Pegasus spyware is in news again, this time for allegedly being used to hack the smartphones of a few journalists, politicians and activists in India. But did you know that Pegasus is a mythical, winged horse revered in Greek mythology?
Many might remember Pegasus as the winged companion of Hercules as depicted in Disney’s popular animated movie. But according to Greek lore, Pegasus had nothing to do with Hercules, but was the steed of another Greek hero, Bellerophon.
Pegasus, the offspring of Greek God of sea — Poseidon — and gorgon Medusa, was born from the latter’s blood when she was slain by Perseus. After the sea God had intercourse with the gorgon in the form of a horse or bird, Pegasus and his brother Chrysaor were born.
As the divine horse spent its days with the Muses, Bellerophon wanted to tame it so that he could kill Chimera, a monster with the head of a lion and the tail of a dragon. Though there are many versions of the story about how he tamed the horse, the most famous one says that he was given a golden bridle by Goddess Athena to do the task. Bellerophon waited in the bushes till Pegasus knelt down, and threw the bridle on its head. When the mythical animal understood that it was in the presence of someone powerful, it submitted itself to its new caretaker. The horse helped the Greek hero defeat the dreaded, fire-spouting Chimera, establishing Bellerophon’s credibility as a great warrior. He went to have several more great adventures with Pegasus, one of which was taking revenge on Stheneboea, who had falsely accused him of misbehaviour for rejecting her romantic advances. It is said that Bellerophon convinced her to mount Pegasus, who flew her over the sea and threw her into its depth.
Eventually, Bellerophon was not satisfied with his gains in the mortal realm and tried to be one among the Gods. That is why, one fine day, he tried to reach the top of Mount Olympus, the abode of the Gods. This move did not sit well with Zeus, the chief Greek deity. He sent a gadfly into their way, which distracted Pegasus, causing it to throw off the Greek hero from its back. Bellerophon was left crippled, but the winged horse found a pride of place in Zeus’ stable. It is also said that Pegasus became a constellation.
Pegasus, the son of sea God, is to have created springs with its hooves. Poets have often written paeans for the mythical horse as it created Hippocrene, the spring on Mount Helicon that brings forth poetic creativity.