image postcard depicting the well-known Chimaera of Arezzo bronze statue; it was
initially a part of a gaggle, with Bellerophon and Pegasus preventing it (public

lose a chimaera in a single straightforward
lesson? Merely see it, then promptly neglect all about it, till far an excessive amount of
time has handed to make amends. See, I instructed you that it was straightforward! Confused? I
was too, for some time – however let’s start originally.

The 12 months was 1980-ish, someday in that
decade anyway. It was throughout a day within the Midlands city of
Stratford-upon-Avon, well-known not solely in England but additionally internationally because the
birthplace of a sure playwright, one William Shakespeare, to be exact. I used to be
there with my household, as this was a favorite visiting locale for us on
Sundays, as a result of in contrast to in lots of different English cities again then, most outlets in
Stratford have been open on the Sabbath due its big reputation with abroad


fountain at Arezzo, classic postcard, 1952 (public area)

And so it was on that fateful afternoon
that I discovered myself in a big two-storey procuring complicated within the centre of
Stratford’s procuring space, a fancy that specialised in antiques. Its very
spacious inside was divided up into quite a few stalls, every stall rented out to
a distinct antiques vendor, so it collectively supplied an enormous vary of objets
d’artwork, curiosities, and exotica of each conceivable form – in different phrases, a
fascinating place during which to spend time looking, a minimum of for anybody like me
with a decidedly eclectic vary of pursuits.

In a single nook of the downstairs storey
was a stall whose woman vendor may often be discovered whiling away the hours by
knitting as potential purchasers eyed her wares. I can nonetheless vividly recall
recognizing on the ground amidst another collectible figurines a Jack Russell terrier-sized
black sculpture in steel of what appeared to me to be a considerably odd-looking lion,
with a spiky mane, unusually slender haunches, and a protracted tail that curved up over
its again as an alternative of downwards. There additionally appeared to be one thing peculiar sticking
up from its shoulders, however as I wasn’t overly on this ostensibly
misshaped, complicated creature, I by no means bothered to look nearer to see what that
‘one thing peculiar’ was. As an alternative, my gaze fell elsewhere, peering at different
objects in her stall earlier than shifting on to varied stalls close by – this complicated
contained a fantastic many stalls, so with a purpose to go to all or most of them, it
paid to not linger or loiter too lengthy at any single one.


An inordinately elaborate
chimaera, by Jacopo Ligozzi, created between 1590 and 1610 AD (public area)

I believed nothing extra of that strange-looking
leonine statue for a very long time, some years in reality, till someday I used to be idly flicking
by a Larousse-published encyclopaedia of artwork that I might currently bought,
and there, to my nice shock, was {a photograph} of a statue that appeared
precisely just like the odd, spiky-maned lion that I might seen throughout that long-gone
Sunday afternoon go to to Stratford – besides that it wasn’t a lion in spite of everything. As an alternative,
it was a chimaera (=chimera), and no extraordinary chimaera both, at all times assuming
in fact that any chimaera can ever be thought of extraordinary. However what precisely
IS a chimaera?

For those who’re unversed in Greek mythology,
you might not have encountered the stirring legend of Bellerophon, Pegasus, and
the Chimaera, so listed below are its edited highlights. The hideous semi-human monster
Echidna had given beginning to numerous horrific beasts, together with the
three-headed hell hound Cerberus, the two-headed monster hound Orthos, the
many-headed Lernaean hydra, and the chimaera, which was yet one more
multi-headed horror.


animatronic large-scale mannequin of the chimaera (© Dr Karl Shuker)

This terrifying beast took the type of a
big lion, however in contrast to any regular member of the leonine delight, the chimaera bore
a second head, within the type of a horned goat’s, sprouting forth from between its
shoulders or its higher again (recollections might fluctuate, as I consider somebody as soon as
stated just lately…?), and a 3rd head, within the type of a venomous snake’s, on the
finish of its lengthy, ever-thrashing tail. Furthermore, as if all of that weren’t
already greater than sufficiently lethal for anybody to take care of, the chimaera additionally
breathed fireplace, jetting forth nice flames of destruction from the jaws of its
main, leonine head.

In different phrases, this was an exceptionslly
formidable beast for anybody to take care of, however most particularly for the poor benighted
inhabitants of  Caria in northern
Anatolia, Turkey – as a result of that is the place the chimaera had taken up residence
and was terrorizing the helpless populace, who had no reply to the perilous
menace posed by an infinite monstrosity with three completely different heads and infernal
flame-throwing capabilities.

classic engravings of the Chimaera of Arezzo bronze statue (prime and backside);
and a classic b/w {photograph} of it (center) – word the dedicatory inscription
to the god Tinia carved upon its proper foreleg (all public area)

In such a dire state of affairs, the same old plan
of motion is for the terrified locals to ship out for a hero to dispatch their
hideous persecutor, however on this occasion they didn’t have to take action, as a result of
simply such a person had already been despatched there, by his scheming uncle, King
Iobates of Lycia in Anatolia, who fervently hoped that his heroic nephew would
be killed by the chimaera, thereby foiling a prophecy claiming that his nephew
would kill him as an alternative.

