The son of Glaucus, king of Corinth; Bellerophon was the hero who tamed Pegasus with the aid of Athena. Falling in love with the wife of King Proetus of Argos, Bellerophon aroused the jealousy of Proetus, who later sent him to his father-in-law Iobates with a message requesting that the bearer be slain. The king as afraid to anger the god Zeus by carrying out a request that would break the traditional bond between host and guest. Instead of killing Bellerophon, he asked him to kill the Chimaera, a fire-breathing monster, which the hero did with the help of Pegasus. He also defeated the Solymi and the Amazons, two warrior tribes. Iobates was impressed by Bellerophon's superhuman courage and married him to his daughter. After a time of prosperity, Bellerophon defied the gods by trying to ride Pegasus up to Olympus, but, thrown to the earth by Pegasus, he wandered in misery until he died.


A descendant of the royal house of Corinth. He was a son of Poseidon but his human father was Glaucus, the son of Sisyphus (Table 35). His mother was a daughter of Nisus, king of Megara, sometimes called Eurymede and sometimes Eurynome. His exploits began with the accidental murder of a man, sometimes known as Deliades and said to have been his true brother, and sometimes Piren (whose name recalls that of the spring Pirene at Corinth), or Alcimenes, or Bellerus, which offers an etymology for his own name, as Bellerophon was understood to mean 'the killer of Bellerus', a tyrant of Corinth.

After this murder Bellerophon had to leave the city and went to Tiryns to the court of King Proetus, who cleansed him. Stheneboea (called by Homer Anteia), who was the wife of Proetus, asked Bellerophon to meet her secretly, and when he refused, she complained that the young man had tried to seduce her. Proetus at once sent Bellerophon to find his father-in-law Iobates, the king of Lycia and gave him a letter in which he demanded that the bearer be put to death. Proetus was unwilling to kill Bellerophon as he was his guest and an ancient custom forbade anyone to kill a man with whom he had eaten.

After reading the letter, Iobates ordered Bellerophon to kill the Chimaera, a monster which had the fore-quarters of a lion, the hind-quarters of a dragon and a goat's head which breathed out flames. This monster was laying waste the country and carrying off the flocks. Iobates thought that Bellerophon would never be able to kill it by himself but Bellerophon mounted Pegasus, the winged horse, which he had found one day while he was drinking at the fountain called Pirene in Corinth and, riding in the air, swooped straight down on the Chimaera, and slew it with a single blow.

Iobates then sent Bellerophon to fight against the Solymes, a neighbouring people who were especially warlike and ferocious but he was once more successful against them. Next Iobates sent him to fight the Amazons, and he killed many of them. Finally, Iobates mustered a band of the bravest of the Lydians and ordered them to lay an ambush to kill Bellerophon, but he instead killed all of them.

Iobates realized that Bellerophon was of divine descent and full of admiration for his exploits, he showed him the letter from Proetus and made him promise to stay at his court. Moreover, he gave him his daughter Philonoe (in some versions called Anticleia) and at his death bequeathed him his kingdom (for an account of the revenge of Bellerophon, see Stheneboea).

Bellerophon had two sons by Iobates' daughter, Isandrus and Hippolochus, and a daughter, Laodamia, who by Zeus was the mother of the hero Sarpedon. Later, Bellerophon, swollen with pride, tried to ride on his winged horse up to the domain of Zeus, but Zeus hurled him back to earth, where he was killed. He was held in honour as a hero in Corinth and Lycia. There is a reference in the Iliad to the bonds of hospitality which are supposed to have existed between Bellerophon and Oeneus, king of Calydon.


Table of Sources:
- Hom. Il. 6, 155ff. with schol. on 155 and 191
- Hesiod Fragments 43a, 82 M-W; Theog. 319ff.
- Pind. Ol. 13, 60ff. (87ff); Isth. 7, 44ff. (63ff.)
- Apollod. Bibl. 1, 9, 3; 3, 3, 1ff.
- Tzetzes on Lyc. Alex. 17; Chil. 7, 810ff.
- Euripides Stheneboea (lost tragedy, Nauck TGF, edn 2, pp. 567ff.)
- Sophocles Iobates (lost tragedy, Jebb-Pearson, 1 p. 214)
- Hyg. Fab. 56; 157; 243; 273
- Paus. 2, 2, 3ff.; 2, 4, 1ff.; 2, 27, 2; 3, 18, 13
- Strabo 8, 6, 21, p. 379
- Diod. Sic. 6, 7
- schol. on Stat. Theb. 4, 589
- Palaeph. Incred. 29; App. Narr. 82, p. 388 Westermann
- Horace, Odes 4, 11, 26ff.
- See also Chimaera.

Bel*ler"o*phon (?), n. Paleon.

A genus of fossil univalve shells, believed to belong to the Heteropoda, peculiar to the Paleozoic age.


© Webster 1913.

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