Wednesday, February 4, 2009


    It is with a heavy heart that I review one of my original hypotheses about the name Antiochus being bestowed on the first bearer of the Elder Wand in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that I put forth in this article.  I was not looking for more background to Harry Potter, I was looking for a story I had read recently about a monk who, having had his relics stolen and replaced with a lump of coal by some rascals, held up the coal and said that it was one of the coals that St. Lawrence had been roasted with.  Stories about St. Lawrence pop up in the unlikeliest places. I thought it might have been in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales but it is more likely that I read the story in Boccaccio's Decameron.
      While I was thumbing through the Canterbury Tales, I came across the Monk's Tale about Antiochus a pre-C.E. king who attacked Jerusalem with the intent of razing it to the ground as related in the Biblical text, Maccabees.  God struck him down before he could ever strike a blow.  J.K. Rowling plundered the Pardoner's Tale for her fable about the three brothers who 'defeated' death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows so it seems more likely that she got the name Antiochus from the same source.  Especially when the "Spear of Destiny" that her characters were fighting over would be the one that Hitler had taken from the Habsburgs in Vienna.  It was held by Grindelwald and the re-taking of the wand by Dumbledore ended WWII much like the spear was recovered by Patton just before Hitler's suicide.
     Like so many things in Harry Potter, the fan theories are better than the novels themselves.  Bohemond would have been much more suitable as a character to have owned the first wand to make the bearer invincible in battle.  But then he does not appear to have valued the spear and trusted to his own 'genius' rather than a gimmick so perhaps not.


Anonymous said...

Antioch is also the name of a city in Turkey. It was one of the cradles of Christianity. It was betrayed by Bohemond's Islamic allies during the Crusades and ruled afterwards by the Arabs.

The Antiochus of HP is described as being "combative", which matches the personality of Antioch you mention.


The Red Witch said...

Yeah, since she was looking through the tales for ideas' it stands to reason she picked up some likely names too.

Anonymous said...

Still, I think it is possible that she may have come across the name in Canterbury Tales and done some further research on the name. I think she has been known to do that.

It is true that often the fan theories were as good or better than the books. I do think it is fascinating to come up with as many pieces or possible layers she used in building her story.

Anonymous said...

I used to love looking further into the many pieces/stories/myths used in constructing the HP books, but no longer.