Theseus and the Centaur


Theseus and the Centaur was sculpted by Antonio Canova in 1804-1819 and is located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria.


Theseus, the son of Aegeus (King of Athens), was renowned for his intelligence and strength. So much so that Pirithoüs (King of the Lapiths) attempted to test Theseus by raiding his herd of cattle. However, Pirithoüs ultimately surrendered to Theseus and awaited his fate. Theseus did not cast judgement on Pirithoüs but instead offered friendship. As a result, Theseus was invited to Pirithoüs’s wedding to the Thessalian princess, Hippodamia. During this wedding the centaurs, who were among the guests, became intoxicated and attempted to kidnap the women. The centaur Eurytion attempted to adduct Hippodamia. Theseus rose to save Hippodamia. Canova’s Neoclassical sculpture depicts the scene where Theseus fights Eurytion. The abduction attempt resulted in a slaughter.

Did you know? The sculpture was influenced by the Laocoon sculptures in  the Vatican Museums.

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