The Chimaera (alternately called Kimera, Chimera, etc.) is a mixed beast from Greek lore whose body typically consists of various bits of a lion, a goat, and a serpent. It is known to breathe fire while the snake portion is venomous. The Greek hero Bellerophon was known to have fought and defeated the singular Chimaera of ancient Greek lore. Bellerophon defeated the Chimaera by placing a lump of lead on his spear and holding it in front of its mouth. The fire-breathing monster melted the lead with its breath and the molten lead flowed down its throat and eventually killed it.
Chimaera is also the term used to refer to any other creature or being with both physical and mental characteristics or traits from various other creatures.
The Chimaera featured in the story of Bellerophon was one of the offspring of the monster Typhon and his niece, the drakaina Echidna. As such, it is the sister of Cerberus, Orthrus, the Nemean Lion, the Lernaean Hydra, Scylla, and many other monsters. Other legends attribute the Nemean Lion to be the offspring of the chimaera rather than her brother. According to Homeric poems, the Chimaera was of divine origin.
King Iobates commanded the Greek hero Bellerophon to slay the Chimaera. He rode into battle on the back of the winged horse, Pegasus. Bellephoron shoved a lead-tipped lance down the Chimaera's throat, suffocating it.
The Chimaera may have once been identified with the winter-rising constellation of Capricorn, the serpent-tailed goat.
Typically, she is portrayed with the body and head of a male lion, the head of a goat sticking out of her back, and a serpent for a tail. She does not typically have the power of flight, a weakness which is exploited by Bellerophon on his flying steed, Pegasus.
Western scholars of Chinese art use the word Chimera to refer to winged quadrupeds such as the Bixie, Tianlu and the qilin. Some Observations on Stone Winged Chimeras at Ancient Chinese Tomb Sites, by Barry Till. However, there are a myriad of other hyrid beasts that are not considered chimaeras such as Kitsunes.
Possible Real-life Origins
It is possible that the myth could have been inspired by permanent gas vents along the Lycian Way in southwest Turkey. The origin of the notion of this fire-breathing nature of the Chimera must probably come from the volcano named Chimaera near Phaselis, in Lycia, or it may have originated on the volcanic valley near the Cragus, which is mentioned as the scene of the events connected with the Chimera.
The word or term Chimera has two alternative forms: Chimaera and Chimæra. The term by itself has various meanings:
- A vain, foolish, or incongruous fancy, or creature of the imagination; as, the chimera of an author.
- In Genetics, An organism with genetically distinct cells originating from two zygotes.
In Popular Culture
- The Chimeras appear in the 2012 film Wrath of the Titans as minions of the titan Cronus.
- The Chimera was briefly mentioned in "Godzilla vs. Biollante" when speaking of how manipulation of the collected Godzilla cells could lead to creating a new life form.
- Biollante can be viewed as a sort of Chimera due to being a cross between a rose, a human and Godzilla.
- In the 2007 game Crash of the Titans, the DS version features a boss called the Chimera, also a hybrid creature.
- Chimaeras appear in the Scribblenauts games.
- Several Chimera appear in the God of War video game series.
- In God of War: Ascension an ice-breathing Chimera appears as a boss.
- In God of War, Chimeras only appear as statues at the entrance of Zeus' Mountain.
- God of War III sees various appearances of Chimeras in many levels as minions of Olympus.
- Chimeras appear in Final Fantasy XI as Notorious Monsters, but are spelled like "Kimeras"
- Chimeras are a featured species in the anime/manga franchise "Fullmetal Alchemist", in which they are created artificially through alchemy used to combine animals (and even humans) into a new creature. In the field of alchemy, creating chimeras is a form of biology that is full of complications, many failures and false starts, and it is illegal to use humans as specimens (but the military performs these acts, regardless).
- Chimera (My Little Pony Friendship is Magic)
- Chimera (American Dragon: Jake Long)
- Chimera's appear in Teen Wolf. A Chimera is a human who has been scientifically given the powers of at least one supernatural species by the Dread Doctors.
- A Chimera appears in the Rick Riordan series Percy Jackson. It attacks Percy on the St Louis Arch, forcing him to jump off into a nearby body of water.