AskDefine | Define Pegasus

Dictionary Definition



1 (Greek mythology) immortal winged horse that sprang from the blood of the slain Medusa; was tamed by Bellerophon with the help of a bridle given him by Athena; as the flying horse of the Muses it is a symbol of high-flying imagination [syn: flying horse]
2 a constellation in the northern hemisphere near Andromeda and Pisces

User Contributed Dictionary



Pegasus, the mythical winged horse

Proper noun

  1. : A genus of small fishes, having large pectoral fins, and the body covered with hard, bony plates. Several species are known from the East Indies and China.



From < (Pegasos), from πηγή (pege), a spring, fount.

Proper noun

  1. A winged horse fabled to have sprung from the body of Medusa when she was slain. He is noted for causing, with a blow of his hoof, Hippocrene, the inspiring fountain of the Muses, to spring from Mount Helicon. Bellerophon rode Pegasus when he defeated the Chimaera.
  2. An autumn constellation of the northern sky, near the vernal equinoctial point, said to resemble the mythical horse. Its three brightest stars, with the brightest star of Andromeda, form the square of Pegasus. It contains the stars Markab and Algenib.


mythical winged horse

See also


Proper noun

  1. The constellation Pegasus.

See also

Extensive Definition

In Greek mythology, Pegasus (Greek: Πήγασος, Pégasos, 'strong') was a winged horse that was the son of Poseidon, in his role as horse-god, and the Gorgon Medusa.


Hesiod connects the name Pegasos with the word for "spring, well", pēgē; everywhere the winged horse struck his hoof to the earth, an inspiring spring burst forth: one on the Muses' Mount Helicon, the Hippocrene ("horse spring"), at the behest of Poseidon to prevent the mountain swelling too much and another at Troezen. The actual etymology of the name is most likely from Luwian pihassas "lightning", or pihassasas, a weather god (the god of lightning). In Hesiod, Pegasos is still associated with this original significance by carrying the thunderbolts for Zeus. Pegasus was at a well drinking silently when the hero Bellerophon came and captured him with a golden bridle that was given to him by Athena.


There are two versions of the winged stallion's birth and his brother Chrysojaor:
  • One is that they sprang from Medusa's neck as Perseus beheaded her, a "higher" birth, like the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus.
  • Another says that they were born of the Earth as Medusa's blood spilled onto it, in which case Poseidon would not be their sire. A variation on this story holds that they were formed from the mingling of Medusa's blood and the sea foam, thus including Poseidon in their making.
Bellerophon caught and tamed Pegasus, and presented him to the Muses at Mount Parnassus. After he became the horse of the Muses, he was at the service of the poets.


Pegasus aided the hero Bellerophon (or in later versions Perseus) in his fight against both the Chimera and the Amazons. There are varying tales as to how Bellerophon found Pegasus; the most common says that the hero was told by Polyeidos to sleep in the temple of Athena, where the goddess visited him in the night and presented him with a golden bridle. The next morning, still clutching the bridle, he found Pegasus drinking at the Pierian spring. When the steed saw the bridle, he approached Bellerophon and allowed him to ride. Bellerophon slew the Chimaera on Pegasus' back, and then tried to ride the winged horse to the top of Mount Olympus to see the gods. However, Zeus sent down a gadfly to sting Pegasus, causing Bellerophon to fall all the way back to Earth the Plain of Aleion ("Wandering"), where he lived out his life in misery as a blinded cripple as punishment for trying to act as a god. Also, he was kept as Zeus' servant and stayed with him, never seeing Pegasus again.
Afterward, Pegasus found sanctuary on the sacred mountain, where he carried Zeus' thunderbolts and was ridden by Eos, the goddess of dawn. In his later life, Pegasus took a mate, Euippe (or Ocyrrhoe), and had two children Celeris and Melanippe. This family is the origin of the winged horses. Celeris is associated with the constellation Equuleus.


Pegasus was immortal. Because of his faithful service Zeus honored him with a constellation. On the last day of his life, when Zeus transformed him into a constellation, a single feather fell to the earth near the city of Tarsus.

Modern day

In modern terminology, the word "pegasus" (plural "pegasi") has come to refer to any winged horse, though the term "pterippus" (meaning winged horse, plural "pterippi") is also used. Pegasus is also the symbol of the Mobil brand of gas and oil, marketed by the Exxon Mobil Corporation. As such, it has also been a symbol of Dallas, Texas, gracing its skyline atop the Magnolia building, since the 1930s.
In psychoanalysis, Freud interpreted the creature as an expression of the primal scene.

