In Greek mythology, Pegasus (Greek: Πήγασος, Pégasos, 'strong') was a winged horse that was the son of Poseidon, in his role as horse-god, and the Gorgon Medusa.
connects the name Pegasos
with the word for "spring, well", pēgē
; 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
. Pegasus was at a well drinking silently when the hero Bellerophon
came and captured him with a golden bridle that was given to him by Athena
There are two versions of the winged stallion's birth and his brother 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, thus 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 poets.
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 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. Also, he was kept as Zeus' servant and stayed with him, never seeing Pegasus again.
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.
Pegasus was immortal. Because of his faithful service Zeus honored 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
Modern Day Instances
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.
In psychoanalysis, Freud
interpreted the creature as an expression of the primal scene
World War II
During WWII, 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.
Corporate and Commercial Uses
Pegasus has been the symbol of the Mobil
brand of gas and oil, marketed by the Exxon Mobil
Corporation, since the 1930s and, more recently, FBR Capital Markets, an investment bank based in Arlington, Virginia. . As such, it has also been a symbol of Dallas, Texas
, gracing its skyline atop the Magnolia building
The Poetry Foundation also uses Pegasus as its logo; the Buell Motorcycle Company uses Pegasus as a visual branding element. The former Pegaso truck maker from Spain derived its name and logo from Pegasus, although the logo portrayed a merely fast, wingless horse silhouette. Reader's Digest also has a Pegasus logo.
- Pegasus is a character in the 1997 Disney animated film Hercules, in which he is the winged horse side kick and friend to Hercules the main character.
- In Clash of the Titans, Pegasus is captured by Perseus before Perseus visits and kills Medusa the Gorgon. This version, therefore changes the method of Pegasus' birth - although no further details are given, save a comment from Zeus that Pegasus is the sole surviving winged horse from a herd of the creatures, the rest killed by Thetis' son, Calibos.
- Pegasus is known for being the mascot of TriStar Pictures.
- The Taiwanese company Asus took its name from Pegasus, omitting the first three letters in order for the company to appear first in telephone listings.
- In both versions of Battlestar Galactica, Pegasus is a Battlestar that survived the fall of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, later meets up with Galactica, and is destroyed in a battle against the Cylons.
- Pegasus was chosen for the academic seal of the University of Central Florida, in 1963, by its first president, Dr. Charles Millican, who co-designed it.
- In Stargate Atlantis, Pegasus is the galaxy a race called the Ancients lived in millions of years ago.
- Pegasus is the name of a medevac helicopter based at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Pegasus transports critically injured patients within 120 nautical miles of Charlottesville, VA. The name was chosen because it was different from most other medevac programs, and there are stories of Pegasus carrying wounded soldiers from battle.
Pegasus is also featured on the coat of arms of Robinson College, Cambridge.
- In the movie, Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus, Pegasus is the winged horse who helps Princess Annika
- In the Companions Quartet, including Secret of the Sirens, Gorgons Gaze, Mines of the Minotaur and Chimeras Curse, Col Clamworthy was Companion to the Pegasi.
- In the video game God of War II, the protagonist Kratos is bidden by Gaia, the mother of the Titans and the franchise's narrator to find the Sisters of Fate in order to change his past. She gives Kratos the aid of Pegasus to traverse the distance to the Fates. Kratos and Pegasus, after a detour to a mountain that houses the Titan Typhon and former Titan Prometheus (who had been rendered mortal by Zeus), fly to the Island of Creation where the Sisters of Fate await.
- In Digimon Adventure 02, Patamon can digivolve into Pegasusmon using the Digi-Egg of Hope.
- The University of Strathclyde uses an online service called PEGASUS (Portal Engine Giving Access To Strathclyde University Systems)to provide its students with crucial information.
- In Sailor Moon SuperS, Pegasus plays an important role, as he is the spirit of Helios and the keeper of the Golden Crystal. He lives inside the Golden Mirror, which is kept inside of beautiful dreamers. In the manga, he lives inside of Mamoru Chiba's (Darien Shields) Golden Mirror of Beautiful Dreams. In the anime, Pegasus lives inside of Chibi-Usa's (Rini in the English dub) Golden Mirror of Beautiful Dreams.
- In multiple games in the Fire Emblem series, pegasi are mounted by knights and called pegasus knights, or pegasus lords in their upgraded form.
- In the anime/manga of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the creator of the Duel Monsters card game (and antagonist during the Duelist Kingdom Arc) was named Pegasus J. Crawford (Maximillion Pegasus in the dub and english manga). Also, there is a Duel Monster called Firewing Pegasus.
- Anne McCaffrey wrote a series of books, To Ride Pegasus,Pegasus in Flight, and Pegasus in Space.
- In the computer game Age of Mythology, Pegasus appears in game as a flying scout unit.
- In the classic anime/manga Saint Seiya, the Pegasus is the title character's destined constellation, and Seiya dons an ancient Greek armor in the form of the winged horse.