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Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Kentauroi or Centaurs

Hi dear friends and followers today I would like to present to you the mythological creature called the Centaur. Interesting beings usually live at peace but can be very aggressive at times.
Have a great read 
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The Kentauroi or Centaurs

THE KENTAUROI (or Centaurs) were a tribe of half man, half horse savages which inhabited the mountains and forests of Magnesia. They were a primitive race who made their homes in mountain caves, hunted wild animals for food and armed themselves with rocks and tree branches. The Kentauroi were spawned by the cloud nymph Nephele

who was raped by the impious Lapith King Ixion. Her double-formed brood were deposited on Mount Pelion where the daughters of the centaur-god Kheiron

nursed and fostered them to adulthood. They were invited to attend the wedding of their half-brother Peirithoos, the Lapith king, but became drunk and attempted to carry off the bride and the female guests. In the battle which ensued the Kentauroi were all but wiped out.

Another tribe of Kentauroi

resided in the western Peloponnese where they came into conflict with the hero Herakles. They may originally been a seperate breed, although numerous writers combine their stories. One ancient writer also mentions a tribe of bull-horned Kentauroi

native to the island of Kypros. Female Kentaurides

were also known, although these only appear in later art and literature.

The Kentauros was depicted with the upper body of a man, from head to loins, set upon the body of a horse. Sometimes it had the facial feature of a man, at other times it was portrayed with the snub nose and pointed ears of a rustic Satyros


CENTAURI (Kentauroi), that is, the bullkillers, are according to the earliest accounts a race of men who inhabited the mountains and forests of Thessaly. They are described as leading a rude and savage life, occasionally carrying off the women of their neighbours, as covered with hair and ranging over their mountains like animals. But they were not altogether unacquainted with the useful arts, as in the case of Cheiron, in which passages they are called phêres, that is, thêres. Now, in these earliest accounts, the centaurs appear merely as a sort of gigantic, savage, or animal-like beings; whereas, in later writers, they are described as monsters (hippocentaurs), whose bodies were partly human and partly those of horses.

This strange mixture of the human form with that of a horse is accounted for, in the later traditions, by the history of their origin. Ixion, it is said, begot by a cloud Centaurus, a being hated by gods and men, who begot the hippocentaurs on mount Pelion, by mixing with Magnesian mares. According to Diodorus, the centaurs were the sons of Ixion himself by a cloud; they were brought up by the nymphs of Pelion, and begot the Hippocentaurs by mares. Others again relate, that the centaurs were the offspring of Ixion and his mares; or that Zeus, metamorphosed into a horse, begot them by Dia, the wife of Ixion. Nonn. Dionys. From these accounts it appears, that the ancient centaurs and the later hippocentaurs were two distinct classes of beings, although the name of centaurs is applied to both by ancient as well as modern writers.

The Centaurs are particularly celebrated in ancient story for their fight with the Lapithae, which arose at the marriage-feast of Peirithous, and the subject of which was extensively used by ancient poets and artists. This fight is sometimes put in connexion with a combat of Heracles with the centaurs. Apollod. Eurip. Herc. fur.

The scene of the contest is placed by some in Thessaly, and by others in Arcadia. It ended by the centaurs being expelled from their country, and taking refuge on mount Pindus, on the frontiers of Epeirus. Cheiron is the most celebrated among the centaurs.

As regards the origin of the notion respecting the centaurs, we must remember, in the first place, that bull-hunting on horseback was a national custom in Thessaly, and, secondly, that the Thessalians in early times spent the greater part of their lives on horseback. It is therefore not improbable that the Thessalian mountaineers may at some early period have made upon their neighbouring tribes the same impression as the Spaniards did upon the Mexicans, namely, that horse and man were one being. The centaurs were frequently represented in ancient works of art, and it is here that the idea of then is most fully developed.

There are two forms in which the centaurs were represented in works of art. In the first they appear as men down to their legs and feet, but the hind part consists of the body, tail, and hind legs of a horse the second form, which was probably not used before the time of Phidias and Alcamenes, represents the centaurs as men from the head to the loins, and the remainder is the body of a horse with its four feet and tail.  It is probably owing to the resemblance between the nature of the centaurs and that of the satyrs, that the former were in later times drawn into the sphere of Dionysiac beings; but here they appear no longer as savage monsters, but as tamed by the power of the god. They either draw the chariot of the god, and play the horn or lyre, or they appear in the train of Dionysus, among the Satyrs, Fauns, Nymphs, Erotes, and Bacchantes. It is remarkable that there were also female centaurs, who are said to have been of great beauty. (Philostr. Icon.ii. 3.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 69. 4 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :

"The myths recount, that in the end he [Ixion] was purified by Zeus [for the murder of his father-in-law], but that he became enamoured of Hera and had the temerity to make advances to her. Thereupon, men say, Zeus formed a figure of Hera out of cloud and sent it to him, and Ixion lying with the cloud (nephele) begat the Kentauroi (Centaurs), as they are called, which have the shapes of men . . .

The Kentauroi (Centaurs), according to some writers, were reared by the Nymphai on Mount Pelion, and when they attained to manhood they consorted with mares and brought into being the Hippokentauroi (Hippocentaurs), as they are called, which are creatures of double form; but others say that it was the Kentauroi born of Ixion and Nephele who were called Hippokentauroi, because they were the first to essay the riding of horses, and that they were then made into a fictitious myth, to the effect that they were of double form.

We are also told that they demanded of Peirithoos, on the ground of kinship, their share of their father's kingdom, and that when Peirithoos would not yield it to them they made war on both him and the Lapithes. At a later time, the account goes on to say, when they had made up their differences, Peirithoos married Hippodameia, the daughter of Boutes, and invited both Theseus and the Kentauroi to the wedding. 

The Kentauroi, however, becoming drunken assaulted the female guests and lay with them by violence, whereupon both Theseus and the Lapithes, incensed by such a display of lawlessness, slew not a few of them and drove the rest out of the city. Because of this the Kentauroi gathered all their forces, made a campaign against the Lapithes, and slew many of them, the survivors fleeing into Mount Pholoe in Arkadia and ultimately escaping from there to Cape Malea, where they made their home. And the Kentauroi, elated by these successes, made Mt Pholoe the base of their operations, plundering the Greeks who passed by, and slew many of their neighbours."


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I hope you found this post on Centaurs interesting to read, and please feel free to share your thoughts, it pleases me greatly to hear from you. Your comments are well appreciated thank you, have a great day for relaxation.

With love to all from the Fairy Lady




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