8

At the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Dumbledore tells Harry about the prophecy, he says to him:

"He saw himself in you before he had ever seen you, and in marking you with that scar, he did not kill you, as he intended, but gave you powers, and a future, which have fitted you to escape him not once, but four times so far — something that neither your parents, nor Neville's parents, ever achieved."
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapter 37

But, if you count the last encounter between Harry and Voldemort, at the Ministry, it's actually five times, not four.

  1. Voldemort's attempt when Harry was 1 year old
  2. In the first book, when they fight over the stone
  3. In the second book, when Harry meets young Tom Riddle
  4. In the fourth book, when Harry joins V's rebirth party
  5. The fight at the ministry, in the previous chapter

So why did Dumbledore say that it was four times? Which one did he leave out and why?

  • 3
    probably doesnt count the horcrux – Himarm Nov 27 '16 at 19:51
  • 1
    I reckon he means Harry at one as it was that event which equipped him to survive. – Bellerophon Nov 27 '16 at 20:05
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    Consider that Harry didn't have Voldemort's powers when he survived his attack as a 1yo (it was his mother's sacrifice that did it). Ergo, Voldemort's attempt when Harry was a 1-year-old doesn't count. So, Dumbledore's count of four times is correct. J.K Rowling isn't so bad at maths after all. – Ghoti and Chips Nov 27 '16 at 20:18
  • 1
    Because JK Rowling is bad at math. – Zanon Nov 27 '16 at 22:56
  • 2
    @Zanon Maths*. Math is an entirely American thing, people in Britain (and Australia) say Maths, so it's only appropriate that we criticize Jo's mathematical ability by using the British "Maths" abbreviation. – Ghoti and Chips Nov 28 '16 at 12:06
24

Harry survived his encounter with Voldemort as a 1-year-old because of his mother's sacrifice, not because of the powers Voldemort transferred to him (which is what Dumbledore is talking about in the quote).

"Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realise that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign... to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever."
—Dumbledore regarding the power of love, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17, The Man With Two Faces

"[Voldemort] gave you powers, ..., which have fitted you to escape him not once, but four times so far — something that neither your parents, nor Neville’s parents, ever achieved.”
—Dumbledore explaining Voldemort's transferral of power into Harry, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37, The Lost Prophecy

So, Harry survived 5 out 5 encounters with Voldemort since birth, at the time of Order of the Phoenix, 1 of which (the first) was thanks to his mother's sacrificial love magic, and 4 of which were thanks to the powers Voldemort transferred (as Dumbledore describes in your quote in question).

Consider that Harry didn't have Voldemort's powers when he survived his attack as a 1yo (it was his mother's sacrifice that did it). Ergo, Voldemort's attempt when Harry was a 1-year-old doesn't count. So, Dumbledore's count of four times is correct. J.K Rowling isn't so bad at maths after all.

Conclusion:

But, if you count the last encounter between Harry and Voldemort, at the ministry, it's actually f̶i̶v̶e̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶s̶,̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ four.

  1. V̶o̶l̶d̶e̶m̶o̶r̶t̶'̶s̶ ̶a̶t̶t̶e̶m̶p̶t̶ ̶w̶h̶e̶n̶ ̶H̶a̶r̶r̶y̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶1̶ ̶y̶e̶a̶r̶ ̶o̶l̶d̶
  2. In the first book, when they fight over the stone
  3. In the second book, when Harry meets young Tom Riddle
  4. In the fourth book, when Harry joins V's rebirth party
  5. The fight at the ministry, in the previous chapter

Note: It would be reasonable for readers/audience, out of universe, to assume that Riddle's Diary, being a horcrux, is not the true Voldemort, and thusly it doesn't count as one of the four, but keep in mind that, in universe, Dumbledore, certainly during this conversation with Harry in Order of the Phoenix, doesn't have a particular technical discernment between true Voldemort and "non-true"/Horcrux Voldemort, especially when talking to his student, Harry, at this point in the story. Moreover, there is evidence in this screenshot of the Chamber of Secrets book that confirms that Dumbledore refers to The Diary, or the culprit of that year's events, as Voldemort, meaning that it stands to reason that during his Order of the Phoenix conversation with Harry, he would include Harry's encounter with The Diary as one of the four escapes.

  • 1
    Doesn't Dumbledore specifically say (in HBP) that it was the diary and the way the fragment of Riddle's Soul acted, not really being just a memory, that started him on the Horcrux train way back in Chamber of Secrets? He found the Horcrux (ring) after the end of OotP and destroyed it, so it's practically inconceivable that he didn't know Voldemort was involved with Horcruxes when he made this statement. What he didn't know until HBP was the scale (and he says as much) - Slughorn's memory fragment confirmed the important of Seven as a number. – DariM Nov 28 '16 at 3:04
  • Having just read the relevant chapters, I have proof that your comment is completely correct, @DariM, and there is no confusion about it. He not only knew about Horcruxes, he suspected Tom Riddle's diary was one. Not only that, he inferred (by the way it flippantly put itself in danger) that there were more than one horcrux with Voldemort's split soul fragments. Here is a screenshot of the relevant part of the HBP book (Chapter 23, Horcruxes) – Ghoti and Chips Nov 28 '16 at 11:06
  • I would argue that the encounter when they met in the first book was also due to love as it was that protection on Harry that was preventing Voldemort from touching him. – Antony D'Andrea Nov 28 '16 at 11:57
  • 1
    @AntonyD'Andrea At first glance, it's a good argument, Antony. Dumbledore even tells Harry about the love magic right after the event you refer to. Will look into it, see what I find (my answer serves to logically discount the 1yo encounter as one of the four, since the encounter precedes the transferral of power, but your argument, thus far, still stands). – Ghoti and Chips Nov 28 '16 at 12:03
  • Did Voldemort's "marking" him have any effect on his encounter with the diary, though? Anyone with a basilisk tooth could have stabbed it through the book. And Tom Riddle was too busy monologuing to try to kill him. – Acccumulation Jun 22 '18 at 22:22

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