Myths, symbolism, and folklore
Pegasus: The familiar animal symbol for poetic inspiration acquired this association only in the modern era, although it is clearly grounded in ancient myth, where the wondrous horse was said to have opened up the Hippocrene spring on Mount Helicon (the mountain of the muses) by stamping his hooves.
Winged horses appear in many Old World fairy tales. Pegasus was said to have sprung from the torso of the beheaded gorgon Medusa. The hero Bellerophon tamed the wild creature with the help of a bridle provided by the goddess Athena; riding on Pegasus, Bellerophon was able to defeat the fearsome chimera.
Mythologists associate Pegasus with the sea (originally following Poseidon) or with the lightning that bolts across the sky. Symbologically speaking, he combines the vitality and strength of a horse with the weightlessness (and freedom from terrestrial concerns) of a bird; thus it was only natural that Pegasus should later come to symbolize the indomitable poetic spirit overcoming the impediments of the world. The figure of Pegasus illustrates the favorable aspect of the horse in the mythic tradition; the animal's darker side is frequently visible in the myths of the centaurs. (Biedermann)