How to be a good Centaur
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CitationNagy, Gregory. 2019. “How to be a good Centaur.” Classical Inquiries. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.eresource:Classical_Inquiries.
AbstractIn today’s popular thinking, it is all too easy to assume that the Centaurs of Greek mythology are bad, one and all. And such an assumption seems justifiable when we consider the myths that I analyzed in two previous essays posted in Classical Inquiries, 2019.04.19 and 2019.03.22. Yes, Centaurs must be bad, since they are misfits who disrupt society. But the whimsical question posed in the title of this essay, “how to be a good Centaur,” challenges the assumption that all Centaurs are bad. I will argue that Centaurs in myth can in fact be good so long as they are not in a group—so long as they are not members of a gang. To be good, a Centaur must be solitary. A prime example is the Centaur named Cheiron, who becomes a mentor of Achilles, initiating the boy hero into adulthood. While the myth about this solitary Centaur is obviously a positive model of initiation, I will argue for something more, something that is far less obvious: there is a complementarity to be found in myths about Centaurs as a gang. Such myths, in anthropological terms, are negative models of initiation, and they actually complement the positive models.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40935357
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