I consider myself one of the most stoic, antagonistic, anti-"love" wenches on the face of this planet. However, requests for tales of love [and love lost] are among my most numerous, so I have decided to share a few of my favorites. Again, not all of the stories of amour were included, but rather a selected group that I feel are representative of Greek mythology.
Heck, the myths involving Zeus alone would make War and Peace look like a friggin' abstract! Acontius was a young man from Chios who, at a festival at Delos, fell in love with the Athenian Cydippe. He threw a coin at her, and she picked it up and read, "I swear by the temple of Artemis that I shall marry Acontius This myth reiterates how tradition—and male aspirations—took precedence over female wishes, whatever they may or may not be. Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus, king of the winds. Her marriage to Ceyx was bliss—too happy, in fact. The couple often referred to each other as "Zeus" and "Hera", which naturally infuriated the king and queen of the gods.
Whilst at sea, Zeus hurled a thunderbolt at Ceyx's ship, drowning the man. He appeared before his wife as an apparition, telling her of his fate.
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Distraught, Alcyone threw herself into the sea in order to join him. The gods pitied the woeful couple and transformed them into kingfishers. This may be the origins of "halcyon days", seven days before and after the winter solstice when Aeolus demanded the calm of the seas in honor of the couple. Yet another instance of a male pig abadoning his faithful companion after she becomes of no use to him.
Ariadne was the daughter of the the king of Crete, Minos. Minos had instigated from Athens a sacrifice of seven youths and seven maidens to feed the Minotaur, and the hero Theseus was to be one of the victims. However, Ariadne fell in love with him, and she assisted him by giving him a ball of gold thread to help him in the labyrinth where the creature dwelt.
She accompanied him back on the voyage to Athens but he soon dumped her on the island of Dia, or Naxos. The god Dionysus found the wounded girl and made her his wife. He placed her wedding crown, the Corona Borealis, into the heavens as a symbol of their love. One of the most tragic love stories of Greek mythology. Orpheus was the son of the Muse Calliope and therefore a grand musician.
His wife was a dryad, Eurydice, who also attracted the attentions of Aristaeus. Aristaeus pursued her until she stepped on a poisonous snake and was forced into the Underworld. Orpheus was determined to retrieve his beloved. He journeyed down to the underworld, first charming Charon, ferryman of the dead, and lulling to sleep Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog. He encountered Hades, who initially refused to release Eurydice, but Orpheus's music so touched Persephone that she pleaded Orpheus's case, and Hades relented.
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There was one condition: that Orpheus not look back on their way out. Of course, Orpheus was worried that Eurydice was not behind him, and he fatefully glanced back to see if she was following him. She disappeared back into Hades, and he lost her forever. Unable to live without her, Orpheus spent the rest of his days wandering in aimless sorrow before he was finally murdered by maenads, the drunken followers of Dionysus.
Orphica, Argonautica 12 ff trans. West Greek hymns C3rd - C2nd B. Orphica, Theogonies Fragment - from Proclus trans. Orphica, Theogonies Fragments from the Deveni Papyrus : "Zeus, when from his father the prophesied rule and strength in his hands he took and the glorious daimon. Kronos Cronus who did a mighty deed to Ouranos Uranus, Sky , son of Nyx Night , who became king first of all; following him again Kronos Time , and then Zeus the contriver.
Nonnus, Dionysiaca Rouse Greek epic C5th A. Do not provoke Gaia Earth , my [Nyx's] father's [Khaos'] agemate, from whom alone we are all sprung, we who dwell in Olympos. Homer, Iliad Lattimore Greek epic C8th B. I reached her in my flight, and Zeus let be, though he was angry, in awe of doing anything to swift Nyx' displeasure. Bacchylides, Fragment 1b trans. Aeschylus, Eumenides ff trans. Weir Smyth Greek tragedy C5th B. We are called Arai Arae, Curses in our homes beneath the earth. Lycophron, Alexandra trans.
Mair Greek poet C3rd B. Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. Jones Greek travelogue C2nd A. Each has his feet turned different ways. The inscriptions declare, as one could infer without inscriptions, that the figures are Thanatos Death and Hypnos Sleep , with Nyx Night the nurse of both. Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface trans. Grant Roman mythographer C2nd A. Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. Rackham Roman rhetorician C1st B. Either therefore you must accept these monstrosities or you must discard the first claimants also.
