Did the Sword of Gryffindor become a dark artefact when it was imbued with Basilisk venom?

Now I don't have an opinion one way or the other, but if you take the time to consider the following bit of conversation between Rufus Scrimgeour and Hermione, Hermione says something interesting:

‘The Decree for Justifiable Confiscation gives the Ministry the power to confiscate the contents of a will –’

‘That law was created to stop wizards passing on Dark artefacts,’ said Hermione, ‘and the Ministry is supposed to have powerful evidence that the deceased’s possessions are illegal before seizing them! Are you telling me that you thought Dumbledore was trying to pass us something cursed?

Deathly Hallows - pages 104-105 - Bloomsbury - chapter seven, The Will of Albus Dumbledore

Could the Sword of Gryffindor have become a dark artefact once it became impregnated with Basilisk venom? It seems only magic from the dark arts can destroy a Horcrux, the ultimate dark artefact, and the Basilisk is a deadly, dark creature, and its venom undeniably evil. Is it logical to suggest the sword, then, was turned from a mere Founders heirloom to a dark weapon?

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    I seem to remember something about it only takes in that which makes it stronger and if was a dark artefact why would it come when the heroes needed it? – Elliott Frisch Aug 29 '14 at 2:37
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    Can strong not be dark? – Slytherincess Aug 29 '14 at 2:43
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    Well, what about all the Horcruxes it destroyed? They would presumably be darker then a mere Basilisk. Further, why would it come to Neville and help him kill Nagini, thus weakening the dark lord, if it were photonically challenged? – Elliott Frisch Aug 29 '14 at 2:48
  • I'm not suggesting it might be the darkest artefact in the world. I'm asking if becoming imbued with Basilisk venom might or might not have brought some level of darkness to the sword. I'm unclear what you mean by "photonically challenged". As far as I can find, "photonic" has to do with the infrared light spectrum. Would you clarify? – Slytherincess Aug 29 '14 at 2:56
  • I was speaking elliptically about it being a "dark artefact". Photons are light. For example, the sorting hat is also an artefact. Would the sword return to it? I just don't see any evidence that the sword of Gryffindor has been imbued with evil. And I think it could be argued that evil (at the very least) is morally weak. Remember how Lord V ends up at the end of the books. – Elliott Frisch Aug 29 '14 at 3:02

Was Harry a Dark Wizard because he was imbued with Voldemort's soul?

I don't say this just to make a point; the Sword of Gryffindor is basically a metaphor for Harry himself. Like Harry, it is a weapon of Gryffindor that in the course of a conflict with a weapon of Slytherin, becomes imbued with the Slytherin's power. But because it has been imbued with this power, it now has the means to destroy the Heir of Slytherin himself. So for purely literary reasons, I'm already inclined to say that much of the thematic and symbolic significance would be greatly diminished if the sword was a Dark artifact.

I'm inclined to say the sword wasn't a Dark artifact, for the above reason, and a few others:

  • The sword has non-evil uses. We never get a satisfying definition of what makes Dark Magic Dark. But the key distinction seems to be that Dark Magic can only be used for malicious purposes. You can cut cheese and people with Diffindo, for example, but Sectumsempra can only be used to harm people. I imagine what's true for spells might be true for items as well.
  • We're never told basilisks and their venom are Dark, per se. FBaWtFT only says they are bred by Dark wizards who can control them. But they are animals. I don't see why a basilisk would be inherently evil, as opposed to say a dragon or an acromantula. They are dangerous and destructive, but that doesn't translate to "Dark."
  • Dumbledore knew that the sword was imbued with the venom, but kept it lying around his office and used it to destroy the ring. Given Dumbledore's hatred of the Dark Arts and his traumatizing experience with Grindelwald, I can't see him holding onto a Dark artifact all those years, let alone using it himself.
  • Dumbledore tried to pass it along in his will. As you point out, the Ministry looks over wills and examines them to see if there are any Dark Artifacts. If the sword was one, putting it in his will would only ensure the Ministry confiscated it.
  • It still works! Neville can still pull the sword out of Sorting Hat in a moment of great courage and need, and use it to destroy a Horcrux. On the contrary, when Harry is in a dire situation with Slytherin's locket, it turns on him and tries to kill him. I'm also inclined to believe as great a wizard as Gryffindor would ensure that he wasn't passing along Dark artifacts to schoolchildren through his old hat.

(I would also note that immediately before destroying the locket, Harry notes that the locket is twitching violently, as though it knows that the object of its destruction is nearby. It's even likely that it tried to kill Harry in the pond because it realized he was going for the sword. I doubt the locket would react that way to a Dark artifact.)

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    Great points!!! – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 30 '14 at 0:28
  • Overall a great answer! I just wanted to point out that, no, Harry was not made a dark artefact following the Basilisk bite because Fawkes's tears healed Harry of that wound. The sword, conversely, remained imbued with Basilisk venom. It was never "healed". But I love this answer! +1 – Slytherincess Aug 31 '14 at 16:28
  • Also, Harry himself was never made into a dark "artefact" because of the presence of the bit of Voldemort's soul. That bit of soul (as with the other horcruxes) was undeniably evil but it didn't immediately make Harry evil because he was protected by love. But it shows that (perhaps as a human rather than an object) the presence of something "dark" doesn't immediately mean that the whole object becomes evil. Even if we do define basilisk venom to be evil (which I don't think it is), I see no reason to say that it then absolutely forces the sword to be evil too just because it contains it. – niemiro Sep 1 '14 at 11:01
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    @TenthJustice "the Sword of Gryffindor is basically a metaphor for Harry himself" amazing insight! – Steven Magana-Zook Sep 2 '14 at 20:27

It seems only magic from the dark arts can destroy a Horcrux

Not really. We don't really know all the ways to destroy a Horcrux, except for 1 spell (Fiendfyre) and 1 substance (Basilisk venom). Note that the latter isn't even magic, nor "Dark Arts". It's not a curse on an artifact, merely a venom.

Could the Sword of Gryffindor have become a dark artefact once it became impregnated with Basilisk venom?

This is impossible to answer, since JKR never really formally defined what constitutes a dark artefact.

The Sword was already a deadly weapon pre-Basilisk; so unless your target is a Horcrux, post-Basilisk it doesn't seem to be much deadlier.

OTOH, Ministry could likely lawyer things around to claim it was "dark" due to Basilisk venom's dangerousness.

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  • I want to clarify that I wrote "It seems only magic from the dark arts can destroy a Horcrux." That's an important distinction and I hope you will edit it into your quote. :) – Slytherincess Aug 29 '14 at 19:07
  • @Slytherincess - done – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 29 '14 at 20:04

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