Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2.3. Female Centaurs

LCL 256: 138-139

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Philostratus: Imagines


(1) Σὺ μὲν ᾤου τὴν τῶν κενταύρων ἀγέλην δρυῶν ἐκπεφυκέναι καὶ πετρῶν ἢ νὴ Δία ἵππων μόνον, αἷς τὸν τοῦ Ἰξίονος ἐπιθόρνυσθαί φασιν, 25ὑφ᾿ οὗ οἱ κένταυροι ἑνωθέντες1 ἦλθον εἰς κρᾶσιν. τοῖς δὲ ἄρα καὶ μητέρες ὁμόφυλοι ἦσαν καὶ γυναῖκες ἤδη καὶ πῶλοι ἐν εἴδει βρεφῶν καὶ οἶκος ἥδιστος· οὐ γὰρ οἶμαί σε ἄχθεσθαι τῷ Πηλίῳ καὶ τῇ ἐν αὐτῷ διαίτῃ καὶ τῷ τῆς μελίας 30φυτῷ ἀνεμοτρεφεῖ ὄντι καὶ παρεχομένῳ τὸ ἰθὺ ὁμοῦ καὶ τὸ μὴ κλᾶσθαι ἐν τῇ αἰχμῇ. καὶ τὰ ἄντρα κάλλιστα καὶ αἱ πηγαὶ καὶ αἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῖς κενταυρίδες, εἰ μὲν ἐπιλαθοίμεθα τῶν 344 K.ἵππων, οἷον Ναΐδες, εἰ δὲ μετὰ τῶν ἵππων αὐτὰς λογιζοίμεθα, οἷον Ἀμαζόνες· ἡ γὰρ τοῦ γυναικείου εἴδους ἁβρότης ῥώννυται συνορωμένου αὐτῷ τοῦ ἵππου. (2) Κένταυροι δὲ ταυτὶ τὰ 5βρέφη τὰ μὲν σπαργάνοις ἔγκειται, τὰ δὲ τῶν σπαργάνων ὑπεκδύεται, τὰ δὲ κλάειν ἔοικε, τὰ δὲ εὖ πράττει καὶ εὐροοῦντος τοῦ μαζοῦ μειδιᾷ, τὰ δὲ ἀτάλλει ὑπὸ ταῖς μητράσι, τὰ δὲ περιβάλλει αὐτὰς ὀκλαζούσας, ὁ δὲ ἐς τὴν μητέρα 10λίθον ἀφίησιν ὑβρίζων ἤδη. καὶ τὸ μὲν τῶν νηπίων εἶδος οὔπω σαφὲς ἐμπλημμυροῦντος αὐτῷ τοῦ γάλακτος, τὰ δὲ ἤδη σκιρτῶντα ἐκφαίνει τι καὶ τραχύτητος, ὑπάρχει δὲ αὐτοῖς χαίτη μέλλουσα καὶ ὁπλαὶ ἁπαλαὶ ἔτι.

15Ὡς καλαὶ αἱ κενταυρίδες καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἵπποις·

Head of a female centaur

The death of Hippolytus


Book II. 3

3. Female Centaurs

You used to think that the race of centaurs sprang from trees and rocks or, by Zeus, just from mares—the mares which, men say, the son of Ixion1 covered, the man by whom the centaurs though single creatures came to have their double nature. But after all they had, as we see, mothers of the same stock and wives next and colts as their offspring and a most delightful home; for I think you would not grow weary of Pelion and the life there and its wind-nurtured growth of ash which furnishes spear-shafts that are straight and at the same time do not break at the spearhead. And its caves are most beautiful and the springs and the female centaurs beside them, like Naïads if we overlook the horse part of them, or like Amazons if we consider them along with their horse bodies; for the delicacy of their female form gains in strength when the horse is seen in union with it. Of the baby centaurs here some lie wrapped in swaddling clothes, some have discarded their swaddling clothes, some seem to be crying, some are happy and smile as they suck flowing breasts, some gambol beneath their mothers while others embrace them when they kneel down, and one is throwing a stone at his mother, for already he grows wanton. The bodies of the infants have not yet taken on their definite shape, seeing that abundant milk is still their nourishment, but some that already are leaping about show a little shagginess, and have sprouting mane and hoofs, though these are still tender.

How beautiful the female centaurs are, even where

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.philostratus_elder-imagines_book_ii_3_female_centaurs.1931