When one carefully scrutinizes the sheer volume of intricate cultural and mythological representations emerging from ancient cultures, the Greeks are of no exception. Known for their innumerable advancements in civilization, philosophy, art, literature, technology, and politics, the Greeks are still highly esteemed to this day. Perhaps most notable of the development of ancient Greek civilization is the scope of its mythology. As a result of its complex pantheon of gods and goddesses and their relationship to humanity, Greek mythology is replete with a menagerie of beasts and creatures.
While many of these beasts are instantly recognizable, beasts like Medusa and Cyclopes, some of the lesser known creatures are worthy of recognition. Though seemingly minor in its cultural representations, the mythical creature of Chrysaor demonstrates curious connections to some of the better known cultural icons. An example of a long-forgotten creature of Ancient Greek legends.
Chrysaor is a mythical beast whose tale has largely been lost by the sands of time. There’s very little surviving text involving Chrysaor. Not only that, but varying depictions offer many iterations of the beast’s story.
The most accepted version of Chrysaor is that of a winged boar. A favorite of the Greek god of war, Ares, Chrysaor was often seen as a battle symbol.
The Origins of Chrysaor
One look at this monster’s appearance, and it’s hard to see the connection between its porcine look and the elegant nature of the winged horse Pegasus. Pegasus was a divine beast of pure white who would go on to support many Olympian gods and heroes. While the two seem dramatically different, they are brothers sprung from the same creation event!
There are a couple of versions of how Chrysaor and Pegasus came to be. However, they all involve the slain Gorgon Medusa.
Most scholars of Greek Mythology agree that Chrysaor and Pegasus did not exist until the Hero Perseus slew Medusa.
Medusa started life as a mortal. She was the only mortal of the Gorgon sisters. Beautiful and captivating, Medusa caught the attention of the god of the sea, Poseidon. Poseidon had his way with Medusa in the Temple of Athena. Enraged, Athena turned Medusa into a vile beast with snakes as hair. In some versions of the Medusa myth, she also sprouted a pair of wings from her head. Some say that those wings would ultimately become part of Chrysaor and Pegasus.
The Gorgon is a recognizable figure in Greek Mythology who played a part in many tales. However, she is most known for being a feared figure that turned men into stone. She was ultimately slain by the hero Perseus, which led to the creation of Chrysaor and Pegasus.
According to one version, the two brothers sprang directly from Medusa’s neck after Perseus decapitated her and took her head. Other versions say that Medusa’s blood flowed in the sea, resulting in the creation of these winged beasts.
Because of the latter myth, many retellings refer to Chrysaor’s parents as both Medusa and Poseidon.
Depictions of Chrysaor
The earliest works of art involving Chrysaor appeared in the Temple of Artemis at Corfu. However, he eventually appeared more in pottery and paintings.
His depictions vary dramatically and coincide with different retellings of his life.
Chrysaor the Winged Boar
One of the most common iterations of Chrysaor is that of winged boar. Like his brother Pegasus, Chrysaor was a winged beast from the start. However, he reportedly got the raw end of the deal and had a much uglier look than the divine Pegasus.
He had the signature silhouette of a wild boar, complete with tusks. Chrysaor’s name translates to “Golden Blade.” Some scholars believe that his name directly references the beast’s tusks, which were gold. Others believe that the word represents his human counterpart or the strong connection with Ares. Some accounts even say that the name comes from golden blades of wheat, pushing his symbolism towards agriculture rather than war.
Chrysaor’s iconography was varied, which only added more diversity to his character and tales.
In his board form, Chrysaor was reportedly favored by Ares. He doesn’t have a significant presence in Greek Mythology, but it’s thought that the creature accompanied Ares during battle. The boar was a stout-hearted beast with a lust for war, just like the Greek god.
Chrysaor as a Human Warrior
Thanks to his reputation as a skilled fighter, many depictions show Chrysaor as a human rather than a boar. The human iteration comes with unique tales and a more though-out lineage than his boar counterpart.
As a human, Chrysaor was a young giant with impressive strength. He wielded a golden sword and donned golden armor.
According to “Theogony” by Hesiod, Chrysaor ended up marrying Callirrhoe, or Callirhoe. Callirrhoe was one of the Oceanids, the daughter of the Titan Oceanus, or Okeanos. He eventually became the King of Iberia.
After his marriage, not much is known about the life of Chrysaor. There aren’t any notable tales of heroic battles, making Chrysaor a somewhat lost figure in Greek Mythology. He did, however, bore a son.
Chrysaor and Callirrhoe were the parents of Geryon. Geryon was a mighty three-headed warrior. Unfortunately, he was killed by Heracles. When he was an active warrior, Geryon reportedly carried a shield with his father’s image.
Possible Second Child
Chrysaor might also be the father of Echidna. She was a half-woman, half-snake monster who lived alone in a cave. Later in life, she was the mate of Typhon. Some accounts say that Chrysaor and Callirrhoe were the parents of Echidna, but the mythology is not clear. If Chrysaor was indeed the father of Echidna, he would be the start of a long lineage of mythological beasts.
Unfortunately, we don’t know much about Chrysaor’s life and feats. Unlike other recognizable figures in Greek mythology, there aren’t many tales of battle to warrant much recognition. He’s considered a minor figure in the mythology and is most often credited with bridging the gap between Perseus and Hercules. Other than that, he’s known for his boar-like figure and being the uglier brother to the regal Pegasus.
He is mentioned in other tales. For example, he appears in “Metamorphoses” by the poet Ovid. However, those appearances are minor, making him a small player in a much larger story.
Fortunately, Chrysaor is experiencing a bit of a resurgence in more modern retellings of Greek mythology. He appears in a couple of popular book series. The first is “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
The second, and more significant mention, is in the sequel series “The Heros of Olympus.” In this story, Chrysaor plays a much more substantial part in the narrative. The author expands his lore and cements his status as an important figure in battle.
While modern depictions aren’t part of Greek mythology, they provide more material for a figure that was largely lost to the sands of time.
Chrysaor’s name roughly translates to “Golden Blade.”
Other spellings of Chrysaor’s name include “Khrysaor” and “Khrysaoros.”
The beast reportedly came from the blood of Medusa. He is referred to as the son of Medusa, though he wasn’t born by traditional means. Some retellings say he is the son of Poisedon as well.
Chrysaor is the twin brother of the winged horse Pegasus.
Rather than a winged horse like his brother Pegasus, Chrysaor was a winged boar.
Chrysaor was favored by the Greek God Ares, leading to his connection with war and destruction.
The beast is sometimes depicted as a human warrior.
Because Demeter carried a gold curved sword, some attribute it with the tusks of Chrysaor.
In tales of his human form, Chrysaor married Callirrhoe.
Not many tales of Chrysler exist in surviving Ancient Greek texts. As a result, his actual influence on the mythology is unknown.
Chrysaor is the father to Geryon and possibly Echnida.
The true extent of Chrysaor’s influence is not fully known, as there are few references to Chrysaor in surviving ancient Greek texts. Because of this, it can be assumed that Chrysaor was mainly a tertiary figure in Greek mythology. Or, as some scholars have suggested, the documents in which Chrysaor was primarily featured have been lost.
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