C Is For Centaur

Primordial beings existed before the Titans and the Olympians and Ophion was one of these obscure gods, that was a primordial snake or World Serpent created by Eurynome the daughter of Oceanus, when she rolled the air and winds into a living being.  Eurynome and Ophion had fashioned the Cosmic Egg, which created the world such as the land, sea and heaven, and then populated it with animals.  When the sky, earth and sea were created, and the creatures began to populate the world, Ophion and Eurynome ruled from Olympus as king and queen of heaven.  Eurynome and her consort Ophion, were displaced by the Titans, Rhea and Cronus.  Cronus wrestled Ophion for the throne, while Rhea wrestled with Eurynome at the same time and they both won and took over the thrones, and Eurynome and Ophion were flung from heaven into the depth of the Ocean.

Cronus met Philyra while he was searching for his baby son, Zeus, who he was determined to eat, after he found out that he had been tricked into swallowing a stone.  Philyra was a daughter of Ocean, and she fell in love with her uncle Cronus, and they started having an affair.  One day Cronus was laying with Philyra and they were caught cheating by Rhea.  The goddess Rhea snuck up on Cronus and Philyra, catching them as they were in the very act of doing it.  Cronus sprang out of bed and fled when he saw his wife, assuming the form of a stallion with a flowing mane.  Philyra was struck with shame causing her to abandon her home, and flee to the Pelasgian mountain ranges, where she eventually gave birth to her son Chiron.  Chiron was a half horse, half god and this is how the centaur was born.  When Philyra saw the strange species she had given birth to, she asked Zeus to change her into another form, and he turned her into the tree called linden.

There is another story about the centaurs’ creation which tells that Ixion who was the king of the Lapiths, the most ancient tribe of Thessaly, and a son of Ares and Perimele had murdered his father-in-law and could find no one to purify him until Zeus brought him to Olympus.   Zeus became upset when he discovered that Ixion was trying to seduce Hera.  Zeus fashioned a cloud into the image of Hera, so he could test the intentions of Ixion, and Ixion did indeed have sex with it.  From this union was born a man named Kentauros, who had sex with the mares around Mount Pelion, and from them the race of the centaurs was born.

Centaurs are half-human, half-horse creatures in Greek mythology.  They have the body of a horse and the torso, head and arms of a man and some are depicted with human feet and genitals in the front.  Centaurs were known for their brute violence and sexual drive and they dwelled in the mountains of Thessaly and Arcadia.  They were a primitive race covered with hair who made their homes in caves, hunted wild animals for food and armed themselves with rocks and tree branches.  There is almost no mention of female centaurs and they lead a rude and savage life, and occasionally they carried off the women of their neighbors.  Centaurs braided their hair, shot arrows with their bows and they loved drinking wine, and it did not take much for them to fly off into a rage and engage in conflicts with people.

The peaceful centaur Chiron was abandoned and rejected by both his parents was the eldest and wisest of all the centaurs. The sun god Apollo, found him and decided to take him in as his own son.  Apollo taught Chiron the art of music, lyre, archery, medicine and prophecy.  Chiron was different from the other centaurs that enjoyed drinking wine and chasing women.  He took up residence alone in a cave on the flank of Mount Pelion and over time he earned respect as a healer, astrologer, prophet, and teacher.  Chiron trained Achilles the hero of the Trojan war and Asklepios, the herbalist and surgeon who is considered the father of medicine and carried a serpent entwined staff which eventually became the emblem of the modern medical profession, and he also prepared Hercules to successfully complete his 12 labors.

Chiron found himself a wife, a Naiad or a sea nymph of Mount Pelion named Chariklo who was the daughter of Apollo and a constant companion of Athena-the warrior goddess and weaver of the magic cosmic web.  This marriage brought forth a number of offspring including a daughter Tiresias, who accidentally saw Athena naked, and is struck blind, but is also given the great ability to prophesy.  Another daughter Melanippe, the “black mare”, had an illegal love affair with Poseidon, the god of horses, and didn’t want to live among mortal beings any longer.  She asked the gods for help, and they turned her into a star and set her on the night sky.  Additionally, an unspecified number of nymphs were also born to Chiron and Chariklo, these nymphs being named the Pelionides and they became nurses for the infant centaurs.  Chiron was accidentally shot and mortally wounded by Hercules and he said that he that he would be willing to die for Prometheus, as he wanted to end his life because he figured this would end his anguish, so he consented to accept a voluntary death which would set Prometheus free.

When the Aztecs first saw the Spaniards, they thought that the horse and man were one being.  A group of planetary bodies are called Centaurs and they are icy planetesimals located between Jupiter and Neptune.  They cross the orbits of one or more of the giant planets in their journey around the Sun, and interactions with these outer planets cause the orbits of Centaurs to be inherently unstable.  They are similar to asteroids in size and they are continually replenished from the Kuiper belt.  Chariklo is the largest known Centaur, it is the smallest object in the Solar System discovered to have rings and it is the fifth ring system found in our solar system, after Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.

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