Pegasus (Greek: Πήγασος, Pḗgasos; Latin: Pegasus, Pegasos) is
a mythical winged divine stallion, and one of the most recognised
creatures in Greek mythology. Usually depicted as pure white, Pegasus
is a child of the Olympian god Poseidon, in his role as horse-god. He
was foaled by the
Gorgon Medusa upon her death, when the hero
Perseus decapitated her.
Pegasus is the brother of
Chrysaor and the
uncle of Geryon.
Greco-Roman poets wrote about the ascent of
Pegasus to heaven after
his birth, and his subsequent obeisance to Zeus, king of the gods, who
instructed him to bring lightning and thunder from Olympus. Friend of
Pegasus is the creator of Hippocrene, the fountain on Mt.
Pegasus was caught by the Greek hero Bellerophon, near the fountain
Peirene, with the help of
Athena and Poseidon.
Bellerophon to ride him in order to defeat the monstrous Chimera,
which led to many other exploits.
Bellerophon later fell from the
winged horse's back while trying to reach Mount Olympus. Afterwards,
Pegasus into the eponymous constellation.
The symbolism of
Pegasus varies with time. Symbolic of wisdom and
especially of fame from the Middle Ages until the Renaissance, Pegasus
became associated with poetry around the 19th century, as the
fountainhead of sources from which the poets gained their inspiration.
Pegasus is the subject of a very rich iconography, especially through
the ancient Greek pottery, and paintings and sculptures of the
Renaissance. Hypotheses have been proposed regarding the relationship
Pegasus and the Muses, the gods Athena, Poseidon, Zeus,
Apollo, and the hero Perseus.
Pegasus and springs
7.1 World War II
7.2 In popular culture
8 See also
10 External links
Pegasus, as the horse of Muses, on the roof of Poznań Opera House
(Max Littmann, 1910)
Hesiod presents a folk etymology of the name
derived from πηγή pēgē "spring, well": "the pegai of Okeanos,
where he was born."
A proposed etymology of the name is Luwian 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, as the bringer of thunderbolts to Zeus. It was first
suggested in 1952 and remains widely accepted, but Robin Lane Fox
(2009) has criticized it as implausible.
Pegasus and springs
Bronze figurine (Greece, 6th century BC)
According to legend, everywhere the winged horse struck his hoof to
the earth, an inspiring water spring burst forth. One of these springs
was upon the Muses' Mount Helicon, the
Hippocrene ("horse spring"),
Antoninus Liberalis suggested, at the behest of
prevent the mountain swelling with rapture at the song of the Muses;
another was at Troezen.
Hesiod relates how
Pegasus was peacefully
drinking from a spring when the hero
Bellerophon captured him. Hesiod
Pegasus carried thunderbolts for Zeus.
There are several versions of the birth of the winged stallion and his
Chrysaor in the far distant place at the edge of Earth,
Hesiod's "springs of Oceanus, which encircles the inhabited earth,
Perseus found Medusa:
One is that they sprang from the blood issuing from Medusa's neck as
Perseus was beheading her, similar to the manner in which Athena
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
Hesiod's account of the birth of
Aphrodite from the foam created when
Uranus's severed genitals were cast into the sea by Cronus.
Pedigree of Pegasus
Gaïa or Nyx
Gaïa or Nyx
Gaïa or Nyx
Gaïa or Nyx
Ether or Uranus
Ether or Uranus
Pegasus aided the hero
Bellerophon in his fight against both the
Chimera. There are varying tales as to how
Bellerophon found Pegasus;
the most common says that the hero was told by
Polyeidos to sleep
in the temple of Athena, 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
and caught Pegasus, and eventually tamed him.
Parthian era bronze plate depicting
Pegasus (Pegaz in Persian),
excavated in Masjed Soleyman, Khūzestān, Iran.
Michaud's Biographie universelle relates that when
Pegasus was born,
he flew to where thunder and lightning are released. Then, according
to certain versions of the myth,
Athena tamed him and gave him to
Perseus, who flew to
Ethiopia to help Andromeda.
Pegasus is a late addition to the story of Perseus, who flew
on his own with the sandals loaned him by Hermes.
Bellerophon and continued to Olympus where he
was stabled with Zeus' other steeds, and was given the task of
carrying Zeus' thunderbolts, along with other members of his
entourage, his attendants/handmaidens/shield bearers/shieldmaidens,
Astrape and Bronte. Because of his years of faithful service to Zeus,
Pegasus was later honoured with transformation into a
constellation. 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.
World War II
The emblem of the World War II, British Airborne Forces, Bellerophon
riding the flying horse Pegasus.
