Inspirations, Influences, and Imagination in creating the Wizarding World.


Happy Easter!
Jul 14, 2005
I started reading the Harry Potter series in 2008 when I realized that my eight year old neice would want to begin seeing the movies. Of course, I wanted her to read the books so I began reading. I saw influences from British history, Greek mythology, and James and Roald Dahl. I think JKR was inspired the Bible and Ursula LeGuin. I imagine her imagination was stoked by CS Lewis and Lloyd Alexander. And people who've read more than me will see many more cultural, religious, historical, and literary references.

It turns out that the only people with whom I discuss Harry Potter are teenagers. A few nights ago, during an after dinner discussion, my friend's son brought up the beauty contest that Paris judged. Athena offered Paris wisdom in war so he could be unbeatable. Hera offered Paris official dominion over all Europe and Asia. Aphrodite offered Paris the most desirable woman alive. The boy asked why Paris did not choose Hera... his rationale was that holding political supremacy would most likely lead to the ability to attract the most beautiful woman on earth. His brother then voted for Athena, reasoning that invincible military prowess would lead to political power and beautiful women. The third brother argued how power corrupts and how military invincibility would entice a man to commit genocide on a whim... he thought love was the best option.

As the three brothers debated Paris' wisdom, or lack thereof, my mind recalled Harry, Ron, and Hermione's discussion regarding which of the Hallows they'd prefer. And it seemed to me that the three Hallows could be analogous to the choices of Paris. The Elder Wand is the military option, the bribe of Athena. The Invisibility Cloak is the ability to project power in unexpected places or for the wearer to not be found by enemies, the bribe offered by Hera. And the Resurrection Stone is analagous to Aphrodite's bribe, the ability to bring about a loving relationship.

Given these choices, the boys all chose the invisibility cloak. Hindsight reveals that both the Wand and the Stone come with major caveats if not outright taints. The first brother asked which I'd choose, and I told I'd probably take the Stone.

How plausible is the choices of Paris/Deathly Hallows analogy?

Do you see connections to history, literature, mythology, religion, or culture in the HP series?
If you only discuss HP with teenagers, maybe they prefer this version?


There’s a lot more of it here, nsfw
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How plausible is the choices of Paris/Deathly Hallows analogy?

Subconsciously? Quite possibly, although European mythology/folklore/history is riddled with the idea of a division into three of military might, wisdom and dominion, and prosperity/love/fecundity to the point I'd hesitate to point at any one example unless Rowling said so. But she has explicitly said retrieving Cedric's body came from getting Patroclus' body in the Iliad so why not from that one?

It's not the only time you can see something mapping to that split either. Consider the core trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron - they fall very neatly into military might, wisdom and dominion, and prosperity/love/fecundity, with Harry being a near dead ringer for the classic Indo-European dragonslaying thunder god.

Do you see connections to history, literature, mythology, religion, or culture in the HP series?

Tons. Tons and tons. Woman is a magpie and a lot of it is acknowledged if you go googling for it.

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