Pegasus

Pegasus

Overview
Pegasus is one of the best known fantastical as well as mythological creatures in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

. He is a winged divine horse, usually white in color. He was sired by Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, in his role as horse-god, and foaled by the Gorgon
Gorgon
In Greek mythology, the Gorgon was a terrifying female creature. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." While descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a...

 Medusa
Medusa
In Greek mythology Medusa , " guardian, protectress") was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone...

. He was the brother of Chrysaor
Chrysaor
In Greek mythology, Chrysaor , the brother of Pegasus, was often depicted as a young man, the son of Poseidon and Medusa. However, Chrysaor is sometimes said to be a giant or a winged boar. Chrysaor and his brother, the winged horse Pegasus, were not born until Perseus chopped off Medusa's head...

, born at a single birthing when his mother was decapitated by Perseus. Greco-Roman poets write about his ascent to heaven after his birth and his obeisance to Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, king of the gods, who instructed him to bring lightning and thunder from Olympus.
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Encyclopedia
Pegasus is one of the best known fantastical as well as mythological creatures in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

. He is a winged divine horse, usually white in color. He was sired by Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, in his role as horse-god, and foaled by the Gorgon
Gorgon
In Greek mythology, the Gorgon was a terrifying female creature. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." While descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a...

 Medusa
Medusa
In Greek mythology Medusa , " guardian, protectress") was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone...

. He was the brother of Chrysaor
Chrysaor
In Greek mythology, Chrysaor , the brother of Pegasus, was often depicted as a young man, the son of Poseidon and Medusa. However, Chrysaor is sometimes said to be a giant or a winged boar. Chrysaor and his brother, the winged horse Pegasus, were not born until Perseus chopped off Medusa's head...

, born at a single birthing when his mother was decapitated by Perseus. Greco-Roman poets write about his ascent to heaven after his birth and his obeisance to Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, king of the gods, who instructed him to bring lightning and thunder from Olympus. Friend of the Muses, Pegasus is the creator of Hippocrene
Hippocrene
In Greek mythology, Hippocrene was the name of a fountain on Mt. Helicon. It was sacred to the Muses and was formed by the hooves of Pegasus...

, the fountain on Mt. Helicon. He was captured by the Greek hero Bellerophon
Bellerophon
Bellerophon or Bellerophontes is a hero of Greek mythology. He was "the greatest hero and slayer of monsters, alongside of Cadmus and Perseus, before the days of Heracles", and his greatest feat was killing the Chimera, a monster that Homer depicted with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a...

 near the fountain Peirene with the help of Athena and Poseidon. Pegasus allows the hero to ride him to defeat a monster, the Chimera, before realizing many other exploits. His rider, however, falls off his back trying to reach Mount Olympus. Zeus transformed him into the constellation Pegasus
Pegasus (constellation)
Pegasus is a constellation in the northern sky, named after the winged horse Pegasus in Greek mythology. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and remains one of the 88 modern constellations.-Stars:...

 and placed him in the sky.

Hypotheses have been proposed regarding its relationship with the Muses, the gods Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, and the hero Perseus
Perseus
Perseus ,Perseos and Perseas are not used in English. the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty of Danaans there, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians...

.

The symbolism of Pegasus varies with time. Symbol of wisdom and especially of fame from the Middle Ages until the Renaissance, he became one symbol of the poetry and the creator of sources in which the poets come to draw inspiration, particularly in the 19th century. Pegasus is the subject of a very rich iconography, especially through the ancient Greek pottery and paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance. Personification of the water, solar myth, or shaman mount, Carl Jung and his followers have seen in Pegasus a profound symbolic esoteric in relation to the spiritual energy that allows to access to the realm of the gods on Mount Olympus.

In the 20th and 21st century, he appeared in movies, in fantasy, in video games and in role play, where by extension, the term Pegasus is often used to refer to any winged horse.

Etymology



The poet Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 connects the name Pegasus with the word for "spring, well", pēgē: "the pegai of Okeanos
Oceanus
Oceanus ; , Ōkeanós) was a pseudo-geographical feature in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the world-ocean, an enormous river encircling the world....