The Greek equivalents of the Roman names have been added to the following text in square brackets. Cicero's list mostly follows Hesiod's Theogony , albeit with Latin translations of the word-names]. Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. Melville Roman epic C1st B. Virgil, Aeneid 6. Day-Lewis Roman epic C1st B. Virgil, Aeneid Seneca, Hercules Furens ff trans. Miller Roman tragedy C1st A. Nyx, Night], sluggish brother of cruel Mors Death [Thanatos]. So Zeus calmed his savage resentment with difficulty, and cried out to Hera.
Homer, Iliad 8. There stands the awful home of murky Nyx Night wrapped in dark clouds. In front of it the son of Iapetos [Atlas] stands immovably upholding the wide heaven upon his head and unwearying hands, where Nyx Night and Hemera Day draw near and greet one another as they pass the great threshold of bronze : and while the one is about to go down into the house, the other one comes out the door.
And the house never holds them both within; but always one is without the house passing over the earth, while the other stays at home and waits until the time for her journeying come; and the one hold all-seeining light for them on earth, but the other holds in her arms Hypnos Hypnus, Sleep the brother of Thanatos Thanatus, Death , even evil Nyx Night , wrapped in a vaporous cloud. Glowing Helios the Sun never looks upon them with his beams, neither as he goes up into heaven nor as he comes down from heaven.
Pindar, Dirges Fragment trans. Sandys Greek lyric C5th B. Bacchylides, Fragment 25 trans. And now, Hephaistos, yours is the charge to observe the mandates laid upon you by the Father [Zeus]--to clamp this miscreant [the Titan Prometheus] upon the high craggy rocks in shackles of binding adamant that cannot be broken. For your own flower, flashing fire, source of all arts, he has purloined and bestowed upon mortal creatures.
Such is his offence; for this he is bound to make requital to the gods, so that he may learn to bear with the sovereignty of Zeus and cease his man-loving ways. Hephaistos Hephaestus : Kratos and Bia, for you indeed the behest of Zeus is now fulfilled, and nothing remains to stop you. But for me--I do not have the nerve myself to bind with force a kindred god upon this rocky cleft assailed by cruel winter. Yet, come what may, I am constrained to summon courage to this deed; for it is perilous to disregard the commandments of the Father.
And glad you shall be when spangled-robed night shall veil his brightness and when the sun shall scatter again the frost of morning. Evermore the burden of your present ill shall wear you out; for your deliverer is not yet born. Kratos : Well, why delay and excite pity in vain?
Why do you not detest a god most hateful to the gods, since he has betrayed your prerogative to mortals? Hephaistos : A strangely potent tie is kinship, and companionship as well. Kratos : Hurry then to cast the fetters about him, so that the Father [Zeus] does not see you loitering. Hephaistos : Well, there then! The bands are ready, as you may see.
Kratos : Cast them about his wrists and with might strike with your hammer; rivet him to the rocks. Hephaistos : There! The work is getting done and not improperly. Kratos: Strike harder, clamp him tight, leave nothing loose; for he is wondrously clever at finding a way even out of desperate straits. Hephaistos : This arm, at least, is fixed permanently. Kratos : Now rivet this one too and securely, so that he may learn, for all his cleverness, that he is a fool compared to Zeus.
Hephaistos : None but he could justly blame my work. Kratos : Now drive the adamantine wedge's stubborn edge straight through his chest with your full force. Hephaistos : Alas, Prometheus, I groan for your sufferings. Kratos : What! Shrinking again and groaning over the enemies of Zeus? Take care, so that the day does not come when you shall grieve for yourself. Hephaistos: You see a spectacle grievous for eyes to behold. Kratos: I see this man getting his deserts. Come, cast the girths about his sides. Hephaistos : I must do this; spare me your needless ordering.
