A fire-breathing monster, which, according to the Homeric poems, was of divine origin. She was brought up by Amisodarus, king of Caria, and afterwards made great havoc in all the country around and among men.
The fore part of her body was that of a lion, and the hind part that of a dragon, while the middle was that of a goat.1 According to Hesiod,2 she was a daughter of Typhon and Echidna, and had three heads, one of each of the three animals before mentioned, whence she is called τρικέφαλος (trikephalos) or τρισώματος (trisōmatos).3 She was killed by Bellerophon, and Virgil4 places her together with other monsters at the entrance of Hades.
The origin of the notion of this fire-breathing monster must probably be sought for in the volcano of the name of Chimaera near Phaselis, in Lycia,5 or in the volcanic valley near the Cragus,6 which is described as the scene of the events connected with the Chimaera.
According to some it was a symbol of cold and winter-storms.
The Chimaera is frequently found on Greek vases, occasionally engaged in battle with Bellerophon. Famous is the bronze Chimaera of Arezzo (Etruscan, ca. 450 BCE). In the works of art discovered in Lycia, we find several representations of the Chimaera in the simple form of a species of lion.
- Homer. Iliad vi, 180, xvi, 328; comp. Ovid. Metamorphoses ix, 646.
- Theogony, 319 ff.
- Eustathius on Homer, p. 634; Euripides. Ion, 203 ff.; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 9.3, ii, 3.1.
- Aeneid vi, 288.
- Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia ii, 106, v, 27; Mela., i, 15.
- Strabo. Geography xiv, p. 665 ff.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.