Taraxippus

In Greek mythology, the Taraxippus was a ghost that frightened horses.

Description

The most fabled was the Taraxippos Olympios at Olympia, where Pausanias describes:

The race-course [of Olympia] has one side longer than the other, and on the longer side, which is a bank, there stands, at the passage through the bank, Taraxippos, the terror of the horses. It is in the shape of a round altar and there the horses are seized by a strong and sudden fear for no apparent reason, and from the fear comes a disturbance. The chariots generally crash and the charioteers are injured. Therefore the drivers offer sacrifices and pray to Taraxippos to be propitious to them.

Race horses were often adorned with good-luck charms or amulets to ward off the Taraxippus. The Taraxippus commonly made its appearance at the sharp turn of the race track, known to be the most dangerous.

At the Isthmian Games, the Taraxippos Isthmios was the ghost of Glaucus of Pontiae, who was ripped apart by his own horses

The Taraxippos Nemeios caused horses to panic during the Nemean Games:

At Nemea of the Argives there was no hero who harmed the horses, but above the turning-point of the chariots rose a rock, red in colour, and the flash from it terrified the horses, just as though it had been fire.

According to Statius, a Roman poet of the 1st century AD, the Taraxippoi possessed a “terrible visage to beholdendowed with countless terrors”. It also sent Ares’ own horse into a frenzy:

“When golden Arion saw it, his mane leapt up erect, and he halts with upreared shoulders and hold high suspended his yoke-fellow and the steeds that shared his toil on either side.”