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Sagittarius: The Archer

Myth based on the original Greek legend

 

Once upon a time in the ancient lands of Greece, long before horses galloped under the weight of humans, there lived the great Chiron, the centaur. Chiron was a kind, talented, and gentle creature. Half-human/ half-horse, Chiron was like other centaurs and could move quickly, think deeply, and act patiently.

Yet, Chiron was also unique because he was an excellent mentor of many men; he was independent and sometimes even playful. Over time, Chiron’s uniqueness and love for all things enabled him to work alongside great people—including the well-known Hercules!

Now, over the ages, centaurs acquired the reputation for being big and scary beasts—with whom they were not to be bothered. They were to be killed immediately if they were a threat to the Greeks or the gods. And because centaurs were such large creatures, they found themselves to be the target of many dangers around them.

Fortunately, many Greeks and gods grew to respect centaurs like Chiron. Chiron was graced with immortality and was free to work and learn and study and heal for eternity. Unfortunately, a lot of the respect for Chiron came solely from a fascination surrounding the horse-like qualities of his body. Chiron grew quite bored of such attraction and instead, focused his time on practicing musical instruments and singing, reading and studying the human body, and learning how to shoot arrows from the great bows he created by hand or found along his journey.

Target practice was Chiron’s specialty. He moved with swiftness and could get a bulls-eye every single time he shot. Chiron was a faithful and honorable archer; his teachings were sought out by everyone far and wide; and he became a voice of equal parts greatness and gentleness and, yes, silliness.

When Hercules arrived at the amphitheater that Chiron spent many of his days, Chiron had already heard of Hercules’ greatness—as stories of the young, fearless Hercules and his abilities to battle even the most horrifying beasts were also spreading far and wide.

The two practiced together, learned together, and healed together for what seemed like ages. Hercules was finally sent on his twelve great tasks by King Eurystheus, and Chiron playfully vowed to stand alongside him from afar. He offered him healing upon return and even crafted a bow and arrow for Hercules to take with him. While Hercules was absent, Chiron continued his life as it was, playing music and games, remaining studious, and practicing his abilities.

After his first expedition, Hercules returned with the hide from a mighty lion, all weapons intact, but no more arrows.  Chiron set to work making him more arrows while he continued the other things he enjoyed.

With new arrows crafted and an again journeying Hercules, Chiron trained a man named Jason and two curious twins in the arts, crafts, studies, and skills of all that he knew. By the time Hercules arrived from his second and third tasks, his three new students were well-equipped to join Hercules on his adventures.

Chiron was a hero in his way but indeed received less attention than the colossal Hercules, who had now defeated a lion, a Hydra, and an enormous deer! Hercules didn’t need a stop between the second and third tasks, however, because he had returned with most of his arrows after his battle with the Hydra. He had dropped his quiver earlier and picked it up before his return to the King and encounter with the deer.

Chiron was testing a new arrow design he had recently engineered as Hercules came into the amphitheater’s ring. His third task had gone so swiftly. But as Chiron observed, Hercules return marked a look of great distress in the young hero’s eyes. Hercules was holding his quiver close, and his bow was in his right hand.

“No matter how many men you can train to battle with me, I will need as many arrows of my own for my next task!” his claim echoed. Chiron could feel the young man’s intense energy, and so, he turned from Hercules so he could calculate the number of arrows to make on his own.

Chiron realized he would have to journey with the young Hercules on his next task to craft his new arrows as they went—giving Hercules an unlimited supply. Although Chiron dreaded the idea of being on the battlefield, he chose to do this favor for his mentee.

Together, Chiron and Hercules survived the successful defeat of the monumental Erymanthian Boar! But at a party to celebrate their success, they were ambushed by a group of rogue centaurs, who became weary of humans and their ideas of them. In the scramble of the ambush, Hercules grabbed unused arrows from the first quiver he had dropped unknowingly in venomous Hydra blood and shot quickly at his targets. Chiron’s exceptional speed meant that he could scramble at the same pace as the attacking centaurs.

As he ran to grapple an incoming centaur, Hercules shot an arrow in unison. The arrow pierced Chiron’s thigh. Chiron shrieked in agony.

Hercules successfully warded off the danger and took Chiron back to the amphitheater. Chiron, despite all the healing practices he had learned and was continuing to learn, could not heal himself of the first Hydra poison that now coursed his veins.

He knew he was destined to live in immense pain and saw in Hercules a similar shock as he bid farewell to the now guilty young hero who had to continue 8 more tasks still.

Being a kind and gentle person, Chiron grew to understand the agony of a man much like Hercules, who Chiron had studied in books and on the battlefield for ages. One such man, Prometheus, was cursed to have his heart eaten by an eagle every day, only to have it grow back to be eaten again once more.

In a proper fit of pain, Chiron approached Zeus and asked that he take the place of Prometheus, for he knew he could no longer aid Hercules. He also knew that Prometheus could gain freedom this way. His newfound empathy for the man allowed him to reason that if he were already going to be in pain for eternity, he should sacrifice himself for another’s freedom. Zeus agreed.

Zeus had also been observing. His sympathy for Chiron was great, and he saw in Chiron a kindness and a gentleness that went unmatched. And so, Zeus freed Prometheus and granted Chiron a great gift of even greater immortal status.

Chiron became the stars in the sky. The constellation Sagittarius is where Chiron is now. He studies us all from the night sky, playfully twinkling in the warm summer sky, and shooting stars that even Hercules found epic. 


The End.

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