Kratos : Indeed, I'll order you, yes and more--I'll hound you on. Get down below, and ring his legs by force. Hephaistos : There now! The work's done and without much labor. Kratos : Now hammer the piercing fetters with your full force; for the appraiser of our work is severe. Hephaistos : The utterance of your tongue matches your looks. Kratos : Be softhearted then, but do not attack my stubborn will and my harsh mood.
Hephaistos: Let us be gone, since he has got the fetters on his limbs. Are mortals able to lighten your load of sorrow? Falsely the gods call you Prometheus, for you yourself need forethought to free yourself from this handiwork. See what I, a god, endure from the gods. Look, with what shameful torture I am racked and must wrestle throughout the countless years of time apportioned me. Such is the ignominious bondage the new commander of the blessed [Zeus] has devised against me. For present misery and misery to come I groan, not knowing where it is fated that deliverance from these sorrows shall arise.
And yet, what am I saying? All that is to be I know full well and in advance, nor shall any affliction come upon me unforeseen. Yet I am not able to speak nor be silent about my fate. For it is because I bestowed good gifts on mortals that this miserable yoke of constraint has been bound upon me. Such is the offence for which I pay the penalty, riveted in fetters beneath the open sky. Behold me, an ill-fated god, chained, the foe of Zeus, hated of all who enter the court of Zeus, because of my very great love for mankind.
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound ff : "Prometheus [after being chained to the mountain] : Ha! What murmur, what scent wings to me, its source invisible, heavenly or human, or both?
Love Stories from Greek Mythology.
Has someone come to this crag at the edge of the world to stare at my sufferings--or with what motive? What's this? What may be this rustling stir of birds I hear again nearby? The air whirs with the light rush of wings. Whatever approaches causes me alarm [i. For our group has come in swift rivalry of wings to this crag as friend to you, having won our father's [Okeanos' Oceanus' ] consent as best we might.
The swift-coursing breezes bore me on; for the reverberation of the clang of iron pierced the depths of our caves and drove my grave modesty away in fright; unsandalled I have hastened in a winged car. Prometheus : Alas! Offspring of fruitful Tethys and of him who with his sleepless current encircles the whole earth, children of your father Okeanos, behold, see with what fetters, upon the summit crag of this ravine, I am to hold my unenviable watch.
Chorus : I see, Prometheus; and over my eyes a mist of tears and fear spread as I saw your body withering ignominiously upon this rock in these bonds of adamant. For there are new rulers in heaven, and Zeus governs with lawless customs; that which was mighty before he now brings to nothing. Prometheus : Oh if only he had hurled me below the earth, yes beneath Haides, the entertainer of the dead, into impassable Tartaros Tartarus [like the other Titanes], and had ruthlessly fastened me in fetters no hand can loose, so that neither god nor any other might have gloated over this agony I feel!
But, now, a miserable plaything of the winds, I suffer pains to delight my enemies. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound ff : "[The chained Prometheus predicts his release :] Truly the day shall come when, although I am tortured in stubborn fetters, the prince of the blessed [Zeus] will need me to reveal the new design whereby he shall be stripped of his sceptre and his dignities [i.
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One day his [Zeus'] judgement will soften, when he has been crushed in the way that I know. Then, calming down his stubborn wrath, he shall at last [release the Titan and] bond with me in union and friendship, as eager as I am to welcome him.
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Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound ff : "Chorus [of Okeanides Oceanids ] : Then it was on a charge like this [the theft of fire] that Zeus-- Prometheus : Torments me and in no way gives me respite from pain. Chorus : And is there no end assigned to your ordeal? Prometheus : No, none except when it seems good to him. Chorus : But how will it seem good to him? What hope is there? Prometheus :. Of my own will, yes, of my own will I erred--I will not deny it.
By helping mortals I found suffering for myself; nevertheless I did not think I would be punished in this way--wasting away upon cliffs in mid-air, my portion this desolate and dreary crag. And now, bewail no more my present woes; alight on the ground and listen to my oncoming fortunes so that you may be told them from end to end. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound ff : "[The Titan Okeanos Oceanus visits Prometheus bound to express his sympathy:] Okeanos Oceanus : I see, Prometheus; and I want to give you the best advice, although you yourself are wily.
