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Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter



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  #1  
Old May 20th, 2007, 2:04 am
hedwig_3180  Female.gif hedwig_3180 is offline
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Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

This is my first ever thread in The Penseive!!

I found this in the Mythology section at the Bloomsbury website. Most of it I already knew, but found it quite interesting all the same, esp. the part about Nagini...mods, delete this if it's already been discussed or merge it yaddah yaddah yah...

Phoenix
The Benu Bird
Egyptian myth

The Benu Bird (benu means ‘shiner’ or ‘self creator’) in some Egyptian accounts of the creation of the world was the first ever living being. It flew out of light and and landed in darkness; its flight brought warmth and creative energy and its cry was the first sound ever heard.

The Benu bird was worshipped particularly in Heliopolis where it was regarded as one facet of the sun-god Ra. In native Egyptian art it was shown as a yellow wagtail or a Nile heron (with two feathers rising from its head like spears); the Greek writer Herodotus, however, following information given to him by Egyptian Greeks identified it as the phoenix and reworked the myth to say that when the first cycle of the universe ended in fire and destruction, the Benu Bird flew out of the fire, the only being to survive, and settled on the Earth-mound to restart Creation.

Benu were often carved on gemstones and buried with bodies to help grant the bodies a second life.
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Professor Remus Lupin
Romulus and Remus
Roman Myth

Two brothers in Roman myth, Numitor and Amulius ruled the town of Alba Longa. Numitor was the law-maker, Amulius the warlord. After several years of joint rule the brothers quarrelled and Amulius overthrew Numitor and took complete control. To prevent the rise of a rival royal dynasty, he imprisoned Numitor and decreed that Numitor’s daughter Rhea Silva would never have children.

The gods however had other plans for the town of Alba Longa. Rhea Silva gave birth to twins Romulus and Remus and Amulius, furious at the fact they threatened his power, ordered that Romulus and Remus be drowned in the River Tiber. But the River-God floated the babies to safety in the basket, washing it up on shore under a fig-tree beside a grotto (later called Lupercal). A she-wolf found and suckled the twins until they were rescued and brought up by the royal shepherd and his wife.

In the next few years overcrowding in Alba Longa led Romulus and Remus to set up a new town, on the shores of the Tiber where they had once been left to die. While Romulus marked out boundaries, ploughing earth to mark the line of new fields and walls, Remus and his men went out hunting. On Remus’ return the brothers quarrelled. Remus mocked the new ‘walls’ jumping scornfully over them. Romulus and Remus quarelled and Romulus killed Remus. The new settlement was named Rome after Romulus its king.

The she-wolf suckling human babies became a main symbol of the city of Rome and a statue of the scene (not all of which is authentic) survives to this day in the Capitoline Museum.
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Centaurs
Greek Myth

Centaurs were creatures human from the waist up, horse from the waist down. At certain times, for no reason, they fell into wild fits and galloped crazily across the countryside; at other times they were placid and peaceful, fond of music and skilled at prophecy and healing. The gods admired them and sent such favoured mortal heroes as Theseus and Jason to learn with them to acquire a kind of supernatural higher education.
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Professor Minerva McGonagall
Minerva
Greek or Roman Myth

Minerva (or Athene in Greek) in Greek and Roman myth was born from the forehead of her father Zeus (who had swallowed her mother Metis): she was a cross between her father’s power and her mother’s intelligence. She was the most honoured of Zeus’ children, ranked equal with Apollo, and was the only god Zeus trusted to wield his thunderbolts. She was a warrior, brandishing a spear and carrying a shield (the aegis) covered with skin from the goats which suckled the infant Zeus in Crete, fringed with snakes and decorated with the Gorgon’s head which turned all who saw it to stone. At her side or sometimes carried in her hand went the goddess Nike (meaning Victory). Minerva was the mistress of all arts and crafts, especially spinning and weaving, and she taught these arts to mortals.
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Fluffy
Cerberus
Greek and Roman myth

Cerberus (or Kerberos in Greek) was a huge three headed dog (some say fifty headed) with a hundred serpent tails who prowled the entrance to the Underworld on guard against intruders from the Upperworld. Dead souls were able to slip past him because they were only shadows and could not be seen. But the only way for living beings to escape him was to feed him drugged food (as Aeneas did), lull him to sleep (as Orpheus did) or terrify him (as Heracles did).
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Parvati Patil
Parvati
Hindu myth

