Centaur – Mythological Horses

CentaurThe Centaur comes from Greek mythology and is said to be a race of creatures with the head and torso of a man and the body and legs of a horse.

Mythology says that the Centaur had a taste for the drink with a tendency to be overindulgent. This paired with his already wild and lusty nature made for notoriously delinquent behavior.

Origin Theories

Perhaps the most commonly held belief is that the centaur myth comes from the reactions of those seeing a horse and rider for the first time. The Aztecs were said to pass on similar myths surrounding their first glimpse of the mounted Spanish cavalry.

Phallas & Centaur - Botticelli

Phallas & Centaur – Botticelli

However, the ancient Greek authors who mention Centaur, describe the animal as a clearly joined beast. Not to mention that their drunken, brawling behavior made them a beast not to be trifled with.

Centaur is often depicted in scenes of battle with the Lapithae when they tried to run off with all of the Lapith women, (a battle which they lost – hungover, perhaps?).

The Abduction of Deianeira by the Centaur Nessus - Louis Jean Lagrenee

The Abduction of Deianeira by the Centaur Nessus – Louis Jean Lagrenee

Famous Centaurs

Probably the most widely known Centaur is Chiron who, unlike his fellow Centaurs, wasn’t much of a drinker. He was known for being thoughtful & kind and often consulted for his skill with medicine.

One of the last highly respected Centaurs, Chiron provided instruction to many a pupil including Achilles, Heracles and Dionysus.

The Education of Achilles - James Barry

The Education of Achilles – James Barry

The Centaur is also widely known as the Sagittarius sign of the zodiac chart. Man & horse united representing the physical embodiment of the corresponding constellation.

The duality of their nature is thought to apply to their psyche as well, often caught between the two natures of their being.

Sagittarius - Johannes Hevelius

Sagittarius – Johannes Hevelius

Lasting Power

These creatures have continued to appear in the artistic world for centuries. Although, interestingly enough, female centaurs (kentaurides) did not make an appearance in Greek literature and art until much later.

More Mythology

The horses of mythology are an interesting bunch, some good, some bad, and some really, really bad. But all of them have an interesting story to tell. I’ll continue to bring you their stories and in the meantime check out more mythological horse creatures.

Hippocampus | Unicorn | Kelpie | Tikbalang | pegasus

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