Learn to know yourself and adapt yourself to new ways; for new also is the ruler among the gods. If you hurl forth words so harsh and of such whetted edge, perhaps Zeus may hear you, though throned far off, high in the heavens, and then your present multitude of sorrows shall seem but childish sport. Oh wretched sufferer! Put away your wrathful mood and try to find release from these miseries.
Perhaps this advice may seem to you old and dull; but your plight, Prometheus, is only the wages of too boastful speech. You still have not learned humility, nor do you bend before misfortune, but would rather add even more miseries to those you have. Therefore take me as your teacher and do not add insult to injury, seeing that a harsh monarch now rules who is accountable to no one. So now I will depart and see whether I can release you from these sufferings.
And may you hold your peace and be not too blustering of speech. Or, can it be that for all your exceeding wisdom, you do not know that chastisement is inflicted on a wagging tongue? Prometheus : I envy you because you have escaped blame for having dared to share with me in my troubles. So now leave me alone and let it not concern you.
Do what you want, you cannot persuade him [Zeus]; for he is not easy to persuade. Beware that you do not do yourself harm by the mission you take. Shedding from my eyes a coursing flood of tears I wet my tender cheeks with their moist streams. For Zeus, holding this unenviable power by self-appointed laws, displays towards the gods of old an overweening spirit. Now the whole earth cries aloud in lamentation [missing text]. The waves of the sea pontos utter a cry as they fall, the deep laments, the black abyss of Aides [Haides] rumbles in response, and the streams of pure-flowing rivers lament your piteous pain.
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound ff : "Prometheus : Not in this way is Moira Fate , who brings all to fulfillment, destined to complete this course [i. Zeus will not relent and release Prometheus prematurely]. Only when I have been bent by pangs and tortures infinite am I to escape my bondage. Chorus : Why, what is fated for Zeus except to hold eternal sway? Prometheus : Think of some other subject, for it is not the proper time to speak of this. No matter what, this must be kept concealed; for it is by safeguarding it that I am to escape my dishonorable bonds and outrage.
Zeus will be forced to release Prometheus in return for knowledge of a secret prophesy revealing which the goddess destined to bear a son greater than his father--a child which, if sired by Zeus, would threaten his throne. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound ff : "[Chorus to Prometheus :] Come, my friend, how mutual was your reciprocity? Prometheus suffers for his gifts mankind, but mankind can do nothing to help him in his plight. What aid? Did you not see the helpless infirmity, no better than a dream, in which the blind generation of men is shackled?
Never shall the counsels of mortal men transgress the ordering of Zeus. Io : Tell me who has bound you fast in this ravine. Prometheus : Zeus by his will, Hephaistos Hephaestus by his hand. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound ff : "Prometheus : Ah, you would hardly bear my agonies to whom it is not foredoomed to die; for death would have freed me from my sufferings. But now no limit to my tribulations has been appointed until Zeus is hurled from his sovereignty.
Io : What! Shall Zeus one day be hurled from his dominion? Io : By whom shall he [Zeus] be despoiled of the sceptre of his sovereignty? Prometheus : By himself and his own empty-headed purposes. Io : In what way? Oh tell me, if there be no harm in telling. Prometheus : He shall make a marriage that shall one day cause him distress. Io : With a divinity or with a mortal? If it may be told, speak out. Prometheus : Why ask with whom? I may not speak of this. Io : Is it by his consort that he shall be dethroned? Prometheus : Yes, since she shall bear a son mightier than his father.
Io : And has he no means to avert this doom? Prometheus : No, none--except me, if I were released from bondage. Io : Who then is to release you against the will of Zeus? Prometheus : It is to be one of your own grandchildren [i. Io : What did you say? A child of mine will release you from your misery? Prometheus : The third in descent after ten generations.
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound ff : "Of her [Io's] seed, however, shall be born a man of daring [Herakles Heracles ], renowned with the bow, who shall deliver me [Prometheus] from these toils. Such is the oracle recounted to me by my mother, Titan Themis, born long ago. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound ff : "Prometheus : Yes, truly, the day will come when Zeus, although stubborn of soul, shall be humbled, seeing that he plans a marriage [i. Deliverance from such ruin no one of the gods can show him clearly except me.
