Centaur Definition and Meaning
The Greek word Kentauros reached Latin as Centaurus, which then led to our language the term centaur. It is a being from mythology whose figure is half horse and half man.
Centaurs have the legs and body of an equine, while the torso, arms and heads correspond to a person. According to mythological accounts, they were in the region of Thessaly and had a strong confrontation with the tombstones, with whom they shared their origin.
The conflict broke out when Pirítoo (the son of the king of the tombstones, Ixion) was going to marry Hipodamía. At the party the centaurs got drunk and kidnapped the bride and other women. Faced with this situation, the tombstones joined Theseus and more heroes, fought against the centaurs and defeated them.
The war between the centaurs and the tombstones is often pointed to as a symbol of the conflict between barbarism and civilization. Centaurs, in fact, are depicted as wild creatures. In many legends they are described as beings of little constancy and lack of determination, who often look to the sky to search for new directions. There are some exceptions, such as Chiron and Pholus, two intelligent and good-natured centaurs.
Another of the centaurs that has a well-defined identity, with a proper name and a way of being that separates it from the rest, is Neso, who in an episode of mythology kidnapped Hercules’s fiancée, Deyanira. The sculptor Juan de Bolonia, who lived between the years 1529 and 1608, created a sculpture that reflects the moment in which these two characters clashed with violence.
Today, the work Hercules and the centaur Nessus can be seen in the Plaza de la Señora, in the heart of the Italian city of Florence. It is worth mentioning that Juan de Bolonia conceived several sculptures based on this particular page of Greek mythology, some of which show Nessus at the time of the kidnapping, a theme that some of his followers, such as Pietro Tacca and Adriaen de Vries, dealt with. on more than one occasion.
In the ancient ceramic vessels with painted motifs made in the peripheral region of Greece called Attica, divided into thirteen zones, you can see centaurs that had an absolutely human appearance from the front, with legs, while at the rear were the torso, the haunches and the horse legs that characterize them so much.
Some time later, the image of the centaur adopted the characteristics that we give it today, that is, the shape of a human being up to the waist, and a horse in the rest of the body. Its appearance not only attracted the attention of ancient plastic artists, but has also given rise to a myriad of more recent creations, both in the field of sculpture, as in that of painting, comics, cartoons, animated films and video games, where they do not always strictly maintain their original features but at least respect the peculiar fusion between human and equine.
In the field of astronomy, centaurs are called minor bodies that are found in the solar system and that act like comets and asteroids. Its orbit is developed between Neptune and Jupiter.
On the other hand, Centaurus (or Centaurus) is a constellation of the Milky Way. Its brightest star is Alpha Centauri, located 4.4 light years from our planet.
Finally, Centauro is the name of a combat vehicle originating in Italy, which stands out for its steel armor.