Percy Weasley: A Wizard-World Odysseus?
by Bridget Carney
There have been many theories concerning Percy Weasley and what the future will hold for him. I think he’s actually a very fascinating character, and I feel that there is a strong parallel between him and the Greek hero Odysseus.
One of the things that first clued me into this possibility was the significance of Percy’s girlfriend’s name – Penelope. Penelope was, of course, the ever-faithful wife of Odysseus. As J.K. Rowling uses names to give us some of the biggest clues to the stories, I think this is a valid point.
In The Iliad, we begin by having Odysseus refuse to join the Greeks in the fight against the Trojans, even going so far as to feign madness in order to escape his duty. He sowed his fields with salt, thereby ruining their ability to produce good crops. However, when the Greeks placed his son Telemachus in front of the plow, Odysseus finally admitted his ruse and joined them. He later rose to great prominence: he is credited with coming up with the idea for the Trojan Horse, and he is also responsible for bringing the Greek heroes Neoptolemus and Philoctetes to Troy for the final stage of the conflict.
How does our least-favorite Weasley fit into all this? Well first of all, there’s the obvious fact that he refuses to join his family in the fight against Voldemort. Therefore, for the purpose of this editorial, the Greeks represent the Weasleys and all others fighting on the good side of things, and the Trojans represent Voldemort and the other bad people. People grow in their families and learn a great deal about life from their families. Percy’s family, then, is comparable to the fields that Odysseus sows with salt. Percy points out all the negative things about his family, which is similar to rubbing salt in a wound. This ruins the family relationship and causes rifts that prevent further growth, just as salt in the soil will prevent the crops from being fruitful.
Although Percy certainly doesn’t have a son, I think there’s a duality here in that Percy looks after Ron almost as though he were a son, and he looks after Ginny kind of like a daughter. Therefore, when his children face great danger at the Ministry in the final fights of Book 5, perhaps this is the wake-up call that Percy needs to realize where his position should be. Certainly now that his boss has admitted to the world that Voldemort is back, Percy will be forced to realize that maybe he wasn’t on the right side of things after all. (This goes with his already-established character of always trying to follow whats right.)
There has already been quite a bit of comparison between Neoptolemus and Harry. And the fact that we already know Harry is the one to vanquish Voldemort (going with the theory that it couldn’t be Neville as discussed in The North Tower), perhaps this indicates that Percy will play a vital role in giving Harry the chance to take out Voldemort. And perhaps Philoctetes is Ron, although that is up for debate. Going with this theory, it also indicates that Percy will probably come up with some brilliant idea that helps Harry defeat Voldemort, similar to the Trojan Horse. We certainly know that he is quite clever, considering how many O.W.Ls and N.E.W.Ts he received at Hogwarts.
Finally, in The Iliad, Odysseus is given the famous armor worn by Achilles upon Achilles death. Perhaps this means that for all of his hard work and his return to the good side, Percy will be rewarded something fabulous.
I dont claim to be a scholar on the Classics or anything, so it’s possible that I may have misinterpreted some things. Please don’t hesitate to leave feedback if you’re interested.