The Chimera

By Emily Wakefield

external image chimera-2.jpg
a commonly used Etruscan sculpture of a chimera

Historically the chimera is a mythological beast in both Latin and Greek literature with the fore-body and the head of a lion, the middle of a goat, and the rear of a dragon, with a tail that ends in a snakes’ head. despite this masculine appearance the Chimera was strictly female. In addition to her deadly appearance her breath was also depicted in Homer’s The Iliad as “blasts of burning flame”

History of the Chimera:
The chimera terrorized the ancient cities of Caria and Lycia until she was finally slayed by the hero Bellerophon as seen in Homer’s great work the Iliad. Please look below for the story of his triumph over the monster.
Chimera is also referenced to as a strong, powerful force of creativity, one that can completely alter one’s personality. And it is even said that many great artists were being compelled by this “force” called the “walking” Chimera.
Claimed to be the daughter of the roman sea god Neptune, and the monster Medusa. The chimera was rumored to have emerged from the ocean when a drop of blood fell into the water out of the bag that Perseus was carrying Medusa’s dismembered head. (For more facts about this story click here or here)
The Greek means of depicting the story of the chimera was in the most artistic concepts. Including pottery, jewelry and mosaics rarely was it depicted by written word. These depictions date back to the 670s BC

Claim to Fame: Background
The Chimera’s major appearance is in a story depicted by Homer in his famous epic poem, which also includes the mythological hero Bellerophon.
The story includes Bellerophon, the son of King Glaucus, of Corinth, and the grandson of Sysiphus, the man who angered Zeus and cheated death.
As all good myths do Bellerophon’s started with an exile. Bellerophon had murdered his brother, an enemy of his, named Deliades or simply and enemy, these details are unclear but it leans more to a familial tie than a simple enemy. Due to his crime, Proetus the king in Tiryns, which was Bellerophon’s current location, however Proetus “Cleansed” Bellerophon of his crime and he spent time with the king. Meanwhile, as all heroes must have tragedy, the king’s wife took a liking to Bellerophon however when he rejected her due to his good virtue, she was scorned and accused him of attempted rape. Now extremely angry Proetus swore to himself to not satisfy this anger by killing him and instead sent him to his father in law, King Lobates. Lobates reigned over the Xanthus River valley in Lycia.
With Bellerophon, Proetus sent a scroll, addressed to Lobates, which went unread after feasting with Bellerophon for nine days. On this scroll the message was written to “pray remove the bearer from this world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter.” Once Lobates read Proetus’ message, he feared the “Wrath of the furies” if he murdered a guest, but he too was very angered. Thus Lobates sent Bellerophon on a seemingly impossible task, to hunt and kill the Chimera, which was living and terrorizing the neighboring city of Caria.
In order to slay the Chimera, an oracle told Bellerophon that he would need to aid of Pegasus (for more information of Pegasus’ story click here) who was provided to him by the goddess Athena, once in possession of Bellerophon, the duo flew off in search of the Chimera.

Claim to Fame: The Story
When Bellerophon arrived in Lycia and found the ferocious Chimera his attempts at harming it were unsuccessful, even with the aid of Pegasus. But once he felt the heat of the monster’s breath he had a very bright idea.
Thus he grabbed a large block of lead which seemed to be lying around and stuck it on the end of his spear. Then, flying on Pegasus, towards the chimera, head-on, he held out his spear as far as it would go and he managed to lodge the lead block into the beasts’ throat. The Chimera’s breath melted the lead blocking its airway causing suffocation.
With the Chimera dead Bellerophon returned to King Lobates, victorious. But he was not let off the hook, he still was sent on numerous quests that were seemingly impossible. (For more info on Bellerophon and his other quests click here)

Modern Facts and Pop Culture Referencing the Chimera:

- A chimera can be referenced to a type of disease that has morphed and changed while combining with other germ cells.
- Constantly seen in various anime and manga books
-TV shows like “Ben 10” and American Dragon: Jake Long- a literal mythological depiction of the creature
-CSI Las Vegas- the episode “Bloodlines” where the term chimera is uses as an allegory for the medical condition genetic chimerism where one person may have two distinct DNA patterns
-one is featured in the 2009 film Splice
-the game Dungeons & Dragons the chimera is an creature aligned with evil
-mentioned in passing in the Harry Potter books
-The chimera is featured in many video games in various depictions
- the book Chimera written in 1972 by John Barth
- myth can be found in Pseudo-Apollodorus’ Bibliotheca
-Homer’s Illiad
-Hyginus’ Fabulae 57 and 151
-in Mission: Impossible II the fictional disease the Chimera, which could only be cured byexternal image FiresChimera2.jpg the fictional drug the Bellerophon
-The Bellerophon is a computer program which geneticists use to detect invalid “chimera” genetic sequences.
-many real and fictional ships were named the Chimera
-Also modernly speaking a chimera can mean the cross breed of two separate, yet genetically compatible, species of animal like a mule which is the cross breed of a horse and Zebra or a “zorse” the crossbreed of a horse with their cousin the zebra, but the same does not go for animals of the same species, two dogs that are crossbred to reveal a certain breed of puppy is not the same as the mule crossing. The dogs both have the same basic genetic blueprint with different markings colorings and sizes, however a genetic depiction of the horse and the zebra shows that although they are from the same phylum, or family, they do not share the same genetic blueprint thus effectively creating a “Chimera.”
-the TVR Chimaera which is a model of sports car made by the company TVR
-the name Chimera is used in various musical albums and song titles
-Chimera a 1986 Italian film
-the eternal fires of Mount Chimera on the Lycian way in modern day Turkey >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
-UCSF Chimera is a software that is used to depict and visualize molecules
- many companies today use the name and term chimera to depict their diversity.


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Leskinen, Jyri. Fires Of Chimera. 2006. Photograph. Personal, Online Domain. Wikipedia- Chimera (Mythology). Wikipedia, 29 Mar. 2006. Web. 4 May 2011. <>.
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