CENTAURS

Classification: Mystically-Altered Humans/Demi-Gods

Location/Base of Operations: Hades and Olympus, formerly Mobile through Ancient Greece

Known Members: Centaurus (possibly deceased), Centaurion, Chiron (possibly deceased), Eurytion, Hylaeus, Nessus, Pholus, Rhoecus, Ripheus (all deceased),

Affiliations: Ares, Amora the Enchantress, the Bacchae, Cerberus, Hippolyta, Myrmidons, Peirithous (former), Pholus (former), Pluto (alias Hades), Yellow-Crested Titans

Enemies: Bounty, Caledonia, Hercules, Marvel Girl (Valeria von Doom), Alyssa Moy, Franklin Richards

First Appearance: Journey Into Mystery Annual#1 (1965)

Powers/Abilities: Centaurs possess extra-ordinary strength possibly in the enhanced human range (capable of lifting 800 pounds to 2 tons), enhanced stamina, reflexes and stamina. They can use their front hooves as formidable weapons.

Traits: Centaurs have the upper portion and torso of a man and the hindquarters of a horse.

History: (Greek/Roman myth) - The Centaurs are the grandsons of mortal King Ixion who ruled parts of Thessaly in the 14th Century BC. Ixion had married Dia, a princess from Thrace, but neglected to pay the bride price to her father, King Eioneus. Eioneus took Ixion's mares as a security in lieu of payment. Ixion invited Eioneus to Thessaly to collect payment and instead killed him in what is recorded the first known murder in Ancient Greece. Because it was the murder of his father-in-law, Ixion could not find anyone to purify him of the foul deed. Dia, however, was seduced by Zeus and eventually gave birth to Ixion's heir, Peirithous. She convinced Zeus to purify Ixion, but once Ixion learned that Zeus had seduced his wife, he demanded Zeus's wife, Hera, as added compensation to what he considered an insult. Zeus returned Ixion to Earth and told him that Hera would be sent to him later. Ixion, however, was visited by Nephele, the cloud-goddess, who bore him a deformed horse-like son named Centaurus.  For offending the gods, Ixion was chained to a flailing wheel in the underworld as punishment.

Peirithous ended up living with the Lapith tribes and eventually inherited the throne of Thessaly. As an adult, Centaurus fathered numerous more Centaurs from the normal horses he found grazing in the ancient kingdom of Magnesia (now part of modern Greece. Centaurus made a claim for the throne of Thessaly himself and after a several battles came to a truce with Peirithous who shared the land with him. The peace was shattered when Nessus and the Centaurs tried to abduct Hippodameia, Peirithous's bride, at their wedding.

The Centaurs were driven south to Malea and eventually reached Mount Pholoe in Arcadia where they encountered the huntress Atalanta who slew Ripheus and Rhoecus. Pholus, a Centaur son of Silenius, tried to instill in the remaining Centaurs more civilized manners, but once more aroused by the taste of wine, the Centaurs tried to abduct wives again. During his Fourth Labor, Hercules drove them off but killed Eurytion in the attack. Most of the Centaurs fled to Eleusis, but from among them Nessus fled to Aetolia where he got a job as a ferryman to the river Evenus. He even began claiming he received the job because the gods swore to his sterling character.

(Marvel Superheroes III#1 (fb), Hulk: Hercules Unleashed (fb)) - Nessus encountered Deianeira, wife of Hercules, and attempted to carry her off for himself. Hercules shot him with his arrows, which had been dipped in the poisonous blood of the Hydra, and killed him. As he lay dying, Nessus gave some of his blood to Deianeira and told her it was a love charm that she could use if Hercules ever became unfaithful. Some time after this incident, Deianeira applied it to Hercules in his clothing as it exploded into flames over him. Dousing himself in the nearby river, Hercules later realized that it had burnt off only his mortality and Zeus made him a true god.

(Marvel Tales I#124/1) - A father hides the truth from his human son that his parents were centaurs.

(Journey Into Mystery Annual#1) - During his first visit to Olympus, the Asgardian Thor beheld a centaur entertaining itself to the music of Pan.

(Avengers I#100 (fb), 100) - Banished to the land of the centaurs in the dimension of Olympus, Ares used the Ebony Blade lost by Dane Whitman (Black Knight) to try and rally the centaurs and satyrs in attempt to conquer Olympus. Even with Amora the Enchantress by his side, Ares was defeated by Hercules and the Avengers.

(Avengers I#283) - After escaping from Tartarus, the Avengers arrived in Olympus and were confronted by an unnamed Centaur standing guard at the gates. Both Namor the Submariner and the She-Hulk overpowered him to conceal their arrival so they could search out the location of their fallen teammate, Hercules.

(Avengers I#284) - As Zeus did battle with the Avengers in Olympus, a centaur fled from the battle, carrying a woman to safety on his back. When he heard that Zeus was battling an "armored stranger" (Thor), the centaur opined that this person must be "the greatest fool alive...though, surely, not for long."

