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)


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.


  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!)

    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?

  2. Greek mythology cast her as the "bringer" of the times of year. Her central myth involved her daughter Persephone, who had been abducted by Hades and forced to become his queen. Demeter was anguished and life was standing still as her grief prevented the coming of the seasons. https://www.historyly.com

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  4. Thanks for the writeup. I definitely agree with what you are saying. I have been talking about this subject a lot lately with my brother so hopefully this will get him to see my point of view. ancient Greek food

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