I find it so lamentable in our modern time that most people use the word "myth" to describe something they believe to be untrue. So much so that whenever I have the misfortune of picking up a Greek history book only to find that it's ripe with disrespect toward the ancient Gods, beliefs and cultures, I toss it in the trash; it does not make it into my Hellenic library. But recently I was thinking on how many times modern scientists, historians and archaeologists have been proven dead wrong on things they deemed to be myths or fiction.
Heinrich Schliemann was laughed at by every expert on the topic of Troy when he went to find the lost City, only to be the last one laughing. But of course, this was a City, something that has existed commonly in human civilization for thousands of years. What of the spectacular and peculiar animals that fill the pages of the ancient Greek past? I believe they all existed, or do exist, in some form. Billions of people today would also laugh at me to make such a statement, perhaps even think I am insane. However, they would have thought the same about many animals today that were once classified as "mere myths." Let's go through a list of all these species, keeping in mind that at one point in history, science did not believe they existed, some categorized in myth as late as 2001.
Pandas, The Devil Bird, The Giant Squid aka the Kraken, The Platypus, The Thylacine, The Coelacanth, The Takahe, and the Komodo Dragon. The one that stuns me the most is the first. Pandas are so prevalent in our minds today, and adored by so many, yet they were once compared to dragons and unicorns in the sense of being mythical. I suppose what it means is that science doesn't always know as much as it presumes about our world and universe.
Another one of my favorites is the Thunderbird, which is Native American. Science has not directly admitted that they exist or did exist, but as late as the 20th Century, people in the Midwestern United States reported gigantic birds in the sky, some even trying to attack humans on the ground. They might be compared to the California Condor, which factually exist. But the Thunderbird is assumed to be much larger, taking their name after the sound their huge wings make, although some I have heard say they are so named because of the thunderstorms that the birds commonly accompany in the springtime.
In April 1948, a military officer reported a gigantic bird over Alton, Illinois. Later sightings that month by other people in the state called the bird the size of an airplane. Then, in 1977, a boy in Lawndale, Illinois was picked up by one of these huge birds, but released after his mother came running out to try and grab him. The stories are fascinating and also terrifying to read.
But some may still look at me and say, "That's all well and good, Chris, but c'mon, you don't really believe there was a Chimera that was made of three different animals, do you?" Perhaps it wasn't as you have directly stated, but a deformation of some kind, that may have resembled various animals?
Absolutely. We know factually today that animals and humans can go through unusual mutations or malfunctions in the womb and come out with extra parts for one reason or another, and sometimes those parts do not look like the species they are attached to. So yes, I do believe the Chimera existed in some form. What it was specifically, who knows? But if we are to believe the stories, it was large and strong enough to wreak havoc on human populations, and no one had the ability to take it out until Bellerophon. Sometimes, it may go back to what a myth actually is. It does not mean untrue, but rather, the best way a person or a group has to explain something at a given time. For ultimate truth, I am humble enough to leave that declaration up to the Immortals.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
* Thunderbird on top of Totem Pole in Thunderbird Park in Victoria, BC Canada. Taken by Dr Haggis on 29JUL04. No changes were made to the picture, nor does the picture endorse the blogger's writings in any way. Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unreported. Photo , Licensing