- Education and Science»
- Sociology & Anthropology»
- Folklore & Mythology»
- Legendary Creatures & Cryptids
Occasionally believed to be the father of the centaurs, he is either the children of Ixion and Nephele, or of Apollo and Stilbe. He is wild, savage, and distrustful.
Centaurs are from Greek mythology, and are considered to be born of Ixion—The king of the Lapiths—and Nephele—a cloud nymph that Zeus created in the image of hera. However, some accounts say that they were born of a Centaurus who mated with Magnesian mares. Some stories say that his twin brother was Lapithes, making him a cousin of the Lapiths.
Appearance & Personality
The centaur is half-horse, and half man, and it is often depicted by writers as trapped between the two natures. As such, it is considered to be both a teacher and the embodiment of untamed nature. This is reflected in the way that it is depicted as either teaching or fighting with its' kin, the Lapith. While it is sometimes depicted with the snub nose and pointed ears of a Satyros, it is most often shown with the facial features of a man.
The most likely explanation is that the centaurs were an inital reaction to horseback riding. To a primitive non-riding culture (such as the Aztecs in later times) the riders would appear to be half man, half animal. Visiting nomads could have caused this misconception.
This theory is supported by the fact that Lapith tribes of Thessaly were said to invent horseback riding, and the Thessalian tribes claimed to own horses descended from the centaurs.
The Greeks never mentioned female centaurs in either literature or writing, but later the Macedonians and Ovid—a Roman poet—alluded to their possibility. The Macedonians depicted female centaurs a few times in mosaics, and Ovid mentioned a centauress named Hylonome whose husband was killed in war. The Greek rhetorician Philostratus the Elder describes them as the sisters and wives of the male centaurs. When describing a painting in Neapolis, he said:
"How beautiful the Centaurides are, even where they are horses; for some grow out of white mares, others are attached to chestnut mares, and the coats of others are dappled, but they glisten like those of horses that are well cared for. There is also a white female Centaur that grows out of a black mare, and the very opposition of the colours helps to produce the united beauty of the whole."
More recently, Shakespeare's King Lear and Disney's Fantasia (Centaurettes) also contained female centaurs.