The Chimaera

The Chimaera has become one the most famous female monsters described in Greek history. An aura of mystery has always surrounded this creature. (The name “chimaera” means a genetic puzzle.) Greek sailors considered it a very bad omen to see Chimaera. She usually appeared right before a disaster. Like many mythological creatures, the ferocious Chimaera displayed the features of several different animals. Early Greeks thought she possessed the head of a fire-breathing lion, a goat’s head emerged from her back and her tail ended in the head of a snake.

It is said that she had the strength of a lion, the intelligence of a goat and the cunning of a snake. The Greeks disagreed sometimes about Chimaera’s family background. A well known Greek poet wrote about her in his famous piece of poetry, The Iliad. He claimed a man named “Amisodorus” had raised Chimaera. Amisodorus also brought up several sons who later became great warriors.

She was eventually killed by a man named Bellerophon.  He put a big chunk of lead onto the end of his spear and flew on the back of Pegasus (the winged horse) up into the sky. When Chimaera tried to burn him with her fiery breath, he threw the lead-ended spear at her throat and the lead melted, suffocating her to death.


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