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Chimera - Mythical Monsters
2149    Dibyendu Banerjee    03/12/2020

Chimera, also called Kimera, is a fire-breathing female monster from Greek mythology, depicted as a haphazard mish-mash of three animals, with its foreparts of a lion, a goat in the middle, and a dragon or a snake at the tail. According to Theogony, describing the origins and genealogies of the Greek gods, and composed by the ancient Greek poet Hesiod, Chimera is a monstrous creature of Lycia in Asia Minor that appears to be a lion with a goat’s head in the middle of its back and with a tail that ends in a snake’s head.


Chimera or Chimaera is sometimes used as a symbol of the power of Satan, capable of spraying fire from the nose and mouth. It was believed that to the sight of Chimera was an omen of disaster and peril, such as the eruption of volcanoes and the sinking of ships at sea. While the term Chimera is loosely used in architecture for any grotesque, fantastic, or imaginary beast used in decoration, it has also come to describe anything composed of several blended parts or perceived as wildly imaginative, unconvincing and unrealistic, or gawky.


Despite the majestic mane adorning the head, Chimera is generally considered to have been female since the inclusion of a close mane was often depicted on lionesses, and the visibility of the ears does not also suggest a male lion. Interestingly, although a fire-breathing lioness was one of the earliest solar and war deities in Ancient Egypt, the lioness represented the war goddess and protector of both the Egyptian and Greek cultures. However, Chimera has been imagined and described in several ways with different animal parts being added or rearranged, with the addition of a ferocious dragon   as one of its heads, and even with a pair of wings. The Chimera appears in Etruscan wall-paintings of the fourth century BC. Even many seals of the Indus Valley Civilization contain pictures of Chimera.


According to legend, Chimera was said to be one of the offspring of Typhon, the youngest son of Gaea or the Mother Earth and the personification of volcanic forces, and Echidna, his niece, a half-woman and half-snake monster, who lived alone in a cave. Chimera was swift-footed and strong, had three heads, one of a grim-eyed lion, a dragon, and a goat, breathing forth a fearful blast of blazing fire. She was the sister of Cerberus, the three-headed monstrous dog that guards the entrance of the Underworld, Orthrus, the two-headed dog and doublet of Cerberus, the Nemean lion that prowled the mountain valley of Nemea, and the four-eyed and six-headed monster Scylla. According to another legendary version, Chimera had sex with her brother Orthrus and gave birth to Sphinx and the Nemean lion.


 It is said that Chimera was killed by the Corinthian hero of Greek mythology Bellerophon, who used to ride on a winged, white horse, called Pegasus, gifted by Athena for his devotion to the goddess. Although he was engaged in a fierce battle, he was unable to come close enough to hit Chimera with arrows or a spear, due to the fire expelled from her mouth. So he hit upon a plan and attached a block of lead to his spear and threw it over the fire-breathing monstress, dropping the lead from his spear into her mouth. The fire that exhausted from her breath melted the lead, blocking its air passage and consequently she died of suffocating.

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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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