Is Credence the Golden One?
We all know Rowling rarely chooses a name just for the sake of it, but that a name will always be carefully chosen for its meaning and how that ties in with the character. So when Grindelwald revealed Credence’s other name at the end of Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, it came to no one’s surprise that fans were quick to google the meaning of it.
Lucky (or not) I share a name with the newest Dumbledore family member, so for once, my knowledge about its origin and meaning can be put to good use while simultaneously giving me an opportunity to learn more about my own name.
So what does Aurelius mean? Aurelius is a Latin name (pronunciation: ow-RE-lee-oos) that was derived from the word aureus, meaning “golden.” So Aurelius means “the golden one.” But obviously, that is not all there is to the name Aurelius.
In ancient Roman history, the name is associated with Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD, the last in a line of five emperors known to have ruled Rome with authority, humanity, and competence. He is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers.
But before we go further into Marcus Aurelius, how does the Roman emperor tie in with J.K. Rowling? If you visited the “Answers” page of her website in October 2016 – over two years ago and a month before the first film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was released – you would have seen this header image:
While at first glance it might just look like a peek at Rowling’s writing desk, the green book is what you should be focusing on:
The author is Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Now, it doesn’t surprise anyone who knows that Rowling studied classics in college that she would be familiar with Stoicism and its famous practicers Seneca, Epictetus, Diogenes, and Marcus Aurelius. However, it does once more prove her genius that she hinted at the Credence plot twist before even the first Fantastic Beasts movie came out.
So it would seem now is a good time to learn more about Marcus Aurelius:
Aside from being a Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius is primarily known these days for his approach to philosophy. The book in Rowling’s header image is known as Meditations and is one of the most read books in and a key publication to understanding Roman Stoicism – although it is written in Greek. It is unclear if the author had intended for his thoughts to ever be read by an audience since they feel more like a diary and his way to come to conclusions and to not give up while struggling with the tasks as Roman emperor, including fierce wars with the Parthians and Germanic tribes. Here is one example of his thoughts that ties in with the current “fake news” climate:
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
His writing style is very easy to understand, causing him to become famous as “the philosopher” even during his lifetime and being dubbed the “philosopher king” after his death. He writes to everyone and gives genuine tips on how to live your life, although critics have pointed out that he was not able to live up to his goals all the time.
Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.
Marcus Aurelius was not a man of faith and did not believe in a life after death, yet he always wrote and thought about death. His way of figuring out how to best deal with the “threat” death poses to all of us was turning to life and how to best live it while respecting death, a theme Rowling definitely has picked up on and worked into the Harry Potter books.
Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.
Overall, Meditations is about the importance of analyzing one’s judgment of self and others and the development of a cosmic perspective. Stoicism, in general, is about stripping away the senses to come to the most logical conclusion without overly relying on senses that will always be judgmental.
So is Aurelius a fitting name for Credence? I would say it is a fitting name for a Dumbledore, especially one who has a phoenix as their companion. And just as Marcus Aurelius was trying to make the best out of life and figure out the best actions and come to the right conclusions, Credence is trying to figure out who he truly is. What he will do with this information and if he will be manipulated by Grindelwald to go against Albus Dumbledore, we will have to see in future films. One thing is sure, with a name like this, we ought to expect big things of Credence, a.k.a. Aurelius.