Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Chimera - My Big Fat Greek Monster

A grotesque statue overlooking the Paris skyline
This statue from the Galerie des Chimères, Notre-Dame, Paris, looks rather like my nightly chimera
(photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly)

CHIMERA

Noun. Also chimaera. Late Middle English.
[Latin chimaera from Greek khimaira she-goat, monster, from khimaros he-goat.]

1 GREEK MYTHOLOGY. A fire-breathing monster, with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail. LME

2 A grotesque monster represented in painting etc. LME

3(a) A bogey, a horrible phantasm. E16

3(b) A wild or fanciful conception. L16

3(c) A thing of hybrid character. M19

4 (usually chimaera) Any cartilaginous fish of the family Chimaeridae (order Holocephali),
typically having erect pointed fins and a long tail. Also called rabbit-fish, rat-fish. E19

5 BIOLOGY. An organism whose cells are not all derived from the same zygote. E20

A chimera

A drawing of a chimera closer to the original Greek ...
(drawing by Pearson Scott Foresman)
When I was a child, I had a recurring nightmare of a thrashing, caprine, shadow-like demon. It would stalk through the house and attack my family in a frenzied, brutal, flailing manner. Terrified, I would always hide in a cupboard, too scared to come out, despite the piercing, tortured screams of my parents and siblings.

In terms of childhood fears, this was definitely a step up from the bogey man that had inhabited my imagination when I was even younger. I don't know where this goat-like monster came from, but I called it the chimera in my head, and it's possible I had read about the Greek mythology (although my monster wasn't the chimera - it didn't breathe fire and was roughly humanoid, completely black as if made of darkness, with the inverted legs of a goat and hideous, flailing claws).

Thankfully, as I got older, these recurring dreams that left me dripping with sweat and clenching the sheets in terror subsided somewhat, although I am still rather prone to them on occasion, much to the amusement of my in-laws who think it hilarious that a 6ft 6in grown man still has nightmares about monsters. Oh yes, how funny. How very funny indeed.

A chimera on Greek pottery
... although the Greek chimera also had a goat's head on its back
(photo by Jastrow)
Did you have a chimera in childhood?

Do please leave your most imaginative, fanciful and wild comments in the box below.

2 comments:

  1. Ever since I came here my recurring nightmare is that I'm back in Greece and I have to go back to my old job but I always run late or I don't have my books, anyway I never end up going. I never used to have recurring nightmares and this is very annoying and it doesn't help my bruxism either.

    (Can't wait to hear about your trip!)

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    Replies
    1. Oooh ... the running late dream. I have those. But at least you can enjoy the overwhelming sense of relief when you wake up, right?

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