Centairs, a mythological race of beings, half man and half horse, who were supposed to inhabit the mountains and forests of Thes-saly, where they led a wild and savage life. One legend was that Ixion, having been refused all intercourse or fellowship with the human race in consequence of the murder of his father-in-law, -Deioneus, was invited by Jupiter to reside on Olympus; but. forgetful of the rules of hospitality, he attempted to seduce Juno, the wife of his entertainer. A cloud woman in the semblance of Juno was substituted in her place, and Ixion boasted that he had triumphed over the queen of all the gods. In punishment therefor he was bound to an ever-revolving wheel in the abys9 of Tartarus. From this union between Ixion and the phantom, according to one form of the legend, the centaurs were directly produced. According to others, the offspring of the union was a being in human shape named Centaurus, who was hated alike by gods and men. Wandering wild over Mount Pelion, he begot the centaurs out of the Magnesian mares. Another story is that while Pirithous, one of the Lapithse, was celebrating his nuptials with Hippodamia, one of the centaurs carried her off. This led to the great fight between the centaurs and the Lapithae, in which the centaurs were defeated.
In early times the centaurs were represented in sculpture as men down to their legs and feet, but having a hind part consisting of the body, tail, and hind legs of a horse. But afterward they were represented as horses, perfect in all respects below and behind the withers and the chest. At the insertion of the neck a human body began, the hip joints articulating into the shoulders of the lower animal, and the abdomen of the man uniting with the chest of the horse. Above this the human conformation was perfect, with the erect bearing, chest, shoulders, arms, neck, and head of a complete man. They were represented as endowed with extraordinary powers of body and mind. Pale-phsetus, one of the later Greek writers, undertook, in his work to explain the origin of the myth of the centaurs. According to him, they were a body of young men of a town in Thessaly who first used horses for the purpose of riding. Thus mounted, they pursued the wild bulls, and transfixed them with their spears, and hence were called
The Centaur Chiron and Cupid.
prickers, or , bull-prickers. The neighboring inhabitants, seeing men mounted on horses, imagined that the man and the animal were one being, just as the Mexicans did in the case of the Spanish cavaliers; and hence originated the fable of beings half man and half horse.