Parvarti, in Hindu myth was Shiva’s beautiful wife. In some accounts she was the daughter of the goddess of the Himalayas, in others she was the reincarnation of Sati, created by Vishnu to stop Shiva’s destructive dance after Sati committed suicide.
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Professor Sybill Trelawney
Sibyls
Greek and Roman Myth

Sibyls, in Greek and Roman myth, were prophetesses. They were ordinary girls taken from their families and trained for their work from childhood. When worshippers asked questions of the gods, the Sibyls put themselves in trances — for example by chewing sacred plants or allowing sacred snakes to bite them — and uttered sounds supposed to be the gods’ words, which priests then wrote down and translated into prophecies.
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Narcissa Malfoy
Narcissus
Greek and Roman Myth

Narcissus (Narkissos, ‘bewitching’) was a beautiful boy, son of the river god Cephisus and the nymph Liriope. Everyone who met him fell in love with him, but he ignored them all. He loved no one but himself. One day he caught sight of his own reflection in a pool and fell in love with it. The image, however, refused to leave the pool and he pined away and died. When the nymphs, his mother’s companions, came to bury his body, they found that the gods had changed him into a beautiful flower; its descendants, his offspring, are still called Narcissus after him and still lean over as if to admire their own reflections.
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Werewolves
Myth

Werewolves (Vlkodlaks or Vookodlaks, ‘wolf-hairs’ the English name comes from the Saxon wer, ‘man’ and wulf, ‘wolf’) were widely feared throughout Northern and Eastern Europe. They were born to human mothers but out of human time and harked back to an age when shape-changing animals roamed the world.

Were-wolf children were particularly hairy at birth, or had extra layers of skin on their heads. They sometimes had wolf-claws and fangs, biting their mothers as they suckled. Often they were twins (see Romulus and Remus, twins brought up by wolves) and they grew up to be very attractive. Werewolfs were associated with the moon and changed into wolves each full Moon. In some versions of the myth werewolves could not be killed by mortal weapons, in other versions they could only be hurt by silver arrows (or silver bullets) and in other versions they could be wounded in the ordinary way but slunk to their human homes and resumed their human shapes to die — after which their immortal selves were reborn to another human mother.
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Hermes
Greek and Roman myth

Hermes (Latin Mercurius, Mercury) was the son of Zeus and of Maia. From the moment he was born he was always playing pranks. He was born at dawn: three hours later he was running about and by noon he had slipped away from his mother to explore the world. He was an easy-going, high-spirited god and he liked to make mischief with mortals.

When Hermes grew up he became the gods’ messenger running their errands and flying on winged sandals between Heaven, Earth and the Underworld. Because he was such a trickster himself, it was impossible to cheat him and win a second life so he was also given the job of escorting the souls of the dead on their last journey to the Underworld. According to the myth, Hermes invented many things including the lyre, a shepherd’s pipe cut from a hollow reed, astronomy, boxing, gymnastics and writing.
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Dragons
Myth/Folk tale

Dragons in myths and folk tales were generally friendly to human beings. They were water creatures, the descendants of giant snakes. Some dragons had snakes’ bodies with the heads of lions, lizards’ legs with eagles’ claws and the tails of crocodiles or scorpions.

In Eastern myth, dragons were benign and gentle, welcome at human celebrations and happy to perform dances of fertility and prosperity. In Western myth they were less friendly towards humans. Many still lived in pools and wells, but their watery ancestry also made them immune to fire which they swallowed with horrible effects on their stomachs! Grumpy and unpredictable, they hoarded treasure(the glint of the gold and jewels mirroring the fire in their own eyes) and they were merciless to any human, dwarf or god who disturbed them.
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Nagini
Hindu myth

In Hindu myth, Nagas and Naginis (‘powerful ones’; Nagas are male and Naginis are female) were snake-gods descended from Brahma’s grand daughter Kadru and her husband, the sage Kasya-pa, from whom they inherited supernatural wisdom. They were shape-changers able to appear as any kind of human or snake they chose. They sometimes took the form of warriors with snake-necks or sometimes beautiful women from the waist up, snakes from the waist down. Their ways mirrored those of human society and their rulers lived in fabulously jewelled palaces in the air, under ground or under the sea.

