There were many creatures and monsters in Greek mythology. Some were evil and ugly, and some were beautiful and mischievous. There is one monster in particular in Greek mythology that had a lion for a head and breathed fire. This was known as the Chimera.
What is the Chimera?
The Chimera was a female hybrid monster consisting of a lion’s head and usually the body of a goat. Sometimes there would be a snake that would act as the monster’s tail. The Chimera would breathe fire from the mouth of the lion’s head, and it was considered an immortal creature.
The Chimera also had well-known monstrous siblings. Her siblings are Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guarded the underworld with Hades, and the Lernean Hydra. Both of these creatures Hercules had to kill during his 12 labors.
The Chimera was born from Typhon and Echidna. Typhon was the deadliest serpent in Greek mythology, and Echidna was a half-snake, half-woman monster. Together, they would create Chimera, a lion-headed monster who could breathe fire.
The Chimera lived in Lycia, a mountainous region known today as Turkey.
Bellerophon and the Chimera
Bellerophon was a hero in Greek mythology known for his ability to kill the lion-headed monster known as Chimera. One day, the king ordered him to kill the Chimera that was feeding on and terrorizing the locals in the city.
Bellerophon did what he was asked and sought the advice of a seer in Lycia on how to defeat the Chimera. The seer advised Bellerophon to find Pegasus, a white-winged horse, and child of Medusa, to help him on his quest.
Bellerophon prayed within the Temple of Athena for guidance to find and tame the Pegasus. Athena finally appeared in Bellerophon’s prayers and gave him a golden bridle that he could use to tame Pegasus. Athena told him that Pegasus should be located at the Well of Pirene in Corinth.
Bellerophon did what he was told, and Athena was correct; he was able to find the Pegasus and tame him with the golden bridle. Bellerophon then mounted the Pegasus and flew on him to Lycia.
Once he entered Lycia, Bellerophon found the Chimera. He attempted to get close to her but was unable to do so because of the heat of the fire that the Chimera breathed out. Every time he threw a spear, the Chimera would disintegrate it with her fire. Bellerophon knew that in order to slay the Chimera, he would have to outsmart her and use her fire against her, but he was unsure how.
Bellerophon went on a mission to find something he could use to attach to his spears that could be used against the Chimera and her fire. Bellerophon soon found a block of lead that he thought he could attach to his spear. The lead would, and spear would fly through the air and leave a trail of melted lead in its path.
Bellerophon quickly grabbed the block of lead and attached it to his spear. Once he was in position on his Pegasus, Bellerophon pulled his spear back and sent the spear flying through the fire from the Chimera’s mouth.
The spear and lead did exactly what Bellerophon expected. The fire immediately melted the lead in the air, and the melted lead poured down into the Chimera’s throat. The Chimera was suffocated by the melted lead and immediately died. Bellerophon would come to be known as the Greek hero who slew the evil fire-breathing lion-headed monster.