Religious Centaur Art: Saint Anthony Guided By The Centaur

Saint Anthony Abbot and The Centaur by Francesco Guarino 1642

Art by Francesco Guarino

This is probably the only reference to a centaur I know of in Catholic dogma:

The satyr and the centaur

Saint Anthony was on a journey in the desert to find Saint Paul of Thebes, who according to his dream was a better Hermit than he (Vitae Patrum Book 1a- Collected from Jerome. Chpt VI). Saint Anthony had been under the impression that he was the first person to ever dwell in the desert; however, due to the dream, Saint Anthony was called into the desert to find his “better” Saint Paul. On his way there, he ran into two demons in the forms of a centaur and a satyr. Many works of art depict Saint Anthony meeting with the centaur and the satyr. Western theology considers these demons to have been temptations. At any rate, he was stopped by these demons and he asked them, “Who are you?” To that the satyr replied, “I am a corpse, one of those whom the heathen call satyrs, and by whom they are snared into idolatry.” The satyr then tried to terrify the saint while the centaur acknowledged the overthrow of the gods. In the end, the centaur tried to show Saint Anthony the way to his destination while the satyr ended up asking for Saint Anthony’s blessing.[10]

-From Wikipedia

Saint Anthony and The Centaur by Jacopo Negretti

Art by Jacopo Negretti

St Anthony encounters centaur and satyr

St Anthony meets a centaur

 

2 Comments

January 12, 2014 · 8:57 PM

2 responses to “Religious Centaur Art: Saint Anthony Guided By The Centaur

  1. It may interest viewers to know that “demons” are not always bad or malevolent:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daemon_(classical_mythology)
    So hear we find two “nature spirits”, the satyr representing temptation, while the centaur plays the traditional role of guardian.

    • Thank You, James.

      The way I read this interpretation of the legend was that St Anthony was so “right” that just an encounter with him altered you. So any so-called “demon” would be transformed from darkness to enlightenment. A typical story of the imagined values of faith in The Church and it’s holy figures.

      I imagine in the legends of satyrs and centaurs that this tale is told with an opposite result wherein Anthony gets enlightened to the true nature of nature itself through the auspices of benevolent manimals.

      It all depends of perspective.

      Thanks again.
      Greg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s