(Fantastic Four III#21) - Some centaurs joined the forces of Tartarus led by Hippolyta against Marvel Girl (Valeria von Doom), Caledonia, Alyssa Moy, Bounty and Franklin Richards, but were finally called off when Hercules brought Pluto's wife Persephone to the scene to put him in his place.

(New Warriors II#10) - Some centaurs were seen in Olympus as the New Warriors were brought before Zeus and Athena by Hercules to test Aegis.

CommentsAdapted by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta.

Both Marvel Superheroes III#1 and Hulk: Hercules Unleashed tell differing versions of Nessus's treachery in killing Hercules, but both versions are consistent that it was blood from Nessus tainted by the poison of the Hydra that brought down the son of Zeus.

There are a few other Centaurs not directly descended from Ixion. Among them are the wise sage Chiron who was born to the Titan Cronus out of wedlock and Pholus who was born to the satyr Silenus. There are also two Inhumans, Stallior and Chiron (not be confused with the son of Cronus) with typical centaur appearances as well as a few extra-terrestrial and extra-dimensional races.

It is not for certain if the Centaur Centaurion is meant to be a brother of Nessus or the same individual as Centaurus. It is possible, just as there are some Centaurs as Chiron and Pholus with other parentages, that Centaurion could be the progeny of yet another Olympian God such as Ares or even Poseidon who according to myth tamed the first horses as a gift to Demeter. Of course, there is another chance he could be ret-conned into another Inhuman or perhaps even a Deviant mutant.

According to some myths, Centaurus is the son of Apollo and Stilbe, but this is incorrect. This was probably invented later on to expand their enmity with the sons of Lapithus, a son of Apollo and Stilbe, who fought with them for control of Thessaly and to possibly link them to the Lapiths. Traditionally, they are descended from Ixion.

According to some myths, Nephele was a cloud that Zeus molded to resemble Hera and brought to life while in others she is a daughter of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. She is not to be confused with the Nephele who married King Athamas of Boeotian Orchomenus.

The mere concept of a man-horse is rather interesting because any human organs in his human half he would have again in his horse half so he would have two hearts for increased stamina, two sets of lungs creating extra oxygen efficiency and two digestive tracts to burn up twice as much food. If one heart was damaged though by an arrow, the human half might die first before the horse half keeled over.

Centaurs were excellently depicted in the Hercules: Legendary Journeys TV-Series, but the Xena TV-Series actually made them more dimensional and different than regular horses with claims like they never wore horseshoes and they never ate hay.

In Strange Tales I#68/2 centaurs are seen. Although they may not be true mythological centaurs; possibly mutates?
--John Kaminski

Thanks to John Kaminski for pointing out the missed Marvel Tales appearance.

Profile by: Will U and Prime Eternal

CLARIFICATIONS: The Centaurs are not to be confused with:

  • Centauri, bipedal humanoid equestrian race from the Microverse, @ Micronauts I #22
  • Centauria, wife of Centaurio of the Changelings, @ Incredible Hulk II #251
  • Centauria, female Centaur, member of the Death Squad, @ Micronauts I#35
  • Centaurians, extra-terrestrial race with blue skin and red dorsal fin, @ Marvel Super-Heroes II#15
  • Centaurio, member of the Changelings, @ Incredible Hulk II#251>
  • Centaurius, one of the Inhumans, @ Amazing Adventures II#1
  • Centauron, son of Centaurio and Centauria, shot by General Ross and poisoned by Leoninus, @ Incredible Hulk II#248
  • Chiron, one of the Inhumans who resembles a Centaur, @ Fantastic Four I#129
  • Kymellians, extra-terrestrial bipedal humanoid equestrian race, @ Power Pack I#1
  • The Light Brigade, who resembled centaurs, @ Death's Head II Volume 2#9
  • Rynor the Unitaur, part of the Darkstrider, resembled a centaur, @ Master of Kung Fu I#36
  • Sagittarius, of Ecliptic's Zodiac, resembled a centaur, @ Alpha Flight II#1
  • Stallior, one of the Inhumans who resembles a Centaur, @ Incredible Hulk Annual#1

 Pics: Avengers I #283, page 7, middle left


Appearances:
Marvel Tales I#124 (June, 1954) - John Forte (artist)
Journey Into Mystery Annual#1 (1965) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks)
Avengers I#100 (May 1972) - Roy Thomas (writer), Barry Windsor-Smith (pencils), Joe Sinnott, Syd Shores & Barry Windsor-Smith (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Avengers I#283-284 (September-October, 1987) - Roger Stern (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Marvel Superheroes III#1 (October 1996) - D.G. Chichester & Margaret Clark (writer), Keith Pollard (pencils), Kim DeMulder (inks)
Hulk: Hercules Unleashed (May 1990) - Peter David (writer), Mike Deodato Jr. (pencils/inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Fantastic Four III#21 (September, 1999) - Chris Claremont (writer), Salvador Larroca (pencils), Art Thibert (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
New Warriors II#10 (July, 2000) - Jay Faerber (writer), Jamal Igle (artist), Walden Wong (inker), Bobbie Chase (editor)


Last updated: 03/23/14

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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