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0909: Achilles and Chiron. Detail of painting by Gottlieb Schick, 1776-1812. Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart.

"If the poet's tongue might breathe the prayer that is on the lips of all, I would pray that Chiron, son of Philyra, who is dead and gone, were now alive again ... and I would want him to reign again in the glens of Pelion, that rugged monster whose mind was friendly to men; just as he was when once he reared Asclepius, that gentle craftsman who drove pain from the limbs that he healed, that hero who cured all types of diseases." (Pindar, Pythian Odes 3.1).

Clytaemnestra: Did Thetis or his father train Achilles?
Agamemnon: Chiron brought him up, to prevent his learning the ways of the wicked.
Clytaemnestra: Ah! wise the teacher, still wiser the one who gave his son.
(Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis 708).

"Brought up in godly Chiron's halls myself, I learned to keep a single heart." (Achilles. Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis 926).

"Daughter of Nereus, you shall bear a son, a dazzling light to Thessaly; for he shall come with an army of Myrmidon spearmen to the famous land of Priam, to set it in a blaze..." (Chiron to Thetis. Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis 1064).

Deep-thinking Chiron is the civilized Centaur who trained several famous disciples, being known for his wisdom and justice. Chiron, who was not a drunkard like other CENTAURS, never used his weapons against a man. Instead he spent his Old Age learning about herbs, and teaching to play the lyre to his pupils.

Born a Centaur

Chiron was born in very ancient times, for some have said that he was conceived at the time when Zeus was hiding in Crete, and his father Cronos, anxious to devour the little god, was looking for him throughout the earth. And Chiron, they say, was born a Centaur because Cronos begot him in a horse's shape. Without Chiron, they say, there would not be art of healing. For Asclepius, despite the fact that he was the son of Apollo, the god of healing, learned medicine from the Centaur Chiron. And as it has been pointed out, the art that Asclepius' sons Machaon and Podalirius performed at the time of the Trojan War, as when Machaon cured Menelaus, was the same art that Chiron had taught to his disciple Asclepius. But Chiron taught the art of healing to his other disciples too, for that is what the wounded Eurypylus 1 says to Patroclus 1 when they were fighting at Troy:

"I want you to cut out this arrow from my thigh, wash off the blood with warm water and spread soothing ointment on the wound. They say you have some excellent prescriptions that you learnt from Achilles, who was taught by Chiron ..." (Eurypylus 1 to Patroclus 1. Homer, Iliad 11.829).

Phoenix 2, who later accompanied Achilles to the Trojan War, was blinded by his father King Amyntor 1 of Ormenium, son of Ormenus 3, son of Cercaphus 2, son of Aeolus 1, son of Hellen 1 the eponym of the Hellenes, son of Deucalion 1 the man who survived the Flood. Amyntor 1, doing exactly as Phineus 2, blinded his son on the strength of a false accusation of seduction made against him by Phthia 3, concubine of Amyntor 1. But Peleus brought Phoenix 2 to Chiron, and the Centaur restored his sight.

Lives with wife and mother

Although it has been told that Philyra 1 was turned into a tree when she discovered that she had given birth to a monster, others say that Chiron lived in a cave in Mount Pelion, which is in Magnesia (Thessaly), with both his wife and his mother, and that is what Jason, who was one of the disciples of this Centaur, says:

"... I shall give proof of Chiron's training; for I come from his cave, from the presence of Chariclo and Philyra, where the holy daughters of the Centaur raised me." (Jason to Pelias 1. Pindar, Pythian Odes 4.112).

Chiron and Cyrene

Chiron is regarded as a civilized Centaur, sometimes wiser than the gods, and certainly wiser than men, whom he surpasses in justice. As it is told, not even Apollo knew, or seemed to know, who Cyrene was when he found her near Mount Pelion without spears wrestling alone with a lion. But the god asked the Centaur to leave his cave, and tell him all about her. And Chiron showed amazement at the god's question:

"Do you ask of the maiden's birth? You who know the end supreme of all things, and all the ways that lead thereto, the number of the leaves that the earth puts forth in spring, the number of the sands that, in the sea and the rivers, are driven before the waves ..." (Chiron to Apollo. Pindar, Pythian Odes 9.45).

