Achilles and Cheiron
In spite of Phoenix’s claims in Book 9 to have educated Achilles, in the usual version referred to by Eurypylos Cheiron the Centaur taught him. Cheiron was the one learned and civilized Centaur in a wild race of savages. Cheiron taught Achilles the arts of a gentleman: to play the lyre and recite poetry, to hunt, and to heal. Here in this Roman fresco from Herculaneum in Italy, Cheiron, bearded and wearing an ivy wreath, holds a plectrum and shows the young Achilles how to play on the lyre. The Romans loved these mythical tales and painted them on their walls as decoration, usually set in a painted frame. This fresco was preserved when Herculaneum was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in ad 79.
From Barry B. Powell’s new free verse translation of The Iliad by Homer. Barry B. Powell is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.