Lion, goat, and serpent, the Chimera continues the mythological tradition of frightening hybrids. She comes from a famous family as well, counting the three-headed hellhound Cerberus and the nasty five-headed Hydra among her brothers.
The Greek writer Homer gives the terrifying Chimera theabilities of all animals that made up the hybrid. It has theagility of a mountain goat, the power of a lion, and the cunning ofa serpent. Taken together, this beast is the stuff myths are madeof. However, the creature was far more popular in ancient artworkthan in literature, with its likeness emblazoned on countlessstatues, pottery, and plates. Myths told of a nearly indestructiblecreature, at least until the hero Bellerophon appeared.
Bellerophon arrived before King Iobates with a strange letter inhand. Unknown to the hero, the letter begged the reader to putBellerophon to death! King Iobates, not wanting to appearinhospitable, instead sent the hero on an impossible quest: todefeat the Chimera ravaging the countryside. Bellerophon rode theflying horse Pegasus toward his foe, unaware of its power. He wasshocked, then, to discover a beast combining the abilities of agoat, lion, and serpent. He was even more shocked when the beasttook to the air on strong wings and shot flame across the sky. Withonly his spear in hand, Bellerophon flew Pegasus as close as hedared and flung the spear, embedding it in the creature's neck. Itsnext blast of flame melted the spearhead, ending the Chimera'sreign of terror.