Throughout Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort was obsessed with hearing the prophecy, but after the battle at the Ministry he still hadn’t heard it.

Via Snape, he knew that it was Professor Trelawney who originally made the prophecy.

Until Half-Blood Prince, it’s understandable why Voldemort couldn’t get to her: she was in Hogwarts with Dumbledore, and he probably protected her as much as he did Harry. We also learn from Dumbledore that she would be in danger if she left Hogwarts:

“Divination is turning out to be much more trouble than I could have foreseen, never having studied the subject myself. I cannot ask Firenze to return to the forest, where he is now an outcast, nor can I ask Sybill Trelawney to leave. Between ourselves, she has no idea of the danger she would be in outside the castle. She does not know – and I think it would be unwise to enlighten her — that she made the prophecy about you and Voldemort, you see.”

But during Deathly Hallows, when Voldemort controls the school (and most of the country), why didn’t he try to contact Trelawney, and to make her tell him what the prophecy was? She casually joins the fight during the last battle, so I think she was still teaching there and hadn’t gone into hiding.

In the beginning of Deathly Hallows, we see that Voldemort has kidnapped the Muggle-Studies Professor, before he’d even installed Snape or the Carrows. Why didn’t he try to reach Trelawney?

  • Dumbledore protected Professor Trelawney. He ensured that she was able to stay at Hogwarts inspite of Dolores Umbridge's attempt to expel her. – Ian Lewis Aug 7 '14 at 13:23
  • "But during Deathly Hallows, when Voldemort controls the school (and most of the country), why didn’t he try to contact Trelawney, and to make her tell him what the prophecy was? " – user13267 Aug 7 '14 at 13:27
  • 1
    By this time Voldemort has the elder Wand which he sees as being the weapon he needs to destroy Harry. He is living out the final part of his (partial) interpretation of the prophecy relayed to him by Snape. Professor Trelawney is no longer a priority. – Ian Lewis Aug 7 '14 at 14:20
  • I think that interpretation is good enough to be an answer – user13267 Aug 7 '14 at 14:36
  • Thank you. I put it down to many hours spent reading and re-reading the series. I'll copy the text into the answer box. – Ian Lewis Aug 7 '14 at 16:36
up vote 12 down vote accepted

The only Fridge Logic reason I could come up with is that there is no magic that can be used on Trelawney to make her remember any prophesy she has made. She is just a medium for the prophesy and cannot remember any part of it, nor of even having made one.

This raises the question then of "how does the department of ministry preserve prophesies?" To which Fridge Logic leads us to the ministry using magic on the witnesses or on the area where a prophesy is given, allowing them to record it.

That leads to this question: If the ministry can record the prophesy through some magic process, then why doesn't Voldemort do the same? I think the ministry's technique scrubs or gathers up all the bits that can be used to recreate/record the prophesy (except for witnesses memories, as demonstrated by Dumbledore using his pensive to show Harry what he remembered of the prophesy), leaving nothing behind.

Maybe one day there will be an official explanation, but until then, I'll have to go with the basic Fridge Logic.

  • 1
    They could be pensieve type memories, retrieved from the people that heard the prophecy initially. Which begs the question, if you prophesize and nobody is around to hear it, is it still valid? – JohnP Sep 10 '14 at 21:27
  • But, he could have read her (subconscious) mind.. – Endgame Aug 31 '17 at 13:11
  • @ChristieRomanowski There's nothing to indicate the prophecy is present even in her subconscience. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 14 '17 at 20:23

I always presumed it was arrogance on the part of Voldemort, according to the wiki

Professor Trelawney, being either half-blood or pure-blood, was permitted to remain teaching at the school. It is unknown why Voldemort did not attempt to capture her. It is possible that since Voldemort had since turned his attention to finding the Elder Wand, he believed that any prophecy concerning him and Harry would be rendered irrelevant upon its retrieval. Link

It's also worth noting how much Dumbledore did in the fight against Voldemort during both wars, it was Dumbledore's plots and agents that slowed the Death Eaters and they fell apart after Dumbledore's death.

In Voldemorts eyes, without Dumbledore, Harry is just a kid, his magical protection broken by the events after the TriWizard Cup.