During World War II, the silhouetted image of
Bellerophon the warrior,
mounted on the winged Pegasus, was adopted by the United Kingdom'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 paratroopers. The square upper-sleeve
insignia comprised Bellerophon/
Pegasus in light blue on a maroon
background. One source suggests that the insignia was designed by
famous English novelist Daphne du Maurier, who was wife of the
commander of the 1st Airborne Division (and later the expanded British
Airborne Forces), General Frederick "Boy" Browning. According to The
British Army Website, the insignia was designed by the celebrated East
Anglian painter Major
Edward Seago in May 1942. 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. Today's Parachute Regiment carries on the maroon beret
tradition. The selection process for the elite Parachute Regiment is
Pegasus Company (often abbreviated to 'P Company'). In 2015 it
was announced that the units of
16 Air Assault Brigade
16 Air Assault Brigade would once
again use the
Pegasus insignia after a 15-year hiatus.
During the airborne phase 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, near
Ouistreham. In memory of their tenacity, the bridge has been known
ever since as
National Liberation Committee
National Liberation Committee during the German occupation
of Italy also had a
Pegasus as its emblem. The winged horse is still
featured on the Tuscan flag and coat of arms.
In popular culture
Pegasus in popular culture
The winged horse has provided an instantly recognizable corporate logo
or emblem of inspiration.
Ecuador launched its weather satellite,
named Pegaso (pronounced [peˈɣaso],
Pegasus in Spanish), on
April 26, 2013 but it was damaged by Russian space debris. Pegasus
Pegasus Hava Taşımacılığı A.Ş.) is a
low-cost airline headquartered in the Kurtköy area of Pendik,
Mobil Oil has had a
Pegasus as its company logo
since its affiliation with
Magnolia Petroleum Company
Magnolia Petroleum Company in the 1930s.
Hybrid creatures in mythology
List of hybrid creatures in mythology
Luno The White Stallion
Pegasus and Dragon (statue)
White horse (mythology)
Simurgh, Iranian mythical flying creature
Yali, Hindu mythological lion-elephant-horse hybrid
^ Medusa, in her archaic centaur-like form. She appears in the incised
relief on a mid-7th century BCE vase from
Boeotia at the Louvre
(CA795), illustrated in John Boardman, Jasper
Griffin and Oswyn
Murray, Greece and the Hellenistic World (Oxford University Press)
1988, fig p 87.
^ Noted by Karl Kerényi, The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959:80: "In the
name Pegasos itself the connection with a spring, pege, is expressed."
^ The connection of
Pegasus with Pihassas was suggested by H.T.
Bossert, "Die phönikisch-hethitischen Bilinguen vom Karatepe",
Jahrbuch für kleinasiatische Forschung, 2 1952/53:333, P. Frei, "Die
Bellerophontessaga und das Alte Testament", in B. Janowski, K. Koch
and G. Wilhelm, eds., Religionsgeschichtliche Beziehungen zwischen
Kleinasien, Nordsyrien und der Alte Testament, 1993:48f, and Hutter,
"Der luwische Wettergott pihašsašsi under der griechischen Pegasos",
in Chr. Zinko, ed. Studia Onomastica et Indogermanica... 1995:79–98.
Commentary was provided by R. S. P. Beekes in his Etymological
Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 1183.
^ "a storm god is not the origin of a horse. However, he had a
like-sounding name, and Greek visitors to
Cilicia may have connected
Pegasus with Zeus's lightning after hearing about this
'Pihassassi' and his functions and assuming, wrongly, he was their own
Pegasus in a foreign land." Robin Lane Fox, Travelling Heroes in the
Epic Age of Homer, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009,
ISBN 9780307271518, pp. 207ff.
^ Pausanias, 9. 31. 3.
^ Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 9
^ Pausanias, 2. 31. 9.
Theogony 281; Pseudo-Apollodorus,
Bibliotheke 2. 42, et al.
Harris, Stephen L. and Gloria Platzner. Classical Mythology: Images
and Insights. 2nd ed. (New York: Mayfield Publishing), 1998. 234.
^ For example in Pindar, Olympian Ode 13.
^ Michaud, Joseph F. & Michaud, Louis G. (1833). Michaud Frères,
ed. Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne, ou Histoire, par
ordre alphabétique, de la vie publique et privée de tous les hommes
qui se sont fait remarquer par leurs écrits, leurs actions, leurs
talents, leurs vertus ou leurs crimes (in French). 5. Retrieved 23
^ Aratus, Phaenomena 206; Scott Littleton, Mythology. The Illustrated
Anthology of World Myth and Storytelling London: Duncan Baird,
2002:147. ISBN 1-903296-37-4
^ Grimal, Pierre (4 September 1996). Trans. by A. R. Maxwell-Hyslop,
ed. The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Oxford: Blackwell
Publishing. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1.
^ Farmer, Ben (2015-10-22). "Paras win 15-year battle to reinstate
Pegasus emblem". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
Pegasus satellite fears over space debris crash - BBC
News". BBC News.
Media related to
Pegasus at Wikimedia Commons
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Pegasus". Encyclopædia Britannica
(11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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