It seems that ever since humans have had the ability to tell stories, they’ve told stories about hybrid beasts.
There’s just something in us that yearns to be more than human, to retain our unique communication abilities but gain the strength and agility of an animal.
Centaurs are perhaps the most ancient of all hybrid creatures, and the most enduring.
With the upper body of a (usually very attractive) person and the lower body of a horse, they’re certainly something to look at.
You would be remiss to create a magical world without a centaur.
Because of their popularity, centaurs have made their way into the world of tattoos, which would only make sense.
It’s unlikely that someone could ever transform themselves into this magnificent beast, but tattoos are the closest thing we have to that alchemy.
What does it mean to wear a tattoo of a centaur, beyond looking cool?
Where did centaurs originate and what do they symbolize?
Let’s kick up our hooves and take a running leap into the subject of centaurs.
Who Thought Up the Idea of Centaurs?
It can be difficult to pin down the exact origin of any mythological creature because every culture seems to have their own version of one.
Because of their prominence in Greek mythology, we can assume that the story starts in the Greco-Roman world.
There is a plausible theory that centaurs originally came out of a misunderstanding.
There were ancient cultures who embraced horseback riding, and those who haven’t yet discovered it.
When the non-riding cultures saw humans riding on horseback, they thought they were seeing a human/horse creature.
In short, life before google was a bit more magical.
What is the Story of the Centaur in Greek Mythology?
In the world of mythology centaurs are seen as a race of people, not one character.
So there are many paths we can go down when telling their story.
The first centaurs seem to be male for the most part.
They are sons of Ixion, an impulsive king who falls from grace.
The story goes that Ixion makes a promise to Deioneus that, in exchange for his blessing to marry his daughter, he will give him some money.
When Ixion is married and still refuses to pay up, Deioneus evens the score by stealing some of Ixion’s horses.
This doesn’t sit right with Ixion, so he plots to kill Deioneus in a sneaky act of revenge.
This doesn’t go over so well.
His actions are petty and needlessly vengeful, so he’s shunned by the Kings of the ancient world.
Eventually Zeus takes pity on him and invites him to hang out on Mount Olympus.
Despite his generosity, Ixion immediately tries putting the moves on Zeus’s wife Hera.
In a test of faith, Zeus creates a cloud woman in Hera’s image.
Ixion not only has sex with this cloud woman (Nephelle), he also walks around bragging about having slept with Hera.
Two things come out of this: Nephelle gives birth to a bunch of centaurs, and Ixion is sentenced to be bound to a fiery wheel for all of eternity. Well, win some lose some.
It’s important to talk about this origin story because centaurs are often seen as highly sexual beings and slaves to their impulses.
This continues as, in later myths, centaurs are associated with Dionysus- the god of food, wine, and ritualized sexual madness.
But that doesn’t mean centaurs are evil creatures in mythology.
There are certainly times in life when it’s important to let yourself indulge, and a Centaur will support you in that!
Unlike the black/white and right/wrong morals of Christian mythology, the Greeks had complicated protagonists.
Take Zeus for example, he may have dished out the justice this time, but he was no saint himself.
Who is Chiron?
Still, if you’re a little disappointed about the wild impulses of a centaur, there are some gentle characters within their tales of drunken debauchery.
Chiron was the son of a Titan and a Oceanid (sea nymph type creature).
He famously bucked the rebellious spirit of his brethren and was known for his intelligence.
Chiron had knowledge of herbal medicine, music, hunting, and even some divination skills.
Always happy to pass on his expertise, Chiron was also an educator in his world.
After being shot with a poisoned arrow, Chiron was unable to heal himself. He was immortal, but in great pain.
He then offered to take the place of Prometheus, who had been punished for giving the gift of fire to mortal humans.
Because of his sacrifice, Zeus rewarded his kindness by placing him among the stars.
This is the story behind the constellation “Centaurus”- which is associated with the zodiac sign Sagittarius.
Unsurprisingly, many of those with centaur tattoos were born under the sign Sagittarius, the archer.
The descriptions of this star sign seem to take the best of both worlds- the flirtatious, independent and flashy nature of the wild centaurs with the friendly philosophical traits Chiron brought to the party.
Common Themes in Centaur Tattoos
Centaur tattoos are typically done in a portrait style.
However, because there have been so many centaurs in so much pop culture at this point, the possibilities are endless.
You could give a nod to the ancient centaurs from Greek mythology, or you could get a tattoo of the centaur from Harry Potter, or your favorite video game!
Many Sagittarius folks choose to get a Centaurus constellation tattoo as a subtle reminder of the sign they were born under.
Centaur Tattoo Ideas
Why would you choose a centaur tattoo?
Are you looking to embrace your wild side, or maybe commemorate someone noble?
The symbolism behind centaurs is a fluid one, fitting as their signature zodiac sign is notoriously hard to get to know.
Still feeling mystified? Check out our centaur tattoo gallery for an extra shot of inspiration.
For more Greek-inspired tattoos go to:
- Selene Tattoos
- Poseidon Tattoos
- Greek Statue Tattoos
- Athena Tattoos
- Zeus Tattoos
- Hephaestus Tattoos
- Medusa Tattoos