What Are Some Facts About Centaurs?


Quick Answer

Centaurs are creatures from Greek myth that have the body of a horse but the torso and head of a man. They lived in the Pelion coastal region of Magnesia in Central Greece. They were unpredictable and had both good and bad characters in many famous stories.

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Some of the centaurs in myth were drunken, violent followers of the god Dionysus. They lived in their own colonies away from the human population. Ares' son Ixion created them when he slept with a replica of Hera sent by Zeus to test his loyalty. In another version of mythology, they are the descendants of Centaurus, who was the son of Apollo.

The centaur is a central figure in Greek art, history and folklore. Greek writer Pindar wrote the most detailed information about the centaur tribes. Homer also referred to similar creatures but never gave them a specific name. Many stories depicted the centaurs as aggressors of women, particularly the story of Nessus who tried to rape Deianeira, Heracles' wife, but was killed by her in his attempt. However, Nessus successfully tricked Deianeira into poisoning Heracles, and he died when he threw himself into a fire.

Several good centaurs are depicted in stories as well, including Cheiron and Pholos. Cheiron was a practicioner of medicine and an enlightened being. He tutored the god Apollo and was an advisor to several other gods. Pholos helped Heracles by housing and feeding him, and they fought against other centaurs together.

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