasus, he guided him straight
toward the mountains of the Chimaera.
Pegasus, with all his wonderful power of
flight, sped through the air like an arrow,
and in a very short time was hovering over
the cruel monster, which lay sprawling in
the midst of the waste it had caused.
Obedient to Bellerophon's wish, Pegasus
swooped straight down to within striking
distance of the Chimera. Then, a flash from
Bellerophon's lance, and the goat's head
hung limp. What a roar followed from the
lion's head! All the air became filled with
the sickening odor, and it began to grow
dark with smoke. But Bellerophon and Pegasus
were safe, high above the earth.
They waited till the monster was quiet
again, then made another quick dash, and off
went the lion's head. There was no roaring
this time, and not so much fire and smoke,
although the angry writhing of the creature
was terrible to see. But the Chimaera could
not follow Pegasus into the pure upper air.
Once more horse and rider dashed down, and
the snake's head was severed from the
Chimaera's body. Then the terrible fires
burned themselves out, and that was the end
of the Chimaera.
The people of that country soon learned that
the Chimaera was dead, and came back to their
homes. Not long after, the hills, that had
been so gray and desolate, were covered with
vineyards and growing crops.
After this, Bellerophon, with the help of
Pegasus, performed other wonderful feats,
and became very famous. He married a king's
daughter, and received half of her father's
At last he felt as if, mounted on Pegasus,
he was as strong as the gods themselves, and
might ascend to Olympus. One day he was
foolish enough to make the attempt. Then
Jupiter caused Pegasus to throw him. Blinded
by the near sight of Olympus, and lamed by
the fall, he wandered about, for many years,
an unhappy, helpless old man.
The time came when the gods took Pegasus up
to Mount Olympus, and let us hope that
Bellerophon, too, reached Olympus at last.
The Legend and Myth of Bellerophon
The Myth of Bellerophon
The story of Bellerophon is featured in the book
entitled Favorite Greek Myths by Lilian
Stoughton Hyde, published in 1904 by D. C.
Heath and Company.