View Full Version : Kheiron/Chiron - Χειρων {God of the Week}

September 30th, 2012, 01:16 AM
Time for something a bit different! --

Teaching the young Achilles:

As a constellation:

KHEIRON (or Chiron) was the eldest and wisest of the Centaurs, a tribe of half-horse men. But unlike the rest of this tribe he was an immortal god, a son of the Titan Kronos and half-brother of Zeus. Kheiron's mother was the nymph Philyra who was coupling with Kronos when his wife suddenly appeared on the scene. To escape notice he transformed himself into a horse, and in this way sired a half-equine son. Some time later when a tribe of Kentauroi (or Centaurs) were spawned on Mount Pelion by the cloud nymph Nephele, Kheiron and his daughters took them into their care and raised them as their own.

The Kentauros was a great teacher who mentored many of the great heroes of myth including Jason, Peleus, Asklepios, Aristaios and Akhilleus. Eventually, however, he passed away from the earth, after accidentally being wounded by Herakles with an arrow coated in Hydra-venom. The wound was incurable, and unbearably painfall, so Kheiron voluntarily relinquished his immortality and died. However, instead of being consigned to Haides, he was given a place amongst the stars by Zeus as the constellation Saggitarius or Centaurus.

Kheiron's name was derived from the Greek word for hand (kheir), which also meant "skilled with the hands." The name was also closely associated in myth with kheirourgos or surgeon. In Athenian vase painting Kheiron was depicted with the full-body of a man, from head to foot, clothed in chiton and boots, with a horse-body attached to the human rump. The image probably reflected his appearance in Greek drama, where costume-limitations reduced his centaurine-form somewhat. By contrast the other Kentauroi, who do not appear in Athenian drama, were depicted unclothed with fully equine forms below the waist.



Homer, Iliad 11. 832 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Eurypylos addresses Patroklos in the Trojan War:] ‘Cut the arrow out of my thigh . . . and put kind medicines on it, good ones, which they say you have been told of by Akhilleus, since Kheiron (Chiron), most righteous of the Kentauroi (Centaurs), told him about them.’"

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 175 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Phoinix had been blinded by his father . . . Peleus led Phoinix to Kheiron (Chiron), who healed his eyes."

Aelian, On Animals 2. 18 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd A.D.) :
"In Homer skill in treating the wounded and persons in need of medicine goes back as far as the third generation of pupil and master [see Iliad 11. 832 above]. Thus Patroklos, son of Mentoitios, is taught the healing art by Akhilleus (Achilles), and Akhilleus, son of Peleus, is taught by Kheiron (Chiron), son of Kronos (Cronus). And heroes and children of the gods learnt about the nature of roots, the use of different herbs, the concocting of drugs, spells to reduce inflammations, the way to staunch blood, and everything else that they knew."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 1 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"Kokytos was the name of a pupil to whom Kheiron (Chiron) had taught medicine and who cared for Adonis when he was wounded by the wild boar."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 274 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Inventors and their inventions . . . Chiron, son of Saturnus [Kronos, Cronus], first used herbs in the medical art of surgery."

Virgil, Georgics 3. 549 ff (trans. Fairclough) (Roman bucolic C1st B.C.) :
"[A great dearth is followed by hunger and disease:] On this land from the sickened sky there once came a piteous season that glowed with autumn's full heat . . . masters in the art [of medicine] fail, Chiron Phyllyrides (son of Phillyra), and Melampus, Amythaon's son."

Propertius, Elegies 2. 1 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"Medicine can cure all human pains . . . Chiron, son of Phillyra, healed the blindness of Phoenix."

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7. 197 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :
"[On inventions:] The science of herbs and drugs was discovered by Chiron the son of Saturnus [Kronos] and Philyra."

