A to Z Challenge — C is for Chimaera

The Khimaira (Chimera or chimaera) was a three-headed monster. If ya Google it without the mythology tag, most options will be links to ghost fish or sharks. This is no fish story.

Like so many monsters of Greek mythology, The Chimaera was the offspring of couple of monstrous sweethearts named Typhon and Echidna, a pair I envision as sort of an Adam and Eve couple of the Greek Mythological Monster class.

This bizarre, fire-breathing cat had the body and head of a lion (good so far). But peeking over its shoulder was a goat’s head rising out of its back. The beast had udders like a goat (no idea why). Away from the business end, the ubiquitous mythological snake rounded out the creature’s tail, with serpent’s head at the very end.

Since nothing good could possibly spring from the union of Typhon and Echidna, this beast ravaged the countryside of Lykia (Lycia) in Anatolia, which is on the southeastern end of Turkey. Contemporary Turkish history does not jibe well with older Greek myth, but at the time it all fit nicely, if fearsome.

As the story goes, this Chimaera cat was just kickin’ ass all over that part of the world until a hero named Bellerophon came on the scene. He was either asked or commanded, depending on who is doing the telling, by King Iobates to kill the beast.

Bellerophon rode into battle on the back of the winged horse, Pegasus, of course. He sought and found Chimaera and drove a lead-tipped lance into its flaming throat. So, the big cat-goat’s fiery breath melted the lead tip, promptly choking the beast on hot molten metal. Lead poisoning for sure. So, the beast died from sucking on a lead popsicle, Greek Mythology style.

 

Turkey has never been known for its geological stability. So, later classical writers believed the Chimaera creature was a metaphor for a Lycian volcano, of which there almost certainly were several.

The Chimaera can look both ways at the same time
and the snake can keep its eyes looking backward.
So, mind the gaps.

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