Centaurs are popular mythical creatures that look as if they are half-horse and half-human. Centaurs are pretty famous, and you will find them mentioned in different cultures and legends all around the world. Different mythologies have talked about these magical creatures, but they are most popular in Greek mythology, which is quite understandable as it is believed that they were first mentioned in Greek culture and mythological folklore.
The name of Greek culture and Greek mythology keeps coming up whenever we discuss anything related to mythological animals. It is like this because Greek mythology is one of the oldest in history, and the Greeks were very strong and advanced in topics of culture and art. All these factors facilitated the development of strong mythical and cultural fantasy, which we read today. Another point is that Greeks are one of the oldest civilisations, which means that all the other cultural groups and groups were somewhere descended from the Greeks or were in some way related to them.
A Centaur is visually a very interesting and fascinating character. In popular history and cultural texts, a Centaur looks very similar to a horse, the only difference being that the horse's head gets replaced with a human upper body from the waist. In Greek art and other groups, centaurs have been visually depicted many times. A lot of visual art, such as paintings, sculptures, designs, and sketches, are available from different scriptures, which help us understand what the artists and people of that era thought of Centaurs.
You will see centaurs in different books, novels, movies, and games on mythological topics. The Centaurs are pretty interesting and liked characters, and they make things interesting. You will notice them in popular entertainment types from all eras, sometimes to make things attractive and interesting and sometimes to add mythological and theological references and connections.
Centaurs can be termed as pretty usable characters from the viewpoints of fantasy creators as they can be used in different forms. A centaur can be used in a fighting scene, and you can use it in a mythological reference. They are easy to find in different romances too. These creatures are often mistaked for being the horse creature pegasus.
The nature and behaviour of a centaur is a little debatable topic. Centaurs are generally regarded as wild and untamable creatures with strong bodies and legs. A centaur is mighty and more powerful than humans, making it a good soldier. In reference to popular Greek mythology, a centaur is an exception to other horse heroes and creatures that look like horses.
Other horse-inspired creatures frequently represented in Greek myths and folktales are Pegasus and the magical unicorn creatures, and both of them are generally regarded as good creatures. On the other hand, a Centaur is often represented in a negative manner. However, Chiron was a notable exception to other Centaurs in Greek mythology, as he was very civilised and knowledgeable.
Chiron is referred to as the most popular Centaur in Greek mythology, and he was a medicine expert and great tutor, who taught Achilles and Aesculapius, popular Greek gods and warriors. Centaurs are surely very popular characters in different cultures and folklore. Read this article further and understand more about these mighty magical creatures.
What is a Centaur? How do they look according to myths
Let us now talk in detail about what exactly is a Centaur. Most of the information we have about Centaur comes from the scriptures and texts we have from Greek sources. Like many other mythical creatures, the Centaur is also a supernatural animal that existed in Greek mythology. A Centaur is a magical creature that looks like the upper portion of a man set on the legs and body of a horse. In popular Greek mythology, the exact structure of a Centaur is dynamic, and it changes with time. Early Greek art shows that initially, Centaurs didn't look like the way different modern entertainment creations depict Centaurs. They looked as if the back portion of a horse was joined to a regular man, which meant that this creature had front two human legs and the rear legs of horses.
This image of Centaurs developed over time, and then they were portrayed as creatures that have all the legs and the whole lower body of a horse, with the upper portion like a man, from the belly.
A Centaur is a wild creature that is powerful and untamable, and there are many sources that show that, unlike other Greek mythology creatures, Centaurs were not hospitable and were very destructive. These beasts are also considered very uncivilised, and they are very unfamiliar with common ways of civilised living. Centaurs also cannot handle wine, they instantly get drunk even from minor consumptions, and then they get out of control.
This inability to drink liquor was the reason why the legendary battle between Centaurs and Lapiths started. The Centaurs were invited to a Lapith wedding in the city, where they got drunk on wine and forced themselves on Lapith female guests. One Centaur even tried to run away with the bride. Many Centaurs were killed, some of them made it home alive.
Many wizard stories from old times also mention these centaurs and how they helped in battles.
Are centaurs real or just mythological creatures?
Centaurs are a very important element of Greek mythology, and they hold great importance. A lot of ancient Greek sources have mentions and references of these wild beasts, and we can gather a lot of information about them. Most of the information we have on Centaurs today is based on Greek culture and folklore.
