Your Weekend Creature Comforts: Centaurs
Hello again my furry followers, today I feel like I am venturing in to sacred territory. There are some creatures out there that I am almost hesitant to spotlight as I am afraid I won’t do them justice. They are just so famous and awe-inspiring that I don’t know if I am worthy to feature them. Oh who am I kidding, no one’s gonna do it better than Lilith! So this weekend I am featuring the centaur, another human-animal hybrid that has fascinated creature lovers like myself for centuries.
Most of you know that the centaur is a mythological creature from ancient Greece that has the body and legs of a horse though the torso, arms, and head of a man. It is thought that cultures before the Greeks also had depictions of centaurs, and they were the way that the sedentary culture first imagined people on horseback. They had never before seen people on horseback, so when they encountered nomadic tribes traveling by horse they drew what they saw: a combination of horse and man.
Initially centaurs were thought to only be male, though a couple centuries after they were first depicted in Greek culture female centaurs emerged as well. They continued to be depicted throughout the Middle Ages and today’s modern centaurs are no less majestic than those of ancient times.
There are a lot of modern novels and movies featuring centaurs, so I am sure I will miss some, but I will bring you those that I have seen myself.
I think my first memory of a centaur comes from Disney. As a child (and honestly still to this day) I really enjoyed the original Fantasia. Can you believe that the movie was from 1940?!?! It is a beautiful combination of music and animation, and I very much enjoyed The Pastoral Symphony, a piece by Beethoven accompanied in the movie by many amazing mythological beasts including both male and female centaurs.
Sticking with movies, a more recent depiction of centaurs is in the movie series (and books though I have not read them yet) Percy Jackson. The two movies currently out, the Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters, feature two different main centaur characters, both great actors who I loved seeing as centaurs. Pierce Brosnan and Anthony Stewart Head! The movies are definitely geared towards kids, but they are fun and I very much enjoyed seeing the realistic CGI made centaurs.
Then the books and movies of the C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia also feature centaurs. These centaurs are not as realistic on film as those in the Percy Jackson Series but are still majesctic in their own way.
And lastly we have the ever famous Harry Potter Series, of which by now you are all aware that I am obsessed with. The centaurs play a relatively important role both as creatures of the Forbidden Forest and as a professor when Firenze joins the school to teach divination.
I have not read the Artemis Fowl series, but I have read that they feature a very important hero who is none other than a centaur. And while the movie The Neverending Story did not feature a centaur, the book version that the movie was based on did. I wish they had taken the time to add that to the movie, though the costumes back then would not have been flattering.
As I continued researching centaurs for you all this weekend my mind was particularly blown away when I found out that the Star Wars fiction series features two species of centaur-like creatures. Something tells me Disney will be all over that in the future. I can’t believe George Lucas didn’t already use them, he loves corny scenes featuring creatures afterall.
Moving on to gaming, there are over a dozen games listed on Wikapedia as featuring centaurs, with some more famously recognized games like Warcraft, Mortal Kombat, and Tomb Raider being on the list as games even I am familiar with.
TV shows have also dappled with centaurs, not surprisingly being recurrent characters on the shows Hercules and Xena Warrior Princess. And thank the heavens Old Spice even featured centaurs in a commercial. God I love Old Spice.
Sticking with the novels I spend so much of my time devouring, I will leave you with a recommendation featuring centaurs: The Magicians was a novel I read a couple years ago that was touted as “The Next Harry Potter”. I wasn’t really looking for another Harry Potter, I am happy with the one we already have thank you very much. But I did read this novel and did enjoy it. Aside from the fact that it takes place at a witchcraft and wizarding school, there is really very little about it like Harry Potter. These wizards are spoiled and miserable (I know, that doesn’t make it sound like a great read, but it really is). There is quite a lot of transfiguration in the novel though. And the last section involves a trip to an alternate universe, one featuring herds of centaurs. These centaurs are not nearly as humanistic as some in other popular portrayals of the creatures. It was an interesting new take on them, really embracing their horse side.
Ok folks, that concludes another week of your favorite creature comforts column. The next two weeks I will be dedicating my writings to GoT as we are only 2 weeks away from Season 4!
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Posted on March 22, 2014, in Creature Comforts and tagged Anthony Stewart Head, centaurs, Disney, Fantasia, Greek mythology, harry potter, horses, Percy Jackson, Pierce Brosnan, your weekend creature comforts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.