The Lapiths are a legendary people of Ancient Greek mythology, whose home was in Thessaly, in the valley of the Peneus and on the mountain Pelion. Like the Myrmidons and other Thessalian tribes, the Lapiths were pre-Hellenic in their origins. The genealogies make them a kindred people with the Centaurs: in one version, Lapithes and Centaurus were said to be twin sons of the god Apollo and the nymph Stilbe, daughter of the river god Peneus. Lapithes was a valiant warrior, but Centaurus was a deformed being who later mated with mares from whom the race of half-man, half-horse Centaurs then came. Lapithes was the eponymous ancestor of the Lapith people. In the Iliad, the Lapiths send forty manned ships to join the Greek fleet in the Trojan War.
The best-known legend with which the Lapiths are connected is their battle with the Centaurs at the wedding feast of Pirithous, the Centauromachy. The Centaurs had been invited, but, unused to wine, their wild nature came to the fore. When the bride was presented to greet the guests, the centaur Eurytion leapt up and attempted to rape her. All the other centaurs were up in a moment, straddling women and boys. In the battle that ensued, Theseus came to the Lapiths' aid. They cut off Eurytion's ears and nose and threw him out. In the battle the Lapith Caeneus was killed, and the defeated Centaurs were expelled from Thessaly to the northwest.
Lapiths in "The Horse of Bronze"[edit | edit source]
Lapiths was a generic term for the previously unknown creatures also known as mans, a bipedal species which appeared one day in the interior of Eastern Europe and the Tin Isle. Their bodies seemed to be a pure expression of the template which the gods had mixed with parts of animals in all other intelligent creatures. They were also possessed of a tremendous intellectual curiosity. Most of all, they were distinguished by a sense of tremendous self-assurance, believing themselves inherently superior to all other mortal beings. They also believed that they were entitled by right to whatever they wanted to take from less formidable creatures, such as Nuggies, vampires, and centaurs.
On the Tin Isle, Lapiths took possession of the land from the Nuggies, who promptly began to die of shame when they came into contact with the Lapiths, whom they knew as mans. The Centaurs who arrived in the land, seeking tin which they needed for their war with the Sphinxes, also felt that shame and inferiority when coming into contact with the Lapiths, though not as devastatingly. When trying to establish friendly contact with the Lapiths, they were offered an intoxicating drink they did not know, realizing too late that it would make them mad with drunkenness. In their frenzy they killed the Lapiths and raped their women, and when waking up fled, horrified at what they had done and fearing retribution.
In Eastern Europe, the Lapiths had no difficulty passing through the territory of the blood-suckers and into the centaurs' homeland. The centaurs offered the Lapiths battle, but were soundly defeated and most of their population was killed. The few centaurs who survived wandered about the territories surrounding the Inner Sea while the Lapiths inhabited their homeland merely because they believed they deserved to do so.
Editorial Note[edit | edit source]
The story, written from the Centaurs' viewpoint, does not explain where the Lapiths/Mans originally came from; all that the Centaurs knew was that they were coming from the north and moving southward, first to the Tin Isle and later toward the Centaurs' own homeland. Whatever their original country was, they came from there already in possession of a technology high enough to construct Stonehenge within a few years after arriving in the southern part of the Tin Isle.