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Theseus Slaying the Centaur Bianor



This etching shows Theseus performing his first heroic task, which was to remove his father’s weapons from under a large rock.
Il Grechetto (Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione), Theseus Finding His Father's Weapons, 1648, etching, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, gift of funds from the Print and Drawing Council in Memory of Kemper E. Kirkpatrick.


This etching shows Theseus performing his first heroic task, which was to remove his father’s weapons from under a large rock.
Il Grechetto (Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione), Theseus Finding His Father's Weapons, 1648, etching, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, gift of funds from the Print and Drawing Council in Memory of Kemper E. Kirkpatrick


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Another famous Greek hero, Hercules, battles the fire-breathing monster Cacus.
Master of Year 1515, Hercules and Cacus, c. 1515-20, drypoint-manner engraving, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, bequest of Herschel V. Jones


key idea
A Mythical Hero

Theseus was the son of Aegeus (EE-GEE-us), the king of Athens, and Aethra, daughter of the king of Troezen. At age sixteen, Theseus left his mother’s home and set out for Athens, to see his father. This was the beginning of a series of adventures that continued throughout his life.

Theseus’ battle with the centaur Bianor is portrayed in this sculpture by the French artist Antoine-Louis Barye (AN-twon LOO-ee bar-EE). The battle came about because of Theseus’ great friendship with Pirithoüs (pi-RITH-oh-us) of Thessaly, king of the Lapiths. Pirithoüs invited Theseus to his wedding; he also invited his neighbors, the Centaurs (creatures with the body of a horse and the chest and head of a man). The Centaurs were an unruly bunch who drank too much wine and began making trouble. When they tried to kidnap the bride, Theseus quickly stepped in, fighting them off and saving her.

The story of the Lapiths and the Centaurs was popular in Greek art as a way to picture the victory of the civilized Greeks (represented by the Lapiths) over the barbarous Persians (represented by the Centaurs) in a battle that took place in 480 B.C.



 
   
September 2009