Harry Potter Characters – Xenophilius Lovegood

Xenophilius Lovegood is the eccentric and loving father of Luna in the Harry Potter series. (image from pottermore.com)

J.K. Rowling is a master of using charactonyms, names that suggest a distinctive trait of a fictional character, throughout the Harry Potter series. Xenophilius Lovegood is the
eccentric father of Luna and the editor of the Quibbler, a publication filled with alternative takes on the events of the wizarding world.

The name Xenophilius comes from the Greek roots xeno- meaning foreign/strange, and -phil meaning love of. From this charactonym, we can assume Xenophilius is drawn to all manner of strange or unusual objects.

The first time we meet Xenophilius is at Bill and Fleur’s wedding when he arrives dressed in “a cap whose tassel dangled in front of his nose, and robes of an eye-watering shade of egg-yolk yellow” (Pg 139). Xenophilius lives in a “most strange-looking house” and fills it with unusual and rare objects, like the Erumpent Horn, “an enormous gray spiral horn, not unlike that of a unicorn” (Pg 401). He possesses unusual knowledge, such as the fact that “gnome saliva is enormously beneficial” (Pg 140) and has even “done a lot of research on Gernumbli magic” (Pg 141). Indeed, Xenophilius is an apt name for this character!

*Quotes cited from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.

 

 

 

demiguise (demē-gīz)

A Demiguise is a peaceful creature who can make itself invisible at will. (image from www. harrypottercanon.wikia.com)

A Demiguise is a peaceful beast, according to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them by Newt Scamander. They are found in the Far East, however, it is difficult to spot them because of their ability to make themselves invisible when they feel threatened. Since they are also able to predict immediate future events, it makes this creature hard to capture.

A Demiguise resembles an ape with fine silvery hair, which hides its big black eyes. The pelts of Demiguises are valued because they can be woven to make Invisibility Cloaks. The Ministry of Magic classifies these creatures as XXXX, meaning that they are fairly dangerous.

Demiguise contains the Latin root demi-, meaning half. It also contains the word guise, that which conceals the true nature of something. This name is fitting because a Demiguise can conceal itself by becoming invisible. Additionally, their ability to predict the future, which is always half-concealed and varying based on certain conditions, also makes this name relevant.

This concludes my series of posts on Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. I hope you enjoyed this theme!

lethifold (lēthə-fōld)

A Lethifold is shroud of darkness that preys upon sleeping wizards or Muggles. (image from www.moviepilot.com)

In Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Newt Scamander states that a Lethifold is a very rare creature that dwells in tropical climates. A Lethifold looks like a black cloak that floats along ominously during the night seeking victims who are sleeping. Once its prey has been suffocated thoroughly, it simply digests them in their beds, leaving no trace of its victims.

Since Lethifolds are stealthy killers, it is difficult to find much information about them. However, Flavius Belby, who survived a Lethifold attack, wrote the earliest account of Lethifolds in 1782. During the attack, Belby writes that he tried to overcome the Lethifold by using a Stupefying Charm and an Impediment Hex, neither of which worked. Finally, Belby cast the Patronus Charm, which repelled the Lethifold successfully.

The Ministry of Magic rates these highly dangerous creatures XXXXX, meaning that they are known to kill wizards and it is not possible to train or domesticate them.

Lethifold contains the Latin root leth-, meaning deadly or fatal. Leth- was probably influenced by the Greek word “lethe,” referring to the mythological river in the Underworld whose waters caused spirits to forget everything about their former lives. It makes sense that the word “lethe” would later influence the Latin “leth-” because if a person forgets who he is and loses all his memories, he loses his sense of self which is similar to death.  Since the Lethifold is a deadly creature, this name seems apropos.

Join me next week as we continue exploring fantastic creatures from the Harry Potter world. I hope you are all enjoying these posts as much as I am enjoying writing them!

augurey (ȯ-gyərē)

The augurey is a greenish-black bird that was once thought to foretell death. (image from playbuzz.com)

According to Newt Scamander, author of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the Augurey is a bird that primarily dwells in Britain and Ireland. This bird resembles a small, malnourished, greenish-black vulture. This melancholic bird is very shy and only comes out of its tear-shaped nest during heavy rains.

One can distinguish an Augurey by its low, throbbing cry that was once believed to foreshadow death. However, researchers have refuted that idea, and have discovered that the Augurey only sings when rain is approaching. The Ministry of Magic classifies the Augurey as XX, meaning that it is harmless and can be domesticated.

The bird’s name probably comes from the word “augury,” which is the practice of interpreting the flight patterns of birds. Romans believed that the gods expressed their will through various signs in nature. They believed that nothing important should be done without the blessing of the gods so they appointed augurs, a special group of priests, to divine the will of the gods by observing and interpreting the signals of birds.  “Augur” comes from the Latin word “auspex”, which literally means “one who takes signs from the birds.”

Come back next week for another fantastic beast!

quintaped (kwint-əped)

The Quintaped is a highly dangerous, carnivorous wizard-killer that should be avoided at all costs. (image from harrypotter.wikia.com)

In Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Newt Scamander describes the “quintaped” as a  “highly dangerous carnivorous beast with a particular taste for humans” (pg. 67).

The Quintaped is commonly found in northern Scotland, on the Isle of Drear. According to legend, there were two wizarding families that lived on the Isle of Drear, the McCliverts and the MacBoons. The leaders of each of these clans faced off in a duel, which ultimately led to the death of the McClivert chief. To avenge their leader’s death, the McCliverts transfigured every single MacBoon into a horrible five-legged beast.

Unfortunately for the McCliverts, the transfigured MacBoons were even more dangerous in their new form. The MacBoons ended up killing all of the McCliverts. The MacBoons remained in this monstrous state for there were no remaining wizards left to change them back into their former selves.

The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures has attempted to capture and un-transfigure a Quintaped to no avail. The Ministry of Magic has classified Quintapeds as XXXXX, meaning that they are “known wizard killers” and are “impossible to domesticate or train” (pg. xxxv).

Quintapeds are aptly named, the Latin root quint- means five while –ped means foot. Interestingly enough, the leader of clan MacBoon was named “Quintius,” which might explain why they were transfigured into five-legged creatures.

Harry Potter Spells – Levicorpus

In the movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry teaches the spell Levicorpus to Dumbledore's Army. However, this never happens in the book. (Photo from harrypotter.wikia.com)

Last week, I took a break from Harry Potter to talk about the Kentucky Derby but let’s return to exploring Harry Potter spells. Harry first discovers the spell “levicorpus” in Snape’s old potions book in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. 

Levicorpus comes from the Latin roots levi– meaning smooth or light and corp- meaning body. The spell “levicorpus” makes a body incredibly light, allowing it to float.

We discover the effects of the spell when Harry uses it against Ron. Harry pointed his wand “and the incantation sprang to mind without conscious thought: Levicorpus! Ron yelled as his heel was wrenched upward once more; he dangled helplessly, upside down, his robes hanging off him (Page 393).”

Can you think of another spell with the root word levi– in it?

Harry Potter Spells – Sectumsempra

Harry finds "sectumsempra" scribbled in his borrowed potions book. Photo from harrypotter.wikia.com

During the next couple of weeks, I would like to explore some spells utilized in Harry Potter. Sectumsempra is a curse created by Severus Snape, the Half-Blood Prince.

Sectumsempra can be broken down into two different Latin words – sectum meaning cut and semper meaning always. Sectumsempra most likely means “always cut.”

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry casts the spell, then watches in horror as “blood spurted from Malfoy’s face and chest as though he had been slashed with an invisible sword” (Page 522).