Friday, May 1, 2009


C. S. Lewis once wrote, “When we blame a man for behaving like a beast – we mean he displays characteristics common to man and beast on occasion when those peculiar to man are demanded.” There is a symbol for this idea in Christian art borrowed and baptized from ancient mythology.

The centaur is a fantastical beast with the head and bust of man and the body of horse. You may have seen him recently on a new body wash commercial. This combining of man and horse represents the conflicting passions we can sometimes have; torn between the dignity we have as human beings and the base desires of the animal world.

He is depicted when the sin of passion given license is needed to be expressed particularly when adultery is being suggested. This would be his brute side. But in at least one special case he is shows his dignified side in pictures of Saint Anthony Abbot as he is reported to having appeared to him in the desert pointing out the way to find St. Paul the Hermit.

No comments: