Notebook, 1993-


[From: Kyriazis, Constantine D. Eternal Greece. Translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]

Supernatural Beings - Arachne - Argus - Centaurs - Calydonian Boar - Cerberus - Charon - Charybdis - Chimaera - Cyclopes - Echidna - Giants - Golden Fleece - Graiae - Hydra of Lerna - Grypes - Hypnos - Pallas - Pegasus - Scylla - Sirens - Sphinx - Stymphalian Birds - Talos - Typhon


Mythical beings that had the upper half of the body human and lower half horse. According to the legend, they were born from the concert of Ixion and a cloud which Zeus had made in the shape of Hera with which Ixion became enamoured. From this affair the Centaur was born and from his union with the mares that dwelt on Pelion the Centaurs were born. Lecherous and inebriates, the Centaurs terrorized mortals by abducting [p. 82] women and persecuting the men. They made their appearance in the cycle of heros at the wedding of Peirithoos, king of the Lapiths, and Hippodameia. Peirithoos invited the Centaur Eurytion to the wedding feast who under the influence of drink attempted to abduct the bride. The other guests of the king thereupon slit his nose and ears and expelled him, and he in turn hastened to his companions who in united strength attacked the Lapiths. A battle ensued in which the guests under the leadership of Theseus succeeded in defeating them and expelling them towards the foothills of Mt. Pelion. Nevertheless, there existed amogn the Centaurs both wise and good creatures. Pholus and Cheiron were distinguished as tutors and healers. Certain scholars maintain that the half-man half-horse creature was due to the fact that the Thessalians may have been the first men to mount horses. The Greeks, even in Homeric times, yoked their horses to chariots but never mounted them, and the rest of the Greeks imagined the centaurs as a combination of man and beast. Another view, perhaps less convincing, but which has supporters, was that the Centaurs were the daemons of the storm, a fact which emerges from the names by which they were known, such as Agrios, Melaneus, Teleboas, Erigdoupos, and Pyretos which mean fire, thunder, lightning, and so on. According to yet a third interpretation, the Centaurs and the battle with the Centaurs symbolized the struggle of the Greeks against the barbarians. It should be noted that even Homer describes them as shaggy haired, and adds that they were driven from Thessaly to the foothills of the Pindus by Peirithoos, but Homer did not present them as monsters having the combined features of man and horse. The Centaurs were a favourite theme of artists and in the western pediment of the temple of Olympian Zeus at Olympia there is depicted the battle of the Centaurs with Apollo as the central figure which is one of the most beautiful sculptures of the god of light. Centaurs and Lapiths are also depicted in the metope of the Parthenon. [pp. 82-83]

[Kyriazis, Constantine D. Eternal Greece. Translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]



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