There are many conflicting details regarding Medusa and her origins. But most versions of the story agree that she was impregnated by Poseidon while serving as a priestess in Athena’s temple. A deeply offended Athena chased Medusa out of the temple, and banished her to a remote island named Sarpedon.
There are no myths surrounding how Medusa spent time with her children. And that is because she was still pregnant with the children of Poseidon when she was slain by Perseus. When Medusa was beheaded, they sprang forth from her dead body and stepped out into the real world. The two children of Medusa were the giant Chrysaor and Pegasus, the winged horse.
Chrysaor is the least significant of the two. His name translates roughly into “bearer of the golden sword”, and some sources say he was a brave warrior. Chrysaor was a king of Iberia and married the Oceanid Callirrhoe, daughter of Oceanus.
Chrysaor is only mentioned in a major myth as the father of the three headed giant Geryon. Hercules’ 10th labor was to retrieve the cattle of Geryon, and he achieved this by killing the giant with a poisoned arrow. Hesiod’s theogony mentions that Geryon was the son of Chrysaor. This makes sense as Geryon’s kingdom of Erytheia was located in Southern Iberia.
The better-known child of Medusa is Pegasus. In his early day, Pegasus was known simply as an untamable winged horse. Some myths state that a spring of water would appear wherever his hooves made contact with the ground.
Pegasus becomes a significant mythological character when he is captured by the hero Bellerophon. Bellerophon was sent on a mission to kill the Chimera, a fire breathing creature with three heads. One head was that of a lion, the second was a head of a goat protruding from its back, and the third was a serpent head at the end of its tail.
On the instructions of the seer Polyeidus, Bellerophon slept in a temple of Athena, and while he was asleep, Athena brought him a magical golden bridle. When he woke up, Pegasus was drinking water from a nearby well. Using Athena’s bridle, Bellerophon was able to tame Pegasus, on whose back he rode to fight the Chimera.
Riding on Pegasus, Bellerophon was able to fly above the Chimera and attack it without being burned. Bellerophon eventually defeated the Chimera by forcing a block of lead down its throat, which melted and suffocated the Chimera to death. Bellerophon also defeated two groups of fearsome warriors, the Solymians and the Amazons, by dropping boulders on them from Pegasus’ back.
These achievements made Bellerophon more arrogant, leading him to believe that he was superior to the mortals. He tried to fly on Pegasus’ back to Olympus and join the gods up there. Angered by Bellerophon’s pride, Zeus sent a gadfly to sting Pegasus, causing the horse to throw Bellerophon off his back.
However, Pegasus alone was still allowed to fly all the way up to Olympus, where he was housed in the stables of Zeus. Later on, Pegasus was given the task of carrying Zeus’ thunderbolts along with his attendants Astrape and Bronte. Pegasus served Zeus loyally for many years, earning the favor of the sky god. Upon his death, Pegasus was transformed into the Pegasus constellation as a reward for his service.
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