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“When I discovered it, after all those years, buried in the abandoned home of the Gaunts - the Hallow I had craved most of all, though in my youth I had wanted it for very different reasons - I lost my head, Harry. I quite forgot that it was now a Horcrux, that the ring was sure to carry a curse. (Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 - KING'S CROSS).

Why did Dumbledore say that it was "sure" to carry a curse, being a Horcrux?

As @Sheph noted in a comment, this seems less than "sure" if one were to look at other Horcruxes:

  • The Diary had no malevolent protective spell (and was the only Horcrux Dumbledore knew of before the Ring). It did have Tom's spirit inside but no curse.

  • The locket didn't carry a defensive curse. It was able to long-term corrupt the wearer ala The One Ring, but that was not what Dumbledore meant when referring to carrying a curse.

  • The cup had no curse. The trio handled it barehanded with no issues.

  • The diadem - IIRC was destroyed before anyone actually had a chance to touch it and check.

  • Nagini - had no curse aside from being an evil thinking snake (Harry touched her when fighting on Christmas in Bathilda's house).

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    Harry touched the diadem on two occasions -- he put it on top of the statue in the Room of Requirement (HBP Ch24), and caught it on his wrist while escaping the Room (DH Ch31). We didn't see any adverse effects in either case, so it seems safe to say it didn't carry a curse like the ring. Of course, both occurrences happened after Dumbledore had found the ring (and Dumbledore never knew about the tiara in any case). – Joe White Apr 22 '13 at 2:27
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    @JoeWhite - for #2, it was probably already fried. Good catch on HBP one! – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 22 '13 at 13:39
  • Don't forget that the diary was also supposed to serve as a weapon - it wasn't locked away behind protections or hidden in an out-of-the-way location. It was weaponized and ready to be fired at someone. If it had been cursed, it would have been an ineffective weapon. Curses can be detected and cursed items would make poor trojan horses. – Jeff Nov 4 '13 at 14:03
  • @JoeWhite - Yes, but the curse of the ring didn't take effect until Dumbledore actually tried to wear the ring. Had Harry placed it on his head, it might well have acted similarly. – Doug R. Mar 7 '17 at 12:52
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"Why did you put on that ring? it carries a curse, surely you realised that. Why even touch it?" ... "

I... was a fool. Sorely tempted"

-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 The Prince's Tale.

So Dumbledore had probably sensed the curse when he found it.

How? This is just speculation but I believe he was looking out for it, just like in the cave:

"Magic always leaves traces," ... "sometimes very distinctive traces. I taught Tom Riddle. I know his style."

-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 26 The Cave.

He knew it was a Horcrux and so he expected protections.

After all, he knew that:

  1. The Diary was entrusted to Lucius to be kept with the highest security possible and

  2. The Locket was stored in the middle of a lake in a cave and kept in a potion that would possibly cause serious harm to the drinker.

So he could hardly expect that Tom Riddle had just left the Horcrux under a floorboard without any protections.

To make it easy to understand I've made a narrative, as follows:

Albus Dumbledore finds out the location of the Gaunt house and goes there. After reaching the cottage he searches for the Horcrux, at which point he senses the enchantments (curse?) and finds the Horcrux under the floorboards. But then he sees that it's the ring has the Resurrection Stone on it; he gets excited (because he - unlike Voldemort - knows about the Hallows and that he can use it to bring back his lost family) and forgets that it might have a curse on it and puts it on.

So that's what I believe is what he means when he says "was sure to carry a curse".

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    He didn't knew #2 since he found and put on the ring one year before finding the locket in its cave (found the ring somewhere between the end of HP5 and the beginning of HP6, and then found the locket at the end of HP6) – LilyM Apr 27 '16 at 13:02
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I would disagree with your assessment of a few things. First let us define what a curse is. From several sources they all agree on pretty much the same thing:

Curses are used with the intention of causing harm, control, or even death to the victim.

With that we can examine some of your points.

The Diary had no malevolent protective spell (and was the only Horcrux Dumbledore knew of before the Ring). It did have Tom's spirit inside but no curse.

The diary was in control of, and ultimately was going to kill, Ginny Weasley. The diary itself was a Horcrux. Horcruxes themselves don't control people, otherwise the locket would have exhibited control over RAB. We can then safely assume the diary was a cursed Horcrux.

The locket didn't carry a defensive curse. It was able to long-term corrupt the wearer ala The One Ring, but that was not what Dumbledore meant when referring to carrying a curse.

The locket itself didn't carry a curse, offensive or defensive. But the Horcrux was initially trapped in a seaside cave that required magic to find. Then a dark spell requiring blood was required to open the door. Following that, there was a pool of a most evil potion that forced the victim into terrible bouts of fear, pain and stubbornness. I would call this a type of control. Then there were the inferi who are bodies cursed to 'life' by a dark wizard. More accurately they are animated, not brought to life.

