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“Bellerophon and the Flying Horse”


·        This story is a Greek Myth.  A myth often describes the actions of superhuman heroes or heroine.

o       The hero in a myth is often tested several times before he is proven worthy.  Most heroes, like Bellerophon, face challenges that mean life or death.  Pg. 201 para 1

o       Heroes in myths often receive warnings about future events.  This device builds suspense.  Pg. 201 para 5

o       In Greek myths gods and goddesses often interfere in human life, as Athena does in pg 202 para 1.  Many stories in Greek mythology revolve around gods and goddesses who represent various traits, both good and bad.

§        In Greek Mythology, Athena is the benefactor goddess of Athens.  She was said to have sprung fully armed from the forehead of the chief god, Zeus.  Athena was a major warrior figure and was allowed to use Zeus’s breastplate and thunderbolt.

o       Fantastic Creatures:  the Greeks believed that the earth was flat and that Greece was located at its center.  They imagines that the sea that lay to the west was filled with giants, monsters, and magical beings.  Greek myths often include fantastic creatures, such as Pegasus.  For example, a Centaur is a savage creature who is half man and half horse and dwells in the mountains; a Cyclops is a one-eyed giant; and the Minotaur has the body of a man and the head of a bull.  Like the gods and goddesses, these creatures demonstrate both good and evil traits. 

o       The heroes in the myths use reason as well as strength to achieve their goals.

§        Bellerophon first uses reason when he decided to take the bridle with him even though he has no horse.  Although Bellerophon knows that only gods ride the winged horse, he jumps on Pegasus’s back and hangs on as Pegasus flies into the air and swoops down, attempting to throw Bellerophon off.  Bellerophon next uses reason to get the bridle on Pegasus’s head.  He does this by slipping the bridle on when Pegasus returns to earth to drink from a spring.

o       Courage and Compassion:  There are two traits that a hero possess.

§        Bellerophon shows compassion by forgetting about hs own safety when Pegasus is injured.  He shows courage by facing a creature with three heads, especially since he has been warned about the creature. 

§        Bellerophon is terrified when he first sees the Chimera and almost wishes he could turn back.  However, his memory of Athena helps him gather courage.  He slays the monster even though it becomes enraged at his attack.

·        The story’s purpose is to entertain.  It is also a story about the struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.