Greek mythology has described in great detail how Centaurs originated in the universe. Lapith is a supernatural tribe mentioned in ancient texts, and they were powerful people who lived in Greece. Ixion was a Lapith who was invited as a guest by Zeus (The King of Olympian Gods) to Olympus to live with the gods. Zeus later suspected that Ixion was having an affair with Zeus' wife, Hera. The god-king created a cloud (called Nephele in Greek) that looked like his wife Hera to confirm his suspicions, to see what happens between this cloud and Ixion.
As Zeus expected, Ixion mated with Nephle, and the union between Ixion and Nephle resulted in the birth of this beastly creature that looked like humans from the upper part and like a horse from the lower part, which was later called a Centaur.
According to Greek sources, the Centaurs lived in Thessaly. The Thessalian people were known for their expert riding and horse breeding skills. This looked like a good place to the Centaurs, as they were also half horses. There are also some references that say that some Centaurs also lived in the towns of Crete and Cyprus, but Thessaly is considered as their main home.
We know that Centaurs were very savage and wild, and they were completely untamable creatures. However, some Greek sources reveal that these beastly creatures had families too, and they lived in families together with each other.
There are many popular Centaurs in Greek Mythology, and Chiron was the most popular Centaur that ever existed. Chiron was blessed with the pious gift of immortality, and he was a very intelligent creature. He was an astronomer, a doctor, and a prophet as well. Some consider Chiron one of the wisest characters in the whole universe of Greek mythology.
Centaurs are also often mentioned in lore about dragons.
Do the Half-Horse men of Greek Mythology also have females?
Whenever any discussion starts about any point in Greek mythological creatures in history, Centaur is often talked about, as it is one of the most popular supernatural animal figures in the culture. All the popular Centaurs are male creatures, and generally, there aren't many popular references in Greek history that describe contrasts between female centaurs and male centaurs. All the popular stories in Greek history and folklore are also focused on male members. All these points are the reasons why many people don't even know that there are female Centaurs as well.
Female Centaurs are there in Greek history and Roman history, and a lot of information is available on them, which proves that they too are very important in the mythological universe. There is a special term that is used to describe female members of the Centauroi tribe. Female Centaurs are called Centaurides or Centauresses. The reason why Centaurides are not as common in popular mythology in comparison to Centaurs is that there are not a lot of text references in which they are referred to or are mentioned. However, Centaurides appear in the visual art forms in Greek culture and Roman culture regularly, and in later antiquity as well. The most popular Centauride in mythical history is Hylonome, the wife of Centaur Cyllarus.
In terms of nature and behaviour, Centaurides are like the male members of their race, and both of them are known to be wild and ferocious. They have a powerful body and muscles, and they fight with weapons made out of wood and other things. You will also regularly get references where Centaurides and Centaurs fight using bows and arrows.
All these points prove that all members of the Centauroi tribe are similar in terms of their mindsets and thinking.
How does a centaurs life look like - images of centaurs?
The word Centaur is very interesting. It is originated from the Greek word "kentauros", which means "a being of an obscure origin". This word perfectly defines a Centaur, a mythical creature with half the body of a human and half the body of a horse. As this is not the definition of a normal creature or animal, this word fits in perfectly with its etymological definition. Centaurs are very popular in Greek mythology and cultural folklore, and you will find that it is commonly mentioned in Greek scriptures and ancient legends. A lot of stories and myths are attached to this half man half horse. We are not sure how many of these stories are credible and accurate, as most of the Greek folklore is often debated by experts and historians.
The main debate that is often associated with Centaurs is about the origin of these incredible creatures. Most of the people believe in the story about Ixion and the cloud, which also seems very credible. According to the legend, a Lapith king named Ixion had an unethical relation with Zeus' wife Hera, and Zeus created a cloud identical to his wife to trap Ixion into mating with her so that he could uncover their dirty secret. What happened was exactly what Zeus had anticipated, and he caught Ixion mating with the cloud. From the union of both of them came the first Centaur, who was wild and uncivilised. This story is considered true by most people. However, there are some who believe that this story is inaccurate, and the read story behind the origin of the Centaurs is different.
According to these people, the first Centaur was the offspring of a man named Centaurus, who used to mate with Magnesian mares. This story isn't famous, but some think of it as true. However, it is up to you to decide which is the true story, according to your own knowledge and insights.
As Centaurs are wild and uncivilised, it was not easy for them to live in harmony with other creatures in close proximity. So, it is depicted in history that there were only a few places where Centaurs resided in history. Thessaly is considered the home of the Centaurs, most Centaurs in Thessaly lived in Magnesia and Mount Pelion. Although, according to a popular myth, some Centaurs also lived in Cyprus and Crete.
