In myth, a Lapith (see centaurs), son by Zeus of Ixion's wife. Homer knows of him as fighting the Centaurs, presumably in the quarrel mentioned in Odyssey 21. Marrying Hippodamīa, he forgot to invite Ares to his wedding-feast. For that or some other reason (the simplest is that they were very drunk) the Centaurs abused his hospitality by offering violence to Hippodamia, and a fierce fight began, ending in the victory of the Lapiths.
Pirithous was a close friend and comrade of Theseus, and he took his share in the carrying off of Helen, the war against the Amazons, and finally Theseus' descent to Hades, which, indeed, in one account was undertaken to get Persephone as wife for Pirithous, in return for his services in the matter of Helen. Theseus in most accounts escapes; Pirithous generally does not.
The fight of Lapiths and Centaurs appears in early Archaic art as a pitched battle in armour. The brawl at the feast first appears in the early Classical period, in Attic vase‐painting, and the west pediment of the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Pirithous is also shown helping Theseus to abduct Helen, pictured from the mid‐6th cent. Theseus and Pirithous were shown in the Underworld by Polygnotus.
Subjects: Classical Studies.