The Myth of Chiron

In Greek mythology, Chiron (Greek: Χείρων, meaning “hand”) son of Kronos and Philyra and half-brother of Zeus, is one of the Centaurs.

Physically he resembles these wild half-men, who descended from Ixion, but he himself has a different origin: Kronos is said to have fathered Chiron in the form of a horse so as to avoid arousing the suspicions of his wife, Rhea. From the time when the Iliad was written, Chiron has been placed high above the other Centaurs. He is considered wise and the most just of all the Centaurs. He is a friend of the gods, educator of the heroes Jason, Aktaion, Aristaios, Achilles, Cephalos, Meilanion, Nestor, Amphiaraos, Peleus, Telamon, Meleagros, Theseus, Hippolytos, Palamedes, Menestheus, Odysseus, Diomedes, Kastor, Polydeukes, Machaon, Podaleirios, Antilochos and Aineias, has knowledge of pharmacology and takes on Asklepios’s training as a doctor.

Chiron lived in a cave at the foot of Mount Pelion in Thessaly and was married to the naiad Chariklo. They had a centaur daughter named Okyroe.

During the fourth task of Heracles (catching the Erymanthian boar) the Centaur Pholos granted Hospitium (the divine right to hospitality) to Herakles, but then got into an argument with other Centaurs, who objected to Pholos serving Herakles a jug of wine that had been donated by Dionysus and that was intended for all Centaurs. During the subsequent pursuit of the Centaurs by Heracles, Chiron is hit in the knee by an arrow poisoned with the blood of the Hydra – either due to his own inattention or Heracles’ own error. Rather than endure permanent unspeakable agony from the wound, Chiron renounces his immortality in favor of Prometheus, because of Zeus’ admonition that Prometheus should only be free again when an immortal has given his life for him.

After his death, Zeus places Chiron in the night sky as the Centaurus constellation (quoted from wikipedia).

** “Recognize yourself” **

– “gnôthi seautón” * “γνῶθι σεαυτόν” –

(Inscription at the entrance of the Temple of Delphi)