, where he was born;"

A proposed etymology of the name is Luwian
Luwian language
Luwian is an extinct language of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. Luwian is closely related to Hittite, and was among the languages spoken during the second and first millennia BC by population groups in central and western Anatolia and northern Syria...

 pihassas, meaning "lightning", and Pihassassi, a local Luwian-Hittite name in southern Cilicia of a weather god represented with thunder and lightning. The proponents of this etymology adduce Pegasus' role, reported as early as Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

, as bringer of thunderbolts to Zeus.
Fox (2009) criticizes this suggestion, saying that the connection of Pegasus with lightning bolts may be secondary, based on the "like-sounding name" of the Luwian god.

Pegasus and springs



According to legend, everywhere the winged horse struck his hoof to the earth, an inspiring spring burst forth. One of these springs was upon the Muse
Muse
The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths...

s' Mount Helicon, the Hippocrene
Hippocrene
In Greek mythology, Hippocrene was the name of a fountain on Mt. Helicon. It was sacred to the Muses and was formed by the hooves of Pegasus...

("horse spring"), opened, Antoninus Liberalis
Antoninus Liberalis
Antoninus Liberalis was an Ancient Greek grammarian who probably flourished between AD 100 and 300.His only surviving work is the Metamorphoses, , a collection of forty-one very briefly summarised tales about mythical metamorphoses effected by offended deities, unique in that they are...

 suggested, at the behest of Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 to prevent the mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

 swelling with rapture at the song of the Muses; another was at Troezen
Troezen
Troezen is a small town and a former municipality in the northeastern Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Troizinia, of which it is a municipal unit....

. Hesiod relates how Pegasus was peacefully drinking from a spring when the hero Bellerophon
Bellerophon
Bellerophon or Bellerophontes is a hero of Greek mythology. He was "the greatest hero and slayer of monsters, alongside of Cadmus and Perseus, before the days of Heracles", and his greatest feat was killing the Chimera, a monster that Homer depicted with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a...

 captured him. Hesiod also says Pegasus carried thunderbolt
Thunderbolt
A thunderbolt is a discharge of lightning accompanied by a loud thunderclap or its symbolic representation. In its original usage the word may also have been a description of meteors, or, as Plato suggested in Timaeus, of the consequences of a close approach between two planetary cosmic bodies,...

s for Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

.

Birth


There are several versions of the birth of the winged stallion and his brother Chrysaor
Chrysaor
In Greek mythology, Chrysaor , the brother of Pegasus, was often depicted as a young man, the son of Poseidon and Medusa. However, Chrysaor is sometimes said to be a giant or a winged boar. Chrysaor and his brother, the winged horse Pegasus, were not born until Perseus chopped off Medusa's head...

 in the far distant place at the edge of Earth, Hesiod's "springs of Oceanus, which encircles the inhabited earth, where Perseus
Perseus
Perseus ,Perseos and Perseas are not used in English. the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty of Danaans there, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians...

 found Medusa
Medusa
In Greek mythology Medusa , " guardian, protectress") was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone...

:

One is that they sprang from the blood issuing from Medusa's neck as Perseus
Perseus
Perseus ,Perseos and Perseas are not used in English. the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty of Danaans there, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians...

 was beheading her, similar to the manner in which Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

 was born from the head of Zeus. In another version, when Perseus beheaded Medusa, they were born of the Earth, fed by the Gorgon's blood. A variation of this story holds that they were formed from the mingling of Medusa's blood, Pain and sea foam, implying that Poseidon had involvement in their making. The last version bears resemblance to the birth of Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

.

Bellerophon


Pegasus aided the hero Bellerophon
Bellerophon
Bellerophon or Bellerophontes is a hero of Greek mythology. He was "the greatest hero and slayer of monsters, alongside of Cadmus and Perseus, before the days of Heracles", and his greatest feat was killing the Chimera, a monster that Homer depicted with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a...

 in his fight against both the Chimera
Chimera (mythology)
The Chimera or Chimaera was, according to Greek mythology, a monstrous fire-breathing female creature of Lycia in Asia Minor, composed of the parts of multiple animals: upon the body of a lioness with a tail that ended in a snake's head, the head of a goat arose on her back at the center of her...

 and the Amazons
Amazons
The Amazons are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia...

