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.