How many of you have wished that you were half-horse? Or half-bull? Oh, come on. You can admit it!
Okay, neither have I. But for those who have no choice and were born as centaurs or minotaurs, here’s a blog post to help the rest of us humans understand why they are the way they are:
Minotaurs also come from Greek mythology. There was one main minotaur who was trapped in the center of Daedalus’s labyrinth as punishment for being the offspring of Daedalus’s wife. Prior to some classic fantasy, “the minotaur” was just one creature from Greek mythology. They weren’t really depicted as a “race” of creatures until C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series, where they served the White Witch.
Minotaurs have long legs and make good runners, though their bulk slows them down. They are also ommivors and live for about 60 years.
Two books in which you can find Minotaurs:
- The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis (a race of minotaurs)
- The Percy Jackson Series, by Rick Riordan (the more classic understanding of one minotaur)
There are arguments about how Centaurs originated, but it all comes down to Greek mythology.
A centaur is the top half of a human and the torso of a horse. But that’s not the only thing that sets them apart. For the most part, centaurs are known as being uncivilized, short-tempered, and easily intoxicated. Civilized centaurs were rare. Did you know there were also deer-centaurs and dog-centaurs?
Centaurs could be hostile toward humans. The “human-side” of their breed left them cunning and ignorant, but they were more ruled by their passions and animal instincts. However, Chiron–the main centaur of Greek Mythology–was known as being wise and even related to one of the saints.
Some books you can find centaurs in:
- The Harry Potter Series, by J. K. Rowling
- The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
- Fablehaven Series, by Brandon Mull
What are some books that you’ve liked that present the centaur or minotaur well?
The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis is by far the best book with centaurs I’ve ever read. It inspired me to write them in a story myself. 🙂
I love in Narnia, how the centaurs are wise and noble creatures, highly skilled in archery and swordsmanship- kind of like the high elves in LOTR.
Sarah E. Morin
Fun article, Nadine! I always enjoyed the endearing and intimidating academic snootiness of most centaurs in modern fiction. In fact, the only intellectually inferior version of centaurs I remember reading is Gail Carson Levine’s depiction of them in Ella Enchanted. In that book, they are more like pet ponies. Prince Char captures one as a gift for Ella. The scene was sweet but a little disorienting after all the emphasis on centaurian brilliance I see elsewhere!
I prefer the abrasive, academic centaur. I think Lewis and Tolkien would invite a visiting centaur to a meeting of the Inklings and they’d all boisterously debate each other til the stars rose high in the heavens.
Another book with centaurs ( as bad guys) is the Quest of Dan Clay, a series actually. The centaurs like to eat faries and get drunk real easy.