I know the fact and the means. So let him sit there in his assurance, putting his trust in the crash reverberating on high and brandishing his fire-breathing bolt in his hands. For these shall not protect him from falling in ignominious and unendurable ruin. Such an adversary is he now preparing despite himself, a prodigy irresistible, even one who shall discover a flame mightier than the lightning and a deafening crash to outroar the thunder; a prodigy who shall shiver the trident, Poseidon's spear, that scourge of the sea and shaker of the land.
Then, wrecked upon this evil, Zeus shall learn how different it is to be a sovereign and a slave. Chorus [of Okeanides Oceanids ] : Surely, it is only your own desire that you utter as a curse against Zeus. Prometheus : I speak what shall be brought to pass and, moreover, my own desire. Chorus : Must we really look for one to gain mastery over Zeus?
Prometheus : Yes, and he shall bear upon his neck pangs more galling than these of mine. Chorus : How is it that you are not afraid to utter such taunts? Prometheus : Why should I fear since I am fated not to die? Chorus : But he might inflict on you an ordeal even more bitter than this.
Prometheus : Let him, for all I care!
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I am prepared for anything. Chorus : Wise are they who do homage to Adrasteia the inescapable. Prometheus : Worship, adore, and fawn upon whoever is your lord. But for Zeus I care less than nothing. Let him do his will, let him hold his power for his little day — since he will not bear sway over the gods for long. I speak. The Father [Zeus] commands that you [Prometheus] tell what marriage you boast of, whereby he is to be hurled from power--and this, mark well, set forth in no riddling fashion, but point by point, as the case exactly stands; and do not impose upon me a double journey, Prometheus--you see Zeus is not appeased by dealings such as yours.
You shall learn nothing about which you question me. There is no torment or device by which Zeus shall induce me to utter thisuntil these injurious fetters are loosed. So then, let his blazing lightning be hurled, and with the white wings of the snow and thunders of earthquake let him confound the reeling world. For nothing of this shall bend my will even to tell at whose hands he is fated to be hurled from his sovereignty. Hermes : Look now whether this course seems to profit you.
Prometheus : Long ago has this my course been foreseen and resolved. Hermes : Bend your will, perverse fool, oh bend your will at last to wisdom in face of your present sufferings. Prometheus : In vain you trouble me, as though it were a wave you try to persuade. Never think that, through terror at the will of Zeus, I shall become womanish and, with hands upturned, aping woman's ways, shall importune my greatly hated enemy to release me from these bonds. I am far, far from that. Hermes : I think that by speaking much I will only speak in vain; for you are not soothed nor are you softened by my entreaties.
But if you will not be won to belief by my words, think of what a tempest and a towering wave of woe shall break upon you past escape. First, the Father will shatter this jagged cliff with thunder and lightning-flame, and will entomb your frame, while the rock shall still hold you clasped in its embrace.
But when you have completed a long stretch of time, you shall come back again to the light. Then indeed the winged hound of Zeus, the ravening eagle, coming an unbidden banqueter the whole day long, with savage appetite shall tear your body piecemeal into great rents and feast his fill upon your liver until it is black with gnawing. Look for no term of this your agony until some god shall appear to take upon himself your woes and of his own free will descend into the sunless realm of Haides and the dark deeps of Tartaros.
Therefore be advised, since this is no counterfeited vaunting but utter truth; for the mouth of Zeus does not know how to utter falsehood, but will bring to pass every word. May you consider warily and reflect, and never deem stubbornness better than wise counsel. Chorus [of Okeanides Oceanids ] : To us, at least, Hermes seems not to speak untimely; for he bids you to lay aside your stubbornness and seek the good counsel of wisdom.
Be advised! It is shameful for the wise to persist in error. Prometheus : No news to me, in truth, is the message this fellow has proclaimed so noisily. Yet for enemy to suffer ill from enemy is no disgrace. Therefore let the lightning's forked curl be cast upon my head and let the sky be convulsed with thunder and the wrack of savage winds; let the hurricane shake the earth from its rooted base, and let the waves of the sea mingle with their savage surge the courses of the stars in heaven; and let him lift me on high and hurl me down to black Tartaros with the swirling floods of stern Necessity: do what he will, me he shall never bring to death.
