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Black and white illustration of Greek mythological centaur Chiron holding snake and bow
Dorling Kindersley/ Getty Images
Definition: 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.

Source: "Achilles' Teachers: Chiron and Phoenix in the 'Iliad'," by C. J. Mackie; Greece & Rome,(1997), pp. 1-10.

Alternate Spellings: Cheiron

Chiron lived with his wife, the nymph Chariclo, and their children on Mt. Pelion.

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