One of the most dominant creatures in Greek mythology is as majestic as it is awe-inspiring. It is that of the half-horse, half-man centaur.
The centaur is often seen as representing the duality within human begins and symbolizing men’s paradox and their underlying primal drive.
Being a mix of man and horse, centaurs had increased stamina and reflexes and the strength that went into enhanced, if not extraordinary, territory. They were demi-Gods, having all ordinary senses heightened from normal horses or humans.
Being a mix between two such different creatures, many questions have long followed the centaurs. The most prevalent one is what exactly do centaurs eat?
Much like humans, Centaurs are omnivores that consume meat and veggies as well as fruit.
The Diet of Centaurs
So, centaurs have both the stomach of man and horse. What is it that centaurs eat, then? The digestive tract plays a huge part in determining the diets of the centaurs, even more so that they have a human head. This means that except for their second stomach, all of their digestive tracts are human.
Centaurs have a human’s esophagus, mouth, jaw, and teeth. They have to eat food intended for human beings. It may seem like consuming hay, oats, and grass would be just as simple.
However, horses have incredible digestive systems that help them have the ability to drink enough to keep themselves going on their regular diet.
Horses vs. Humans
Horses are what are known as non-ruminant herbivores. Herbivores have a diet that consists solely of plants. Non-ruminant means that horses have one stomach that works similarly to humans.
Though they do not have multiple compartments in their stomachs as ruminant animals do, they have two sections that digest their food separately. Humans do not even have this level of complexity.
In the first part, horses’ stomachs break down their food for enzyme use, and then their back portion works more to break it down for other nutrients. Since the food a centaur ingests will hit the simple, single human stomach first, it has to be nourished.
Not only that, but the centaur has a human’s mouth, teeth, tongue, and esophagus. None of these are compatible with what it takes to subsist on a grass diet, which horses use their long and flexible lips to grip.
As for grass, oats, or hay, horses have very distinct teeth used for processing their food. Their front incisors are designed to bite the food. Their use their long tongue to then move the food to the back cheek teeth for the grinding down of the forage food they eat.
In no way is the human upper portion of a centaur designed to eat a horse’s diet.
Diet Is Very Human
For that reason, Centaurs are depicted as omnivores, eating meat and veggies, even starches. They also are typically pictured imbibing on wine and other popular liquor in Ancient Greece.
It makes complete sense that centaurs would have a human diet as their personalities and everything about them other than the actual body is so implicitly human.
To answer what centaurs eat, it is crucial to understand the centaur’s unique anatomy fully. Keep in mind that the centaur is a hybrid of two completely different kinds of animals, man, and horse. This means multiple external and internal combinations that take a lot of tweaking to make it all work.
Also Read: Where Do Centaurs Sleep?
External Centaur Anatomy
On the outside, the centaur has impressive height, with the torso, arms, and head of a human. The human chest and abs point down, combining that upper half into the horse below at the waist area. From there down, it is all horse on the outside.
The waist goes down directly into a horse’s body, with four powerful legs that all have healthy and hard hooves. They have the strong, slightly indented back of a horse, going into a horse’s rear end, including the long and luxurious tail. They also have a horse’s stomach, as it is located below their body in between their four legs.
They have external sexual organs corresponding to their sex, which fits the horse’s size and looks. The bottom of them looks like a horse is covered with a typical coat, the color varying as it does in regular equines.
Though astounding, the external anatomy for these magnificent creatures is relatively straightforward – human up top. Horse below.
Internal Centaur Anatomy
The inside of a centaur is a bit more complicated. It is believed that the centaur must have had two different hearts, primary and secondary, one of the organs that pump the blood out to the hybrid body.
These two hearts are needed to regulate the internally hybrid system, filtering out the quantity of blood necessary to keep all parts of this intense body structure going and healthy.
Since they have both humans’ and horses’ stomachs, they contain both species’ internal diaphragms and digestive structures. It is also a widespread belief that since they have only the horse’s reproductive organs externally, they also have only horse-internal sexual glands.
For the rest of the body, internally, they likely have the set-up that matches the upper and lower parts’ species, respectively.
Let’s explore how exactly these fantastic beasts came into existence.
The Creation of Centaurs
As with most Greek myths, centaurs are rooted back to Mount Olympus’s Gods, with a few variations on how they came to be. The most popular origin story for centaurs is jealousy and unchecked lust – a huge theme throughout the Gods reigning over Greece from Olympus’s heights.
In this version, the son of the largely disliked God of war, Ares, rose to be King Ixion, ruling over Lapiths located in Thessaly. Ixion was a lot like his after, insatiable and ever seeking out conflict. Ixion became intrigued with Hera, the wife of the ruler over all the Gods, Zeus.
When Zeus caught wind of Ixion’s intent to seduce Hera at a planned meeting, he formed a cloud into a doppelganger of her and sent it in place.
Ixion completely believed he was meeting with his much-desired Hera and embraced the cloud fake. It is thought that the centaurs sprang into existence from that embrace.