“I thought it was just a legend,” Orpheus said.
Hermes batted the chimera on its rump, causing the lion head to whip around and roar so loudly that the walls around them shook. It lunged toward Orpheus and took a swipe at him with its paw, missing him by an inch or two. Then it bucked and turned, allowing the serpent tail to dance and strike as Orpheus sidestepped to avoid it. But it never hit him; he was only being teased.
- From Age of the Ashers
Welcome back, myth lovers! Today I’m going to share yet another mythological figure who plays an important role in The Petros Chronicles. In fact, today’s featured character is the “guard dog,” (guard beast is more like it!) of the Underworld’s palace.
The chimera was a three-headed female hybrid. She had the body and fire-snorting head of a lion, the tail of a serpent, and a bleating goat’s head rising out of the center of her back. Today the word “chimera” is used to describe unpleasant, sometimes terrible, creatures of the imagination, such as paralyzing fear, torturous paranoia, and dangerous obsession. It’s also defined as a desire or wish that is unrealistic and impossible to achieve – again, a product of one’s imagination.
According to Greek mythology, the hero Bellerophon slew the chimera because it was terrorizing and murdering the people of Lycia, a city famed for being an ally to the ill-fated town of Troy. The way Bellerophon defeated the animal is quite an interesting tale…
First he tried fighting the monster the old-fashioned way, with arrows and a spear, but his efforts were futile; the weapons were no match for the chimera’s ceaseless fire. Bellerophon managed to break away from the duel long enough to find a large block of lead and attach it to the end of his spear. Riding on the back of Pegasus, he flew over the beast and dropped the spear down her throat, blocking her air passage, causing her to suffocate to death.
As I mentioned above, in my series, the chimera is alive and well in Hades, scaring off trespassers, threatening to eat poor Orpheus, and enjoying belly rubs and lullabies from Hermes and Apollo.
Fun Fact: “Chimera” comes from the Greek word khímaira, which means female goat.
The chimera stood watch beside him, its leonine head scanning the horizon for brazen souls trying to flee for the Styx or get their hands on Hermes’ brothers. It was funny, Hermes mused, that this horrific, fire-breathing creature, the stuff of children’s nightmares and the most monstrous of myths, was his only companion in the world.
To learn more about the chimera, and many more mythological heroes and monsters, check out Age of the Ashers, available now in e-book, print, and audio formats on Amazon!