Like horses, centaurs can come in a variety of colours, ranging from deep black to white. They have the body of a horse, and the torso, arms and head of a human man.
Centaurs are not in fact half-breeds, but an entirely different species on their own. They are not very pleased to be insulted, particularly where their lineage is concerned, as Professor Umbridge found out to her cost.
Centaurs may possess the ability to be clairvoyant, judging from Firenze who taught alongside Sybill Trelawney.
Centaurs are forest-dwelling, and, in each country where colonies exist, the wizarding authority has set aside land exclusively for their use. One such colony exists in the Forbidden Forest, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, centaurs have their own methods of concealment, and avoid contact with both wizards and witches and Muggles. They generally live in herds of ten to fifty individuals.
Centaurs do not use wands for magic, but are known to be well-versed in magical healing, Divination, archery, and Astronomy. Centaurs burn herbs such as mallowsweet and sage to refine their stargazing findings. In fact, the centaur Firenze taught Divination at Hogwarts, starting in the 1995–1996 school year.
Centaurs are known to be gifted in divining. Indeed, the centaurs of the Forbidden Forest regularly made vague allusions to seeing the future, as when the centaur Firenze told Harry Potter that they were fated to meet again, and when he and Bane spoke of the "intermission" of sorts, between the First and Second Wizarding Wars. He also mentioned to his class at Hogwarts, that centaurs spend years trying to master their particular art of divining the fates.
Centaurs on the whole seem also to be rather proud of their species, which was evident in their testiness whenever anyone even accidentally alluded to them being "used" or in any way employed by humankind, as when Firenze was chastised for allowing Harry Potter to ride to safety on his back, after the young wizard encountered Lord Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest-- his fellow centaurs considered allowing such a thing tantamount to becoming a 'common' mule.
In 1995, they attempted to murder Firenze for his decision to "enter into human servitude," which was seen as a great and base betrayal. Centaurs also decided to be placed in the Beast Division instead of the Being Division in the British Ministry of Magic archives, because they wished to not be associated with hags and vampires, whom the Ministry designates "Beings".
Centaurs also seem to favour nature over technology, the extent of their tools visibly in use being their bows and arrows. Instead, they cast their attention upon reading signs in nature, and living in forests appropriated by the Ministry of Magic.
They are territorial creatures by nature, as Rubeus Hagrid mentioned in 1995, upon seeing a herd of centaurs in the Forbidden Forest, whose land was being consistently reduced, and that they might revolt against the Ministry as a result. Later the same year, they proclaimed that even Hagrid was "no longer welcome" within "their" forest, as he had "forfeited the friendship of the centaurs," and that their "tolerance was waning" (in reference to Hagrid's half-brother, Grawp, whom Hagrid was hiding in the forest at the time).
Centaurs do have a sense of honour, being unwilling to harm the young, as the herd within the Forbidden Forest refused to harm Hagrid due to the young Harry Potter and Hermione Granger accompanying him at the time. However, this patience and generosity can wane, as later they saw Harry and Hermione deliberately lead Dolores Umbridge into the forest to "use" the centaurs to eliminate her; this, along the fact that both teenagers are nearing their adulthood, led the herd to attempt to attack the two.
Relationship with wizardkind
Starting in 1811, centaurs were offered "Being" status, when Grogan Stump decreed that a "being" was "any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws." However, they declined because of the associations with other creatures, such as vampires and hags, that "being" status would give them. The merpeople made the same decision a year later.
Despite being highly intelligent creatures, centaurs were still officially classified as of "near-human intelligence" by the Ministry of Magic in the mid-1990s, per the text of Law Fifteen B, as laid down by the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Centaurs take this phrase to be a great insult, as Dolores Umbridge found out the hard way, as they find that "[their] intelligence, thankfully, far outstrips [humans']."
A Centaur Liaison Office still exists in the Ministry of Magic's Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, though no centaur has ever used it. In fact, the phrase "Being sent to the Centaur Office" has become an in-joke at the Ministry, meaning that the person in question is about to be sacked. A centaur was also represented in the Fountain of Magical Brethren at the Ministry of Magic, at least before the fountain's destruction during the battle between Albus Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort.
Centaurs have also been known to save wizards from harm, one instance being Firenze saving Harry Potter, when Lord Voldemort was in the forest, though this was highly looked down upon as centaurs were not supposed to interfere with "what is to come."
When Harry Potter and Hermione Granger ended up leading Dolores Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest, a group of centaurs appeared with some of them carrying off Dolores while the rest were scared away by Grawp in an event known as the Skirmish in the Forbidden Forest. It was mentioned that Albus negotiated for Dolores' release when he was rehired by the Ministry of Magic.
Behind the scenes
- In the books, Centaurs are described as they are in traditional Greek myths, with the back-end of a horse, but an ordinary human face and torso in their upper parts. In the films, however, their human faces are more equine-like, like an exact cross between horse and human. They are covered in hair, the same as their horse halves, with long protruded faces, and long pointy ears.
- Despite the fact that the Wizards' Ordinary Magic and Basic Aptitude Test establishes them to exist, female centaurs have yet to be physically seen in any Harry Potter media.
- In Greek mythology, female centaurs are called centaurides, though they are not mentioned in early Greek literature and art, but do appear occasionally in later antiquity.
- The word Centaur was originally called Kentauros (original Greek word), and is generally regarded as of obscure origin.
- A Pottermore riddle consisting of an early Pottermore concept art of a Centaur was added to the Pottermore insider on 16th Otcober 2014. It´s yet unknown who this centaur is.
- In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander describes that Centaurs refuse to wear any clothing. In the films, Magorian wears pieces of jewellery, shown in detail in the book Harry Potter: The Creature Vault.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (GBC & PS1 versions only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
Notes and references