Hermes: Such indeed are the thoughts and the words one hears from men deranged. Where does his prayer fall short of raving? Where does he abate his frenzy? Chorus : Use some other strain and urge me to some other course in which you are likely to convince me. This utterance in your flood of speech is, I think, past all endurance.
How do you charge me to practise baseness? With him I am content to suffer any fate; for I have learned to detest traitors, and there is no pest I abhor more than this. Hermes : Well then, bear my warning in memory and do not blame your fortune when you are caught in the toils of calamity; nor ever say that it was Zeus who cast you into suffering unforeseen. Not so, but blame yourselves.
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For well forewarned, and not suddenly or secretly shall you be entangled in the inextricable net of calamity by reason of your folly. Behold, this stormy turmoil advances against me visibly, sent by Zeus to frighten me. O holy mother mine, O you firmament that revolves the common light of all, you see the wrongs I suffer! To them Prometheus describes his tortures and his benefits to man.
In his search for the golden apples of the Hesperides, Herakles Heracles , having come to the Kaukasos Caucasus , where Prometheus is confined, receives from him directions concerning his course through the land of the peoples in the farthest north and the perils to be encountered on his homeward march after slaying Geryon in the farthest west.
Herakles' shooting of the eagle that fed on the vitals of the Titan [is then described]. Behold me fettered, clamped to these rough rocks, even as a ship is moored fast by timid sailors, fearful of night because of the roaring sea. Thus hath Zeus, the son of Kronos Cronus , fastened me, and to the will of Zeus hath Hephaistos Hephaestus lent his hand.
With cruel art hath he riven my limbs by driving in these bolts. Ah, unhappy that I am! By his skill transfixed, I tenant this stronghold of the Erinyes Furies. And now, each third woeful day, with dreadful swoop, the minister of Zeus with his hooked talons rends me asunder by his cruel repast. Then, crammed and glutted to the full on my fat liver, the utters a prodigious scream and, soaring aloft, with winged tail fawns upon my gore. But when my gnawed liver swells, renewed in growth, greedily doth he return anew to his fell repast.
Thus do I feed this guardian of my awful torture, who mutilates me living with never-ending pain. For fettered, as ye see, by the bonds of Zeus, I have no power to drive from my vitals the accursed bird. Thus, robbed of self-defence, I endure woes fraught with torment: longing for death, I look around for an ending of my misery; but by the doom of Zeus I am thrust far from death.
And this my ancient dolorous agony, intensified by the dreadful centuries, is fastened upon my body, from which there fall, melted by the blazing sun, drops that unceasingly pour upon the rocks of Kaukasos Caucasus. Aeschylus, Fragment Sphinx from Athenaeus, Deipnosophists Athenaeus Athenaeus himself Melanippides, Fragment from Scholiast on Homer's Iliad trans. When Zeus found out, he ordered Hephaistos Hephaestus to rivet the body of Prometheus to Mount Kaukasos Caucasus , a Skythian Scythian mountain, where he was kept fastened and bound for many years. Each day an eagle would fly to him and munch on the lobes of his liver, which would then grow back at night.
That was the price that Prometheus paid for stealing fire, until Herakles set him free later on. Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. Then he selected for himself a restraining bond of olive, and released Prometheus; and he offered Zeus Kheiron Chiron , who was willing to die in Herakles' place. Prometheus advised Herakles not to go after the apples himself, but rather to relive Atlas of the celestial sphere and dispatch him. So when Herakles reached Atlas among the Hyperboreans, he remembered Prometheus' advise and took over the sphere.
Herakles Heracles let loose an arrow at the Kentaroi as they huddled round Kheiron, which penetrated the arm of Elatos Elatus and landed in Kheiron's knee. In horror Herakles ran to him, pulled out the arrow and dressed the wound with a salve that Kheiron handed him. The festering wound was incurable, however, and Kheiron moved into his cave, where he yearned for death, but could not die because he was immortal.
Prometheus thereupon proposed Herakles to Zeus, to become immortal in place of Kheiron: and so Kheiron died.