PEGASUS Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


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In Greek mythology, Pegasus  was a winged                                                 
horse that was the son of Poseidon, in his role as horse-god, and the Gorgon               
Medusa. There are two versions of the winged stallion's birth and his brother             
the giant, Chrysaor:                                                                       
One is that they sprang from Medusa's neck as Perseus beheaded her, a "higher"             
birth, like the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus.                                     
Another says that they were born of the Earth as Medusa's blood spilled onto it,           
in which case Poseidon would not be their sire. A variation on this story holds           
that they were formed from the mingling of Medusa's blood and the sea foam, this           
including Poseidon in their making.                                                       
Bellerophon caught and tamed Pegasus, and presented him to the Muses at Mount             
Parnassus. After he became the horse of the Muses, he was at the service of the           
Hesiod connects the name Pegasos with the word for "spring, well";                         
everywhere the winged horse struck his hoof to the earth, an inspiring spring             
burst forth: one on the Muses' Mount Helicon, the Hippocrene ("horse spring"),             
at the behest of Poseidon to prevent the mountain swelling too much and another           
at Troezen. The actual etymology of the name is most likely from Luwian pihassas           
"lightning", or pihassasas, a weather god (the god of lightning). In Hesiod,               
Pegasos is still associated with this original significance by carrying the               
thunderbolts for Zeus.                                                                     
Parthian era Bronze plate with Pegasus depiction ("Pegaz" in Persian). Excavated           
in Masjed Soleiman, Khuzestan, Iran.                                                       
Pegasus aided the hero Bellerophon (or in later versions Perseus) in his fight             
against both the Chimera and the Amazons. There are varying tales as to how               
Bellerophon found Pegasus; the most common says that the hero was told by                 
Polyeidos to sleep in the temple of Athena, where the goddess visited him in the           
night and presented him with a golden bridle. The next morning, still clutching           
the bridle, he found Pegasus drinking at the Pierian spring. When the steed saw           
the bridle, he approached Bellerophon and allowed him to ride. Bellerophon slew           
the Chimaera on Pegasus' back, and then tried to ride the winged horse to the             
top of Mount Olympus to see the gods. However, Zeus sent down a gadfly to sting           
Pegasus, causing Bellerophon to fall all the way back to Earth on the Plain               
of Aleion ("Wandering"), where he lived out his life in misery as a blinded               
cripple as punishment for trying to act as a god.                                         
Afterward, Pegasus found sanctuary on the sacred mountain, where he carried Zeus'         
thunderbolts and was ridden by Eos, the goddess of dawn.                                   
In his later life, Pegasus took a mate, Euippe (or Ocyrrhoe), and had two                 
children Celeris and Melanippe. This family is the origin of the winged horses.           
Celeris is associated with the constellation Equuleus.                                     
The Pegasus constellation                                                                 
Pegasus was not immortal. Because of his faithful service Zeus honoured him with           
a constellation. On the last day of his life, when Zeus transformed him into               
a constellation, a single feather fell to the earth near the city of Tarsus.               
In psychoanalysis, Freud interpreted the creature as an expression of the primal           
In modern terminology, the word "pegasus" (plural "pegasi") has come to refer to           
any winged horse, though the term "pterippus" (meaning winged horse, plural "pterippi")   
is also used. Pegasus is also the symbol of the Mobil brand of gas and oil,               
marketed by the Exxon Mobil Corporation. As such, it has also been a symbol of             
Dallas, Texas, gracing its skyline atop the Magnolia building, since the 1930s.           
During WW2, the silhouetted image of Bellerophon the warrior, mounted on the               
winged Pegasus, was adopted by the United Kingdom's newly-raised parachute                 
troops in 1941 as their upper sleeve insignia. The image clearly symbolized a             
warrior arriving at a battle by air, the same tactics used by paratroopers. The           
square upper-sleeve insignia comprised Bellerophon/Pegasus in light blue on a             
maroon background. The insignia was designed by famous English novelist Daphne             
Du Maurier, who was married to the commander of the British parachute forces (and         
later the expanded British Airborne Forces), General Frederick "Boy" Browning.             
The maroon background on the insignia was later used again by the Airborne                 
Forces when they adopted the famous maroon beret in Summer 1942. The beret was             
the origin of the German nickname for British airborne troops, The Red Devils.             
Today's Parachute Regiment carries on the maroon beret tradition.                         
During the airborne phase of the Normandy invasion on the night of 5-6 June 1944,         
British 6th Airborne Division captured all its key objectives in advance of the           
seaborne assault, including the capture and holding at all costs of a vital               
bridge over the Caen Canal, near Ouistreham. In memory of their tenacity, the             
bridge has been known ever since as Pegasus Bridge.