Welcome to Withenay’s Wednesday Word: a wandering, wondering dip into the dictionary. The topics are always varied and rarely predictable!
assuming command, haughty, tyrannical, overbearing, domineering, dictatorial
from Latin imperium sovereignty
Imperious is one of those words that I like the sound of, but not the meaning. It is almost onomatopoeic in nature: I feel I need to sit with a straight back and my nose in the air if I am to say it aloud. Whilst the Latin derivation is sovereignty it’s English basis is the word imperial: of or relating to an emperor.
One of the many things I loved about the Harry Potter series of books was J K Rowling’s ability to use Latin as a basis for her spells and incantations. The Imperius curse was one of the three Unforgivable Curses (the other two being Cruciatus and Killing curses). When applied to someone the object became under the complete control of the spellmaker. (Sometimes I wish I could cast this on my children…!)
Of course, the link to imperious, or imperial, or the original Latin ‘sovereignty’ is clear: the person who cast the spell rules over another, as any king or emperor would. The unforgivability of the curse stems from that absolute power: domineering, controlling, the risk of tyranny and dictatorship. In the novels, it was impossible to determine whether people were themselves Death Eaters or whether just under the control of a Death Eater. It became a spell that allowed evil a free reign.
Obviously Harry only uses it for good, unlike Voldemort, but it demonstrates once again that fine line that power brings. As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
PS: Sorry about the lack of posting last week – due events beyond my control. Should be back to normal soon!