Centaurs

I’m pretty sure that centaurs were the original poster children for naughty drunken Greeks.  These half human—half horse creatures were known for being wild, barbarian, lustful lushes.  However, when sober, some were upheld for their wisdom, self-sacrifice, and strength (https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/myths/centaurs/).

Even their origins suggest their baser natures—Centaurus (the first centaur) was born when a fiendishly wicked king had an affair with (who he assumed was) Hera—the queen of the Greek Pantheon.  Hera actually turned out to be a cloud Zeus had formed to look like his wife (https://www.ancient.eu/Ixion/).  Anyone else get totally lost trying to follow the convoluted love triangles (quadrangles?!) of the Greek gods?  One possible origin for the centaur is from cultures that did not have horses seeing riders fluidly moving on the backs of their mounts for the first time.  It could also be a reference to traditional ancient bull-hunting.  (https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/myths/centaurs/).    

Centaur from Greek Pottery

Centaurs perpetuate Greek mythology and seem to represent the two sides of man.  Chiron, arguably the most famous centaur (and Percy Jackson’s instructor for my book-loving friends), was wise and brave.  He tutored famous Greeks such as Hercules and Achilles (keep that heel covered!), and he embodied the classically tragic noble death.  Though he was immortal, when Chiron was accidentally wounded by an arrow dipped in the blood of the Hydra (um, gross), he suffered great pain.  When Zeus demanded a sacrifice to free Prometheus, Chiron volunteered—both to be finished with his pain, and to heroically liberate Prometheus (https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Centaur/centaur.html).  

The Hydra…poor Chiron!

On the other side of the metaphorical coin, centaurs were often known to pull the chariot of the god Eros (I’m pretty sure they picked up their relationship advice from him).  For those of you who aren’t into root words, the word erotica comes from the same root as Eros.  I’ll just leave that there.  Frequently drunk and slaves to their animalistic lusts, I’m sure the race of centaurs was procreated with great fervor.  For this reason, the Greeks seemed to look down on the mythical race of centaurs in general (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Centaur-Greek-mythology).

Mosaic of centaurs pulling a chariot

Many conflicts surrounding centaurs seem to feature the human struggle between civilization and complete savagery.  It poses an interesting question about the internal struggles of humanity.   

On which side of the centaur coin do you think man most frequently falls?  Why?  Leave your comments below! 🙂 

 

Writing Prompts:

You are a centaur.  Are you the wizened sage, or the lascivious lush?  Why that one?

 

The wind whipped my tail against my chestnut-colored flank.  I crossed my arms over my chest as the wind teased the hair on my nape from its warrior’s knot.  The decision before me would change the fate of man forever.  Using all in my wisdom, I must choose to…

 

Book Recommendations:

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by: Rick Riordon

Ella Enchanted by:  Gail Carson Levine (okay, so there’s only a few brief mentions of centaurs in the book, but it’s one of my all-time favorites)

The Chronicles of Narnia by:  C. S. Lewis (Glenstorm is my favorite centaur!)

 

Who remembers this gem from the 1940’s?

 

Sources:

https://www.cgtrader.com/3d-print-models/miniatures/figurines/centaur
https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Centaur/centaur.html
https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Hydra
https://www.globalgayz.com/tunisia-bardo-museum/