Some content in this article is derived from information featured in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and, as such, spoilers will be present.
|"Well, I think we should put it back in order for them, don't you?"|
Slytherin is one of the four Houses at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, founded by Salazar Slytherin. In establishing the house, Salazar instructed the Sorting Hat to pick students who had a few particular characteristics he most valued. Those characteristics include: cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition.
The founder highly valued and favoured pure-blood students and the Sorting Hat admitted that it can be a factor when being Sorted. Students of any blood status can now be placed in the house. However, a Muggle-Born student is rare.
The emblematic animal of the house is a snake and its colours are green and silver. There were two notable heads of the house, Horace Slughorn took the role twice (first leaving in 1981 and then taking the role again from 1997 until leaving before 2016), and Severus Snape. The patron ghost of the house is the Bloody Baron.
Slytherin corresponds roughly with the element of water due to serpents being commonly associated with the sea and lochs in western European mythology, as well as serpents being physically fluid and flexible animals. The colours also correspond with waters around lakes and lochs often being green, and silver being often associated with grey rain water.
Traits and values
Slytherins tend to be ambitious, shrewd, cunning, strong leaders, and achievement-oriented. They also have highly developed senses of self-preservation. This means that Slytherins tend to hesitate before acting, so as to weigh all possible outcomes before deciding exactly what should be done.
According to Albus Dumbledore, the qualities which Salazar valued in the students he chose included cleverness, resourcefulness, determination, and "a certain disregard for the rules." Dumbledore noted that all of these were qualities possessed by Harry Potter, who was in Gryffindor but almost placed in Slytherin.
Slytherins tend to take charge and possess strong leadership skills. Slytherins are often self-assured and confident of their own competence. Slytherins can be very loyal.
Another characteristic some Slytherins share is a tendency towards deep, unrequited love. Severus Snape and The Bloody Baron held abiding but unreturned feelings for Lily Evans and Helena Ravenclaw, respectively. Although some Slytherins, such as Tom Riddle, were incapable of feeling love at all, those that did were known to cherish their passion abidingly and unconditionally, although often tragically due to an inability to act appropriately on their feelings. Interestingly, Bellatrix Lestrange held feelings for Tom Riddle himself, which was a factor in her fanatical devotion to the Death Eaters; although Lord Voldemort was incapable of loving her in return, the existence of Delphini suggests that there was at least some kind of intimacy between them. Although Merope Riddle likely never attended Hogwarts and therefore wouldn't have been sorted into Slytherin at all, she was a descendant of Slytherin himself and fit the pattern of those sorted into his house, as she held deep and unreturned feelings for Tom Riddle, Snr, who often travelled by her house on his carriage.
- "I always knew Salazar Slytherin was a twisted old loony, but I never knew he started all this pure-blood stuff. I wouldn't be in his house if you paid me. Honestly, if the Sorting Hat had tried to put me in Slytherin, I'd've got the train straight back home..."
- —Ron Weasley expressing his claims about Slytherin's views[src]
The Sorting Hat claims that blood purity was a factor in selecting Slytherins. It is not the main factor but it suggests that the sorting hat takes in account the lineage of the student as well as traits. Muggle-born Slytherins exist, but are very rare, as noted insultingly by Scabior the Snatcher.
There have also been definite examples of half-bloods sorted into the house, including Tom Riddle, Dolores Umbridge, and Severus Snape. Harry Potter was nearly sorted into Slytherin, but because he asked for it, he ended up in Gryffindor instead. Also, pure-bloods are not automatically placed in Slytherin. There have been various examples of pure-bloods sorted into other houses; the Weasley family, Sirius Black, Neville Longbottom, and James Potter were all sorted into Gryffindor house, Ernie Macmillan was sorted into Hufflepuff, and Morag MacDougal and Stephen Cornfoot were both sorted into Ravenclaw.
The concept of blood purity playing a part in picking students for Slytherin house stems from the founder Salazar Slytherin who wanted a stricter policy of admission to the school — one limited strictly to pure-blood students. This was contrary to the wishes of the other founders at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, who wanted to accept students of any blood status.
This created great controversy at Hogwarts and it was the root of a feud between former friends Salazar and Godric Gryffindor. Salazar would later decide to leave the school when an argument started between him and Godric and they either duelled or started a civil war between the two houses. It was the origin of the feud between their two houses who are the two most competitive of the houses.
When Salazar departed Hogwarts, he would leave behind the Chamber of Secrets with the purpose of an heir one day opening the chamber and unleashing a means of purging the school of any muggle-born students. The chamber was opened twice and the monster was killed the second time by Harry Potter in 1993. Salazar’s views at the time could be attributed to the persecution of witches and wizards at the hand of muggles in that century.
It is important to note that not every student in Slytherin agrees with the idea of blood purity, but every member would still be affiliated with their founder’s reputed views a thousand years later. Since the house would nearly always select students who share his view for that house, many members would still give that impression of that house during their time at Hogwarts. For example, in December 1992, the password for the common room was pureblood.
Slytherin and Gryffindor are generally rivals in Quidditch and for the House Cup, which the former had won seven years in a row prior to Harry Potter's arrival at Hogwarts in 1991. It is also rare for Slytherin and Gryffindor students to be friendly with one another, and common for them to share animosity. There are exceptions, such as Slytherin Severus Snape and Gryffindor Lily Evans, who were best friends until Snape's use of the slur "Mudblood" and his aspirations to be a Death Eater which caused Lily to sever their ties.