The nephew in query was a mighty,
fearless warrior-hero named Bellerophon, who arrived in Caria astride his
equally mighty, fearless steed. Nor was this simply any mighty, fearless steed both
– in reality, it was none aside from the magnificent winged horse Pegasus, beforehand
untamed, however whom Bellerophon had efficiently captured utilizing the goddess
Athena’s enchanted golden bridle whereas it was consuming from a sacred spring on
the citadel of Corinth in Greece, unaware of Bellerophon’s stealthy strategy.


on Pegasus slaying the chimaera – from Walter Crane’s A Marvel Guide For Ladies and Boys (public area)

Using Pegasus, Bellerophon swiftly
entered into battle with the chimaera, however although his winged steed
possessed the numerous benefit of flight, it was a protracted and bodily grueling
onslaught earlier than Bellerophon and Pegasus lastly wore down this immensely
highly effective monster’s huge reserves of power. Doing so, nevertheless, lastly
enabled Bellerophon to slay it, by firing a spear tipped with a block of lead
down its throat, whose fireplace melted the lead, thereby suffocating the chimaera, and
releasing the individuals of Caria from its tyranny eternally.

Inspired by his nice success,
Bellerophon then determined to try an much more daring feat – to fly up
by the sky upon Pegasus till he reached the very residence of the gods
themselves, who had hitherto remained eternally hid from human eyes of their
lofty cloud-shielded area on the very summit of Mount Olympus. This was
one thing that no mortal had ever even tried earlier than, not to mention achieved,
however Bellerophon was intent upon doing so, and promptly set off, using Pegasus
ever upwards in direction of the divine dwelling place of the Greek deities.


beautiful illustration from 1914 of Bellerophon using Pegasus (public area)

Zeus, nevertheless, was removed from happy about
this. He had watched with pleasure as Bellerophon had dispatched the dreaded
chimaera, however now his forehead was creased with fury, his eyes thunderous with rage,
as he witnessed Bellerophon’s blasphemous ascent by the skies in direction of
their rarefied Olympian residence. Immediately, Zeus had an thought – he despatched forth a
biting gadfly, down in direction of Bellerophon and his winged steed. When it reached them,
the gadfly savagely bit Pegasus on his rump – which prompted him to rear up in
shock and ache, throwing an unsuspecting Bellerophon off his again, who
plummeted headlong again right down to Earth.

Miraculously, nevertheless, Bellerophon
survived, by touchdown on a thorn bush that cushioned his fall, however its thorns
blinded him, and he spent the remainder of his days wandering the land piteously like
a beggar, in abject distress – a sorry finish certainly for a former hero and slayer of


images depicting each side of the Chimaera of Arezzo bronze statue
(public area / Wikipedia –
CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

Again now to my afore-mentioned
Larousse-published encyclopaedia of artwork, and the {photograph} that I had seen in it
was of a bronze statue of the chimaera, which had been unearthed by
building employees on 15 November 1553 at Arezzo, an historic Etruscan and
Roman metropolis in Tuscany, Italy, and which dated again to roughly 400 BC.

These days recognized formally because the Chimaera
of Arezzo, and broadly deemed to be the best instance ever uncovered of historic
Etruscan paintings, this spectacular statue is believed to have been a votive
providing to the sky god Tinia – the supreme deity in Etruscan mythology. It stands
78.5 cm (2.5 ft) excessive, measures 129 cm (4.25 ft) in complete size, and after
passing by a number of completely different homeowners and holding areas it has been on everlasting
show at Florence’s Nationwide Archaeological Museum in Tuscany since 1870.

from its vivid pink color, this is the same duplicate of the Chimaera of
Arezzo bronze statue, and was solid by the Ferdinando Marinelli Creative Foundry
(© Piero Paoletti/Wikipedia –
CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)
Trendy out of doors chimaera statue in stone impressed by the Chimaera of Arezzo bronze statue (© Thomas Shahan/Wikipedia CC BY 2.0 licence)

I now realized that what I had seen in
that antiques stall at Stratford was a modern-day duplicate of this traditionally extremely
vital statue, a trustworthy facsimile of the Chimaera of Arezzo no much less.
Sadly, nevertheless, I hadn’t realized again then what it was, so I hadn’t
thought to ask its worth. True, the value might have been greater than I may have
afforded, however I’ll by no means know, as a result of I by no means requested.

All that I do know is that within the 30-40
years which have handed since that monumental miss on my half, I’ve by no means as soon as
seen one other modern replica of the Chimaera of Arezzo statue for
sale, wherever. However I dwell in hope…


mom Mary Shuker and I being scrutinized by an animatronic chimaera at an
exhibition of monsters held in Birmingham’s artwork gallery throughout August 2008 (©
Dr Karl Shuker)

Lastly: The 2012 fantasy film Wrath of the Titans, albeit taking part in quick and unfastened with classical Greek mythology as is Hollywod’s wont,  comprises an undeniably thrilling battle sequence between Perseus (versus Bellerophon) and a winged chimaera – take a look at its sneaky serpentine tail within the following video clip:

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