Banishing the Wild Epithet

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Title: Banishing the Wild Epithet
Creator: Justine
Date(s): August 5, 2004
Medium: online
Topic: Fanfiction
External Links: Banishing the Wild Epithet, Archived version
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Banishing the Wild Epithet is an essay by Justine.

It is part of the Fanfic Symposium series.


Ah, the epithet, thought the Potions Master as he sat down in his chair. The embittered wizard poured himself a Bibblesqueak potion and sipped it thoughtfully, thinking back to the days when Severus Snape had been someone worthy of a good fight. The ex-Death Eater sighed; now that the spy was undercover, there was nothing for the fortysomething professor to do but keep his head down and drink.

Epithets, sighed Harry Potter ruefully. The Boy Who Lived had had it with life. The sixteen-year-old-wizard shook his head and folded the newspaper. The young man never cried, but this was enough to make even a budding Auror blanch. Ron and Hermione's best friend picked up his pen and began a letter; the hero of so many battles had another one to fight.

The epithet had been the cause of Minerva McGonagall's untimely death. The Head of Gryffindor House had seen one too many horrors, and finally the Animagus had breathed her last. Dumbledore's right hand had laid down her life that others might not die from the same tragic error. The gray-haired witch's sacrifice would never be forgotten.

What's an epithet, you ask?

There's only one character in each of those three paragraphs. Every time I referred to Snape, Harry, or McGonagall without using their name, I used an epithet. You can use them anywhere: the grammar bitch, the chunky, spunky slasher; the diehard Harry Potter fiend.

And basically, unless you're in Greece and your name is Homer, epithets are usually a bad idea.