The story of this burning stony area, named Chimera, in Ancient Greek Mythology, actually starts a bit pathetic. However, the relationship of this legend, which Homer tells in his Odyssey as well, with the Olympics of today is an extremely interesting point.
According to the story, there was a state named Ephyra at the time in the territory of today’s Greece. Hipponoes, son of Glaukos (the King of Ephyra) kills his brother Belleros at a hunting party. After that, he was given the name Bellerophontes, which means “The one that ate Belleros”.
Bellerophontes, expelled from Ephyra, leaves this area and takes refuge in the king of Argos. The King of Argos, who does not want to kill him, sends Bellerophontes to the Lycian King.
The Chimera Legend
The Lycian King, as well, does not want to kill this young person, who is in a very poor condition. However, on the other hand, this young person needs to compensate for his mistake. As a result, the King sends Bellorophontes to fight the monster Chimera, which lives in the mountain of Olympos. This beast is a huge one with a lion’s head, a goat body, a snake tail, and a flaming (perhaps a dragon) mouth.
Bellerophontes goes to fight with Chimera by riding his famous winged horse, named Pegasus.
Pegasus rises into the air when Chimera, the monster of Olympos mountain, attacks them. While descending on the ground, Bellerophontes buries the beast with the spear he uses, seven layers deep in the ground.
How these fires started?
Unfortunately, Chimera, who goes at the bottom of the seven layers of the ground, does not die at that time. And its flames continue to spread from where it lays. These flames that continue to burn until today are believed to be flames that this beast is still trying to scatter on the ground.
It is a fact that this legend, which has been told around Anatolia for thousands of years, has received respect from people for a very long time.
The ruins in the Yanartaş region, which is near the Kemer district of Antalya, meaning “burning stone” in Turkish, say the same.
The way to Chimera
At the end of the ancient road leading to these stones, you can see the ruins of an ancient temple and building (if you plan to go, a long and steep path, just keep in mind). These ruins also make us think that this legend has remained sacred for a long while.
Anyway, let’s get back to our story.
After this victory, a race was held in Olympos to celebrate the success of Bellerophontes. The athletes participating in the race ran to the city of Olympos, igniting their torches with the Sacred Fire of Chimera.
Thus, the first example of the Olympic Games, which still continues today, was in Anatolia. The two most interesting points here are that the Mount Olympos gave its name to this tradition and that the “Olympic Torch” of today is the symbol of the ever-burning fire of the beast named Chimera. So, this story is one of the countless legends about the start of the Olympic games. Which one of these is correct? Of course, nobody knows. The only known fact is that, fortunately, and happily, these games still continue to exist …
Back to real life – Chimera facts
Of course, scientists have explored this issue in all its details and have unraveled the mystery behind this never-dying fire years ago. Yes, as you can guess, natural gas reserves in the region feed these fires on the stones for centuries…
If the highly intelligent (!) politicians or the business world do not get interested in this issue and do not open these methane reserves to use as a natural gas reserve in the cities, these fires will continue to burn for centuries.
I actually hesitated about the above paragraph and thought twice before writing it. Do you think they would go and say: “hey, we never thought, it seems like a good idea!”…