‘You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potionmaking,’ [Snape] began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word – like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. ‘As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses ... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death – if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.’¹

Philosopher's Stone - page 102 - Bloomsbury - chapter 8, The Potions Master

Are there any canon potions that actually grant fame or glory, or stopper death? I'm looking for specific canon-based answers from sources such as the Harry Potter books, interviews with J.K. Rowling, or information from Pottermore. Maybe because it's early I'm overlooking the obvious, but offhand I can't think of any canon potions that fit this criteria exactly.

¹I edited in the entire paragraph that I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death comes from for clarity. Hopefully this will be helpful and provide a better context for the comment in question.

  • 3
    This is a statement of metaphor not to be taken literally. Jul 31, 2013 at 11:53
  • 2
    If you have a direct canon source stating exactly this, please do reference it. Otherwise, this is your opinion. Jul 31, 2013 at 12:09
  • 3
    @Thaddeus I politely disagree; Since Snape is a Potions Master, I would have to say he was speaking literally.
    – djm
    Jul 31, 2013 at 12:45
  • 4
    I always interpreted as potions that would enable such things, but not specifically a 1-stop-shopping kind of potion. So, a potion that enhanced athletic abilities might bring fame or glory; a healing potion might stopper death.
    – phantom42
    Jul 31, 2013 at 12:57
  • 1
    Aside, the movie phrases it as "and even put a stopper in death"
    – Izkata
    Jul 31, 2013 at 23:03

3 Answers 3

  • Stopper death: since the pattern of the expression is "to <verb> <noun>", it means that "stopper" is a verb.

    Dictionary.com has only one verb usage:

    verb (used with object) 6. to close, secure, or fit with a stopper.

    This very clearly means that he was referring to collect - and close - a bottle of deadly poison, NOT potion that will stop death.

    While we don't know the names (sorry, the "draught of living death" is not actually fatal), there ARE known fatal poisons in Harry Potter - some of those in Philosopher's Stone used for a riddle were deadly:

    Three of us are killers, waiting bidden in line.


    Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides; (implying, others do)

  • fame and glory:

    1. First, there's a bunch of potions which could, potentially, have the effect of achieving fame and glory for the drinker (all text from http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_potions but I verified that they are all referenced):

      • Above mentioned Felix Felicis (grants luck)

      • Baruffio's Brain Elixir (increases the taker's brain power)

      • Beautification Potion (makes the taker very beautiful)

    2. Second, some potions could make the maker famous or glorified, just for making them; such as elixir from Philosopher's stone; or inventing Felix Felicis, or inventing wolfesbane potion.

  • 10
    Your interpretation of "stopper death" relies on a too-literal interpretation of a poetic phrase, and is quite wrong.
    – Martha
    Aug 1, 2013 at 0:04
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    @Martha - It has not been my experience that JKR writes deeply poetic texts with deep subtext :) Aug 1, 2013 at 3:30
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    @Martha How is it wrong? This seems quite a reasonable conclusion to me, and I can't find any more suitable way to interpret "stopper death" (it certainly doesn't mean "stop death"). In what way is this "too literal" an interpretation, in particular? This is taking the words at their meaning, and I see no reason to believe they were meant to mean otherwise. There don't appear to be any tricks here. What's the correct interpretation, if this is wrong? Aug 1, 2013 at 4:05
  • 5
    I just thought of something and looked it up in Deathly Hallows. And now Harry stood in the Headmaster’s office yet again. It was night-time, and Dumbledore sagged sideways in the thronelike chair behind the desk, apparently semi-conscious. His right hand dangled over the side, blackened and burned. Snape was muttering incantations, pointing his wand at the wrist of the hand, while with his left hand he tipped a goblet full of thick golden potion down Dumbledore’s throat. After a moment or two, Dumbledore’s eyelids fluttered and opened. While temporary, this potion stopped DD from dying. Aug 2, 2013 at 7:51
  • 1
    @Slytherincess - IMHO, not in JKR's typical English. It's "stopping", not "stoppering" (aka bottling). Aug 2, 2013 at 12:11

If the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is considered canon, the potions that come close are Felix Felicis/Liquid Luck (glory) and the Draught of the Living Death ("stopper death" I interpret to mean bottled death; of course, the potions above are in the books too, if you don't consider the films canon)


From Chapter 9 pg 188 of Half-Blood Prince: Felix Felicis is a banned substance in organized competitions, such as sporting events, examinations, or elections.

