|Greek and Roman Mythology > The Centaurs
wild people, half man, half beast. Such were the Satyrs men
with goats' legs. But nobler and better were the Centaurs, men
to the waist, while the rest was the form of a horse. The
ancients were too fond of a horse to consider the union of his
nature with man's as forming any very degraded compound, and
accordingly the Centaur is the only one of the fancied monsters
of antiquity to which any good traits are assigned. The Centaurs
were admitted to the companionship of man, and at the marriage of
Pirithous with Hippodamia, they were among the guests. 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.
But all the Centaurs were not like the rude guests of Pirithous.
Chiron was instructed by Apollo and Diana, and was renowned for
his skill in hunting, medicine, music, and the art of prophecy.
The most distinguished heroes of Grecian story were his pupils.
Among the rest the infant Aesculapius was intrusted to his
charge, by Apollo, his father. When the sage returned to his
home bearing the infant, his daughter Ocyroe came forth to meet
him, and at sight of the child burst forth into a prophetic
strain (for she was a prophetess), foretelling the glory that he
was to achieve. Aesculapius, when grown up, became a renowned
physician, and even in one instance succeeded in restoring the
dead to life. Pluto resented this, and Jupiter, at his request,
struck the bold physician with lightning and killed him, but
after his death received him into the number of the gods.
Chiron was the wisest and justest of all the Centaurs, and at his
death Jupiter placed him among the stars as the constellation