Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid.


A picture is worth a thousand words.

~Napoleon Bonaparte

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Chimera and The Harpies

Chimera was a monstrous beast which ravaged the countryside of Lykia in Anatolia. It was a composite creature, with the body and maned head of a lion, a goat's head rising from its back, a set of goat-udders, and a serpentine tail.

Virgil, Aeneid 6. 287 (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"Many monstrous forms besides of various beasts are stalled at the doors [of Hades], Centauri and double-shaped Scylla, and the hundredfold Briareus, and the beast of Lerna, hissing horribly, and the Chimaera armed with flame, Gorgons and Harpy, and the shape of the three-bodied shade [Geryon]."

Seneca, Medea 828 (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"[The witch Medea employs various fabulous ingredients in a spell to create magical fire:] I have gifts from Chimaera's middle part, I have flames caught from the bull's [the bronze Kolkhian bull's] scorched throat."

Hesiod, Theogony 319 (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"She [Echidna] bore the Khimaira (Chimera), who snorted raging fire, a beast great and terrible, and strong and swift-footed. Her heads were three: one was that of a glare-eyed lion, one of a goat, and the third of a snake, a powerful drakon. But Khimaira (Chimera) was killed by Pegasus and gallant Bellerophon. But she also, in love with Orthos, mothered the deadly Sphinx . . . and the Nemeian Lion."

Homer, Iliad 16.:
"Amisodaros, the one who had nourished the furious Chimera to be an evil to many."

  Chimera. Apulian red-figure dish, ca. 350-340 BC.                                    

 Musée du Louvre, Paris, France Date: ca 560 - 550 BC
Bellerophon rides the winged horse Pegasus into battle against the Chimera, a three-bodied beast with lion, goat and serpent features.                                                         

ca 570 - 565 BC
The winged horse Pegasus and Bellerophon battle the Chimera with hooves and piercing spear. The Chimera is depicted with a lion's head and body, a goat-fore rising from its back, and a serpent-headed tail.

  Chimera of Arezzo": an Etruscan bronze                                   

Gold reel with winged Pegasus and the Chimera , Magna Graecia or Etruria, fourth century BCE (Louvre)

Pebble mosaic depicting Bellerophon killing Chimaera, from Rhodes archaeological museum
Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Ornament with Two Genii Riding on Two Chimeras, 1544,

View west over the city of Paris from the Galerie des Chimères of Notre-Dame de Paris. One of the famous gargoyles (chimères) of the cathedral

  Cathedral of Bamberg, Germany                                         

 Detail from portal in Mære church (12th century), Steinkjer, Nord-Trøndelag county, Norway.      

          Peter Paul Rubens, Bellerophon, Pegasus and Chimera                 

  Royal Bohemian Chancery ( Old Royal Palace, Prague castle )                         

 Berlin, Neues Museum Bellerophon Chimera                               

Chimera. Massandra Palace. Ukraine.
  Chimera, St. Georg Church, Nördlingen, Germany                             

Jacek Malczewski, Artist and Chimera                                   

       Jacek Malczewski, Chimera                                              

 Jacek Malczewski, Shepherd and the Chimera 

Gustave Moreau's  version of  Chimera

Gustave Moreau - The Chimera 

 The Main Gate and original entrance to St John's College, Cambridge depicts the yale.

The yale (also "centicore", Latin "eale") is a mythical beast found in European mythology. Most descriptions make it an antelope- or goat-like four-legged creature with large horns that it can swivel in any direction.
The name might be derived from Hebrew "yael", meaning "mountain goat".
The yale was first written about by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History. The creature passed into medieval bestiaries and heraldry, where it represents proud defense. It was used by the English Royal Family as a supporter for the arms of John, Duke of Bedford, and by England's Beaufort family. Margaret Beaufort's yale supporters can be seen over the gateways of Cambridge's Christ's College and St. John's College. There are also yales on the roof of St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. The Yale of Beaufort is a Queen's Beast at Kew Gardens, amongst others placed there after the Festival of Britain outside the gardens' palm house.
In the US, the yale as a heraldic symbol is weakly associated with Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

      The Main Gate and original entrance to St John's College, Cambridge                

Heraldic image of a Yale.

Let's look at Harpies.

The Harpies were the spirits of sudden, sharp gusts of wind. They were known as the hounds of Zeus and were dispatched by the god to snatch away (harpazô) people and things from the earth. Sudden, mysterious disappearances were often attributed to the Harpy. The Harpies were once sent by Zeus to plague King Phineus of Thrace as punishment for revealing the secrets of the gods.
Homer mentions one Harpy called Podarge (Swiftfoot). Hesiod mentions two, Aello and Okypete (Stormswift and Swiftwing).
In Greek mythology, a harpy ("snatcher", from Latin: harpeia, originating in Greek:ἅρπυια, harpūia) was one of the winged spirits best known for constantly stealing all food from Phineas. The literal meaning of the word seems to be "that which snatches" as it comes from the ancient Greek word harpazein (ἁρπάζειν), which means "to snatch".
A harpy was the mother by the West Wind Zephyrus of the horses of Achilles. In this context Jane Ellen Harrison adduced the notion in Virgil's Georgics (iii.274) that mares became gravid by the wind alone, marvelous to say.
Hesiod calls them two "lovely-haired" creatures, and pottery art depicting the harpies featured beautiful women with wings. Harpies as ugly winged bird-women, Aeschylus' The Eumenides (line 50) are a late development, due to a confusion with the Sirens. Roman and Byzantine writers detailed their ugliness.                                        

The Boreades pursue the winged Harpy with swords drawn. Beneath them sits a Sphinx. The second Boread is layered behind the first, as are the Harpy.

 William Blake, Inferno, Canto XIII, 1-45, The Wood of Self-Violators: The Harpies and the Suicides     

     A harpy in Ulisse Aldrovandi's Monstrorum Historia, Bologna, 1642        

     Inferno Forest Of Suicides                                  

    Johan Pasch                                                       

 Aeneas and his Companions Fighting the Harpies 1646-47                    

                        Compiègne, France: Château de Compiègne      

Carved wooden harpies from 19th century "Chinese Chandelier", in Mansion to Museum gallery, Cliffe Castle Museum, KeighleyWest YorkshireEngland.