Centaurs - Friend or Foe?
The centaurs in the Harry Potter series are definitely an interesting and complex species. We see Firenze; undoubtedly the friendliest of the lot, save Harry in the first book, and appear again in Order of the Phoenix as the new Divination teacher. Apparently, his willingness to help humans has alienated him from his herd, making him a sort of black sheep, or black centaur if you will. This kind of individualism brings back visions of another freethinking entity, Dobby. Both Dobby and Firenze are one of a kind and receive criticism from the other members of their kind, yet they still persist in their beliefs. This kind of acceptance of change could assist Hermione in her quest for equality amongst the races of the magic world, something that seems almost inevitable at this point in the series.
Now onto the friend or foe aspect of this article: In general, the centaurs fancy themselves as a superior race, one of peace and understanding, even going as far to say their intelligence far outstrips that of humans (pg. 754 US edition). They obviously have a greater method of observing possible events of the future, a method not involving the tricky, ambiguous workings of crystal balls and tealeaves. Within this method is a hint of their connections with nature. Instead of using extraterrestrial methods that have no physical connection whatsoever to the real world, these centaurs use natural elements to determine what possibilities lie ahead. This connection with their surroundings and their foresight of events could definitely pose a benefit to Harry and crew as they attempt to fight Voldemort, sorry, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, in the future.
However friendly Firenze might be, the other centaurs are very temperamental and quick to attack, as demonstrated in the fight between Umbridge, Grawp, and the Centaurs. In my opinion, it is entirely plausible for (heres a stretch of a theory...) Firenze to join forces with the humans in a fight against Voldemort, even possibly bringing a few willing centaurs along with him. Yet I get the impression that Centaurs are naturally power-hungry. With them being half-animal, they do fight for the position of Alpha-male and that kind of quest for importance could translate into a fight for a greater kind of power, the kind that only Voldemort can give them.
Regardless of if they turn to the Good or Bad side of the magic community, their benefits are clear. They are obviously great warriors and have the ability to predict the future
but always pose a threat to stage a mutiny. If they decide to aid the Order in a fight to defeat Voldemort, the outcome would definitely be desirable, yet if they turn to Voldemort during their quest for power, the end of this upcoming war could go terribly wrong.