Onocentaur
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Source: British Library Images Online Copyright Copyright 2004 British Library / Used by permission Manuscript description British Library, Sloane MS 278, Folio 47r


 

Onocentaur

Latin name: Onocentaurus

Other names: Honocentar, Onoscentaurus, Uncor, Unocentaurus

A beast with the upper body of a man and the lower body of an ass

 

 
General Attributes

The onocentaur has the upper body of a man and the lower body of an ass. The upper part is rational; the lower part is exceedingly wild.


Allegory/Moral

The onocentaur is a symbol of male lust. The two-part nature of the beast symbolizes the hypocrite who speaks of doing good but actually does evil; Philippe de Thaon says that man is rightly called man when he is truthful, but an ass when he does evil.


Sources (chronological order)

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 11, 3:39): The onocentaur has its name from appearing to be half man and half ass.


Illustration

The onocentaur is usually depicted much like the classical Centaur, carrying or using a bow, or carrying a club. It is often shown together with the siren; in British Library, Sloane MS 278 (f. 47r) both are shown together in the water, apparently attacking sailors in a ship.


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