Deianeira is the name of the the third wife of the hero and demi-god Heracles in Greek myth. The daughter of Oeneus, king of Calydon, she was nearly abducted by a centaur named Nessus who attempted to rape her, though she was saved by Heracles who shot him with a poisoned arrow. As he was dying, Nessus managed to persuade Deianeira that if she took some of his blood and made it into a potion, it would ensure that Heracles would be faithful to her. For whatever reason she believed him, and kept it until Heracles fell in love with Iole, which was when she sprinkled it on his shirt. However, it turns out the centaur’s blood is toxic to Heracles and it burns him terribly, driving him mad until he throws himself on a funeral pyre. Deianeira kills herself afterward in despair.
There’s also another Deianeira in Greek mythology, an amazon who was (ironically) killed by Heracles during his quest for the girdle of Hippolyta.
Deianeira means “destroyer of men” or “destroyer of her husband” made up of Ancient Greek elements deios δήϊος (hostile, destructive; burning, consuming) and aner (man; husband) combined with the genitive suffix -ia.
- Deianira (Latinized Ancient Greek)
- Deïanira (Latinized Ancient Greek)