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A hero of ancient Corinth, Bellerophon caught sight of the winged horse Pegasus, as it alighted near the citadel of Corinth, and tried in vain to catch it. Thwarted, he appealed to the seer Polyidos for help, and was told to lay down to sleep at night beside the altar of Athene. Doing so, Bellerophon dreamed that the goddess herself came to him, and presented him with a golden bridle, bidding him show it to his father, Poseidon, and at the same time sacrifice a white ox to him. On waking, he found he held the bridle in his hand, sacrificed the ox as instructed, and further dedicated an altar to Athene. Pegasus proved susceptible to the bridle, and Bellerophon became his master. Having accidentally slain a Corinth noble, the hero went to Argos, where he was kindly received by the king, Proetos. However, the king's wife, Stheneboea, took a fancy to Bellerophon, and when the young man rejected her advances, she dragged him before her husband, accusing the hero of trying to violate her. Shocked by this claim, Proetos sent Bellerophon to the court at Lycia, to King Iobates, giving the youth a letter in which, unbeknownst to him, were orders to kill the bearer.

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