Chimera in Greek Mythology w. Dr. Scott Smith


In Greek mythology, the Chimera is a figure that is comprised of lion, goat and snake. Dr. Scott Scott, Professor of Classics & Department Chair, Department of Classics, Humanities, & Italian Studies, University of New Hampshire, joins the show to discuss what the Chimera is in Greek mythology.

Some topics explored

  • What a Chimera in Greek mythology is
  • The canonical source being: front is that of lion, middle of a goat, back is a tail of a snake
  • The physical disposition being different in various tradition
  • Etymology of the word Chimera
  • The first attestation of the Chimera being in Homer’s The Illiad, Book 6
  • The myth about the Greek hero Bellerophon, Pegasus, and Bellerophon defeating and killing the Chimera
  • If more than one Chimera shows up in tradition
  • A Trojan hero, Glaucus’ great grandfather being Bellerophon
  • Hesiod writing about the Chimera in The Theogony, and providing an alternative description to Homer: that the Chimera has three heads—a lion, a goat, and a fire-breathing dragon
  • Role of the Chimera in mythology
  • Athenian and Corinthien vases
  • In Pindar’s Olympians 20, Pindar writing about Bellerophon “taming” the Pegasus with Athena’s assistance, and Pegasus’ supportive role in defeating the Chimera
  • An alternative Etruscan tradition in the records: Heracles being the one who killed the Chimera
  • Using text and artwork to understand the physical size of the Chimera
  • If more than one Chimera shows up in classical tradition (a “baby” Chimera showing up on a vase)
  • Two later traditions: the earlier one to rationalize the earlier tradition; the later one, to act as an allegory

Listen to the episode

The episode can be streamed below and is also available on major podcast apps: Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Amazon Music.

Show Notes

  • Professor Smith is a co-director of a project that is digitally mapping Greek myth call MANTO
  • Professor Smith is author of the forthcoming book Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Mythography (Oxford University Press), which is expected to come out in early 2022

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