Bellerophon, reflecting on his accomplishments – particularly the slaying of the fire-breathing Chimera – believed he deserved a seat with the Gods. To obtain what he believed to be his rightful seat, he mounted his winged horse, Pegasus, and set off for Mt. Olympus. Zeus, of a different perspective, was offended by Bellerophon’s arrogance and sent a fly to sting Pegasus. The mount bucked and threw Bellerophon to earth. Bellerophon spent the rest of his days blind and crippled.
The story of Bellerophon is most widely utilized to illustrate the consequences of arrogance. Bellerophon was already married to a king’s daughter and shared half of the kingdom. Wasn’t that enough? If Bellerophon hadn’t thought he deserved more he could have prevented his lonely end. However, the parable of Bellerophon speaks to more than just the risks of dissatisfaction with our current lot. It’s also about the risks of believing our accomplishments are achieved as a result of our will and our efforts alone.
Bellerophon would not have killed the Chimera without the assistance of Pegasus, whom he would not have discovered without the assistance of a seer, whom he would have not have encountered if Proetus, the king of Tiryns, had not ordered Bellerophon be sent to his death. Bellerophon killed the Chimera to save himself, not to save the lives of villagers terrorized by the monster. His courageous deed was motivated by necessity and aided by chance. Without the seer pointing Bellerophon to Pegasus, who enabled Bellerophon to come closer to the Chimera than he would have managed on foot, Proetus would have had his wish. And how could Bellerophon have hoped to reach Mt. Olympus without Pegasus?
Nobody achieves anything without the help of others. The arrogance of greatness may hasten your demise, but so will the arrogance of believing that you alone are responsible for your successes.