The cup had no curse. The trio handled it barehanded no issue.

Helga Hufflepuff's cup had the Gemino Curse applied to it. They handled it barehanded and it multiplied endlessly.

The diadem - IIRC was destroyed before anyone actually had a chance to touch it and check.

Correct. We will never know for sure. However, we can safely assume that it was cursed. Helena Ravenclaw said that it was defiled with dark "magics." Using the plural.

Nahini - had no curse aside from being an evil thinking snake (Harry touched her when fighting on Christmas in Bathilda's house).

I think this is more of an issue of time on Volemort's part. But you are correct in saying that Nagini wasn't cursed. There is no proof that she was. But, since we have no true knowledge of all the magics in the world we can use a bit of reason.

We know:

  • Nagini had a telepathic connection with Voldemort (Possible curse? Its not an innate power of parseltongue)
  • Extremely powerful venom for the breed of snake, only one survivor (Arthur Weasley in OotP) and he had immediate assistance (Curse to enhance abilities?)
  • Could mimic people (We aren't told how this is done, but a curse was placed over Nagini at some point to wear Bathilda Bagshot's skin)
  • Nagini was placed in a protective bubble in book 7. Voldemort usually isn't one to use 'good' magic when dark magic is an option.

We can safely assume that at some point Nagini had a curse placed over her.

Not a Quote Harry was the 6th Horcrux created by use of a curse

This makes 6/7 Horcruxes that we can be reasonably sure had a curse upon them at one time.


At the time of Dumbledore's death, a scant few of the Horcruxes were known to the trio. All of them by this point had been cursed, and quite severely. This makes Dumbledore's mistake all the more blunderous. When Dumbledore said this, it was a memory of Dumbledore. Albus couldn't have gained more knowledge after being dead.

Edit: I also have a cowards argument. Horcruxes required the death of someone to create, it can be argued that each object is innately cursed once it becomes a horcrux.

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    A brave analysis to a tough question! The Gemino curse was of goblin origin and thus not particular to the Horcrux. Same with the locket. Even with your loose interpretation of the curse, the locket's "curse" is not Horcrux specific either, and thus can't really be applied to Dumbledore's reasoning. Since the only Horcruxes we know of are Voldemort's, even if he made a habit of cursing all of his own, Dumbledore would have only been privy to the Diary at the time he tried on the ring. – Sheph Apr 9 '13 at 5:12
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    Well, I inferred that a horcrux was supposed to carry a curse according to Dumbledore. Not that all curses were of Voldemort origin. There is an example of Kreacher being used in the process to create the protective curses for Voldemort. But, curses aside. We know that Voldemort is a rather cunning villain, as things go. There are numerous references to traps, ambushes, schemes and maneuvering. Voldemort was, at the heart of things, an evil schemer. It would be expected of an evil schemer to lay a trap. If you were sent to hunt down voldemort, would you not expect a trap on your last lifeline? – AbeLinkon Apr 9 '13 at 5:36
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    Kreacher wasn't involved in creating the curses in the cave, he was just there to test them. "Nagini had a telepathic connection with Voldemort (Possible curse? Its not an innate power of parseltongue)" More likely due to the fragment of Voldemort's soul inhabiting Nagini's body; I can't remember if it's ever explicitly stated in the book, but it seems the most likely explanation. – Anthony Grist Apr 9 '13 at 8:14
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    And I didn't mean to imply Kreacher was involved in the creation of the curse. But to know you have done something correctly it must be tested. Kreacher was the test subject. The point I was trying to imply was Voldemort has a history of using non-humans in his plots, making the use of a goblin curse(Gemino) not that odd. – AbeLinkon Apr 9 '13 at 22:21
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    Do you have a link to the interview where JKR says her own writing is erroneous? – AbeLinkon Apr 22 '13 at 22:49
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Dumbledore said that it was sure to carry a curse because most importantly it was an heirloom to the House of Gaunt and Dumbledore may have thought that if anyone other than a Slytherin wore it, the curse wold act upon them. Or simply that if anyone other than a pureblood wears it, or anyone other than a descendant of Slytherin, the curse would work. It's important to remember that the curse works only if someone wears it, and not touch it because when Dumbledore picked it up (touched it) nothing happened. It acted only when he wore it. Also it must be noted that before the ring Dumbledore hadn't seen and touched any Horcrux except the Diary which was a dangerous weapon. And so Dumbledore thought that as it belonged to the Slytherins and more importantly was Voldemort's Horcrux, that it would carry a curse!

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