Pholus (mythology) - Pholus, Chiron, and The Other Centaurs

Pholus, Chiron, and The Other Centaurs

It is well known that Chiron, the famously civilized centaur, had origins which differed from those of the other centaurs. Chiron was the son of Cronus and a minor goddess Philyra, which accounted for his exceptional intelligence and honor, whereas the other centaurs were bestial and brutal, being the descendants of the unholy rape of a minor cloud-goddess by the mortal king Ixion. Where Chiron was immortal and could die only voluntarily, the other centaurs were mortal like men and animals.

Pholus, like Chiron, was civilized, and indeed in art sometimes shared the "human-centaur" form in which Chiron was usually depicted (that is, he was a man from head to toe, but with the center and hindparts of a horse attached to his buttocks). This form was of course used to differentiate Chiron and Pholus from all other centaurs, who were mostly represented as men only from the head to the waist, and therefore more animal-like.

To further account for the unusually civil behavior of Pholus, the author of the Bibliotheca wrote that his parents were Silenus and one of the Meliae, thus differentiating him genealogically from the other centaurs, as Chiron was known to be. This different parentage apparently did not carry with it immortality, however, and Pholus died just as the other centaurs.

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