World War II

During WWII, the silhouetted image of Bellerophon the warrior, mounted on the winged Pegasus, was adopted by the United Kingdom's newly-raised parachute troops in 1941 as their upper sleeve insignia. The image clearly symbolized a warrior arriving at a battle by air, the same tactics used by paratroopers. The square upper-sleeve insignia comprised Bellerophon/Pegasus in light blue on a maroon background. The insignia was designed by famous English novelist Daphne du Maurier, who was married to the commander of the British parachute forces (and later the expanded British Airborne Forces), General Frederick "Boy" Browning. The maroon background on the insignia was later used again by the Airborne Forces when they adopted the famous maroon beret in Summer 1942. The beret was the origin of the German nickname for British airborne troops, The Red Devils. Today's Parachute Regiment carries on the maroon beret tradition.
During the airborne phase of the Normandy invasion on the night of 5-6 June 1944, British 6th Airborne Division captured all its key objectives in advance of the seaborne assault, including the capture and holding at all costs of a vital bridge over the Caen Canal, near Ouistreham. In memory of their tenacity, the bridge has been known ever since as Pegasus Bridge.

Popular Culture

  • Pegasus is a character in the 1997 Disney animated film Hercules, in which he is the winged horse side kick and friend to Hercules the main character.
  • In Clash of the Titans, Pegasus is captured by Perseus before Perseus visits and kills Medusa the Gorgon. This version, therefore changes the method of Pegasus' birth - although no further details are given, save a comment from Zeus that Pegasus is the sole surviving winged horse from a herd of the creatures, the rest killed by Thetis' son, Calibos.
  • Pegasus is known for being the mascot of TriStar Pictures.
  • The Taiwanese company Asus took its name from Pegasus, omitting the first three letters in order for the company to appear first in telephone listings.
  • On an episode of Robot Chicken, Pegasus is caught in a bear trap planted by a demented little girl. He asks the girl to help him, but she cuts off his wings, keeps him in a barn, paints him like a My Little Pony toy, and names him "Sunny Muffins," whipping him in the barn until he accepts his name (similar to Kunta Kinte's whipping in Roots).Then she sits him down next to a painted griffin.
  • In both versions of Battlestar Galactica, Pegasus is a Battlestar that survived the fall of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, later meets up with Galactica, and is destroyed in a battle against the Cylons.
  • Pegasus was chosen for the academic seal of the University of Central Florida, in 1963, by its first president, Dr. Charles Millican, who co-designed it.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Pegasus refers to the home galaxy of a race called the Ancients. They lived in the Pegasus galaxy millions of years ago. Until about 10,000 years ago they were in conflict with the Wraith, with their city being under siege for many years. It was concluded that they could not survive the persistent siege from the Wraith and decided to submerge their intergalactic vehicle city named Atlantis onto the ocean floor. The Ancients then evacuated to several places including Earth, in the Milky Way galaxy via the Stargate. In the present day, Atlantis is inhabited by an Internatianal Exploration team from planet Earth and uses the city as headquarters for their many adventurers in the many galaxies out there. Today, Atlantis is floating on the ocean's surface due to the exploration teams arrival and the city having insufficient power from a Z.P.M.(Zero Point Module) to power a protective energy shield.
  • Pegasus is the name of a medevac helicopter based at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Pegasus transports critically injured patients within a 120 nautical miles of Charlottesville, VA. The name was chosen because it was different from most other medevac programs, and there are stories of Pegasus carrying wounded soldiers from battle.


Pegasus in Bosnian: Pegaz
Pegasus in Bulgarian: Пегас
Pegasus in Catalan: Pegàs (mitologia)
Pegasus in Czech: Pegas
Pegasus in Danish: Pegasus
Pegasus in German: Pegasos (Mythologie)
Pegasus in Modern Greek (1453-): Πήγασος (μυθολογία)
Pegasus in Spanish: Pegaso
Pegasus in Esperanto: Pegazo
Pegasus in Persian: پگاسوس
Pegasus in French: Pégase (mythologie)
Pegasus in Korean: 페가소스
Pegasus in Croatian: Pegaz
Pegasus in Italian: Pegaso (mitologia)
Pegasus in Hebrew: פגסוס
Pegasus in Latin: Pegasus (mythologia)
Pegasus in Latvian: Pegazs
Pegasus in Lithuanian: Pegasas
Pegasus in Hungarian: Pégaszosz
Pegasus in Dutch: Pegasus (mythologie)
Pegasus in Japanese: ペーガソス
Pegasus in Norwegian: Pegasus (mytologi)
Pegasus in Polish: Pegaz (mitologia)
Pegasus in Portuguese: Pégaso
Pegasus in Romanian: Pegas
Pegasus in Russian: Пегас
Pegasus in Slovak: Pegasos (kôň)
Pegasus in Finnish: Pegasos
Pegasus in Swedish: Pegasos
Pegasus in Thai: เพกาซัส
Pegasus in Turkish: Pegasus
Pegasus in Ukrainian: Пегас
Pegasus in Chinese: 珀伽索斯
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