The Centaur

Anna Shaw

Westgate on Sea, United Kingdom

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Wall Art

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Artist's Description

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MCN :: CMB5E-G28CU-417D9

On 18.08/2010 this image has had 2015 views, 84 Favourites and 277 comments.

Winner in The Photo Manipulators Mythical Creatures Challenge

Second Place in the ‘All In Editing’ Challenge

Featured in The Top Favourites Group

Pick of The Week in Digital Artists United

This was created especially for the Photo Manipulators Group Mythological Creatures Challenge

It was created in Photoshop CS4. Many layers of my own textures were blended together for the background. The horse and man were morphed and the wings added. Much blending and painting and then subtle textures and colour- fill layers added afterwards.
I am indebted to the following artists for their fabulous stock…

The music that was running around in my head all the time I was creating this image was “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.
The words are just so apt for The Centaur!

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I’m just a poor boy (Poor boy)
I need no sympathy
Because I’m easy come, easy go
Little high, little low
Any way the wind blows
Doesn’t really matter to me, to me

The centaur is a mythological creature. Its head, arms, and chest are those of a human and the rest of its body, including four legs, hindquarters, and a tail is like that of a horse.

There are also deer-centaurs, dog-centaurs, and the Gaelic androcephalous or man-headed horse. Both Greeks and Etruscans sometimes painted a centaur-like animal with the entire body of a human rather awkwardly attached in various ways to the lower or back parts of a horse.


Presence and illustrations of centaurs date back to Assyria (2000 BC) and India (3000 BC). Some have traced the Greek centaur origins back to the Gandharvas who in Vedic mythology drove the horses from the Sun but it is now accepted that they were a primitive and rough population of horsed shepherds from Thessalony. According to Greek tradition, there are two families of centaurs. The more numerous and unruly centaurs are those born of the union of Ixion, King of the Lapithae and a cloud which Zeus disguised as his own wife, Hera, whom Ixion had bragged of having relations with.

Chiron who was the like the above centaurs in appearance only fathered a different race of centaurs, sober, learned and studious. His father was Cronus, the Titan and his mother was Philyra, an Oceanid (or ocean nymph). He was a famous physician and teacher and was renowned for his skill in hunting, medicine, music, and the art of prophecy. Taught by Apollo and Diana, Chiron went on to tutor the greatest Greek warriors, Aesculapius, Jason, Hercules, and Achilles.


Centaurs lived in herds on Mt. Pelion in Thessaly, Greece, and were a plague to the people around them. They went about drunk, eating raw flesh, trampling crops, and raping female humans. The intellectual parts they inherited from humankind left them ignorant and yet cunning.

The Centaurs were creatures that were sometimes very hostile towards humans. They were always involved in brawls and battles. Often Zeus would send the Centaurs to punish gods and humans who had offended him. The hostility between man and Centaurs is said to have originated when the Centaurs were invited to their stepbrother’s (Pirithous), wedding celebration. At the feast Eurytion, one of the Centaurs, becoming intoxicated with the wine, attempted to offer violence to the bride; the other Centaurs followed his example, and a dreadful conflict arose in which several of them were slain. This is the celebrated battle of the Lapithae and Centaurs, a favorite subject with the sculptors and poets of antiquity.


The wicked centaurs are the antithesis of the knight and the horseman. Instead of mastering or taming their instincts, these centaurs are ruled by them. They symbolize violent lust, adultery, brutality, vengefulness, heretics, and the Devil. They represent the struggle within each heart between good and evil, moderation and excess, passion and propriety, forgiveness and retaliation, belief and unbelief, god and beast.

Centaurs may be seen in pictures of St. Anthony Abbot who met both a centaur and a satyr when searching for St. Paul the Hermit in the desert. According to some legends, this centaur was the Devil himself.

Chiron is known as the wisest of all Centaurs. He did not depict the regular character of a Centaur; he just had the same body of those creatures. To the Greeks he was a close representation of a saint. He was a father figure to many of the gods’ children. They were given to him so he could teach them great knowledge of the world. Chiron represents the positive combination of man’s animal and spiritual natures. As early Christians strove to modernize ancient pagan symbolism with Church teaching, the combination of the spiritual and the animal natures in the centaur-archer caused this image of Apollo and the sun to become a representation of Christ, the God-Man.


Artwork Comments

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