In Greek mythology, the Shirt of Nessus (also known as Tunic of Nessus or Nessus-robe) was an special poisoned shirt that caused the death of Heracles.

Metaphorically, it represents "a source of misfortune from which there is no escape; a fatal present; anything that wounds the susceptibilities"[1] or a "destructive or expiatory force or influence".[2]


  1. E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898. online
  2. Oxford English Dictionary

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