So, in my opinion, FF could grant fame and glory if it were legal; but you could still use it to say invent something new and gain fame and glory that way.

  • 3
    I think Slytherincess doesn't consider the film canons, and neither do I. However, the Liquid Luck is also present in the books (Felix Felicis) but it's liquid luck, not liquid glory.
    – Kalissar
    Jul 31, 2013 at 13:07
  • 1
    @Kalissar the potions are mentioned in the book version of the Half Blood Prince, for some reason I went with the film and Felix Felicis can certainly lead to fame and glory; phantom42's comment above mirrors my thinking (and I agree that stopper death could mean something besides bottled death)
    – djm
    Jul 31, 2013 at 13:24
  • Legal schmegal. Something being banned doesn't stop people from using it (see : performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports lately). Just means you need to not get caught.
    – Compro01
    Aug 1, 2013 at 14:31
  • 1
    How would they detect use of Felix Felicis? If the testing was 99.9999% accurate what results would it show on someone using the potion? Presumably they'd get lucky and it would so as clear, right?
    – Nick
    Aug 2, 2013 at 8:24
  • 2
    @Nick - I think djm was just making a joke in reference to Lance Armstrong. However, if an individual were to take too much of Felix Felicis, there would be symptoms that others might possibly pick up on: giddiness, recklessness and dangerous overconfidence. It's also toxic in large quantities. (Half-Blood Prince, chapter 9, The Half-Blood Prince) I think these are the only symptoms of Felix Felicis use and they represent an overdose. I think it would be nearly impossible to detect regular, appropriate use of Felix Felicis by the typical wizard. Aug 2, 2013 at 9:19

Perhaps this is a slight curve-ball but I belive the potions item that can "stopper death" is probably a bezoar.

It's particularly likely that this was what Snape was referring to in this instance since he refers to it within seconds of making his speech about fame, glory and death.

A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and will save you from most poisons.
(Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8, The Potions Master)

The phrase "stopper death" is perhaps a playful twist on how the bezoar is administered - by shoving it down one's throat. The bezoar therefore acts as a stopper in the individual (like a wooden stopper in a bottle) whilst also preventing their immediate death, as Ron finds out in Half-Blood Prince.

Then he found it - the shrivelled kidney-like stone Slughorn had taken from him in Potions.
He hurtled back to Ron's side, wrenched open his jaw and thrust the bezoar into his mouth. Ron gave a great shudder, a rattling gasp and his body became limp and still.
(Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18, Birthday Surprises)

Granted, a bezoar isn't a potion. It is, however, something the students wouldn't have known about without Potions lessons and so for me can be counted under 'important things with profound consequences that you learn about when you listen to Snape'. Which, after all, was the message Snape was trying to hammer home in that monologue in the first place. Indeed, Ron arguably owed his life to Snape's early attempt to destroy Harry's self-esteem - proving Snape's point that Potions can be a matter of life and death.

The other two answers interpret "stopper death" as referring to the creation of poisons whereas I'm interpreting it as a reference to antidotes. I think either is possible. It may be that I'm being influenced by the alternate wording in the film version of Snape's speech.

SNAPE: There will be no foolish wand waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don't expect many of you to enjoy the subtle science and exact art that is potion making. However, for those select few, who possess the predisposition, I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory and even put a stopper in death.

A bezoar does not, of course, make you immortal. But it can protect you from mortal peril and therefore was probably what Snape was referring to.

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