Who is the Greek creature Nessus?
In the world of Greek mythology, Nessus was one of the centaurs. A centaur was a half-man, half-horse creature. While the lower half of the body was a horse, it had a man’s torso in place of its neck, giving the creature a rare look.
Nessus was part of several important Greek mythological stories. He was involved in the battle with the Lapiths, a tribe in Greece. Nessus was also a ferryman to help transport people across the river Euenos. This river still flows in western Greece today. One particular tale involves that river along with Nessus, the popular hero Heracles, and his wife.
In a famous story from mythology, Nessus was carrying Heracles’ wife named Deianeira across the river. Nessus started to assault Deianeira as he was bringing her across the river, though, and Heracles saw it. The Greek hero shot a poisonous arrow across the river. That arrow’s poison was from the snake monster Hydra that Heracles had killed. It hit Nessus and he began to die. Before he died, he told Heracles’ wife she could use his blood to make sure Heracles would keep his love true to her. This was a lie.
Deianeira believed Nessus and eventually put the blood on a robe she gave to Heracles. She did this during a time when her trust for Heracles was low. While Heracles left for a gathering of other heroes, Deianeira discovered that the blood from Nessus was actually poisonous. She tried to send a messenger to warn Heracles but they couldn’t prevent the hero from wearing the robe.
Once Heracles put on the robe which had the blood of Nessus on it, it began to burn his skin and killed him. The hero was eventually taken by Zeus up to Mount Olympus where the other Gods welcomed him for his courage and brave feats. The poisonous robe which caused Heracles’ death is called the Tunic of Nessus because of the creature’s blood that was on it.
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