Like humans the Naga were neither entirely good nor entirely bad. They could behave wisely and thoughtfully or they could be cowardly and unjust. They generally oversaw the distribution of rain on earth but sometimes they withheld the rain and only released it when they were attacked by the eagle-god Garuda and his servants.

When Vishnu sleeps and the universe is at rest he lies on the body of the chief Naga, the world-Serpent Sesha whose seven heads fan their hoods above him to give him shade.

Source for Mytholgical References
© Myth by Kenneth McLeish



Once again, this is from Bloomsbury.com/HarryPotter

Discuss!!


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  #2  
Old May 21st, 2007, 11:01 pm
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

this is all very intresting. my favorite was minevera. Although I had heard/saw that athena's sheild had an owl on it
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Old May 24th, 2007, 11:26 pm
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, had an owl for one of her symbols (of wisdom). In the Hercules cartoon series, Athena's got this cute, little owl that reminds me of Pigwidgeon.


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Old May 24th, 2007, 11:50 pm
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

I thought it was a great horned owl. I wasn't saying that because of what I saw in that movie though.


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Old July 25th, 2007, 1:51 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

I have always loved the way myth and legend have been incorporated into HP. I enjoyed the synopsis of mythological references.


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Old August 10th, 2007, 5:05 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter


Wow, I'd always wondered what inspired Nagini. That's awesome. But a shape-changing snake...
And I love the Romulus / Remus legend!


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Old September 12th, 2007, 8:33 pm
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

I really like how a lot of the names come from mythology
I just relized this recently when I was reading some Greek mytholodgy, but the name Hermione comes from mytholodgy.

In the myth Hermione is the daughter of Helen of Troy. Hermione maried some greek hero whose name wasn't important enough to remember.


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Old February 18th, 2008, 11:35 pm
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

Well, I think the ancient Greeks found those names worth remembering.... In fact, Hermione married two men, both pretty prominent:

1) Neoptolemos (Pyrrhos) son of Achilles

and

2) Orestes son of Agamemnon.

She was about the most desirable woman going (at least in terms of ancestry and inheritance, but probably also in terms of looks, with that mother) in the generation after the Trojan war....

There is also an ancient city Hermione in the Argolid (NE Peloponnese/Greece).

But of course, the name Hermione surely came to JKR via Shakespeare (Winter's Tale)?



And here, for everyone to admire.....

a coin from Classical Athens, with Athena and the 'original' Athenian owl on it



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Old March 15th, 2008, 8:16 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

Quote:
Originally Posted by YellowPoofBall View Post
Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, had an owl for one of her symbols (of wisdom). In the Hercules cartoon series, Athena's got this cute, little owl that reminds me of Pigwidgeon.
I like the little robot one that Hephaestus makes for Perseus because she won't let him have her real one in Clash of the Titans better than the cartoon one. I think his name is Beebo. But he's a little more like Erroll - falling over, bumping into things.


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Old April 11th, 2008, 3:23 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

Pomona Sprout has a name that harkens to myth -- Pomona was the goddess of fruit trees and protected them, as Professor Sprout is the herbology teacher and cares for the plants at Hogwarts.

I also love the mention of the chimaera in the Fantastic Beasts book -- a companion book I am sure most of you have in your HP collection. The chimaera is a creature that is part lion, goat and serpent/dragon. I always liked the symbology of this creature and somehow expected it to make an appearance in the series. Alas...


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Old June 16th, 2008, 5:53 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

Lots more with Lupin/werewolves actually. Lupin in France is like our Lupus and she also brought in Remus and Romulus the twins raised by a wolf initially. She used Wolfsbane, but gave it slightly different properties than in lore. She also did some strange things with the light of the moon - having Remus transform when it hit him in POA, and at other times he transformed without it (in his office by the fire) which is a twist on the lore which is transformation when the moon is full - period (generally). Then she made his father John which gives a nod to the original werewolf movie (don't know if she meant to do that) and also allowed for the 'raw meat' desire in Bill at least which goes back to the story of Lycaeus who was a king that fed human meat to Zeus in anger and was turned into a wolf and later spawned the very first werewolf (according to lore). I've read zillions of werewolf tales and in some baby 'cubs' are had at birth and some allow for human birth as JKR did. She didn't really get into the "silver" aspect of werewolves which was HUGE in the lore, which is also kind of unique.


