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A centaur was a creature from Greek mythology which was half-man and half-horse. greek gods wallpaper. The head, arms and torso were human and joined at the waist to the body and legs of a horse. These creatures represented barbarism and unbridled chaos and were frequently represented in Greek architectural sculpture and pottery decoration. However, despite their bestial and lustful reputation, some centaurs were not unfavourably portrayed in myths unless they were under the effects of wine. Perhaps then they are a cautionary metaphor for the dangers we all face if we should forget our civility and lose control of our faculties.

The father of the race of centaurs was Centaurus, himself the offspring of Ixion who had made love to Hera, or more precisely, a cloud made by a jealous Zeus to resemble Hera. greek gods wallpaper. The centaurs were believed to live in the forests of Thessaly, beyond the laws of man. These mythical creatures may actually have had a basis in reality as there was a tradition in Thessaly of hunting bulls on horseback and the very word centaur may have originally meant ‘bull-killer’. Perhaps the horsemen of Thessaly were so skilled that they seemed at one with their horse and so the myth of a single creature was born.

Centaurs are a popular subject in Greek pottery decoration. Hercules fighting Nessos first appears on a 7th century black-figure amphora and appears on close to a hundred surviving vases. greek gods wallpaper. Chiron at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus, and Achilles being handed into the care of Chiron are frequent representations on Attic black-figure and red-figure pottery from the 6th to 5th centuries BCE. greek gods wallpaper. Similarly popular are scenes depicting Hercules’ battle with the centaurs after dining with Pholos, the first appearing on Corinthian vases of the 6th century BCE. Centaurs also appear in company with Dionysos and in depictions of his associated festivals. Finally, there are also rare representations of Medusa as a centaur, for example on an amphora from Boeotia, c. 660 BCE.

 

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