In Greek mythology, Nessus (Ancient Greek: ??????) was a famouscentaur who was killed by Heracles, and whose tainted blood in turn killed Heracles. He was the son of Centauros. He fought in the conflict with the Lapiths. He became a ferryman on the river Euenos.
Nessus is known for his part in the story of the Tunic of Nessus. After taking the wife of Heracles, Deianeira, across the river, he tried to drive himself upon her. This was seen by Heracles from across the river and fired at a Hydra-poisoned arrow into Nessus's breast. As a closing act of malice, Nessus told Deianeira, as he lay dying, that his blood would ensure that Heracles would not be false to her forever.
Deianeira believed him. Afterwards, when her trust started to wane because of Iole, she gave it to her husband and disperse the centaur's blood on a robe. Heracles went to a party of heroes, where his passion got the better of him. Deianeira inadvertently shed a part of the centaur's blood onto the floor. To her horror, it started to fume by the light of the ascending sun.
She sent her messenger to warn Heracles and immediately recognized it as toxin but it was too late. Heracles lay dying painfully and slowly as his skin burned in real fires or by the heat of toxin. He died a noble death on a funeral pyre of oak branches. Heracles welcomed amongst the gods for his heroic exploits and was subsequently taken to Mount Olympus by Zeus. A similar theme appears in specific variants of the narrative of Medea.
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