Centaurs are part of Greek mythology, with the head and torso of a human and the body of a horse. Centaurs are followers of the god Dionysus, known for his raging parties where centaurs could get raging drunk and then the unfortunate side effect of carrying off helpless maidens, since the Greeks saw them as wild as untamed horses. Despite this flaw, there are a few wise centaurs that were teachers of ancient Greek heroes.
Centaurs also go by the name Ixionidae, as they are the offspring of Ixion, the king of Thessaly who had arranged to have an affair with Hera, Zeus’ wife. However, Zeus got wind of this tryst and instead molded a cloud into the shape of Hera and when Ixion and this cloud, Nephele, got together, centaurs were the offspring. Makes a rather interesting origin story.
The fight with the Lapiths is where centaurs get the most fame, when the centaurs attempted to carry off Hippodamia (and all the other women) on the day of her wedding to Pirithous, who was also the son of Ixion. This fight serves as a metaphor between the base instincts of animals and the higher civilized thinking of humans.
Though centaurs are mostly seen as male, there are some female centaurs called Kentaurides which appeared later in history. Kentaurides are seen in some Roman art and Ovid mentions a female centaur who killed herself when her husband was killed in the battle with the Lapiths. And of course, who could forget Disney’s Fantasia?
Though centaurs hail from ancient history, they still have an impact on people today. Creatures will always fascinate and creatures that are part human give an even more intriguing glimpse at the possibilities another world, another time, another reality might hold.