What is a Centaur? Check the Centauromachy

26/12/2020

     Get to know what Centauromachy was in Greek and Roman Mythology. In this case, Centaurs were men with the body of a horse and had a nickname "Bull killer."


What is a Centaur? 

     The Centaur (bull killer), in Greek Mythology is a creature with the head, arms and back of a human being and with the body and legs of a horse. According to legend, the centaurs lived in the mountains of Thessaly and were divided into two families:

  • The sons of Filira and Cronos, of whom the most famous was Chiron, a friend of Heracles, represented, on the contrary, the strength combined with goodness, in the service of good fighting.
  • Since Ixion is normally considered the ancestor of centaurs, they can be referred to poetically as Ixiônidas.
  • It is said that Ixion planned to have sex with Hera, but Zeus, her husband, avoided him by modeling a cloud in the shape of Hera.
  • Alternatively, they considered themselves children of Kentauros (the son of Ixion and Nefele) and some magnesian mares, or of Apollo and Hebe.
  • The sons of Ixion and Nefele, who symbolized brute, senseless and blind strength. They originally lived in the mountains of Thessaly and ate raw meat.

Centaurs Vs Lapiths:

     The centaurs are well known for the fight they had with the Lápitas, caused by their attempt to kidnap Hippodamia on the day of their wedding with Pirítoo, king of the Lápitas and also son of Íxion. The discussion between these cousins is a metaphor for the conflict between low instincts and civilized behavior in humanity. 

     Theseus, the hero and founder of cities, who was present, tipped the scales in the direction of the right order of things and helped Pyrithus. The centaurs were expelled from Thessaly and went to inhabit Epirus. Later, Heracles wiped out almost everyone.

     Scenes from the battle between the Lapitas and the centaurs were carved in low reliefs on the frieze of the Parthenon, which was dedicated to the goddess of wisdom, Athena.

Popular Culture:

     In the popular C.S.Lewis book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, centaurs are portrayed as wise and noble creatures. They are star observers, have the gift of prophecy and healing, and like to fight a fierce and brave race, always faithful to High King Aslan, the lion.

     In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, centaurs are portrayed as intelligent and proud beings. Centaurs live in the Forbidden Forest near Hogwarts. Although different from those observed in Narnia, they live in societies called herds and are skilled in the art of healing, in the use of bows and arrows, possess the gift of prophecy and practice astrology. 

     Despite the representations in the cinema, which include very animalistic beings, with certain facial features, the reaction of the girls from Hogwarts to Firenze suggests a more classic appearance.

Chiron:

     He was a centaur, considered superior by his own parents. Unlike the rest of the centaurs who, like the satyrs, were notorious for being hard-drinking and unruly drinkers, uncultured criminals and prone to violence when drunk, Chiron was intelligent, civilized and kind, and famous for his knowledge and skill with medicine.


Sagittarius Sign:

     In Ancient Greece, this constellation was called The Archer, and some called it the centaur, however, according to Higino, incorrectly, since the centaurs did not use bows. Another mystery is why this constellation was represented with a horse's body, but with a satyr's tail and angel's wings. One possibility is for the Capricorn ancestry, being hybrids from the sky.

Thessaly Centauromachy: 

     In Greek Mythology, the Thessaly Centauromachy was a mythical confrontation between the Lápitas, ancient people of Thessaly, and the Centaurs, creatures half men, half horses.

     The centaurs were brothers of Pirítoo, king of Thessaly, since both were children of Ixião, and they were invited to their wedding with Hippodamia, daughter of Adrasto. Not used to drinking wine, they soon got drunk.

     Seized by lust and violence, they tried to kidnap and rape the bride, provoking the Thessalians' reaction and triggering a great massacre.

     With the help of Theseus, the centaurs were finally defeated and expelled from Thessaly, taking refuge in Epirus.

     Centauromachy scenes are depicted in Elgin's famous marbles, taken from the Parthenon and taken to the British Museum.