It is generally accepted that the centaur was a mythological creature invented by the ancient Greeks. He was a hybrid of a man and a horse. The body was of a horse, and instead of a neck and head with a mane, a human torso towered above it. This creature lived in mountainous and forest areas. She was distinguished by an unrestrained and violent character. Some of these creatures were hostile to people, while the other, on the contrary, helped a person in everything.
Where did the legends about such original mythological creatures come from? In ancient times, the inhabitants of the Mediterranean did not know how to ride a horse. They moved in chariots. Those were the main striking force of the ancient armies. I must say that from the point of view of tactics, the chariot is much more effective than the rider. But this is too expensive a pleasure. Therefore, over the centuries, equestrian formations supplanted carriages drawn by a pair or three horses.
There were no riders on horseback in ancient Greece. However, nomadic tribes perfectly mastered this way of driving. Sometimes they came very close to the borders of Hellas. The inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula, seeing people on horseback, took them for single living organisms. The same was observed among the Indians, but only later by 3 thousand years. When the Spanish conquistadors landed on the American coast and mounted horses, the indigenous people of South America mistook them for 4-legged creatures with human bodies. Therefore, it can be assumed that nomadic horsemen became the cause of the myths about the centaurs.
How the centaurs appeared
According to mythology, the mysterious 4-legged intelligent creatures originated from the king of the Lapiths (a tribe that lived in the northern part of Thessaly) Ixion and the goddess Nephela. How it happened there is unknown, but Nephela gave birth to the first centaurs in the Pelephronia cave. True, the goddess was the wife of the Thessalian king Atamant, but he had nothing to do with 4-legged beings.
The young people who were born were sent to Mount Pelion, located in the southwest of Thessaly. Here the original creatures were raised by nymphs. When they grew up and became sexually mature, they entered into a relationship with local mares. As a result, 4-legged creatures of both sexes were born and began to reproduce naturally
The most famous of the centaurs is Chiron. It is noteworthy that he was not born from the same parents as himself, but was conceived from the love affair of Kronos and Filyra. These were powerful divine beings, but they were not legally married, but were lovers. Kronos' wife Rhea took the couple by surprise. The unfaithful husband cheated and took the form of a horse, so a hybrid of a man with a horse was subsequently born.
He was granted immortality and named Chiron. And he, born of a vicious relationship, was distinguished by extraordinary wisdom and kindness. He lived in Pelion, and his tutors were Apollo and Artemis. Subsequently, he himself taught the legendary heroes. Among them are Achilles, Actaeon, Orpheus and Patroclus. This centaur was a close friend of Hercules. They hunted together and lived in a cave. But one day tragedy struck. Hercules accidentally wounded Chiron with an arrow, and she was poisoned.
This doomed the legendary 4-legged creature to terrible torments. But immortality did not allow finding relief in the arms of death. Therefore, Chiron refused the priceless gift and handed it over to Prometheus. After that, the agony ended. The hero left this world and was placed by the gods on the celestial sphere in the form of the constellation Centaur.
The second celebrity is Ness. This is the son of Nephele and Ixion. For a long time he worked as a simple carrier on the Even River. The travelers were transported across the stormy stream right on their backs for a good fee. Once Hercules approached the river with his wife Deianira. The couple needed to cross to the other side, and they decided to use the services of a carrier.
Hercules put his beloved beauty on the back of Ness, and he himself threw himself into a stormy stream and very soon found himself on the other side. He looked back and saw a vile picture. The carrier did not sail across the river with his wife on his back. Captivated by the extraordinary beauty of the woman, the scoundrel tried to rape her. She desperately resisted and screamed. Hercules removed his bow from his back and fired an arrow at the rapist. It pierced Ness through and through. He fell to the ground and died.
The third celebrity is Eurytion. This is also the son of Ixion and Nephela. He loved to drink and had a quick temper. Once in the company of his own kind I got to the wedding of the Lapiths. There was a lot of wine and the 4-legged guest got drunk. In a state of intoxication, he began to molest women, which their husbands did not like. A scuffle began, in which people entered into battle with the centaurs. As a result, Eurytion's ears were cut off. He retired from the wedding feast in disgrace. He was subsequently killed by Hercules.
Did centaurs really exist?
Can it be assumed that creatures that combine human and horse traits actually existed? At one time, the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch stated that once a shepherd brought him a newborn cub. A mare gave birth to him. But from his mother he had only a torso, but the head and hands were human.
Plutarch was a serious philosopher. He wrote over 80 essays on various aspects of life. However, this man was very fond of humor and a good joke. So it is entirely possible to assume that the story of the unusual baby was in this area.
But the Roman philosopher Titus Lucretius tried to substantiate the unreality of the existence of human and horse hybrids. He argued that horses live much less than people. At 3 years old, the animal turns into an adult horse, and at this time a person is a babbling baby. At the age of 20, a person begins to flourish of physical strength, and the horse becomes a miserable old nag. That is, the incompatibility of biological ages is evident. Therefore, such a creature could not live in nature.