I was at the British Museum with my wife looking at the Elgin Marbles. These sculptures and friezes from the Parthenon in Greece are controversial for many reasons. Who do they really belong to? Should we send them back where they came from? Wouldn’t that rather ruin the point of museums if they only displayed artefacts from within a fifty-metre radius? I can see both sides of the argument and am glad I don’t have to make the decision.
In any case, I was distracted by a greater controversy: the story that the carvings actually relate. Which is so unspeakably filthy that I am amazed it is allowed to be put on public display anywhere. It depicts the legend of the Lapiths and the Centaurs. To summarise; the Lapiths who are human invited some centarurs who are half man and half horse to a wedding. The centaurs got drunk, as you’d expect at a wedding, then attempted to have sex with the bride (less expected), before then generally running amok, trying to make off with any women (or boys) that they could carry. The Lapiths, not unreasonably, fought the horny horsemen and sent them packing. But if such a display of sex crimes and violence was displayed anywhere but in a museum the Daily Mail would be up in arms.
I couldn’t understand why the centaurs would want to have sex with humans at all. Surely we’d disgust them. Personally I might be attracted to the top half of a centaur lady, but I think the bottom bit would put me off sexual congress. I’d be up for a little snog and then suggest that the centaur lady take me for a ride in the countryside and, if she was agreeable, hold on to her bosom as if it was a handlebar. But once it got below the belly-button I would feel uncomfortable. And my feelings would be reciprocated by the centaurs, surely? No matter how many drinks they’d had.
This led to the inevitable discussion of whether if you were a centaur it would be better to have the top half or the bottom half of you as a horse. You probably think I would choose the bottom half because then I would be hung like a horse. But again that would only be useful if I was interested in attracting horses (I hope you’re not thinking I am protesting too much, but I am not). How many human females would be genuinely excited by a man who was literally hung like a horse? To the extent that he had an actual horse’s junk (let alone a horse’s arse, a horse’s tail and a horse’s hind legs)? Catherine the Great might be up for it, if you believe the lies of history, but it would be a very niche interest, especially if you also toileted in the equine fashion.
Obviously a top half horse, bottom half man configuration would be equally unsettling for all. And also lead to problems with balance.
If I was a centaur, I'd like to be left half horse and right half human. Then if all else failed I could come up with an amusing comedy act where I faced the audience sideways on and looked like a man, but could then turn around and look like a horse. And then have a funny conversation.
But then neither man nor beast, nor half-man, half-beast would be interested in my strange hybrid dongle.
It was nice to get out and see some high culture. Our minds improved we moved on to look at the Rosetta Stone.