British Museum

This depiction of a centaur striking a human being adorned one of the Parthenon’s metopes, a series of square reliefs that ran beneath the temple’s east and west pediments. Lord Elgin removed 15 metope carvings from the Parthenon.

In the metope reliefs, the half-equine centaurs fight the Lapiths, a tribe of men from Thessaly. The battle is often interpreted as an allegory of the struggle between civilization (the human Lapiths) and barbarism (the half-bestial centaurs). According to the Greek myth, the conflict began when the centaurs, feeling lecherous after imbibing too much wine, tried to carry off the women who were attending the marriage of Pirithous, the king of the Lapiths.