Classical Centaur Art: Centaurs vs Lapiths

Centaurs Battle by Gervais 1907

Art by Gervais (1907)

This is one of the better depictions of the popular Greek-themed mythic art subject, The Battle of the Lapith and Centaurs. Mainly because in this piece the centaurs are highlighted rather than obscured as they are in other works. They also look like they are winning the battle here. Alas, they lost and suffered many casualties. At least that’s the way the legend goes down with Grecian human writers.

In at least two of the most famous myths regarding centaurs their undoing is an intolerance for wine. In this battle the wine goes to their heads and the next thing that happens is a rapacious free for all including their leader trying to rape the bride at the wedding feast. This intolerance for alcohol reminds me of American Indians who have a genetic inability to deal with fermented beverages. Like centaurs, other supposedly more civilized species (read White Europeans) treated Amerinds as if they were primitive savages and did their best to wipe the natives out. This is one of the reasons that there are so many artistic renderings of Amerinds as centaurs. They share the same “otherness” that was responded to with prejudice and cruel savagery on the part of their oppressors.

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November 3, 2013 · 1:42 PM

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