A mythical beast having the upper part of a human being and the lower part of a horse, or a human head and torso rising from the chest and shoulders of a horse.
Centaurs were wild, savage, lustful, bibulous, and aggressive, personifying man's baser instincts. The exception was the wise centaur Chiron. Chiron was known for his exceptional goodness and wisdom. He was the only immortal centaur. He became the tutor for a number of famous Greek heroes. Despite his immortality he was to end up dying. Hercules stopped to visit Chiron. Hercules was thirsty and persuaded Chiron to open a jar of wine that was the common property of the centaurs. The other centaurs smelled the wine and came running. A fight broke out between Hercules and the centaurs. Chiron took no part in the fight but, was accidentally wounded by Hercules. As an immortal, Chiron could not die but lived in terrible pain. Chiron then chose to trade his life for the release of Prometheus.
The centaurs father was Centaurus, who was held in disrepute by both men and gods. One legend of his origin is that he was born of Ixion, king of the Lapithae, and a cloud which Zeus had sent to him in the form of Hera, Ixion having boasted of receiving favors from Hera. He gave birth to the race of centaurs by mating with Magnesian mares.
The centaurs were eventually driven out by the Lapithae after a battle ensuing upon the centaurs' rowdy misbehavior at a wedding. Legend says that King Peirithous of the Lapiths inherited part of Thessaly from his father Ixion. The centaurs as grandsons of Ixion claimed they were entitled to part of the land. After a first round of fighting a peace was arranged. Peirithous invited the centaurs to his wedding. Here the centaurs became drunk, then violent. Under the lead of Eurytion they attempted to carry off the Lapith women. In the resulting battle the centaurs were defeated and expelled from the area.
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