Centaurs were not at all peaceful, they were wild and chaotic, and although many great warriors in Greek history were Centaurs, there weren't many Centaur heroes who were revered for peaceful and mindful works. However, Chiron was an exception, and he is considered the most famous Centaur, thanks to his exceptional knowledge of different subjects and his exemplary mindset.
There is a myth that Chiron was the tutor of Achillies, one of the biggest heroes of Greek history.
A lot of Greek art is available, and you can frequently spot Centaurs in ancient paintings and drawings. These paintings hold great cultural significance as they give us a lot of information about these wonderful beings. Some paintings and drawings show how humans used to interact with these wild creatures. Other drawings are related to the legendary fight of Centaurs and Lapiths.
Paintings are also very important in reference to Centaurs as they give us important insights about Centaurides (female Centaurs). Some historians believe that these horse creatures was inspired by the folklore mermaid stories to give the people a landbased creature helpful to humans.
Battle of The Centaurs
How the centaurs are portrayed in entertainment
Centaurs are indispensable characters in different mythologies (mainly Greek). Being half a human and half a horse, a Centaur is a very amusing beast. With powerful arms, legs of a horse, and looks like god animals, Centaurs never fail to amuse people. The mere thought of a being like it is enough to make the imagination of a person go crazy. There are many great artists in history who, too, were very intrigued and attracted by these horse warriors. Thanks to their lasting interest in Centaurs, different artists have created many different art forms like statues, paintings, and drawings.
One such influencing piece of artwork created on Centaurs is the "Battle of The Centaurs" by Michelangelo. Centaurs appeared in art forms many times, but Battle of The Centaurs by Michelangelo is an exceptional masterpiece that has influenced the thinking and popular opinion of many people. This relief (a special form of sculpture) is a great inspiring form of art as well, and many other paintings and sculptures have been made after taking inspiration from it.
The theme of Michelangelo's Battle of The Centaurs is the battle between Centaurs and Lapiths that happened in the famous Pirithous wedding. The myth says that there was a long animosity between the Centaurs and Lapiths in the Thessaly region, and regular altercations were a normal thing. When there was a wedding in the Lapiths, the king of Lapiths, Pirithous, wanted to make peace with the Centaurs by inviting them to the wedding.
He wanted to end this hostility between the two groups as they were in the end related, as the first Centaur was the offspring of a Lapith. At that wedding, Centaurs drank honey-sweet wine, and they just got drunk and out of control. After some time, the bride came to greet the guests, and she went on the greet the Centaurs as well. One Centaur, Eurytion, got aroused by the bride and attempted to run away with her, seeing this, some other drunk Centaurs also misbehaved on Lapith women and forced themselves onto them.
The Lapiths got enraged at this, and they attacked the Centaurs. This led to an immediate fight, and a year-long war started between the two groups. Eventually, Centaurs were forced to relocate to Mount Pindus. This theme of war between Centaurs and Lapiths is shown in Michelangelo's artwork.
This wedding incident shows that the Centaurs were very wild and uncontrollable creatures who didn't know how to behave. This incident in Greek history, along with other popular sources, has changed the conception of the general public towards them, and it continues till now. In most artworks like drawings, sculptures, and paintings, the Centaurs are seen doing aggressive and destructive things like fighting and destroying.
This has played a major role in the way these mythical creatures are portrayed in different media types like movies, tv-series, books, and documentaries. Popular cinematic titles like the Harry Potter series, the Chronicles of Narnia movies, Percy Jackson instalments, and the Fantasia portray Centaurs as warriors and fighters. Their proficiency in a fight is just unmatched.
They are half-men who expertly fight with weapons like bows and arrows and spears. Also, as they are horses from the down, they can run at high speeds and move quickly from one place to another, riding alongside their fellow Centaurs. We don't know what is the truth, whether they were really so untamable and uncivilised, or are these false rumours. However, we might never get to know the truth.
In modern entertainment centaurs are considered a fairy tale.
Experience the centaur life in Games
For some time, video games have become an important part of popular entertainment, as the quality and detailing levels of these games is increasing every day, and you get to experience things in an interactive manner. Fantasy gaming titles have always ruled the video gaming world, and famous game designers are always on the lookout for exciting fantasy characters for their gaming titles. The Centaur is a great element from the perspective of a video game, and you can see it in numerous fantasy titles available on multiple platforms. What makes Centaur the most loved choice of video game developers is its unique characteristics. A Centaur is very powerful and strong, and it is depicted as an ideal soldier in popular art.