However, Apollo was not ignorant, says Chiron, but instead reluctant to show his love openly:

"Secret, O Apollo! are the keys of wise Persuasion, that unlock the shrine of love; and both gods and men blush to take the pleasure of a bed for the first time openly. For even in your case, for whom it is unlawful to touch on falsehood, a gentle impulse has swayed you to dissemble your words." (Chiron to Apollo Pindar, Pythian Odes 9.39).

After this, Apollo carried Cyrene off to that part of the land of Libya where in later times he founded a city and named it, after her, Cyrene. And this was decided that very day when Apollo saw the girl, for as it is said:

"Swift is the achievement, short are the ways of gods, when bent on speed." (Pindar, Pythian 9.68).

Cyrene, who was daughter of King Hypseus 1 of the LAPITHS, gave birth to Aristaeus, who himself became a disciple of Chiron, and the discoverer of honey and the olive.

7115: Achilles and Chiron. National Archaeological Museum, Naples.

Mortally wounded

Chiron was mortally wounded in the following way: Heracles 1, in his wanderings, came to the cave of the Centaur Pholus 1, who received him and set roast meat before him. Heracles 1, then, asked for wine, but Pholus 1 said that he feared to open the jar since it belonged to all CENTAURS in common. After some discussion on this matter, the jar was opened and the CENTAURS, scenting the smell, arrived armed at the cave of Pholus 1. A battle ensued, and Heracles 1 shot and repelled many of them, who took refuge with Chiron. At that point, Heracles 1 shot an arrow at Elatus 3, which passed through his arm, sticking in Chiron's knee. Distressed at this, Heracles 1 applied a medicine which the Centaur gave him. But the wound was incurable, because the arrows of Heracles 1 had been dipped in the gall of the Hydra, and were therefore utterly poisonous. However, others have said that it was when Heracles 1 once visited Chiron and they were examining his arrows, that one of them fell on the Centaur's foot, bringing about his death. And still others have said that Chiron himself tried to draw the bow, and the arrow, slipping from his hand, fell on his foot, wounding him.

His fate foretold by his daughter

In any case Chiron, who was in pain, wished to die, but, being immortal, he could not. So when Heracles 1, after some time, released Prometheus 1, he presented Chiron to Zeus, who consented to die in Prometheus 1's stead. This had been prophesied by Chiron's daughter, the seeress Ocyrrhoe 2:

"You also, dear father, who are now immortal and destined by the law of birth to last through all the ages, shall some day long for power to die, when you will be in agony with all your limbs burning with the fatal Hydra's blood. But at last, from immortal the gods shall make you capable of death, and the three goddesses shall loose your thread." (Ocyrrhoe 2 to Chiron. Ovid, Metamorphoses 2.649).

This genial Centaur, who renounced immortality, reared famous disciples, and surpassed men in justice, conscientiousness and diligence, was put among the stars, and is known today as the constellation Centaur (Centaurus).






Cronos & Philyra 1

Cronos is one of the TITANS. Ruler of the universe before Zeus.
Philyra 1 is one of the OCEANIDS. When Cronos was still the ruler of the universe, and was on earth looking for the child Zeus, he assumed the form of a steed and lay with Philyra 1. When she gave birth to a centaur, thinking she had borne a strange species, she asked to be changed into another form, and she was turned by Zeus into the tree called linden.

Chariclo 2


Melanippe 1

Ocyrrhoe 2

Endeis married Aeacus and became by him the mother of Peleus and Telamon. Some have said that Endeis was daughter not of Chiron but of Sciron, the bandit killed by Theseus.
Melanippe 1 was seduced by Aeolus 1, and being afraid of her father, she fled into the forest so that Chiron might not see that she had given birth to a child. Melanippe 1 was turned into a mare by the gods when she asked to be concealed, or by Artemis for ceasing to worship her.
Ocyrrhoe 2 turned into a mare.