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Old June 16th, 2008, 6:12 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

Krum was the leader of Bulgaria around 800.
Quote:
Klio wrote
But of course, the name Hermione surely came to JKR via Shakespeare (Winter's Tale)?
You're probably right but there was also a famous ship HMS Hermione


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Old June 18th, 2008, 9:41 pm
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

I already knew the Romulus and Remus tale, and about some of the Greek/Roman gods, but I think the one about Sibyls and the one about Cerberus were very interesting. Also, the ones about the phoenix, and Nagini were really intriguing.


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Old June 26th, 2008, 4:14 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

Quote:
Originally Posted by hedwig_3180 View Post
Fluffy
Cerberus
Greek and Roman myth

Cerberus (or Kerberos in Greek) was a huge three headed dog (some say fifty headed) with a hundred serpent tails who prowled the entrance to the Underworld on guard against intruders from the Upperworld. Dead souls were able to slip past him because they were only shadows and could not be seen. But the only way for living beings to escape him was to feed him drugged food (as Aeneas did), lull him to sleep (as Orpheus did) or terrify him (as Heracles did).
I remember thinking of this when I read Sorcerer's Stone (though I couldn't remember the dog's name). Fluffy was the first defense for the Stone where intruders would have to descend into the "underworld" of Hogwarts.

Also, there are a fair share of astronomical references made through the character names, which may be significant in terms of those characters. For instance, Sirius comes to mind as Orion's hunting dog. In a manner of speaking, Sirius was a hunter when he was trying to track down Peter in PoA, and he is a dog animagus.


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Old June 28th, 2008, 6:50 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

All I can think of at the moment is the werewolf Fenrir Greyback. According to Norse mythology, Fenrir is a wolf that will fight against the gods during Ragnarök, a battle that will be fought prior to the end of the world. Greyback's role in joining Voldemort and fighting the "good guys" seems to reflect this.


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Old June 28th, 2008, 9:06 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

As does the role of Bellatrix which is Latin for "female warrior".


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Old August 15th, 2008, 8:31 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

the Remus/Romulus legend is nice and well connected to Harry Potter. Wasnt Romulus one of the nick names they chose is Potterwatch I dont remember exactly who chose it .


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Old September 11th, 2008, 2:31 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

This is a really great thread. For me, anyway! This is the kind of thing I love to think about!

I don't know if anybody here knew this one, but Hedwig was a saint in Germany in the 12th century.She set up an order of nuns that taught orphaned children. Seeing as how Harry's an orphan, that's quite cute. Probably not based on that though.

I also love the basilisk notion. It's been used hundreds of times, but sometimes called a cockatrice. It was supposed to be the offspring of a chicken and a toad and th elegend went that one type of basilisk could kill by staring at you.

I think Kimagine mentioned the chimaera. When she's talking in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, she's referencing the old legend about Bellerophon, who flew on Pegasus, the winged horse, and managed to kill one. But later when he tried to fly to Mount Olympus to see Zeus, Zeus got angry at him and tossed him from Pegasus, crippling him.

The Dark Mark looks like it comes from the Middle Ages threat of a Devils' Mark, a mark that Satan put on one if he had their allegiance. It's kind of the same thing as Voldemort.

That's all I can otherwise think of. There was talk of a while about Snape being based on Septimius Severus, who succeeded Commodus as Roman Emperor, but I don't see any real similarities there at all.


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Old September 11th, 2008, 9:40 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mundungus Fletc View Post
Krum was the leader of Bulgaria around 800.
And the most famous tale abour him is that when he defeaten the Byzantians near the then-capital of Bulgaria, Pliska, he had a goblet made out of the Byzantian emperor (Nikephoros)'s skull and drank to his victory from it. It's an ancient belief that if you consume something of (or out of, in this case) your enemy's body, you take in his power.

I think the goblet story is interesting in light of the fact that Viktor is introduced in the book called Goblet of Fire. And his first name means "victory", of course.


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Old September 11th, 2008, 10:45 am
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Re: Myths and creature origins in Harry Potter

Quote:
Originally Posted by lily_potter73 View Post
Wasnt Romulus one of the nick names they chose is Potterwatch I dont remember exactly who chose it .
Remus Lupin used it as his pseudonym .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klio View Post
But of course, the name Hermione surely came to JKR via Shakespeare (Winter's Tale)?
Yes, it did: I believe she confirmed that in an interview once.


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