  • 2
    Wiki is not good. – CandiedMango Jun 6 '14 at 12:02
  • 1
    that just seems like someone's guess on why Voldemort did not go after her – user13267 Jun 6 '14 at 12:03
  • About Harry's magical protection being broken after Triwizard Tournament, the reason why Voldemort started seeking out the prophecy was that Harry was able to escape him even after his protection from Voldemort was broken – user13267 Jun 6 '14 at 12:09
  • @Simon, I know, but I couldn't find anything else, feel free to post your own answer if you can find a better source :). According to the googles, no one "knows", it's not covered in the books. Unless someone comes up with a source or quote from JKR. And yea, he worries about the escape, isn't that why Voldemort goes after the Elder Wand? – CyanAngel Jun 6 '14 at 12:12
  • 1
    Snape knew it was Trelawney who made the prophecy. So Voldemort most probably knew – user13267 Jun 6 '14 at 12:36

By this time Voldemort has the elder Wand which he sees as being the weapon he needs to destroy Harry. He is living out the final part of his (partial) interpretation of the prophecy relayed to him by Snape. Professor Trelawney is no longer a priority

As a supplemental point. Dumbledore protected Professor Trelawney for a long period of time, no doubt quite sure of what would happen to her if she were found by Voldemort and his supporters. He ensured that she was able to stay at Hogwarts inspite of Dolores Umbridge's attempt to expel her.

(I've posted this as an answer at the suggestion of @user13267)

StarPilot’s is an excellent point: it is very likely that no amount of magic could recall the prophecy to Trelawney’s mind, because unlike the case of the memory charms on Bertha Jorkins that Voldemort broke through (breaking Bertha in the process), the prophecy simply is not there in Trelawney’s mind, and never was. Whether Voldemort knows this is a different matter—I don’t believe we can say for certain either way—and it is also possible that memory charms could retrieve the prophecy from Trelawney’s mind.

In addition to that, however, it is in fact quite likely that Voldemort did not know Trelawney made the prophecy. The Dumbledore quote in the question makes it clear that Dumbledore believed Trelawney to be in grave danger, presumably out of an assumption that Voldemort knew who had made the prophecy and would come after them. But he may well have been mistaken.

When Snape overheard the prophecy, he obviously did not know what he was about to hear. His plan was to eavesdrop outside the door and listen in on a job interview Dumbledore had consented to take with a young woman seeking employment. That’s all he knew. There is nothing in the books, at least, that indicates that he knew who the woman was beforehand—and I doubt he cared much (before the prophecy was made, obviously).

As we know, he only heard half the prophecy before he was chucked out by Aberforth. He relayed as much as he’d heard to Voldemort, but since he presumably still didn’t know who the woman was, he could only relay the prophecy, not the identity of its Seer. Since Dumbledore—who doesn’t care for Divination otherwise—hires Trelawney on the spot, we must assume that he does so to protect her, because he realises the danger she may be in. His protection of her at Hogwarts takes place immediately.

Later on, when Snape repents and goes to Dumbledore, he becomes a spy against Voldemort, and he is hired at Hogwarts (as a spy against Dumbledore, as Voldemort believes). It is only at this point, when Snape is inside Hogwarts and with Trelawney already under Dumbledore’s protection, that Snape could possibly have found out, perhaps simply by recognising her voice, that it was she who made the prophecy—if indeed he ever did.

Assuming that he did find out, we do not know when; it may in fact have been after Voldemort’s failed attack on Harry. Even if it were before, though, Voldemort had apparently been happy to accept that Snape did not know who the Seer was, and since Snape was now actually working against Voldemort, there seems to be little reason for him to volunteer the information that he has discovered her identity while at Hogwarts. He could easily simply not bring up the matter again.

Since only four people in the world knew who had made the prophecy (Dumbledore, Harry, Snape, and whoever made the record in the Ministry for Magic and wrote Trelawney’s initials on the little globe thingy), and since none of those people is very likely to give the secret away to anyone, there is really no strong reason to believe that Voldemort ever knew who made the prophecy.

