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J.K. Rowling writes in Tales of Beedle the Bard that Inferi are simply corpses reanimated by Dark Magic and she describes them as "ghastly puppets" that are not sentient.

Nagini was a Horcrux, which is Dark Magic. She occupied and ambulated Bathilda Bagshot's corpse. Does this in any way make Nagini either partially or fully an Inferius, or was she just the magical component or catalyst for the reanimation of Bathilda's body? Or was Voldemort the one controlling Bathilda's corpse instead of Nagini?

In this instance I'm actually confused whether either Bathilda or Nagini was technically an Inferius — were they?

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    I always imagined that Nagini was using Bathilda's corpse as a very gruesome sock puppet, rather than it actually being reanimated, but I suppose reanimation makes more sense. – Anthony Grist Aug 15 '12 at 8:03
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    I don't think that Nagini was dead, by your definition, not an Inferi. Bathilda's status as an Inferi may still be open for debate. – TGnat Aug 15 '12 at 13:11
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    Nagini in Bathilda was something like Bug in Edgar (in Men in Black). – Zikato Jul 15 '15 at 5:37
  • @AnthonyGrist but then why was nagini inside her? If she is a reanimated corpse she doesn't need nagini 'pulling the strings' – user68762 Aug 23 '17 at 8:01
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I'm going to Yet Again have to steal TGnat's excellent comment since he declined to post it as an answer.

Nagini was NOT dead at the time, so she/it was definitely NOT an Inferi.


Bathilda's status is unclear - I don't think she was a reanimated corpse; the DH text seems to support the notion that it was NOT a reanimated dead body but merely a skin/puppet which Nagini was inside of:

panic made him turn and horror paralyzed him and he saw the old body collapsing and the great snake pouring from the place where he neck had been

...

“Bathilda must’ve been dead a while. The snake was . . . was inside her. You-Know-Who put it there in Godric’s Hollow, to wait. [Harry to Hermione, after the escape]

...

He remembered the snake coming out of Bathilda’s neck; Hermione did not need to know the details.
“ . . . she changed, changed into the snake, and attacked.”

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No - Bathilda’s corpse was “animated” by Nagini in it, not magic.

An Inferius is a corpse reanimated by magic. Bathilda’s corpse was not animated by magic, it was animated by Nagini being inside it. The corpse only seems to be moving because Nagini was moving it, and it was incapable of doing anything that she couldn’t do, like cast spells or speak English. “Bathilda” was able to speak, but only in Parseltongue. It’s fairly clear from its behavior that Nagini is in control of the actions the Bathilda-corpse takes. She lures Harry away to converse in Parseltongue without him knowing, is told by the Dark Lord to keep Harry from leaving, then bursts out of the corpse to obey his command.

“Then she closed her eyes and several things happened at once: Harry’s scar prickled painfully; the Horcrux twitched so that the front of his sweater actually moved; the dark, fetid room dissolved momentarily. He felt a leap of joy and spoke in a high, cold voice: hold him!”

“And in the instant that he looked away, his eyes raking the tangled mess for a sword hilt, a ruby, she moved weirdly: he saw it out of the corner of his eye; panic made him turn and horror paralysed him as he saw the old body collapsing and the great snake pouring from the place where her neck had been.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 17 (Bathilda’s Secret)

She’s able to contact the Dark Lord, tell him Harry was there, and obey his command to her.

“She didn’t want to talk in front of you, because it was Parseltongue, all Parseltongue, and I didn’t realise, but of course, I could understand her. Once we were up in the room, the snake sent a message to You-Know-Who, I heard it happen inside my head, I felt him get excited, he said to keep me there … and then …”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 17 (Bathilda’s Secret)

For comparison, Professor Snape defines an Inferius as a corpse reanimated by a Dark wizard’s spells. Bathilda’s corpse was used as a puppet, but was not reanimated by spells.

“The Inferius is a corpse that has been reanimated by a Dark wizard’s spells. It is not alive, it is merely used like a puppet to do the wizard’s bidding.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 21 (The Unknowable Room)

Once reanimated, Inferi can “function“ on their own. However, Bathilda’s corpse collapsed to the floor, inactive, once Nagini came out of it.

Therefore, it seems most logical from the evidence that Nagini just wore Bathilda’s corpse as a disguise, like an outer shell to conceal herself, rather than the corpse being an Inferius or itself reanimated.

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Nagini I believe is old Hindustani for the snake queen or something. Kipling uses the word in both male and female form in Rikki tikki tavi. Nag and Nagini were cobras and the antagonists of the garden against whom the mongoose hero struggled. I'm not sure how the Bagshot/nagini puppet thing works exactly but I'm pretty sure Nagini is alive and not inferi as killing the snake is discussed at length and Neville does the dead at the battle of Hogwarts (10 points for Gryfindor). The snake/historian whispers only to harry because only harry speaks parsletongue and is unable to discern the difference between it and human-speak. Hermione would have noticed..that bit is clever..

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    A lot of this seems extraneous. Could you clarify? – Adamant Jul 30 '16 at 6:52
  • Also, it's Nag and Nagina – Punintended Sep 26 '18 at 18:13
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I'd like to think Voldemort killed Bathilda, created polyjuice potion using her hair and left a large pot for Nagini to drink whenever she thought Harry would enter or saw him from the window. Then the effects wore off and she attacked them.

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    Can you support this based on the book? My memory of the scene is fuzzy but I seem to remember it being more like Nagini was wearing a Bathilda-suit, which seems incompatible with your theory – Jason Baker Jul 15 '15 at 3:13
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    This is rather speculative. – Adamant Jul 30 '16 at 8:56
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No, it was not an Inferi.

The body of the woman Harry and Hermione has seen was merely an illusion that looked like Bathilda. Harry was misled and did not recognize this – that was the whole point of the illusion. The actual body of Bathilda was not involved at all, and is likely lying in a grave undisturbed.

See my answer for How come Nagini had magical powers? where I argue that the snake Horcrux creates such an illusion, just like how the diary and locket Horcruxes had created convincing illusions before that.

Update 2018-09-26: Apparently the Fantastic Beasts film series will elaborate on Nagini and his imitating Bathilda Bagshot, with an explanation possibly contradicting the above. The recent question “Was Nagini the only snake which could become human?” “Recently launched trailer of Fantastic Beast 2: Crimes of Grindelwald has proved that being Animagus (I don't have proper word) was Nagini's inherent quality, not something assisted by Voldemort when she had became Bathilda Bagshot” called my attention to this. The answer “Not an Animagus. A Maledictus. Big difference. - J. K. Rowling on Twitter” contains words directly from J. K. Rowling.

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