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.......Curiosity Corner .......

THE PEGASUS

The winged horse is one of the most popular heroes of classical mythology, representing today strength, speed and mobility, but anciently eloquence, poetry and artistic sensibilities. This duality is found also in the uncertainty of its early life, a mixture of incoherent legend.

Pegasus
three-headed Chimera
It was first associated with Bellerophon's mission to slay the chimera, a beast with three heads, as shown here on the left (and discussed in a previous article). Bellerophon tamed Pegasus and while airborne, mounted on its back, lanced (or, in another version, shot arrows at) and killed his prey.
Subsequently, while presumptiously trying to reach the heavens, Bellerophon was thrown when Zeus sent a gadfly to sting Pegasus.
Later, the character of Bellerophon was merged into that of Perseus, and Pegasus was said to have been born when Perseus slew Medusa. (Medusa had been so beautiful that Neptune took her to him but, as they enjoyed each other in the Temple of Minerva, that goddess punished Medusa by changing her hair into snakes and condemned her to turn to stone anyone who looked at her.)
When King Polydectes wished to eliminate Perseus he asked him to obtain Medusa's head, a task he accomplished by using his polished shield as a mirror and avoiding looking directly at her. When her blood spurted from her neck, Pegasus emerged (having been fathered on her by Poseidon, who was the sire also of Bellerophon ~ which we mention here because an earlier article claimed that Pegasus and Bellerophon, his rider, were half-brothers).
Having captured Pegasus, Perseus used him in the rescue of Andromeda. Cassiopeia, her mother, had claimed to be fairer than the Nereids, which so enraged Neptune that he ordered Cassiopeia to chain her daughter to a rock so that a local sea monster might slake his lust and hunger on her.
rescue of Andromeda
The 14th century depiction of the rescue (right) proves that all this is true ~ except for the wings of Pegasus which nowhere else are recorded as red, and the use by Perseus of a scythe which our experts claim is very difficult to wield while on horseback.
Perseus married Andromeda and they and Pegasus all lived happily everafter. Now, it's bedtime!
constellation of Pegasus
The constellation of Pegasus
from De Siderius Tractatus
of Gaius Julius Hyginus
Heraldry

In heraldry the Pegasus is not seen as often as its elegance and grace deserve. Birchenshaw anciently bore Argent a pegasus Gules. Two families, Cavalier and Cavaler, bore a canting pegasus, and Michael Drayton, the poet (1563-1631), bore Azure goutty Argent a pegasus of the second. This (right) appears on his monument at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. (The drops of water hint at the spring on Mount Helicon struck by a Pegasus hoof from the rock, the source of the river Hippocrene that, legend says, inspires poets.)

arms of Michael Drayton
Fairbairn's Crests (NOT an authority) gives seven families who feature a demi-pegasus in their crest ~ Chick, Chickley, Hogarth, Mair, Moodie, Pyne and Valentine.
martlet icon
The Martlet featured in Curiosity Corner ~ 1
gryphon icon
The Gryphon (of Griffin) featured in Curiosity Corner ~ 2
cockatrice icon
The Cockatrice (and Basilisk) featured in Curiosity Corner ~ 3
dragon icon
The Dragon featured in Curiosity Corner ~ 4
The Raven featured in Curiosity Corner ~ 5
The Chimera featured in Curiosity Corner ~ 6
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© 2001 The Baronage Press and Pegasus Associates Ltd
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