Friday, January 04, 2013

The Depths of Harry Potter

I am a pretty huge fan of the Harry Potter Series.  I recently finished reading the series with my 9 yo daughter (We started on her 8th birthday) and this week I start teaching a 6 week Harry Potter class for 8-12 year olds.  This is what we are discussing tomorrow.  I have had so much fun pulling this all together.  Feel free to correct me where I'm wrong.  I've used dozens of websites, wikipedia, some reference books, and my own personal knowledge as sources for the information - I'm sure there are errors.  I think this demonstrates how much depth there is in the Harry Potter series.  I hope you have fun reading through it and making your own connections.

The Harry Potter Series references, alludes to and borrows ideas from other language and literature sources including
·      Latin
·      Mythology
·      The Bible
·      Shakespeare

A lot of the spells, potions, and names in Harry Potter are based on Latin words.  See how many spells, potions and names you can remember that have these words in them:
·      Amor = love
·      Animal = animal
·      Animus = soul, spirit,mind
·      Arduus = high, difficult
·      Arma = weapons
·      Con = with
·      Corpus = body
·      Cruci = cross or torture
·      De = away from, removing, down
·      Dolor = pain, grief
·      Draco = Dragon
·      Ex = off, away from, , out
·      Expello = drive out, expel, banish
·      Exspecto = to look for, expect, await
·      Felicitor = happily
·      Felix = lucky, fortunate, happy
·      Fidelis = faithful, loyal
·      Hominis = human
·      Impedimentum = hindrance, impediment
·      Impero = command
·      Inferi = those below, the dead
·      Lev = lift, light
·      Lum or luc = light
·      Luna = moon
·      Lupus = wolf
·      Malus = bad, wicked, evil
·      Mort = death
·      Nox = night
·      Pater = father
·      Patronus = patron, protector
·      Ped = foot Porta = gate, entrance
·      Prior = former, prior
·      Pro = in front of, before
·      Salveo = to be well, be in good health
·      Totus = whole, entire
·      Timor = fear 

Many of the characters and stories within Harry Potter are similar to characters and stories in mythology.  What characters and events in Harry Potter do these remind you of?
·      In the Iliad The Trojans are fighting the Greeks.  Hector is a Trojan.  Achilles and Patroclus are Greeks and friends.  Hector kills Patroclus and Achilles rescues Patroclus’s body so that it can be buried.
·      The Griffin is a monster with the body of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle, and a  back covered with feathers.
·      [The Roman poet] Ovid tells the story of the Phoenix as follows: 'Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors.  From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent's sepulchre), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun.'
·      In Greek Mythology, Cerberus is a three-headed, dragon-tailed dog who guards the gate to the underworld.  The Greek hero Orpheus put Cereberus to sleep by playing music on his lyre.
·      Argus was a mythical Greek guard, who was said to have a hundred eyes.
·      Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, the same as the Greek goddess Athena.  Athena watched over Odysseus in The Odyssey.
·      Remus and Romulus were twin brothers raised by wolves.
·      Sirius is the name of a constellation, also known as “the dog star”.
·      In Greek and Roman mythology, a sibyl was any woman inspired with prophetic power by the god Apollo. The sibyls prophesied in a frenzied trance.
·      Hagrid Rubeus was one of the early Greek gods, The Giant of Jewels. He was said to be the kindest of the gods, but Hades (Lord of The Dead/Underworld) framed him for the death of Perseus's son. He was banned from Olympus after that. Zeus, God of the Gods, took pity on poor Hagrid and gave him a job as the keeper of the godly beasts on Olympus.
·      In Greek mythology, Hermione was the daughter of King Menelaus of Sparta and Helen of Troy.
·      The lightning bolt is a symbol of Zeus, King of the Olympian Gods.
·      In Greek Mythology Hermes was the messenger of the Gods.
·      In Arthurian legend, before he was King, Arthur pulled a special sword from a stone, something only “the true King” would be able to do.

The Bible
Harry Potter is a Christ Archetype.  That means much of his life, character and experiences parallel the life, character, and experiences of Jesus Christ.  Do you see any similarities between Christ and Harry?

·      When Christ was a baby there were prophesies about a Messiah who would become the King of the Jews and free the Jews.  King Herod decided all baby boys should be killed.  Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt and Jesus survived.
·      Christ was born in very humble circumstances, a stable.  He did not begin life in a normal home with a normal bed or bedroom.
·      Christ was raised by His mother and an adoptive father, Joseph.  
·      The Jewish people didn’t realize Christ was their King until much later in His life.
·      Though separated from His Father,  God, who was in Heaven, Christ communicated with and was guided by  God ,throughout His life on earth.
·      Christ was famous for performing miracles.
·      Christ was hated and despised by the leaders of the Jewish government.  They put a lot of effort into trying to convince people He was a fraud.
·      Christ had a small group of loyal disciples who came to him to be taught.
·      Near the end of His life, government leaders used spys to find Christ and bring Him to be crucified.  These government leaders ignored the normal legal process and sentenced Him to death without a fair trial. 
·      Christ performed the hardest part of his sacrifice, the atonement, alone, in a garden of trees.  Some of His disciples went with Him to the garden but did not stay awake and at one point Christ even felt forsaken by His Father, God.
·      Christ gave His life willingly.  He could have chosen not to die.
·      Christ was known as the King of Kings and died on a cross.
·      Christ gave His life to save the world.
·      Christ’s body laid in a tomb for 3 days after His death while His spirit was in Heaven.  Then He was resurrected.
·      Prior to His crucifixion, Christ was whipped and beaten.
·      Christ had scars on His hands and feet to remind people of His crucifixion
·      Lilies are a symbol of Christ and His sacrifice.

·      In the play Macbeth, Macbeth is a Scottish General who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Macbeth chooses evil as the way to fulfill his ambition for power. He murders the king to become king and then furthers his moral descent with a reign of murderous terror to stay in power, eventually plunging the country into civil war. In the end, he loses everything that gives meaning and purpose to his life before losing his life itself. The play poses the question, what would have happened if Macbeth had never heard the prophecy of the 3 witches?

What other references, allusions, or similarities can you find?

If you  like this topic, you might like the lecture I gave to youth at the Family Forum in 2012:
Being the Star instead of the Sidekick in the Story of Your Own Life.  Don't listen to it if you haven't read the whole series, lots of spoilers!

1 comment:

Suzie Sunshine said...

I loved it. I just found this the other day and thought you might like to add it to your mythology!