In the Jack Reese Galleria of the great Hodges Library of the University of Tennessee the art and artifacts of the Centaur excavation at Volos has found a permanent home.   This reconstruction of a Centaurian burial site was assembled by Professor William Willers of the University of Wisconsin in the mid-1980s before being moved to the University of Tennessee.  This controversial reconstruction has -as intended– provided the catalyst for countless discussions about (for example) biological possibilities, mythological realities, cultural transmission, psycho-dynamic representations, and occasionally the possibility of an elaborate hoax.  As the embodiment of the ideal integration of physical, spiritual, and intellectual strengths, the  Centaur is a prominent candidate for University mascot.  Beauvais Lyons’ Centaur of Volos page


Brought to UT by Professors of Art and Biology, under the aegis of the University Studies Program, this controversial reconstruction has provided the catalyst for countless discussions of biological possibilities, mythological realities, history, culture, and the nature of beliefs.


THE CENTAUR of VOLOS (Torchbearer article)



CENTAURS may have appeared first among the Kassites (a minor Fertile Crescent barbarian group ca. 1750 BCE) or more likely amongst the Hittites who disseminated them to their trading partners, the Mycenaean Greeks, the group that made the best use of them.  As we now know them, then, we can say they originated in the Near East between 1750 and 1150 BCE. Robert Graves regarded them as a Pelasgian tribe supported by Achaean Greeks against the Lapiths of Northern Thessaly.


The most famous of the tribe were Cheiron, wise, benevolent, beloved, and Eurytion, given to outrageous sensual excesses, emotional outbursts (Iliad, Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs 1.261 ff; 2, 740 ff; or Odyssey, 21,295-304).  Eventually the image of a feral, violent, sexually charged beast predominated.  Better safe than sorry.  Cheiron was forgotten except for Dante’s brief meeting with him (among others) in the seventh circle of hell and his resurrection as one of  Faust’s instructors (dealing in particular with how to support both a physical and a spiritual relationship with Helen).


Cheiron, the wise Centaur, was abandoned by his parents, adopted by Apollo, and was eventually teacher of many of the great heroes, not least Herakles.  These heroes also were taught the healing arts — the most famous is Asklepios, physician to the Greeks at Troy and founder of a spectacular dynasty of eponymous healers, centered eventually at Epidaurus.  Cheiron is also regarded as “The Wounded Healer” because of  the psychic wound of his abandonment, and later for the accidental but immortal wound caused by a misdirected poisoned arrow of Herakles.  The beloved Cheiron was saved from  endless agony by the intercession of his friends and ultimately resulted in the unbinding of Prometheus. Read Cheiron’s story and his evolution as the “Wounded Healer” as interpreted in classical and astrological literature.  [more on wounded healers in medicine.]  See also representations of Centaurs on ancient coins


Female Centaurs?  rare but revealed (in part) by the explorations and adventures of Katherine Neville [more] and the scholarship of Tom Buggey and Jim Phelps





University Studies’


The Mind of a  Centaur

Since 1998, the University of Tennessee, Host to the Centaur of Volos, has held an annual showcase of Centaur scholarship presented by distinguished faculty and visiting authorities

Kathleen Jenks’ collection of


Prof. Kathleen Jenks maintains an extensive annotated & richly illustrated collection of links to mythologies, fairy tales & folklore, sacred arts & sacred traditions: MYTHING LINKS     http://www.mythinglinks.org/euro~west~greece~Centaurs.html

Katherine Neville on


Go to Katherine Neville’s homepage … The Centaur is amongst her many exotic research interests: read more … then some of her most interesting experiences as she was researching The Magic Circle (“. . .had a lot of adventures and seen a lot of things that didn’t end up in the book. Here’s your chance to read about some of them.)


Adrienne Mayor on


Adrienne Mayor is a classical folklorist living in Princeton, N.J.   Her article, Twitter feed on Centaurs: https://twitter.com/amayor/status/1191405574912499712

WikiPedia on the Centaur from Volos

 reconciling “the beast in the brain” with the Organ of Civilization  (Radford 1999)

Ayers Bagley on


an exhaustive but fascinating review of the evolution of Chiron as Educator prepared for the virtual museum of education iconics     


Christopher Muscato’s expansive account emphasizes the conflict between bestial and human, lustful and thoughtful, forces in human nature 

Ancient Coins





Many details of the  traditional view on Centaurs ( according to Apollodorus, Herodotus, and Pausanias) have been collated at Tufts University’s PERSEUS PROJECT. 

Greek vase from 560 BC.

Bronowski assumes these were Scythian

riders that seemed to be one with their horses

(Ascent of Man Chap 2.)


It was common knowledge that worthy characters were provided a place in the night sky.  Frequently a shooting star would be identified by the knowledgeable as the soul of some worthy speeding to its immortal home.  Such was true also for CENTAURUS


Pelion, “Pelion, land of the legendary Centaurs, the site chosen by the ancient gods for their weddings and celebrations, rises in lush magnificence to the northeast of Volos. It was here that the centaur Cheiron, the wise teacher of demigods and heroes, gave his pupils daily instruction in the proper care of body and soul. Here, too, the first beauty contest took place between Thetis and Eris.”


Additional information may be obtained from The CENTAUR: SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY an admirer’s collation of related sites can be seen at The CENTAUR Compendium







 “the Centaur of Tymfi … was unveiled and on display for the public at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Conn. on April 1, 2014.


‘Humbug’ or science? You be the judge … Phyllis A.S. Boros

Updated 12:24 am, Wednesday, April 2, 2014