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Two centaurs on an Amphipolis bronze

Two centaurs on a large bronze
from Amphipolis

Another kind of mischievous character to be found in Dionysos' orgiastic entourage, among numerous other mythological contexts. Creatures with a human head-torso planted onto a horse's body, centaurs rose from their legendary birthplace in ancient Thessaly to a popularity which made them eventually transcend even Greek mythology. Most of them are known for their mean, wild and slovenly behavior. They often cross Herakles' path, and one of them, the vile Nessos, engineered a revenge for their earlier encounters which was finally to lead to Herakles' death. Ironically, the two noble and helpful centaurs, Cheiron and Pholos, both ended up as accidental casualties of Herakles' poison arrows following the latter's battle with the more "regular" (bad) centaurs, in one of his many episodes en route to capturing the Erymanthean boar.

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