We’ve all heard the term “pegasus”. From an early age, we were told that a Pegasus is a mythical horse that has wings and sometimes has a horn and sometimes doesn’t have a horn.
But we want to know whether Pegasus really do have horns or not. Were they intended to be horned beings? The answer to that one is no, traditionally the Pegasus did not have a horn.
What Is A Pegasus?
According to Greek mythology, where the idea of the winged horse originated from, Pegasus was simply a divine horse, the offspring of Poseidon. It was a single being and not an entire species of mythical beings like unicorns.
Originally, this horse did not have a unicorn horn or any type of horns at all.
In modern times, the Pegasus is considered to be a species that encompasses a large number of divine winged horses. It may or may not have a horn depending on who you ask, is always white, has a long, flowing mane, and is a symbol of wisdom.
Why Doesn’t Pegasus Have A Horn?
Pegasus (or pegasi in the plural form) does not have a horn because it is not a unicorn. These two types of mythical beings are completely different species and as such, have different characteristics.
However, pegasi are sometimes depicted as having horns for purely imaginative purposes. If we’re being technical, though, these would be considered winged unicorns or alicorns and not pegasi.
What If Pegasi Had Horns?
If pegasi had horns, they would not be pegasi, as we said before. Entertaining the idea and ignoring the fact that a Pegasus having a horn would change the entire species, though, if the species had a horn, little would change.
The creature would still be considered mythical, magical, and wonderful and would still be associated with wisdom and peace. It would still be depicted in films, books, and on kids products.
If pegasi had horns, it would likely mean that a unicorn and a Pegasus once mated, which lead to a horned Pegasus, which is also called an alicorn in some cases. Things might get rather confusing is this species had horns.
This is mostly because it would be almost impossible to distinguish a traditional alicorn from a horned Pegasus, which are essentially the same creatures but are created in different ways.
For example, alicorns would stem from two native alicorns mating, while the horned Pegasus would be a result of a unicorn and an alicorn mating. The only problem would be that the two species would look pretty much the same. Yikes — talk about identity confusion.
So, to sum up this potentially confusing explanation, pegasi do not have horns and it’s a good thing because it would make the entire realm of unicorns, pegasi, and alicorns incredibly confusing.
This being said, it’s also a major plus that these creatures are merely fiction; if they were real, scientists would have a hard time coining the names for the identical-looking winged, horned, and magical creatures.
Origins | History
The Greek poet Hesiod has often been credited as the first man to introduce a mythical winged horse, Pegasus. Modern scholars and linguists cannot trace the etymology of the word ‘Pegasus’ to any other Greek, Latin, or any language.
According to Hesiod, the name Pegasus originated from the Greek word ‘pegae,’ meaning spring. One of Pegasus’ remarkable qualities was his ability to form springs with his hooves. Therefore, this name was either given to him because of his traits inherited by his father or from the fact that he was born near the springs.
The word is an early Semitic construct and has been linked somewhat to originating from Greek and Italian. However, no proper linkage has thus been established.
Pegasus was born to the Olympian god Poseidon and the Gorgon Medusa. He was born after Perseus beheaded Medusa.
Bellerophon and Pegasus
According to mythology and folklore, Pegasus was first ridden by the Greek hero, Bellerophon, in a fight against Chimera. The next mention of Pegasus comes from Bellerophon’s duel with Anteia after having been falsely accused.
Bellerophon had been gifted a golden bridle by Athena, which he used to capture Pegasus while the beast was drinking water from the Sprint of Pierian.
Bellerophon remained synonymous in text with Pegasus until accounts of him being unseated in a particular flight and either being killed or disabled due to it. In some texts, Bellerophon was thrown off Pegasus by the gods he had angered when he ventured too high into the skies.
He was thrown off for disobeying the gods and flying close to heaven while being mortal.
In modern times, however, Pegasus is seen as a heavenly creature. Which, by all accounts of Greek mythology, was Pegasus’ ultimate fate. He, later on, served as a constellation for Zeus.
Zeus and Pegasus
After having won one too many wars against humans, Bellerophon began to comfort himself with the idea that the mortals weren’t worthy of his presence. Aided with his trusty steed, Bellerophon made his way to Mount Olympus to live among the gods.
This angered Zeus, and he struck Pegasus, causing Bellerophon to fall off and either succumb or become lame for the rest of his life.
Ironically, Bellerophon’s fate was somewhat similar to his opponent, Antiei. According to texts and traditions, Bellerophon offered Antiei a ride on Pegasus and then had him throw her off above an ocean as vengeance for falsely testifying against him to her husband and therefore having him exiled for some time.
Zeus then called Pegasus to himself at Mount Olympus. The winged horses’ accounts with Zeus are probably a lot more remembered than they are with any heroes. He was appointed as leading Zeus’ golden chariot.
When Pegasus was at the end of his time, Zeus awarded him for his service by making him a constellation – something that’s stayed with Pegasus even today.
According to Greek mythology, anywhere Pegasus would strike his hoof, a spring of water would emerge from the Earth. Some springs include:
- The Hippocrene (also known as horse spring)
Difference Between Pegasus and Unicorns
Pegasus doesn’t have horns. Unicorns, on the other hand, are known primarily for being mythical horned beings.
Another difference would be that unicorns are seen as mythical species, and a Pegasus is a mythical being. In Greek mythology, Pegasus is depicted as an immortal, winged, often white, horse. He was one of Poseidon and Medusa’s two children – brother of Chrysaor.
Pegasus and unicorns were often thought of as being two names of the same mythical being. Granted, there are several similarities between the two creatures – primarily them being personifications of the same animal.
However, while match-ups of the two are often described in modern media, their origins and abilities are remarkably different.
According to Hesiod’s poems and every Pegasus account in Greek texts, the creature did not have a horn or any semblance of a horn. In simple terms, Pegasus was a flying, white horse. Contrary to popular belief, Pegasus is the name of one particular creature rather than several species of winged horses.
On the other hand, unicorns find their origins in the Bible and are known for having horns. Their horns were more than just accessories. The horns had magical healing powers inside of them. Based on the earliest known accounts of unicorns, they did not have wings.
However, somewhere along the way, poets and writers began depicting them as horned and winged animals.
Furthermore, unicorns did not enjoy the same level of authority in texts as Pegasus did. Pegasus had its backstory; he was born along with his brother from the blood poured out of Medusa’s head as she was decapitated. Unicorns were seemingly formed after a reference to cows was mistranslated.
Depictions of Pegasus
- In Currency
The earliest known depiction of Pegasus comes from currency dating back to the times of Emperor Domitian. During his reign, between 79-80 AD, he issued coins depicting himself on one side and Pegasus. In what is known as the earliest depiction of the horse, no horn can be seen.
- In Heraldry
In modern times, Pegasai (the plural for Pegasus) are seen as noble creatures primarily for his association with Zeus – being ahead of his famous golden chariot. As a result of his association with the god of gods, Pegasus was often depicted in heraldry; on banners, crests, and as decorative elements for royal families.
Here, Pegasus is often depicted with horns.
- As Statues
The earliest known statues of Pegasus to have been constructed are from the mid-19th century in Columbia. Two large statues of the mythical being are constructed for public display – both without horns.
To sum it all up, Pegasus is far from just being winged horses. In Greek mythology, they enjoy a certain degree of nobility and are often remembered as being trusty steeds of Zeus and Bellerophon. However, they do not have horns.
Modern depictions might have horns, but the earliest known accounts of them were without magical horns or any semblance of one.