|Centaur and Dryad
by Paul Manship
The Centauromachy began, according to most accounts, with the wedding of Hippodamia to Pirithous. Because Hippodamia was kin to the Centaurs, they were invited to the wedding feast -- but apparently Pirithous was a little bit too generous with his wine, and the centaurs, unused to such strong drink, got drunk. And not giggles and daring fun, either. Angry and Lusty drunk. Wild and Violent drunk. So wild and so angry, in fact, that they thought it would be a good idea to make off with the bride herself, along with a fair number of other women, for the purposes of, well, violence and lust.
As you can imagine, Pirithous did not sit still for this, and with Theseus at his side, and the help of a number of other guests as well, they attacked and defeated the centaurs, rescuing the women, and driving the remaining horse-men from the city, and perhaps even the lands of the Lapiths entirely. Hippodamia escaped mostly unscathed, though I can't imagine she looked back on her wedding day fondly after that.
Which brings us to today's terrible photography -- because I happened across this bronze by accident (as usual) at the Wadsworth Atheneum. But the style was both fascinating and beautiful, and definitely inspired me when I started writing about Hippodamia and her marriage to Pirithous (even if this isn't a depiction of her abduction.)
There's a reason that mythology has been a subject of creative endeavors for so long. There's so much room in it for dynamic emotion and beauty. There are so many conflicts waiting to be brought to life and characters to explore. For instance -- how is Hippodamia, a woman, related to the centaurs (bred from mares) at all? And what relationship did the Centaurs feel they had to the Lapiths, if the centaurs came from Ixion's line, and Ixion maybe wasn't necessarily Pirithous' father? How did they all get along BEFORE the wine and the wedding came between them?
Half the fun, for me, is figuring out the story which leads to an answer.
photos taken by and copyright belonging to me!
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