About this post
One of the best things about reading and writing Fantasy is the ability to create or learn about different beings that exist in a particular world and how they interact with that world, each other and the main storyline. Traditionally there are species that have existed from folklore and myths all over the world and travelled through fairy tales and into popular fiction and film. Although I don’t always write about fantasy species, I am fascinated by different fantasy beings and wanted to bring them into discussion on my blog.
Centaurs are magical creatures that have frequently been included in fantasy literature and represented in a variety of ways. Just the idea of them is fascinating because they are a non-humanoid creature with a human upper half. They also have the capability to interact with humans. Centaurs have the body of a human from the waist up and the body of a horse from the waist down. They stem from Greek mythology and are known for being wild and brutal creatures that are untameable and savage. This depiction of them probably stems from the idea of wild horses that cannot be tamed.
Centaurs are said to have magical powers that unleash the instinctive thoughts and desires in human beings. Christian iconography depicted centaurs as the devil, aiming arrows at the ungodly and trying to bring out the animal nature and passions of man. However, there is a reoccurring tendency in various religions to blame the undesirable behaviours of man on external beings, creatures and spirits.
According to mythology it was a centaur’s blood that poisoned and killed Hercules, indicating that their blood is powerful.
Centaurs are incredibly intoxicated by wine and the smell can entice them and draw their attention. They are also very attracted to human women. A well documented subject is the presence of centaurs at the Greek wedding party of the Lapiths. The centaurs became drunk and barbaric, attempting to kill and rape the wedding guests and bride.
The story of Cheiron
Only one centaur, named Cheiron, was not documented to have the same temperament as the rest of his kind. Cheiron (also known as Chiron) was born through a union with Oceanid nymph Philyra and Kronos, who was in the form a stallion during the union. He was abandoned by his parents and was instead brought up by Apollo. Cheiron was wise and gentle and considered the bearer of law, prophecy, education and medicine. Many of the Greek heroes were sent to be trained by him included Jason, Thesus and Peleus. The Greek gods also consulted him about a variety of issues. When he suffered an incurable wound from an accidental arrow in the knee, he could not recover or die and so retreated to a cave. He offered to switch places with Prometheus who was under punishment for stealing fire from heaven, but Zeus sent him to the sky as the constellation Sagittarius. This the perfect story of a ‘fish out of water’ character different from the rest of his kind. What would have been interesting to know, is how other centaurs viewed him.
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