Honest Myth:Greek- Centaurs

Lapiths and Centaurs by Rubens, Peter Paul (1577-1640). I found this painting so funny

Lapiths and Centaurs by Rubens, Peter Paul (1577-1640).
I found this painting so funny

It has been quite a while since I lasted posted. I planned on writing a post based on the books I read over the summer, but I ended up reading 13 books from one series (so I didn’t have enough to talk about). Anyways, it has been about a month since school started up again, and I am actually taking a class in Ancient Greek and Roman Religion. It is a mix of classics, religion, and anthropology and does not focus much on mythology, but I really enjoy the class. Knowing I would be a little busy, I decided to pick a fairly safe culture for myths (not as much research needed).

statue-of-a-centaur

A statue of a female Centaur abducting a man (if you know who the artist is please tell me).

Centaurs are creatures with the upper body of a human being and the lower body of a horse. They were wild, savage, lustful, and usually they are depicted as men (this changed later on).

They were born from the linage of Ixion and Nephele. Ixion was the king of Lapiths and son if Ares God of War. He married Dia daughter of Deioneus. Ixion refused to pay the bride price, so Deioneus took his horses for his own. For revenge, Ixion invited Deioneus to a lavish dinner and pushed him into a bed of coal, becoming the first man to commit murder of kin. Because of this horrible act, Ixion became insane and polluted, and all the princes of near by kingdoms refused to perform the rituals to purify him. Zeus took pity on him and cleansed him on his sin, and then invited him to Olympus for a great meal. But Ixion was not grateful and lusted after Hera Queen of the Gods and Goddess of Marriage (the wife of Zeus, so technically Ixion was extremely disrespectful to his host). Zeus, angered and wanting to proof of Ixion’s contempt, created Nephele out of clouds in the shape of Hera. Ixion coaxed and slept with Nephele (thinking it was Hera), and she became pregnant with Centauros (an ugly, deformed human like man that mated with Magnesian mares on Mt. Pelion) the father of the Centaurs. Zeus was angered and cast him from Mt. Olympus, struck him with a thunderbolt, and bound him to a burning solar wheel in Tartarus for eternity.

Nephele later had twins with King Athamas, Helle and Phrixus. He later divorced her and married Ino (who hated the twins and burned all the seeds so food would not grow). When farmers feared a famine, they went to an oracle, and Ino payed them to say that only sacrifices of the twins. Right before their execution, Nephele sent a golden ram to take them away. They were told not to look down, but Helle did not listen and she fell to her death. Phrixus lived and was taken to another kingdom. That ram later became the Golden Fleece that Jason would rather take it.

Ixion also had a son name Piritheus with Dia, who later became the King of the Lapiths. On the day of his marriage to Hippodamia, the Centaurs became drunk and attempted to steal the women and children. Piritheus and Theseus led the Lapiths into a great battle known as the Centauromachy and succeeded in protecting them from abduction.

Hope you enjoyed this story, and sorry for how small the post is. Check out more here: www.pantheon.org/articles/i/ixion.html

-Blog Barista

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