The physical characteristics of a Centaur make it a way better and effective fighting machine in comparison to a human soldier. These points make Centaurs the perfect elements in action video games, and they have been fighting in video gaming titles for years. Just start playing any good mythical title, and there is a strong chance that you will see a Centaur fighting its enemies with spears and arrows. The head, chest, and arms of a Centaur are usually seen covered by armour, defending it against enemy attacks.
What further makes Centaur very popular for video games is the exciting Greek mythological world. Greek mythology is a universe that contains numerous battles, long wars, unnatural mythical creatures with unique abilities and powers, and heavenly weapons of mass destruction that hold the power to erase every human from the face of this earth.
These elements make Greek mythology a very dynamic and creative playground. There are various characters and legendary fighters, and you get a lot of creative potential and freedom when working with these elements. Another good thing about the Greek universe is that everything is more or less connected with each other. The popular elements and characters in Greek history are somewhere or other related to mutual elements, which make it very easy for creators to develop any plot they like.
As it is easy to connect elements with each other, entertainment creators get a lot of freedom when working with Greek universe characters. That is why most fantasy games include elements from the Greek universe, as they are very easily synced with each other.
We have made an extensive list of some of the best titles on Centaurs and Greek mythology:
More than just a human upper body and a horse's body
A lot of questions come to mind when we think about Centaurs, the intriguing, magnificent warrior creatures who have influenced Greek Mythology and common folklore so strongly. The mere fact that a Centaur is kind of a hybrid of man and horse is enough to make a sane person go crazy. Indeed there are a lot of intriguing questions and theories related to Centaurs, but the most important of them all will always be about their actual existence. Did a creature like Centaur ever exist on this planet?
Many think that we can only speculate about this question, but in reality, there are several theories and concepts about the existence of Centaurs that look a little plausible to the mind. Many mythology experts believe that it was common in ancient times to create special creatures with exceptional activities to get help in manual work and for several other uses.
Expert scientists and breeding experts used to create metahumans and humanoids for different reasons, and Centaur might have been the result of such an experiment. In those times, some of these creatures used to run away from their masters, and then they used to live together in communities for several centuries. According to one theory, expert scientists created Centaurs as a science experiment, and then they ran away and started living in a place near Thessaly.
Some people strongly believe that they lived for centuries in big communities, and fought frequently, thus creating an uncivilised and wild image of themselves.
Centaur facts and fiction
However, most people today straight away render these theories wrong. The biggest point proving Centaurs nothing more than fictional pieces is that there is no scientific evidence that proves that creatures like this ever existed in the real world. Non-believers think that the mere idea of a half-human half-horse is completely ridiculous, and it is not even remotely possible that they walked on this planet at any point in history. This can't be denied that several antique scriptures and texts contain references to animals that sound like Centaurs, and a lot of artwork is available on them as well.
To challenge this, the people against the idea that Centaurs are real have a very interesting theory. It is well known that the members of the Thessalian tribe who lived on western Peloponnese were very experienced horse riders and horse breeders. It is said that they were the first people to ride horses. Some believe that as the rest of the world never saw men riding horses, they got confused when they saw Thessalian riders on horses.
As they were very skilled riders, they used to ride the horse with such smoothness and expertise that it might have looked as if the riders and the horses were the same things. Regardless of how complicated and unlikely this theory sounds, it is a huge possibility that it might be the real scenario.
Is the centaur good or bad?
The general perception towards Centaurs is that they are wild and untamable mythical beasts that are good only for fighting and wars. This perception looks quite plausible as the build, and overall bodily structure of Centaurs make them the perfect creatures for intense physical jobs. Even though a Centaur is considered unfriendly and wild, it is not usually considered a deceitful and dual-sided creature.
This theme is further solidified when we read about Chiron. Chiron is the most popular Centaur in Greek history and mythology, and interestingly, it is a very disciplined and knowledgeable creature who is a science expert and is the tutor of several Greek mythological warriors like Achillies.
In the end, we can safely say that regardless of Centaurs being very popular creatures in common folklore and various cultures, nothing can be said with high certainty about their existence and realness. After discussing them in detail, we would like to know what your take on these mysterious beasts is?
Do you think they ever existed in history? If they did, were they good or bad?
Warm Centaur Wishes
Shazzy Davies, author of the article.