Panting and out of breath the messenger dashes into the village within the great castle walls while shrilly screaming like a mad man. In but moments he finds himself surrounded by curious peasants whom the castle guards must shoo away. The messenger refuses any water or rest as his message must be delivered at once to the King. You quickly follow the assembly to the King’s throne room where the messenger relinquishes his tale, informing everyone that far to the West some sort of beast is devouring livestock in the dead of the night. The King of that land had sent the messenger to beseech help from every land he could, with the promise of great riches to the one who slays the beast. The poor messenger had been traveling for moons on end without rest, his mount long since failed the journey. Without hesitation the King agrees to send help and glances at you. You hold his glance for but a moment as you both nod. Then off you go to be fitted into your armour and strapped to your sword. Followed by a trip to the stables where your trusty steed awaits. He stands out from the other horses with hardly a glance as there is no other horse as pure white. Nor is there any other with such huge white wings. Quickly you strap on his gold bridle and his saddle before you both fly away to find and slay this elusive beast of which you know next to nothing about…
Last time I wrote about Unicorns. Originally I was going to write about both Unicorns and Pegasi in one post but as I began my research into Unicorns I realized there was a lot of information and decided to break it into two separate posts. Then I did research into pegasi and realized there’s a whole lot less information or legends with this creature. In fact beyond the original greek myths there aren’t really any other major legends or stories from the distant past involving the Pegasus.
So let’s briefly go over those original Greek stories shall we? And please bear in mind that there are many versions of these stories with mostly minor variations so I’ll just be going over the gist of them. The Pegasus was the son of Poseidon and Medusa. Apparently the Pegasus sprung forth fully formed from the neck of Medusa when the blood of Medusa’s severed head mixed with Poseidon’s foaming ocean water. Pleasant I know but it gets even better. Poseidon actually did have sexual intercourse previously with Medusa while in the form of a horse… so yeah, those crazy Greeks! Moving on the Pegasus had a brother who was some guy who came fully formed into the world with a golden sword, but he’s not really important. After his “birth” the Pegasus was ridden by the guy who slayed his mother into combat against a sea dragon to save the Princess Andromeda. After the
damsel princess was saved the Pegasus was entrusted to the care of the Muses. During his stay with them his hoof struck the ground creating some sort of spring of inspiration which the Muses regarded as sacred. The winged horse had his peaceful life interrupted when some guy captured him with a gold bridle and rode him into battle against various monsters winning the kings daughter but probably not the favor of the Pegasus. So it should come as no surprise that when this cocky hero tried to ride his steed to the home of the gods the Pegasus bucked him off to his doom. Apparently this bucking was due to a bug sting from a bug sent by Zeus but… well I guess we’ll never know for sure. Regardless the winged horse continued on his merry way and made it to the home of the gods where he served them faithfully to his death, after which they thanked him by making a constellation in his honour. Although I’ll never understand how anyone can see those particular stars and think they look like a winged horse.
Now for some interesting facts. Unlike the Unicorn, which isn’t necessarily pure white and often resembles other four hoofed creatures as much as a horse, the Pegasus actually was a pure white horse. Also it wasn’t actually originally written that the Pegasus had wings, just that as it flew through the air the sounds of its hoofs galloping on the air could be heard, which is fascinating. Later other writers added the wings to the stories and they became a permanent part of the Pegasus regardless of whether it was originally meant to be as such. Over the years plenty of art featuring the Pegasus has been discovered, especially of the animal pulling the chariots of the gods.
It should go without writing that I don’t actually believe the Pegasus is a real animal. A horse is far too heavy to fly and there’s nothing to indicate that such an animal actually did exist once. Nowadays we envision flying cars. Back then they didn’t have cars so of course they imagined flying horses instead. And since science wasn’t a viable explanation for how a flying horse could exist (although with genetics and bioengeering it’s now a possiblility worth considering) they imagined the creature must be magical and blended it in with their Mythology and their gods. Personally I love Unicorns & Pegasi but while I found researching Unicorns fascinating with their rich history from the ancient past which even seeped all the way to modern times, I found researching Pegasi to fall flat. There’s just so little to go on beyond the initial stories which are seeped so deeply in Greek Mythology and I’ve never been all that fond of Greek Mythology. Writing about Unicorns & Pegasi really was like day and night which makes sense since the two are separate creatures. And thus I’m brought to the final point I wanted to write about, Alicorns. The word Alicorn used to refer to the removed horn of a Unicorn back in the Middle Ages. Now however it refers to a horse with both the horn of a Unicorn and the wings of a Pegasus. It’s not surprising that anyone would decide to combine these two similiar and fascinating creatures. But it is rather amazing that I’ve only become aware of the seemingly newly coined term due to MLP: Friendship is Magic. It makes me wonder if the term was coined by either the show or its fans…
Do you know how the term Alicorn was coined for its current usage? If so feel free to educate me below and either way feel free to comment. As always here are some links to further information if you’re interested: