ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Centaurs and Centaur Mythology

Updated on January 24, 2015

Centaurs Are Part Man, Part Horse

Centaurs first appeared In Greek mythology as barbaric, dangerous creatures. They were part man, part horse. In this way, the centaur brings together human beings, able to talk, think, and reason, with the strength and speed of a strong, swift animal.

Although the original centaurs were generally wild and uncivilized, there was one good centaur, noble and cultured. He was the teacher of many Greek heroes. Modern portrayals of centaurs focus on their positive human attributes. These centaurs are often portrayed on the side of goodness, helping heroes on their quests.

Centaur
Buy at AllPosters.com

Centaurs in Greek mythology

Centaurs in Greek mythology were a race of legendary mythical creatures, chimeras with the head and torso of a man joined at the waist to a horses. They were characterized as barbaric, uncivilized, and dangerous. Since such creatures have not been seen alive, or as skeletons or fossils, it has been suggested that they originated when nomadic warriors were first seen by members of non-riding cultures, such as the Minoans of Crete. Never having seen anyone riding a horse, they might well have thought they were a single creature, part man and part horse.

The Battle of the Lapithes and the Centaurs

Buy at Allposters.com

In Greek mythology the centaurs were the enemies of the Lapiths. A famous story involves a wedding attended by the centaurs. They became drunk and wild, attempting to abduct the bride and other young women. There was a big battle, which the centaurs lost. Like most mythological tales, this account is understood to be symbolic - in this case, the struggle between barbarism and civilization.

The Centaur's Smile - A great book on the origin of the centaur

Composites of humans and animals are common in Ancient Greek culture, found in mythology, literature, theater, and visual arts. This book investigates this phenomenon of combining human and animal elements into a chimera or hybrid like the centaur, discussing the origins and nature of this horse-man creature.

The Centaur's Smile: The Human Animal in Early Greek Art
The Centaur's Smile: The Human Animal in Early Greek Art

The Centaur's Smile was the catalogue for an exhibition of Ancient Greek cultural artifacts held at the Princeton University Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This exhibition included over one hundred exquisite objects - stone reliefs and statuettes, gold and sliver jewelry, and ceramic vases - which are beautifully reproduced here in color together with detailed descriptions.

 

Chiron - the good centaur

Not all centaurs were bloodthirsty and dangerous. One, known as Chiron, was different.

Unlike the majority of centaurs in Greek mythology, Chiron was intelligent and civilized. He was known for his knowledge and skill with medicine. He was also a great teacher. Chiron was the tutor of many great Greek heroes, including Achilles.

"The Education of Achilles" by James Barry
"The Education of Achilles" by James Barry | Source

Chiron was the last centaur in Greek mythology. Although a great healer, he was unable to heal himself when struck by a poisoned arrow.

A noble creature, after his death Zeus gave Chiron eternal existence among the stars as the constellation Saggitarius, also known as Centaurus.

Centaur by Pisanello
Centaur by Pisanello | Source

Centaurs are Physically Strong and Handsome Creatures

Horses are wonderful, powerful animals. Bringing together the best of man and horse, centaurs present a powerful, physical image that joined with the civilized intelligence of good human beings produces a combination that could be unbeatable. When the human element is depraved and barbaric, however, the combination is troublesome and dangerous.

Centaurs today

Centaur

by Harrypotter at Zazzle.com

Originally, centaurs were a pretty bad lot. In more recent times, however, centaurs have been given more ambiguous role.

The centaur in twentieth and twenty-first century literature, like C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia or J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter series, often comes to the aid of those on the side of good. They are not longer the barbaric creatures of Greek mythology, although they can still be dangerous.

Female Centaurs

Today artists have begun to portray female centaurs!

Here we have a cute girl centaur - she doesn't look very barbaric does she?

Centaur

by pawtraitart at zazzle.

Centaurs are Chimeras

The centaur is a chimera, so it brings together the nature of the human being, able to talk, think, and reason, with animal strength and physical abilities. Perhaps because human beings are ambiguous, even contradictory, in their nature - sometimes good, sometimes evil - centaurs also have this ambiguity of character.

© 2009 Jennifer P Tanabe

What Do You Make of Centaurs?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      If you want to read a fictional story where centaurs are the main species, check out philipvago.angelfire.com !

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @AlishaV: maybe u should look up the history

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I think that centaurs are awesome especially the female one they look so elagant and pewerful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      well combined information

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      this is good for my project that im doing

    • profile image

      GrowWear 

      8 years ago

      I think their fascinating!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      This is a great lens! Love all the pictures/posters you used.

    • AlishaV profile image

      Alisha Vargas 

      8 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      I've always loved centaurs, they just seem like such an interesting idea. Didn't know their history though, thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Beautifully done, Jennifer! Love the images.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)