Statius, Silvae 1. 4. 98 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"If there be any herb [to cure this illness] in twy-formed Chiron's health-giving cave."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 35. 60 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"What ridge of the paturing woodlands must I traverse to summon old lifebringing Kheiron (Chiron) to help your wound? Or where can I find medicines, the secrets of Paieon the Healer's [Asklepios] painassuaging art? Would that I had what they call the herb Kentaurida (of the Centaur), that I might bind the flower of no-pain upon your limbs, and bring you back safe and living from Haides whence none returns! What magic hymn have I, or song from the stars, that I may chant the ditty with Euian voice divine, and stay the flow of blood from your wounded side? Would I had here beside me the fountain of life, that I might pour on your limbs that painstilling water and assuage your adorable wound, to bring back even your soul to you again!"

For the rest, see THEOI entry (http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/KentaurosKheiron.html)

Like the satyrs, centaurs were notorious for being wild and lusty, overly indulgent drinkers and carousers, given to violence when intoxicated, and generally uncultured delinquents. Chiron, by contrast, was intelligent, civilized and kind, but he was not related directly to the other centaurs.[2] He was known for his knowledge and skill with medicine. According to an archaic myth[3] he was sired by Cronus when he had taken the form of a horse[4] and impregnated the nymph Philyra,[5] Chiron's lineage was different from other centaurs, who were born of sun and raincloud, rendered by Greeks of the Classic period as from the union of the king Ixion, consigned to a fiery wheel, and Nephele ("cloud"), which in the Olympian telling Zeus invented to look like Hera. Myths in the Olympian tradition attributed Chiron's uniquely peaceful character and intelligence to teaching by Apollo and Artemis in his younger days.

Chiron frequented Mount Pelion; there he married the nymph Chariclo who bore him three daughters, Hippe (also known as Melanippe (also the name of her daughter), the "Black Mare" or Euippe, "truly a mare"), Endeis, and Ocyrhoe, and one son Carystus.

A great healer, astrologer, and respected oracle, Chiron was said to be the first among centaurs and highly revered as a teacher and tutor. Among his pupils were many culture heroes: Asclepius, Aristaeus, Ajax, Aeneas, Actaeon, Caeneus, Theseus, Achilles, Jason, Peleus, Telamon, Perseus, sometimes Heracles, Oileus, Phoenix, and in one Byzantine tradition, even Dionysus: according to Ptolemaeus Chennus of Alexandria, "Dionysius was loved by Chiron, from whom he learned chants and dances, the bacchic rites and initiations."[6]


From: Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiron)

Chiron (or Cheiron) was a noble centaur, half-man and half-horse, the son of the Titan Cronos (Cronus). Chiron was unique among the centaurs, because the others, who are descended from Ixion, were badly behaved. Chiron taught (music, medicine, horses, hunting, and martial arts*) several Greek heroes: Achilles, Asclepius (Asculapius), Herakles (Hercules), Jason, Aeneas, and Peleus.

Chiron is credited with inventing medicine, a topic in which he instructed the heroes -- a good thing too since the athletic heroes must have made ample use of a short course in sports medicine. In the story of Phineus and the Harpies, Jason uses this received instruction to remove the curse of blindness from the king's eyes.

During a fight with the Ixion-sired Centaurs, Herakles accidentally wounded Chiron with a poisoned arrow. Chiron willingly gave up his immortality in order to die. Hyginus (2.38) says he was placed among the stars as either the constellation Centaurus or Sagittarius.

From: Here (http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/heroicbehavior/g/Chiron.htm)

Cheiron (Χείρων) was the most famous Centaur. Not only was Cheiron immortal, but he was one of the wisest beings on earth. Cheiron was the son of the Titan Cronus and Philyra, who was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys.

Cronus had raped Philyra, while he was in the form of a stallion. When she gave birth to the Centaur, she was so ashamed that the gods had taken pity on her and had transformed her into a linden tree.

Cheiron had married Chariclo and they had several daughters – Endeis, Ocyrrhoe (Menalippe) and Theia. Endeis had married Aeacus, king of Aegina. This would make Peleus, his grandson, while Achilles would be his great-grandson.

