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Nessus and Deianira, 1814
Marble. 103,5 x 127,5 cm
Inventory number: A480
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Hercules had married the beautiful Princess Deianira. On their way home, the couple had to cross a river that was so wide that Hercules had to ask the centaur Nessus for help to get his wife brought safely over to the other side. But he should never have done this. Nessus was no harmless helper. His dual nature – half horse, half man – had resulted in his being mentally divided. Although on the surface he appeared to be so trustworthy that a newly married man would dare to leave his beautiful bride in his care, when it came to the point he lacked the ability to keep his instincts under control. So once Nessus has got hold of Deianira, he immediately set about raping her. She screamed for help. Hercules discovered what was happening and slew the centaur with an arrow from his bow.