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Centaurus  (sen-TAWR-us)

Progenitor of the centaurs; son of Ixion and a cloud. This unorthodox parentage came about when Ixion, who had thrown his father-in-law into a fiery pit, was purified of the crime by Zeus. Rather than give thanks for the divine favor, he tried to seduce Zeus's wife. Hera warned her husband what was afoot, and Zeus fashioned a cloud into Hera's likeness. Ixion made a pass at the cloud and was caught in the act. He was immediately consigned to the Underworld for eternal punishment, but not before the cloud became pregnant with Centaurus.
The centaur Chiron tutors the young hero Jason. Roman fresco from Herculaneum. (zoom)