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According to the Harry Potter Lexicon, the spell Homenum Revelio “reveals human presence in [a] target area”. It doesn't elaborate. Would Homenum Revelio be used only to find a living person, or could it locate a deceased individual, as well (For example, could it have been used to retrieve Mad-Eye Moody's body following Moody's death in Deathly Hallows?)? We already know Accio doesn't work on people – one cannot summon a person.

Q: Does Homenum Revelio only reveal the living?

Ideally, I'm looking for a canon answer from the following sources: The 10 Harry Potter books, Pottermore, or an interview with J.K. Rowling. Barring a canon answer, a subjective answer in the spirit of canon is totally welcome.

  • how do we know accio doesn't work on people? – user13267 Feb 25 '15 at 10:13
  • "human presence" would to me strongly imply living beings. Dead bodies aren't "human presence", to the best of my (limited ESL) understanding. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 25 '15 at 17:21
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Rowling doesn't seem to have provided any specific information, but considering the context in which it's used and the Latin roots of the word suggest that it only applies to the living. The spell is used three times in the series (by Albus Dumbledore in Sorcerer's Stone and once by Hermione and once by a pair of Death Eaters in The Deathly Hallows) and all times were in searching for a living body. It's never been used to detect ghosts, house elfs, or any other creatures. Wizards at the burrow after Moody's death included at two Aurors (Tonks and Shacklebolt) and a previous Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (Lupin). One would think that these individuals, at least, would have advanced spell usage knowledge. If the Homenum Revelio spell was capable of detecting dead bodies, it stands to reason that one of those individuals would use it for that purpose. The word Homenum also appears to have it's root in the Latin room hominis which tends to only appear in words related to living beings (hominid, human, homunculus). The root corpus specifically applies to "a body," so it seems that would be a more appropriate root to reference were the spell applicable to non-living things.

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