King Iobates was a powerful Lycian King. He was a man who liked to please everyone. He did not want to anger the gods by killing the noble guest, Bellerophon, while at the same time he wanted to abide by the wishes of his son-in-law, who wanted to have him killed. King Iobates was a clever man for figuring out a way to satisfy both tasks. 'Bellerophon was a handsome, smart, talented warrior. He was a very respected man until he became cocky and self centered.
Bellerophon is the son of Poseidon. He had lived in Corinth, his birthplace, until he accidentally killed a man. Bellerophon then fled to Tiryns, where Proteus was king, to earn forgiveness for his sin. Proteus grew to dislike Bellerophon so he sent him to Iobates to have him killed, and that is how Bellerophon met Iobates. Iobates was the father of two daughters. One daughter, Antea was married to King Proteus. She was the reason that King Proteus wanted to kill Bellerophon. Eventually, Bellerophon won Iobates' respect and married his other daughter, Philanoe. He became the son-in-law of Iobates and, ironically, brother-in-law of Proteus who had disliked him and wanted him killed.
Chimaera was a fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion, body of a goat, and tail of a serpent. Iobates had been looking for a hero to get rid of this monster for years, as it caused much terror among the people of Lycia. At that time, a warrior named Bellerophon came into the town. Proteus had sent Bellerophon to Iobates, his father-in-law, with a note saying what a great fighter Bellerophon is. Within the note however, was a secret request from Proteus for King Iobates to kill Bellerophon. This was due to the fact that Proteus' wife, Antea, had fallen in love with Bellerophon. While king Iobates wanted to please Proteus, he did not want to anger the gods by killing a guest. Iobates, instead, decided to send Bellerophon on dangerous missions that he deemed impossible so he would not have to kill him himself.
The first dangerous mission for Bellerophon was to fight the monster Chimaera. He went to see Polyidus, a very wise man in Lycia for guidance, and he had told him to sleep in the temple of Athena. Upon awakening, Bellerophon noticed a golden bridle for the winged horse, Pegasus. He snuck up behind while Pegasus drank from a well. The winged horse came willingly when it saw the golden bridle. Bellerophon mounted her and rose into the air, easily being able to defeat Chimaera with arrows from above. Bellerophon also faced other deadly creatures and opponents with no problem. King Iobates realized it was obvious that this warrior did not deserve death. He was a favorite of the gods, so he gave Bellerophon his other daughter's hand in marriage and half of his estate.
Soon, all of his fame and pride went to Bellerophon's head. He began to think he was better than the gods. At one point, he mounted Pegasus and rose to the heavens in anger. There, he met Jupiter who stung Pegasus with a gadfly. Pegasus then tossed Bellerophon off and he fell to Earth. He was hurt in the fall, humbled, and distraught. Bellerophon then wandered around, avoiding all people for the rest of his life until he died slowly.
This myth teaches the lesson of hubris, or the idea that no mortal should think they are better than the gods. In this case, Bellerophon was a mighty warrior who began to think too highly of himself. Once he tried to be with the gods on Mount Olympus, he was sent crashing back to earth both literally and metaphorically. He was both physically injured and mentally humbled and he was ashamed to have offended the gods as his life crumbled thereafter.
Bellerophon is not a god, so he does not have any defined powers. However, he uses many of his abilities to their full potential. He proved to be resourceful by knowing who to find to help him win the battle and being able to use the things he was given wisely to defeat Chimaera. Bellerophon was stealthy and skillfull by sneaking up on Pegasus from behind and bridling her. He also proved to be very smart when he tamed and trained Pegasus to help him to become victorious in the dangerous missions.
- Bellerophon had a godly father, Poseidon, as well as an earthly father, Glaucus.
- Pegasus was created from the blood of Medusa's head
- The man killed by Bellerophon is often referred to as Bellerus, so the name Bellerophon simply means 'Bellerus Killer".
- The phrase "Bellerophontic Letter" arose from this myth. It refers to a situation in which a person unknowingly bears information that is hurtful to themselves.
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"Iobates." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Jan. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.
"PEGASUS AND THE CHIMAERA." - BELLEROPHON, HORSE, MINERVA, IOBATES, STEED, HEAVEN. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2013.