Chapter 31 of The Book of Stories for the Storyteller. This is a librivox recording. All Librivox recordings are in the public domain. For more information, or to volunteer, please visit librivox.org.
The Book of Stories for the Storyteller, by Fanny Coe. The story of Pegasus [ adapted * ] by Fanny E. Coe
Long ago in Greece there lived a young man named Bellerophon. Bellerophon was brave; he was handsome; he was kind-hearted. Nearly everyone loved Bellerophon; but there was one man who did not like him. This was the King of the country in which Bellerophon lived. The King was jealous. He saw how everyone, rich and poor, high and low, loved Bellerophon. He feared that they might want to have Bellerophon for their King. So he thought, "I must send this young man away." He wrote letters to his wife's father, the King of Lycia. These letters he sent by Bellerophon. The King of Lycia welcomed Bellerophon to his court. For nine days there was feasting, and Bellerophon won everyone's heart by his wit and grace. On the tenth day he gave his letters to the King. The King opened them and read. Then his face changed. He went into the next room and bowed his head upon his hands. He was greatly troubled. His son-in-law had asked that Bellerophon should be killed. "But he has just eaten my bread," said the King of Lycia. "He is my guest. I cannot kill him." He thought for some time and then spoke again: "I will not kill him myself. I will send him to fight the Chimæra." Now the Chimæra was a terrible monster that roamed the fields of Lycia. It had the body of a lion and it had three heads. These heads were those of a lion, a goat, and a dragon. With its fiery breath the Chimæra burned up everything that came near it. Bellerophon was troubled when he heard the orders of the King of Lycia. He went to ask the advice of the wisest man of that country. The wise man said: "Bellerophon, if you can ride Pegasus, you will kill the Chimæra easily." "What is Pegasus?" said Bellerophon."Pegasus is a winged horse. His home is on Mount Olympus. But no one has tamed him except Athene, the goddess of wisdom. I should ask her help." Bellerophon prayed in the temple of Athene and then fell asleep. He dreamed that Athene herself stood by him. He saw her grey eyes, her golden hair, and her glistening armour. He thought she put a golden bridle into his hand. When he awoke, he found it was no dream, for he held a golden bridle. He hastened at once to a certain spring where Pegasus often came to drink. There stood the spirited steed. Bellerophon drew near. Pegasus spread his strong wings and was just about to fly when Bellerophon held out the bridle. Then the noble horse bent his head and walked up to the young man. He knew that the golden bridle came from his mistress. Bellerophon slipped the bridle upon Pegasus and they soared high into the air. Pegasus was as swift as an eagle. The next day Bellerophon fought with the ugly Chimæra. With the help of Pegasus he easily slew the monster. Then the King of Lycia gave him other hard tasks. But he did them all easily, with the help of his winged horse. At last the King gave Bellerophon his daughter as a wife. And now, just when he was happiest, trouble came to Bellerophon. He grew proud and vain. He thought that with his winged horse, he could do anything. One day he said, "I should like to visit the gods on Mount Olympus. I can reach their home easily. I should like to see Jupiter and Mars face to face." He mounted Pegasus and turned his head toward the highest heaven. "This is too great daring," said Jupiter; "Bellerophon must be punished." Jupiter sent a gadfly to sting Pegasus. The noble horse reared. He thought his master had struck him and was furious with pain and anger. Bellerophon lost his seat and fell to the earth. All the rest of his days he went about a blind and lame old man. Thus the gods punished his too great daring.
End of Chapter 31. Recording by Rhonda Fetterman
* Bellerophon appeared in Homer’s Iliad. This re-telling is adapted from Euripides’ Bellerophontes.