Folia Magazine is finally back from our winter break! We take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy new year, as we resume our regular posting by welcoming a new Mulier Clara to our Women's Wednesday column. This week's story once again involves Hercules and is related to our latest Mulier Clara, Iole: the protagonist this time is, in fact, Deianira, Hercules' wife at the time.

Deianira, daughter of the king of Calydon, was deemed so beautiful that Hercules had to fight the river god Achelous in order to take her in marriage. After their wedding, as they were traveling to Hercules' homeland, the couple was stopped by a river. A centaur named Nessus then offered to ferry Deianira across the river: once they reached the other bank, however, Nessus suddenly ran away, trying to kidnap the woman. Hercules, unable to outrun the centaur, took his bow and shot Nessus with a poisoned arrow; as he was dying, the centaur told Deianira to take his shirt with her, since the blood staining the cloth would one day have been useful to ensure that Hercules, by simply wearing it, would only be in love with her. Hercules then reunited with Deianira, and the couple went on with their lives.

Year after year Hercules proved to be more and more unfaithful to his wife, fathering several children all across Greece; it was when the hero fell in love with Iole, however, that Deianira remembered Nessus' words and decided to send the old, stained shirt to her husband. As Hercules wore it, the poisoned blood entered his pores: the hero instantly went crazy with pain, throwing himself into a fire.

“Deianira”, illumination from the manuscript “De Mulieribus Claris”, decorated by Robinet Testard, ms. Français 599, f. 21r, 1488-1496, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Paris.

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