When Voldemort rose to power, there was virtually nobody who could stop him. Nobody, but one person – a boy, made the Dark Lord’s equal. There was a prophecy made by Sybill Trelawney that explained the situation between the Chosen One and the Dark Lord. So, why did Voldemort want the prophecy so bad in Order of the Phoenix?
Voldemort had heard the first half of the prophecy before from Snape. However, he wanted the entire prophecy because he believed it contained crucial information on how to defeat Harry Potter. Unbeknownst to him, it had no such information, so he sought after it in vain.
Before he could ever hear it, the prophecy had been broken in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. But, what was the prophecy in the first place? What exactly did it say? How did Voldemort find out it even existed? Let’s dive into one of the key pieces of the Harry Potter saga and the most important plot point of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
What Was Voldemort’s Prophecy?
Before we get into why Voldemort wanted to learn all about it, we must first explain what the prophecy was, to begin with. The prophecy was made by Sybill Trelawney, the professor at Hogwarts, that was a true Seer – a person with visions of the future.
Trelawney made the prophecy to Albus Dumbledore in the Hog’s Head – a tavern in Hogsmeade – during the interview for the professor job at Hogwarts. It revolved around the connection between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, the most powerful Dark Wizard in history. The prophecy was, as stated:
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…”
So, what does that prophecy mean? It meant that the Dark Lord – Lord Voldemort – was vulnerable, and only one person in the world could defeat him. The Chosen One, or the child that Voldemort unwittingly made his equal, had the power to destroy him, but also, Voldemort had the power to destroy the Chosen One.
That’s the part of the prophecy that says: “neither can live while the other survives.” Although, in the end, it turned out to be Harry Potter, it could just as well have been Neville Longbottom. Both were born at the end of July 1980 (“as the seventh month dies”), and both their parents defied and escaped Voldemort three times.
However, Voldemort made Harry the Chosen One because of a single mistake he made. I’ll explain what that mistake was.
When Did Voldemort Learn About The Prophecy?
As Sybill Trelawney and Albus Dumbledore talked in Hog’s Head, another person was there, listening to their conversation. It was Severus Snape, who was a Death Eater at the time, who overheard the first part of the prophecy: “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…”
He had told what he heard to Voldemort before the Dark Lord killed Lily and James Potter. Voldemort chose to believe that Harry was the one the prophecy was about. So, he attacked Harry, wanting to end him before he ever grew up.
However, he never heard the rest of the prophecy – most importantly, this part: “and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…”
The power that the prophecy speaks about is love. Love that Lily felt towards Harry when she sacrificed herself. Love that Harry had towards others, especially his friends, who he considered family. Love that they had for him. That was the power the Chosen One had that Voldemort didn’t have or know. Ultimately, love was the power that saved Harry.
Also, by attacking the infant, Voldemort unknowingly sets the prophecy in motion. Not only did he mark Harry physically (with the scar on his forehead) – he also marked him as his equal, as the Chosen One.
Why Did Voldemort Want The Prophecy Later?
Now, we get to the most important part of this story. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix heavily revolves around Voldemort seeking the prophecy at the Department of Mysteries. Seeing that he already knew about it, fans wondered, why did Voldemort even want the prophecy? Well, it’s actually quite simple.
Voldemort knew only a part of the prophecy – and it almost killed him when he tried acting upon it. So, he wanted to learn what the rest of the prophecy says because he believed it could reveal crucial information to him on how to defeat Harry Potter.
He had no idea that the rest of the prophecy had no information that could be useful to him in that regard, other than the fact that, in the end, one of them must kill the other, or neither can live. And, before he could even hear that, the prophecy was broken.
Luckily, Harry heard the prophecy and knew that one must kill the other – but he also knew that he was a Horcrux, so he sacrificed himself, only to come back to life and eventually end Voldemort.
Why Did Snape Tell Voldemort About The Prophecy?
Now, the Deathly Hallows explain that Snape was actually on the good side despite killing Dumbledore and appearing loyal to the Dark Lord. So, if he was actually good, why did Snape tell Voldemort about the prophecy?
Well, he told him because, at the time, Snape was a true Death Eater and wanted to prove his worth to his master. However, he made a grave mistake in doing so. He didn’t realize that Voldemort would go after Harry Potter – as Neville Longbottom was also eligible, according to the prophecy.
Voldemort killed Lily Potter, who Snape adored for years. The event was probably a turning point that made Snape betray Voldemort and ultimately turn to the other side, working as a “double agent” among the Death Eaters to destroy the Dark Lord.
It’s also the reason why he had such disdain towards Harry at the beginning and even more towards Neville.