I would conjecture that Dumbledore overestimated Voldemort’s information here, and that Trelawney would in fact have been quite safe even without his protections.

I think it has more to do with, perhaps in the magical community, that it's common knowledge that with true prophecies, the person who "says" it acts more like a vessel than a conscience stream of knowledge.

I liken it to if you had a dream. If someone found out that you dreamed of mermaids almost two decades ago, and then captured you and told you to tell them every detail about it, you probably don't even remember you had the dream. Or if you had it would be hazy and jumbled at best.

In this case it's well known that Trelawney had no idea she said the prophecy. She would have been more than useless to Voldemort and I reckon he knew it. I believe Dumbledore's motive to protecting her (besides him obviously caring about his staff and all that), is because she could, indeed, recite accurate prophecy's.

If there were ever a motive of Voldemort's, it would be to perhaps hear an important new prophecy. But as those are hardly frequent, it would be a long shot at best to assume he would ever get the value of capturing her over the effort it would have taken.

Though if anyone has any better knowledge of prophecies’ in cannon (in terms of how they work), feel free to add on

  • The question then is, if it's well known the person who made the prophecy won't remember it, why was Trelawney in danger in the first place? Dumbledore makes it clear she could be a target by Voldemort, which wouldn't make sense if your answer is true – childcat15 Jul 5 '15 at 23:48
  • @childcat15 Because it is evidence she's a true prohpet, whether she knows it or not. He could probably have coaxed other useful prophecies from her. – Weckar E. Jul 10 '17 at 9:49

My theory is that Lord Voldemort believed that Harry's ability to escape him at the Graveyard at the end of the Goblet of Fire had something to do with the prophecy.Voldemort was primarily concerned with the prophecy because of the power mentioned in it. He initially believed it to be Lily Potter's sacrifice but Harry escaped even after he overcame that power(in his belief).

So actively sought the prophesy during the Order of the Phoenix. But with the destruction of the prophecy orb, he concentrated on other avenues. He got the answer(about Priori Incantatem effect) from Ollivander who was kidnapped in the beginning of the Half-blood prince, that it.

From then on he attributed Harry's success in escaping him to the power of the wand rather than the prophesy. He believed that "The Power He knows not" is the power of Harry's wand.That is, I believe, one of the reasons he actively sought the Elder Wand in the Deathly Hallows. A wand superior to every other wand, something that can overcome "The Power He knows not".

As much as Voldemort sought the Prophecy, it was to the end that it would enable him to gain power. So once he got the alternative answers like going after Trelawney, he was never really looked any further. This fits perfectly with how he went after of the Potter's without knowing the full wording of the prophecy and his belief that there is no good or evil only power.

Via Snape, he knew that it was Professor Trelawney who originally made the prophecy.

...Does he? Trelawney was a nobody at the time, and there's no reason Snape could be expected to recognize her. By the time they're both professors, he's become a double agent.

So the only people who know are the Dumbledore brothers and Snape (Trelawney doesn't remember). All Snape has to do is say it was some lady he never really got a good look at.

Very good question and well spotted.

The only explanation I can come up with is that after Snape repented he did everything in his might to convince Voldemort that the record of the prophesy was the only way to hear it.

"Don't waste your breath!" yelled Harry, his eyes screwed up against the pain in his scar, now more terrible than ever.

Voldemort would have no reason to get so extraordinarily angry if he really did not believe that everything was over. We also know that Dumbledore was constantly on his guard and his disapproval of Voldemort's follies is an indication that he always overestimated Voldemort. Dumbledore knew from Crouch jr. aka fake Moody that Voldemort tortured Bertha Jorkins so bad that he broke through the memory charm. He must have a very bad conscience about it and so had the terrible fear that this will happen again with Trelawney.

But as we know, Voldemort was too arrogant and proud and always, always underestimating his enemies. I am quite sure that Voldemort despised Divination and would never have touched it. So Snape, the most trusted advisor and also known for his vast intellect, would have been able to tell him that the prophecy was lost forever. I also believe that, quite luckily, all of his followers shared Voldemorts disdain for Divination, so noone was able to correct Snape's suggestion.

But it sounds like a plot hole, point taken.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.