CENTAUR Matt Kelly
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WHAT ARE THEY?
Centaurs are known mostly by their very unique appearance. They have the torso of a human man but the legs and lower body of a horse. They are also known for their wild personalities, attraction to alcohol, and their inability to control it. There are some known for intelligence or teaching, such as Chiron, and others known for their untamed ways. They have been embodied in many aspects of culture from Roman times up into today’s society and will continue to be a powerful figure.

ORIGIN
The father of the Centaurs, the man who gave birth to them is said to be a man by the name of Centaurus who exiled himself to the mountain of Pelion due to his inability to relate to humans. While there he lived out his life with the Magnesian horses who lived in the area. The centaurs were created by his mating with them.
USE IN MYTHOLOGY
The centaurs were well known mythological creatures. They had conflicted personalities and were driven mad by the slightest bit of wine, which they loved. This drunkenness was said to unleash their bestial nature and created problems for heroes from Hercules to their most famous conflict with Peirithous.
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The conflict with Peirithous began over a land dispute between Peirithous, a King of the Lapiths, and the centaurs. Both were related to Ixion who had given the land to the King. The Centaurs felt entitled and attacked the Lapiths. After the initial battle, peace was agreed upon and the two sides met at a feast. The Centaurs could not resist the temptation of wine and became drunk and violent. They attempted to steal the Lapith women but were eventually defeated in another battle and sent away.

POPULAR CENTAUR-CHIRON
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Chiron was known as the greatest Centaur. He was able to control himself and resist the temptations that corrupted the other Centaurs. He was very intelligent and civilized and respected as a great teacher and doctor. Unfortunately, his teaching and peaceful ways could not prevent his tragic downfall.

Chiron was feasting with Heracles and another civilized Centaur named Pholus when Heracles demanded wine with the meal. He snatched the wine from the Centaurs and unknowingly released the scent of alcohol which drove wild a group of wild Centaurs to the feasting area. While defending himself with poisoned arrows he accidentally wounded Chiron. Chiron’s immortality saved him but he was forced to live in excruciating pain with no way to heal himself. Rather than suffer permanently, he gave his immortality to Prometheus and was honored as a constellation.

POP CULTURE
Centaurs continue to be well known creatures today. Oftentimes they are used in a comical way, as in Step Brothers. They were also a part of and old spice commercial. Both instances focused on the unnatural form of the Centaur and used it in a humorous way. More serious representations are found in art and many types of card games where variations on the Centaur are popular.




WORKS CITED

"Centaurs." Encyclopedia Mythica: Mythology, Folklore, and Religion. Mythica. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/centaurs.html>.
"Centaurs." Encyclopedia Mythica: Mythology, Folklore, and Religion. Mythica. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/centaurs.html>.
"Centaurs." Encyclopedia Mythica: Mythology, Folklore, and Religion. Pantheon. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/centaurs.html>.
"Chiron." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiron>.
"Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology: Centaurs." Greek Mythology. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://www.mythweb.com/encyc/entries/centaurs.html>.
"Greek Mythology Centaur." SDSU College of Education: Home Page. Web. 03 May 2011. <http://edweb.sdsu.edu/people/bdodge/scaffold/gg/centaur.html>.