Notable Witches and Wizards
Harry Potter Lexicon Minute

Percivals in Canon

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Percivals in Canon

Percival is a suspiciously common name in the Harry Potter universe, and I’m inclined to read way into that.

Probably the most well-known of these is Percy Weasley, who is not actually a confirmed “Percival.” As the Lexicon’s entry for Percy notes, “In Arthurian legend, Percival was a chivalrous knight who was given a glimpse of the Holy Grail.” To me, Percy’s personal Holy Grail is to achieve renown within the Ministry and surpass his father’s successes there. It always felt to me as though Percy’s sketchy, over-ambitious priorities emerged from his fear of becoming like his father, whose talents were taken for granted at the Ministry. Despite being, by all accounts, a respectable and loving father, Arthur Weasley struggled to provide for his family of nine, on the salary afforded him by the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. Like the Percival of Arthurian legend, Percy is single-minded in his pursuit of his Holy Grail, which leads to some poor choices.

Let’s examine the Dumbledores next. Percival Dumbledore is Albus Dumbledore’s father, who dies in Azkaban for what is perceived to be an attack on innocent Muggles. We don’t know a whole lot about Percival–mostly that he attacked the three Muggle boys who traumatized six-year-old Ariana, whom they saw doing underage magic, and that Albus Dumbledore loved his family but resented the ramifications of Ariana’s encounter with the Muggle children. If Percival Dumbledore had a Holy Grail, my best guess is that it was his revenge.

Albus Dumbledore falls prey to the allure of Gellert Grindelwald’s desire to reveal the Wizarding World to Muggles (or No-Majs, as indicated by his pursuit of the Obscurus in Fantastic Beasts). If the Muggles responsible for traumatizing his sister had known about magic, they would not have reacted as they did. Albus Dumbledore’s Holy Grail would have been the Deathly Hallows, which are an easy etymological parallel to draw because of the relationship of “holy” and “hallow.” It is also an easy parallel because the Hallows are largely believed to be legendary, but they are sought by a few believers in much the same manner as the Holy Grail has been sought in legend.

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Notes

In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.

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Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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