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Pablo Picasso, Nessus and Deianeira
Pablo Picasso, Nessus and Deianeira

Ἡρακλῆς δὲ τοῖς Καλυδωνίοις συστρατεύσας ἐπὶ Θεσπρωτοὺς πόλιν τε Ἐφύραν κατὰ κράτος εἷλε καὶ Φυλέα τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Θεσπρωτῶν ἀπέκτεινε. λαβὼν δὲ αἰχμάλωτον τὴν θυγατέρα τοῦ Φυλέως ἐπεμίγη ταύτῃ καὶ ἐτέκνωσε Τληπόλεμον. μετὰ δὲ τὸν Δηϊανείρας γάμον τρισὶν ὕστερον ἔτεσι δειπνῶν παρ’ Οἰνεῖ, διακονοῦντος Εὐρυνόμου τοῦ Ἀρχιτέλους υἱοῦ, παιδὸς τὴν ἡλικίαν, ἁμαρτάνοντος δ’ ἐν τῷ διακονεῖν, πατάξας κονδύλῳ, καὶ βαρυτέρας τῆς πληγῆς γενομένης, ἀπέκτεινεν ἀκουσίως τὸν παῖδα. περιαλγὴς δὲ γενόμενος ἐπὶ τῷ πάθει πάλιν ἐκ τῆς Καλυδῶνος ἑκουσίως ἔφυγε μετὰ τῆς γυναικὸς Δηϊανείρας καὶ Ὕλλου τοῦ ἐκ ταύτης, παιδὸς ὄντος τὴν ἡλικίαν. ἐπεὶ δὲ πορευόμενος ἦλθε πρὸς τὸν Εὐηνὸν ποταμὸν, κατέλαβε Νέσσον τὸν Κένταυρον μισθοῦ διαβιβάζοντα τὸν ποταμόν. οὗτος δὲ πρώτην διαβιβάσας τὴν Δηϊάνειραν, καὶ διὰ τὸ κάλλος ἐρασθείς, ἐπεχείρησε βιάσασθαι ταύτην. ἐπιβοωμένης δ’ αὐτῆς τὸν ἄνδρα, ὁ μὲν Ἡρακλῆς ἐτόξευσε τὸν Κένταυρον, ὁ δὲ Νέσσος μεταξὺ μισγόμενος, καὶ διὰ τὴν ὀξύτητα τῆς πληγῆς εὐθὺς ἀποθνήσκων, ἔφησε τῇ Δηϊανείρᾳ δώσειν φίλτρον, ὅπως μηδεμιᾷ τῶν ἄλλων γυναικῶν Ἡρακλῆς θελήσῃ πλησιάσαι. παρεκελεύσατο οὖν λαβοῦσαν τὸν ἐξ αὑτοῦ πεσόντα γόνον, καὶ τούτῳ προσμίξασαν ἔλαιον καὶ τὸ ἀπὸ τῆς ἀκίδος ἀποστάζον αἷμα, χρῖσαι τὸν χιτῶνα τοῦ Ἡρακλέους. οὗτος μὲν οὖν ταύτην τὴν ὑποθήκην δοὺς τῇ Δηϊανείρᾳ παραχρῆμα ἐξέπνευσεν. ἡ δὲ κατὰ τὴν γενομένην ὑπὸ τοῦ Νέσσου παραγγελίαν εἰς ἄγγος ἀναλαβοῦσα τὸν γόνον, καὶ τὴν ἀκίδα βάψασα, λάθρᾳ τοῦ Ἡρακλέους ἐφύλαττεν. ὁ δὲ διαβὰς τὸν ποταμὸν κατήντησε πρὸς Κήϋκα τὸν τῆς Τραχῖνος βασιλέα, καὶ μετὰ τούτου κατῴκησεν, ἔχων τοὺς ἀεὶ συστρατεύοντας τῶν Ἀρκάδων.
(Diodorus Siculus, Hist. 4.36)

Heracles took the field with the Calydonians against the Thesprotians, captured the city of Ephyra by storm, and slew Phyleus the king of the Thesprotians. And taking prisoner the daughter of Phyleus he lay with her and begat Tlepolemus. Three years after his marriage to Deïaneira Heracles was dining in the home of Oeneus and Eurynomus, the son of Architeles, who was still a lad in years, was serving him, and when the boy made some slip in the service Heracles gave him a blow with his fist, and striking him too hard he unintentionally killed the lad. Overcome with grief at this misfortune he went again into voluntary exile from Calydonia along with his wife Deïaneira and Hyllus, his son by her, who was still a boy in years. And when in his journeying he arrived at the Euenus river he found there the Centaur Nessus who was conveying travellers across the river for a fee. Nessus carried Deïaneira across first, and becoming enamoured of her because of her beauty he tried to assault her. But when she called to her husband for help Heracles shot the Centaur with an arrow, and Nessus, struck even while he was having intercourse with her and because of the sharpness of the blow being at once on the point of death, told Deianeira that he would give her a love-charm to the end that Heracles should never desire to approach any other woman. He urged her, accordingly, to take the seed which had fallen from him and, mixing it with olive oil and the blood which was dripping from the barb of the arrow, to anoint with this the shirt of Heracles. This counsel, then, Nessus gave Deïaneira and at once breathed his last. And she put the seed, as Nessus had enjoined upon her, into a jar and dipped in it the barb of the arrow and kept it all unknown to Heracles. And he, after crossing the river, came to Ceÿx, the king of Trachis, and made his dwelling with him, having with him the Arcadians who always accompanied him on his campaigns. (tr. Charles Henry Oldfather)

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