Genealogical Charts

Names in this chart: Achilles, Aeacus, Aeolus 1, Ajax 1, Alcathous 3, Chariclo 2, Chiron, Cronos, Deidamia 1, Endeis, Eurysaces, Gaia, Hesione 2, Ilus 2, Laomedon 1, Lycomedes 1, Melanippe 1, Melanippe 1's Child, Neoptolemus, Nereus, Oceanus, Ocyrrhoe, Peleus, Pelops 1, Periboea 2, Philyra 1, Tecmessa 1, Telamon, Tethys, Teucer 1, Thetis, Uranus.

Chiron's Disciples

When Achilles' mother Thetis left home and returned to the NEREIDS, Peleus brought his son Achilles to Chiron, who received him as a disciple, and fed him on the inwards of lions and wild swine, and the marrows of bears.

Actaeon, who was bred by Chiron to be a hunter, is famous for his terrible death; for he, in the shape of a deer, was devoured by his own dogs. The dogs, ignorant of what they had done, came to the cave of Chiron seeking for their master, and the Centaur fashioned an image of Actaeon in order to sooth their grief.


The MUSES were, according to some, those who taught Aristaeus the arts of healing and of prophecy. Aristaeus discovered honey and the olive. After the death of his son Actaeon he migrated to Sardinia.

The great medicine of Asclepius is based on Chiron's teaching. Apollo killed Asclepius' mother Coronis 2 while still pregnant but snatched the child from the pyre, bringing him to Chiron who reared him and taught him the arts of healing and hunting.

Aeson gave his son Jason to the Centaur Chiron to rear at the time when he was deposed by King Pelias 1. Jason is the Captain of the ARGONAUTS.


Medus, who some call Polyxenus 3 and others Medeus, is the man after whom the country Media was called. He was the son of Medea by either Aegeus 1 or by Jason. Medus died in a military campaign against the Indians.

Patroclus 1
Patroclus 1's father left him in Chiron's cave, to study, side by side with Achilles, the chords of the harp, and learn to hurl spears and mount and ride upon the back of genial Chiron.

Peleus, father of Achilles, was once rescued by Chiron: Acastus, son of Pelias 1, purified Peleus for having killed (undesignedly) his father-in-law Eurytion 2. However, Acastus' wife, Astydamia 2, fell in love with Peleus, and as he refused her she intrigued against him, telling Acastus that Peleus had attempted her virtue. Acastus would not kill the man he had purified, but took him to hunt on Mount Pelion and when Peleus had fallen asleep Acastus deserted him, hiding his sword. On arising and looking for his sword, Peleus was caught by the CENTAURS and would have perished, if he had not been saved by Chiron, who also restored him his sword, after having sought and found it. Chiron arranged the marriage of Peleus with Thetis, bringing Achilles up for her. He also told Peleus how to conquer the Nereid Thetis who, changing her form, could prevent him from catching her. But others say that it was Proteus 2 who helped Peleus. When Peleus married Thetis, he received from Chiron an ashen spear, which Achilles took to the war at Troy. And as they say, no one among the Achaeans was able to wield that heavy and huge spear. This spear is the same with which Achilles healed Telephus, by scraping off the rust.

Related sections Chiron in GROUPS : CENTAURS, CONSTELLATIONS  

AO.452; Apd.1.2.4, 1.9.28, 2.5.4, 3.13.6; Dio.4.12.8, 4.55.5-7; Hes.The.1001; Hom.Il.4.215ff., 11.832, 19.390; Hyg.Ast.2.18, 2.38; Hyg.Fab.14, 26, 138; Ov.Fast.5.383, 5.398; Ov.Met.2.636ff., 6.126; Pau.2.3.8; Pin.Nem.4.60; Pin.Pyth.3.1, 4.115, 9.30; Prop.2.1.60; Stat.Achil.1.175; Strab.11.13.10; TIT.6; Val.1.407; Vir.Geo.3.550.