Abendroth Blutjager's Guide to Harry Potter

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Character Analysis: Severus Snape (part two)

The first part of my analysis is about the definitions of the name. I continue now with some possible historic origins for his name.

Two major historical people come to mind: Lucius Septimius Severus and Severus Sanctus Endelechus.

Here is the basic entry for Severus Sanctus Endelechus in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"Christian rhetorician and poet of the fourth century. It is possible that his true name was Endelechius and that he adopted the other names after his conversion to Christianity. In the manuscripts of the "Metamorphoses" of Apuleius, the subscription of the corrector and revisor, Sallustius, declares him the pupil at Rome in 395 of the rhetorician Endelechius in the forum of Mars (which is the forum of Augustus): "in foro Martis controversiam declamans oratori Endelechio". This rhetorician is certainly identical with the poet. He was probably of Gallic origin. He was a friend of St. Paulinus of Nola, who dedicated to him his panegyric of Theodosius and even owed to him the idea of this work. We are in possession of Endelechius's "De morte boum", an idyl in thirty-three Asclopedian strophes, in which the shepherd Bucolus explains to his companion Ægon that he is sad because his flock are dying of contagion. Tityrus enters leading his flock which remains healthy amid the epidemic. He explains that this miracle is due to the Sign of the Cross made on the forehead of the animals, whereupon Ægon and Bucolus decide to become Christians. This little poem is chiefly interesting because it shows the resistance of paganism in the country and the means by which Christian preaching sought to overcome it. It was discovered in an unknown manuscript and published by P. Pithou in 1586. Riese reprinted it in the "Anthologia Latina" (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1906, n. 893)."

The Free Dictionary gives some info about Lucius Septimius Severus:

"Severus (Lucius Septimius Severus), Roman emperor Severus or Septimius Severus (Lucius Septimius Severus) (sĕptĭm`ēəs sēvē`rəs), 146–211, Roman emperor (193–211), b. Africa. He was campaigning in Pannonia and Illyria when the emperor Commodus (Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus). was murdered. His successor, Pertinax (Publius Helvius Pertinax), lasted three months before he too was assassinated. The Pretorian guards arranged the succession of the weak Didius Julianus (Marcus Didius Salvius Julianus). With the empire in disarray, Severus marched on Rome. Proclaimed emperor, Severus went to the East to overthrow Pescennius Niger, the governor of Syria, who had also been proclaimed emperor by his legions. Severus defeated (194) the pretender. He took (196) Byzantium and subdued the rebellious Arabs of Mesopotamia. Returning to the West, he defeated (197) Clodius Albinus, another pretender, in Gaul and, returning eastward, attacked and expelled (198) the Parthians from Mesopotamia. In 208, Severus went to Britain. From there he harassed Scotland, but he died at York before completing his plans for a large invasion. Severus built a strong army, increasing the number of legions while eliminating the large commands that had been common for Rome, thus protecting himself against being overthrown while he protected Rome. He ruled with vigor and, when he found it useful, a calculated cruelty. Caracalla succeeded him."

I wish to point out the fact that not only is there a Lucius (Malfoy) mentioned in the Black family tapestry, but there is also a Septimus (Weasley) in the same tapestry. It's not at all surprising to see her use the last name, Severus, for yet another character... and it wouldn't surprise me either if Severus Snape is a relative of the Blacks, through his mother's side of the family, the Prince line.

The interesting thing here... well, there are a few interesting things here. Lucius Septimius Severus (let's call him LSS) defeated someone named Pescennius Niger in 194. Niger means "black", and the spring of 1994 is when Severus Snape confronts and almost defeats Sirius Black. He was so close to getting Sirius "kissed" by a dementor, but he (and Fudge) failed because Harry, et al. had set Sirius free. Sirius Black isn't killed until 1997, and Severus Snape gives Bellatrix Black the credit.

LSS defeated a man named Clodius Albinus back in 197. Albinus means white, just like Albus. It was the spring of 1997 when Snape confronted Albus Dumbledore on the Astronomy tower. Watched by Harry, Draco, and some DE's, Snape appears to kill Albus with a Killing Curse. Personally I think the death scene is rather suspicious. Dumbledore is definitely dead, and Snape must have landed the fatal blow, since Snape's still alive (Unbreakable Vow would have killed him otherwise), but I just don't think the Killing Curse was strong enough to do the job. I think Snape had to levitate Dumbledore and send him over the tower to complete the task.

Back in 196 LSS had subdued some rebels, so what could Snape's parallel action have been... to subdue Narcissa and Bellatrix in the summer of 1996? Narcissa was acting particularly rebellious agianst Voldemort, Bellatrix was anti-Snape. The show-down at the Department of Mysteries happened in 1996, so maybe he subdued the Death Eaters by alerting the Order that Harry and friends had gone to the Ministry of Magic?

LSS leaves to travel east and attacks the Parthians in 198. Then he goes to Britain 10 years later (208) and bothers Scotland but dies in York...I think it was in 211. Perhaps JKR wouldn't be able to follow the exact same timeline, but what could the Parthians become in Snape's life.... The Order of the Phoenix? The Death Eaters? And what about LSS planning a campaign in Britain but dying before he can launch it? Will JKR have Snape die in York?

Caracalla was one of LSS's sons. Snape has no daughter (JKR says so), but what about a son? Or what about a chosen heir, if he has no children? Ah, that's where I want to go into all sorts of wild thoughts about Theodore Nott, but I'll hold myself back and not go into it....

Another historical figure is Severus of Avranches:

Memorial: 1 February
Profile: Born to a poor peasant family. Shepherd in his youth. Priest. Monk. Abbot. Bishop of Avranches. In his later years, he resigned his see and returned to monastic life.
Born: at Cotentin, Normandy, France
Died: c.690 of natural causes; relics at Rouen, France
Canonized: Pre-Congregation
Patronage: against fever; against migraine; drapers; fever; hatmakers; hatters; migraine; milliners; silk workers; weavers; wool manufacturers; wool weavers
bishop with a horse nearby

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