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IMMEDIATELY after the birth of Achilles, the son of Thetis and Peleus, his mother plunged him in the river Styx, to render him invulnerable, and committed him to the Centaur Chiron, so famed for his knowledge and skill in physic, in music, and in the art of war. This demigod, the son of Saturn and Phillyra, being established at the court of Peleus, attached himself particularly to the education of Achilles, feeding him with the marrow of lions, bears, and tygers, and formed him for single combats.
Chiron, who had likewise for his disciples Esculapius, Castor and Pollux, Hercules and Jason, may be regarded as one of the most ancient personages of Greece, having preceded the conquest of the Golden Fleece and the Trojan war. The ancients gave him the name of Centaur, attributing his particular form to the inhabitants of the marshes of Nephele and Thessaly, who were first acquainted with the art of breaking horses; and Chiron has, without doubt, been only represented under this monstrous shape because he was one of the first who excelled in that art.
This charming picture, (better known by the title of the Education of Achilles), in which elegance and purity
of design, freshness and vigour of colouring, and delicacy of pencil, are united, was exhibited in the year 1783, at the Saloon of the Louvre; and met with numerous admirers. The young Achilles, conducted by Chiron into an arid desert, the asylum of wild beasts, demands peculiar attention. He has already overcome a lion, and having just discovered another prey, attentive to the voice and motions of his instructor, strives to put himself in an attitude of darting upon the animal an unerring javelin. At the feet of the Centaur, and of the son of Peleus, a lyre is perceptible-the amusement of their leisure hours.