The head, arms, and chest of the centaur are human while the rest of its body, including four legs, hindquarters, and a tail is like that of a horse.In early Attic vase-paintings centaurs were represented as human beings in front, with the body and hind legs of a horse attached to the back. The depiction of centaurs on painted vases changed after the Archaic period: from the sixth century BCE onwards, centaurs were depicted with a horse's body and a human torso joined at the waist to the horse's withers where the horse's neck would be.
Presence and illustrations of centaurs date back to Assyria (2000 BC) and India (3000 BC). Some have traced the Greek centaur origins back to the Gandharvas who in Vedic mythology drove the horses from the Sun but it is now accepted that they were a primitive and rough population of horsed shepherds from Thessalony.
According to Greek tradition, there are two families of centaurs. The more numerous and unruly centaurs are those born of the union of Ixion, King of the Lapithae and a cloud which Zeus disguised as his own wife, Hera, whom Ixion had bragged of having relations with. Therefore, the Centaurs are sometimes called Ixionidae.
Chiron who was the like the above centaurs in appearance only fathered a different race of centaurs, sober, learned and studious. His father was Cronus, the Titan and his mother was Philyra, an Oceanid (or ocean nymph). He was a famous physician and teacher and was renowned for his skill in hunting, medicine, music, and the art of prophecy. Taught by Apollo and Diana, Chiron went on to tutor the greatest Greek warriors, Aesculapius, Jason, Hercules, and Achilles.
Centaurs were a plague to the people around them. They went about drunk, eating raw flesh, trampling crops, and raping female humans. The intellectual parts they inherited from humankind left them ignorant and yet cunning. Two exceptions to this rule were Pholus and Chiron.
Often Zeus would send the Centaurs to punish gods and humans who had offended him. The hostility between man and Centaurs is said to have originated when the Centaurs were invited to their stepbrother's (Pirithous), wedding celebration. At the feast Eurytion, one of the Centaurs, becoming intoxicated with the wine, attempted to offer violence to the bride; the other Centaurs followed his example, and a dreadful conflict arose in which several of them were slain. This is the celebrated battle of the Lapithae and Centaurs, a favorite subject with the sculptors and poets of antiquity.
They lived in herds on Mt. Pelion in Thessaly, Greece.
Centaurs 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.