Nessos (Centaur)

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Nessos amphora : Heracles fights with the centaur Nessos, depiction from approx. 620–610 BC. From a tomb on Piraeus Street, Athens. National Archaeological Museum, Athens
Arnold Böcklin : Nessus and Deïaneira, 1898; Museum Pfalzgalerie, Kaiserslautern

Nessos ( ancient Greek Νέσσος , Attic Nettos and Netos , Latinized Nessus ) is a Centaur in Greek mythology . He is the son of Ixion and the Nephele . He coveted Deïaneira , Heracles ' wife , and kidnapped her. For this he was killed by Heracles.

Heracles and his second wife, the king's daughter Deïaneira, had to cross a river that was flooding. The centaur Nessos offered to carry the young woman on his back with dry feet, but then galloped off with her. Heracles shot one of his deadly arrows poisoned with the blood of the Hydra after him and hit him. When Nessos was dying, before Heracles came, he gave Deïaneira some treacherous advice: “Collect a little of my blood and keep it. If you are afraid of losing the love of Heracles, soak his robe with it and he will never look at a woman other than you. ”But his blood was poisoned by the death arrow.

Years later, Heracles seemed to turn to a captured beauty ( Iole ). Since the jealous Deianeira he left the blood-soaked from her undergarment - as " Nessoshemd " or " Lichashemd " has become a household word - through his servant Lichas deliver. Immediately the heroes were in excruciating pain. He tried to take off the shirt, but it was firmly attached to his skin and he tore off his flesh at the same time. Deïaneira then killed herself out of desperation. To put an end to his unbearable torments, Heracles piled a stake on Mount Oite , which had once been announced as the place of his end by the oracle of Delphi , and was burned alive on it by Philoctetes . So the prophecy came true that he would die by someone who was no longer alive himself. But he was taken from the flames to Olympus , where he was bestowed immortality - the only one among mortals. His torments finally appeased Hera , who had persecuted him since he was born , for he was the son of her husband Zeus with Alkmene , and Heracles was married to Hera's daughter Hebe , the goddess of youth.


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