The Centaur Database
Oreius, played by Patrick Kake, in Narnia (movie)
First off, Centaur is pronounced with a latinic 'c' (origin in the Greek Κένταυροι - Kéntauroi). Which means that it's pronounced as Kentaur, not Sentaur. And about plural, it's the same as with fish: one fish, three fish. One centaur, three centaur.
The phenomenon 'centaur' is a Greek mythological invention. Mythologically they were the children of Centaurus, the son of Ixion (son of Ares) and Nephele (a cloud created in Hera's image by Zeus to trick Ixion), who mated with Magnesian mares. They were said to inhabit the region of Magnesia and mount Pelion in Thessaly, Mount Pholoe in Arcadia and the Malean peninsula in southern Laconia.
Where the idea of centaur came from originally is unknown but the most prominent theory at the moment is that they came into being when there was contact between people with horses and without horses. It is thought now that the people who were not yet familiar with mounted warriors created the mythical centaur out of mistaking the riders and their mounts for being one single being.
In essence a Centaur is a creature that is human (or elven in some cases) down to its waist where it joins the body of a horse where the horse's neck starts. As with all races centaur come in different sizes and shapes. They can appear as any combination between human characteristics and horse races. The most common centaur, especially in art and literature, appear to be fair skinned or lightly tanned humans combined with the body of a mustang or other 'average size' horse.
Within the design of how a centaur looks are two major streams. One is that of the 'classic centaur' which is truly half human and half horse. Here the human body looks completely as it would on a normal human and it is combined by that of a horse. The second stream is that of the more 'antropo centaur'. Unlike the classic centaur the body of the human often sports fur like on the horse body, horse-like ears and sometimes hair that trails down to manes and a bit of a muzzle.
These are of course two extremes and there are many blends possible for the looks of centaur. Which you prefer is entirely a matter of taste. The best and most believable rendering is probably somewhere in between these two extremes.
Typically speaking there are two types of centaur: wise teachers and the average warriors and brawlers. Naturally the first is far less common than the second. Though there are probably many shades of grey in between.
In this case, the average centaur would be a somewhat harsh, boisterous, blustering pig. (Of course there are exceptions, but we are talking most-likely-characteristics here). They like drinking and they like brawling and they especially like them combined. Not much different than a stereotypical picture of a human barbarian perhaps, just imagine a horse body underneath them.
Aside from this chunk of society there are more quiet, intelligent and wiser centaur. They watch the stars, are well versed in the divination arts and seem to have a tendency towards melancholic. Many are often also outcasts or at the very least shunned by their brothers for being 'different'.
Which brings us to the nature of centaur as a whole and their interaction with other races. Centaur are by default avoidant of other races and easily hostile towards them, as they are reluctant to flee a fight. They are quite xenophobic really. Whether this is because they feel themselves better than all the rest or simply because of a religious you-wreck-nature view, is unsure. Maybe both, maybe neither, maybe something completely different. It probably differs from centaur to centaur anyway.
Bane (left front) and Magorian (right front). The palomino in the back should be Firenze, from Order of the Phoenix (movie)
Magorian is the one that Umbridge roped in the movie, Bane shoots at her and later carries her off
The part: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7h2PlGikPZY
Society and Warfare
The society of centaur is strict to say the least. They hold strongly, cling even, to the social rules which have been the same as long as they can remember. Tradition is everything to them.
The 'herd' itself is based loosely on equine herds with mostly a stallion (and often also a mare) in the lead of the herd. There are several lesser males in the herd as well, though a typical herd would be comprised of slightly more females than males.
Each herd has a territorium which they travel through like nomadic people and defend it where necessary. They mostly live in plains and lightly wooded areas. Yet it is not unheard of that herds of centaur have settled in thicker woods or even mountainous and snowy areas. It is rare, true, but it happens.
As strictly as the hierarchy is within the herd, equally strict tasks are divided between the males and females. The males are warriors, mostly archers, and busy themselves with the hard, manual facets of life such as the need for food supplies, firewood, defence of their camp area and the like. The females most often fill roles within the areas of mystics and magics. They are druids and sorcerers, often combined. The leading female is regularly the most important druid/priestess within their nature based religions, making her union with the leading stallion a very interesting merging of religion and power.
Naturally there are cross-overs but not many as it is thoroughly frowned upon. The crossing-over is often done by the calmer, wiser of male centaur that prefer Druidism and magic over the life of a warrior.
The religion of centaur is most commonly nature based. They worship nature an sich or a personification of nature in the shape of a god and/or goddess. The religion itself is widely variable but in its core it is the same for every herd: nature is the centre of their existence. They are a part of it and it is a part of them.
The fighter and astronomer Glenstorm, from Narnia: Prince Caspian (game, left) (movie, middle and right)
The whole Female-Centaur-Thing
Well, naturally, one would assume that centaur need gals otherwise they would simply go extinct. Yet fortunately mythology tells us all about centaur and breeding (...). They only need a human girl willing (or not) to bear their little hooved babies. Though yet other sources on mythology simply state that they live forever and thus don't need to reproduce at all and just kidnap human women whenever they feel the need to couple.
Initially the centaur appeared to have all been male, as there is no mention of centaur-girls whatsoever in early Greek literature and art. In fact, the first depiction of centaurs-with-breasts would be a 4th BC Macedonian mosaic found near Pella. Which is quite a bit later. As time passes the idea of female centaurs is more and more integrated into art and literature. Though the sources are scarce, there áre sources. Whether or not they exists along side their male counterparts? It would make sense.
Sources: Races of Fearun, Monster Manual I and my brain :3
live primarily on plains or lightly wooded areas. A mostly nomadic people with a strict social hierarchy called, and based upon equine herds. The herd is lead by the lead male, stallion, but also comprised of weaker, lower ranking stallions. The females, mares, also have a strict hierarchy with a leading female. Religion is mostly nature oriented, but may change between individual herds. Though primarily huntsmen, or ranger types, they also have a rich culture of crafts and knowledge gathering, also individual and varying between herds. Centaurs are omnivorous, very social, but mildly xenophobic.
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