. There are varying tales as to how Bellerophon found Pegasus; the most common says that the hero was told by Polyeidos
Polyeidos
In Greek mythology, Polyeidos or Polyidus , son of Coeranus, was a famous seer from Corinth.-Genealogy:Polyeidos was a descendant of another renowned seer, Melampus. Given that Melampus had two sons, Abas and Mantius, different sources made Coeranus, father of Polyeidos, son or grandson of either...

 to sleep in the temple of Athena
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

, where the goddess visited him in the night and presented him with a golden bridle. The next morning, still clutching the bridle, he found Pegasus drinking at the Pierian spring

Perseus



Michaud's Biographie universelle relates that when Pegasus was born, he flew to where thunder and lightning is released. Then, according to certain versions of the myth, Athena tamed him and gave him to Perseus, who flew to Ethiopia to help Andromeda.

In fact Pegasus is a late addition to the story of Perseus, who flew on his own with the sandals loaned him by Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

.

Olympus


Pegasus and Athena left Bellerophon and continued to Olympus where he was stabled with Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

' other steeds, and was given the task of carrying Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

' thunderbolts. Because of his faithful service to Zeus, he was honored with transformation into a constellation
Pegasus (constellation)
Pegasus is a constellation in the northern sky, named after the winged horse Pegasus in Greek mythology. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and remains one of the 88 modern constellations.-Stars:...

. On the day of his catasterism, when Zeus transformed him into a constellation, a single feather fell to the earth near the city of Tarsus
Tarsus (city)
Tarsus is a historic city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea. It is part of the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Turkey with a population of 2.75 million...

.

World War II



During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the silhouetted image of Bellerophon the warrior, mounted on the winged Pegasus, was adopted by the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's newly-raised parachute troops in 1941 as their upper sleeve insignia. The image clearly symbolized a warrior arriving at a battle by air, the same tactics used by paratrooper
Paratrooper
Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land...

s. The square upper-sleeve insignia comprised Bellerophon/Pegasus in light blue on a maroon background. The insignia was designed by famous English novelist Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier
Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning DBE was a British author and playwright.Many of her works have been adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca and Jamaica Inn and the short stories "The Birds" and "Don't Look Now". The first three were directed by Alfred Hitchcock.Her elder sister was...

, who was married to the commander of the 1st Airborne Division (and later the expanded British Airborne Forces), General Frederick "Boy" Browning
Frederick Browning
Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Arthur Montague Browning GCVO, KBE, CB, DSO was a British Army officer who has been called the "father of the British airborne forces". He is best known as the commander of the I Airborne Corps and deputy commander of First Allied Airborne Army during Operation...

. The maroon background on the insignia was later used again by the Airborne Forces when they adopted the famous maroon beret in Summer 1942. The beret was the origin of the German nickname for British airborne troops, The Red Devils
Red Devils (Parachute Regiment)
The Red Devils are the Parachute Regiment's parachute display team. The team wears the distinctive maroon beret. The Red Devils are regular serving paratroopers from the three battalions of the Parachute Regiment who have volunteered to serve on the display team.The team was formed on 1 January...

. Today's Parachute Regiment carries on the maroon beret tradition.

During the airborne phase
Operation Deadstick
Operation Deadstick was the codename for an airborne forces operation by the British Army that took place on 6 June 1944 as part of the Normandy landings. The mission's objective was to capture intact two road bridges in Normandy across the River Orne and the Caen Canal providing the only exit...

 of the Normandy invasion on the night of 5–6 June 1944, British 6th Airborne Division captured all its key objectives in advance of the seaborne assault, including the capture and holding at all costs of a vital bridge over the Caen Canal
Canal de Caen à la Mer
Canal de Caen à la Mer also called the "Caen Canal") is a short canal in the department of Calvados, France, connecting the Port of Caen, in the city of Caen, downstream to the town of Ouistreham and the English Channel....

, near Ouistreham
Ouistreham
Ouistreham is a commune in the Calvados department' in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.Ouistreham is a small port with fishing boats, leisure craft and a ferry-harbour. It serves as the port of the city of Caen. The town is about the mouth of the Canal de Caen à la...

. In memory of their tenacity, the bridge has been known ever since as Pegasus Bridge
Pegasus Bridge
Pegasus Bridge is a bascule bridge , built in 1934, that crossed the Caen Canal, between Caen and Ouistreham, in Normandy, France....

.

Popular culture



The winged horse that has provided an instantly recognizable corporate logo or emblem of inspiration.

See also

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  • Chollima
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  • Luno The White Stallion
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