Cheiron befriended many heroes, including Heracles and Peleus. Some heroes were even brought up by the wise Centaur, like Jason and Achilles. Cheiron taught these heroes how to hunt, and fight.

Cheiron was also a famous healer, who had taught Asclepius, son of Apollo, and later his Asclepius' two sons – Machaon and Podalirius, in the art of healing. He was also responsible for rearing and educating Aristaeüs, the agricultural god.

He even gave advice or prophecy to Apollo, in regarding to the heroine, Cyrene, foretelling how a city in Libya would be named after her. So even the god of prophecy listen to the wise Centaur.

His friendship with Heracles brought about his own death. As Heracles fought against the Centaurs during his fourth labour, the hero accidentally wounded his Centaur friend. Heracles' arrows were smeared with the venom of the monster Hydra. Cheiron had to live in great agony from the venom.

Later, during the eleventh labour, Heracles freed the Titan Prometheus from his chain; Cheiron found release from his torment. The gods allowed Cheiron to give up his immortality to Prometheus, to end his agony. The gods probably placed among the stars, as the constellation of the Centaurus.

From: Timeless Myths (http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/centaurs.html#Cheiron)

The mythology of the Southern Centaur is believed to be of Greek origin, developing later than that of the more warlike Sagittarius, whose imagery is known to be Mesopotamian. Centaurus barely featured in the 4th century BC text of Aratus, but according to Eratosthenes, who wrote of the constellations in the 2nd century BC, the star group depicts the mythological figure of Cheiron: a half-man, half-horse creature who was remarkable amongst his wild and lawless race because of his wisdom, gentility and love of humanity.

Tales of the centaurs describe them as aggressive and brutal. That Cheiron was different proclaims his ability to rise above, rather than be pulled into, the expectations of his environment. He was proficient in many arts - astronomy, philosophy, botany, music, divination and medicine - and he was also a great teacher under whom many Greek heroes studied. As the son of Chronos and the ocean nymph Philyra he was immortal, but he received a terrible, poisonous wound from an arrow which was shot (in error) by Hercules. His own incurable injury gave him the empathy to understand the pain of others, and earned him a reputation as the healer who could not, himself, be healed. His place in the heavens was awarded in honour of his selfless renunciation of his immortality in favour of the Titan Prometheus.

From: Here (http://www.skyscript.co.uk/centaur.html)

To the Greeks CENTAURUS represented Chiron, the leader of the Centaurs. These creatures - half-man, half-horse were aggressive and warlike, Chiron being the one exception. The only immortal Centaur, he was exceedingly wise and kind. His story is closely connected with the Fourth Labour of Hercules who, on his way to capture the rampaging Erymanthian boar, called on the Centaur Pholus. After eating a good meal, and despite warnings from Pholus, Hercules opened a cask of wine belonging to all of the Centaurs. They were incensed at such a liberty and furiously attacked Hercules but he managed to overcome them and chased them to Malea, the home of Chiron. Sadly, the kindly creature was accidentally struck on the knee by one of Hercules' poisoned arrows. In spite of Hercules' desperate efforts to help his friend, the wound would not heal, and Chiron seemed doomed to an eternal life of suffering. However fate, in the form of Prometheus, intervened. Zeus agreed that Prometheus should take over Chiron's immortality, thus allowing the stricken Centaur to be freed from his agony. He was then placed by Zeus in the heavens.

From: Here (http://www.heavens-above.com/myth.aspx?con=cen&lat=0&lng=0&loc=B&alt=0&tz=CET)

Also see:
Theoi - THE KENTAUROI (or Centaurs) (http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/KentauroiThessalioi.html)

Constellation: Centaurus lore/myth --
StarLore (http://www.skyscript.co.uk/centaur.html) page
Centaurus (http://www.constellationsofwords.com/Constellations/Centaurus.html) - detailed
LacusCurtius • Allen's Star Names — Centaurus (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Topics/astronomy/_Texts/secondary/ALLSTA/Centaurus*.html) - another good site
Wiki page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaurus)