Monsters with the upper part of a man and body of a horse; rarely, in the early period and especially for senior Centaurs, the forelegs are human. They appear fighting heroes such as Herakles or Theseus (Centauromachy); the latter at the wedding of Peirithoos, whose wedding they disrupt. They represent the wilder animal instincts which need to be controlled in a civilized society, and could be thus used to signify the barbarian (Persians, etc.). When not engaged in a mythical context (see Chiron, Kaineus, Pholos, Nessos) they are shown as hunters. Their home is Thessaly but some of their adventures take place in Arcadia.
Above left: Archeological Institute, Eretria © Archeological Institute, Eretria Licence Plate 11 UK 1007 126
Above right: Theseus and centaurs. Detail from an Athenian black-figure clay vase, about 600-550 BC. Florence, Museo Archeologico Etrusco 4209 © Museo Archeologico Etrusco