Their rivalry was particularly the case during the First and Second Wizarding Wars. During the second war, no Slytherin student joined the association known as Dumbledore's Army; however, this is likely the fault of Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Harry Potter who only invited people they trusted. The three shared a deep mistrust of any Slytherins.
The behaviour of Slytherin house at the Battle of Hogwarts is also debated. The majority of their members departed Hogwarts before the battle started and a few joined their families in becoming Death Eaters. However, many of them returned to Hogwarts to fight against the Death Eaters and were led back by their Head of House, Horace Slughorn.
- "There's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin."
- —Wizarding prejudice against Slytherin House[src]
Slytherin has a such well-known reputation for creating dark witches and wizards that many would even say that every dark witch or wizard was actually in Slytherin. While it is true that many were in the house, it is untrue to say every single one of them was, as Peter Pettigrew, betrayer of James and Lily, was in Gryffindor and Quirinus Quirrell was in Ravenclaw.
It appears that reputation has led to an ironic prejudice against the entire house. It is unknown how many dark witches and wizards were from this house before Tom Riddle began recruiting Death Eaters but many of them came from a family that valued blood purity and would prefer like Riddle, to be in the house and recruit from there.
In fairer terms, there were many good witches and wizards in the house who oppose the use of the Dark Arts and discrimination based on blood purity, such as Horace Slughorn and Andromeda Tonks. Andromeda was related to many dark witches and wizards such as her own sister Bellatrix Lestrange and brother-in-law Lucius Malfoy, but she chose to forsake the loyalty to her family in favour of marrying the Muggle-born Ted Tonks. Also, the allegiance of Severus Snape was found to ultimately be towards Albus Dumbledore, serving as a triple agent for the Order of the Phoenix, in stark contrast to Peter Pettigrew, the former Gryffindor who became a double agent for the Death Eaters instead.
It might also be possible (though quite unlikely) that the Sorting Hat simply sorts anyone with ill intentions into Slytherin, regardless of whether they possess cunning and ambition, which helped to unfairly give this house a bad name. Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle were both incredibly stupid and did not have clever or cunning minds, but were still sorted into Slytherin. They could have possessed one of the minor traits as even Peter Pettigrew was not placed into Gryffindor for bravery, but by chivalry instead.
It is also likely that Crabbe and Goyle were simply placed there by process of elimination, since they exhibited virtually none of the qualities valued by any of the other houses (lacking the work ethic or honesty of Hufflepuff, the academic prowess of Ravenclaw, or the bravery of Gryffindor). The sorting hat simply could have took into account what house they wished to be placed in, which with their family history was most likely Slytherin.
The traits of the house are considered obvious examples of people turning toward an ill purpose such as cunning and ambition but they are not inherently negative. Furthermore, traits from the rest of the houses such daring, intelligence, and loyalty can also become easily negative.
Another trait which is could be such a negative is self-preservation. The idea that many of them seem to value their own lives more than the lives of others can make them less thought of and trusted, but that is not always the case. Phineas Nigellus gave that impression when he saw Harry Potter trying to run away, because he was afraid that his presence was putting his friends in danger. He stated that "We Slytherins are brave, yes, but not stupid. For instance, when given the choice, we will always choose to save our own necks".
There are exceptions to this rule, however, such as Snape, who Harry said was a "Slytherin and... probably the bravest man I ever knew", and Regulus Black, who gave his life in an attempt to destroy one of the Horcruxes of Lord Voldemort and told his house-elf Kreacher to save himself and leave.
The truth is that while most Dark wizards are Slytherins, many members of Slytherin House do not have Dark leanings and are even kind and accepting, while smaller groups of Voldemort's supporters are aligned with other Houses. During the Battle of Hogwarts, while all of the Slytherin students left the school before the fighting started, several of them did return with Professor Slughorn as reinforcements to join the fight against Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and some decided to fight as a part of Dumbledore’s Army.
The Slytherin common room is in the dungeons of Hogwarts Castle and underneath the Black Lake. Because of this, the light in the common room is green. Harry Potter along with Ron Weasley entered the common room in his second year to find out if Draco Malfoy was the one opening the Chamber of Secrets. To enter the Slytherin common room one must merely speak aloud the current password in front of a stretch of damp stone wall; once the word is uttered a concealed stone door will slide aside leaving a rectangular hole in the wall leading to the Slytherin common room. The only known Slytherin password is "pureblood", used in 1992.
Head of House
Slytherin's head of house for Harry's first six years of school was Severus Snape; however, as he fled with the Death Eaters in 1997 at the end of Harry's sixth year, Potions master Horace Slughorn became the head of Slytherin House. Upon Snape's return as Headmaster later that year, he apparently approved of Slughorn's appointment, as he did not assign any Death Eaters as a new head of house.
|Slytherin||Period Attending Hogwarts||Notes|
|Bloody Baron||Middle Ages||Hot-tempered lord and squire who remorsefully committed suicide for inadvertently killing the woman he loved in a fit of rage when she refused to come home from Albania with him, leaving his clothes stained with her blood. Later became the house ghost.|
|Merlin||Member of King Arthur's court, advocate of Muggle rights, and arguably the most famous wizard in history.|
|Elizabeth Burke||Unknown||Headmistress of Hogwarts at some point. Now has a portrait at the base of the Grand Staircase between the Entrance Hall archway and First-floor corridor doorway, which was later hung near the Potions Classroom entrance and guarded the Main Dungeons, telling Slytherins to be "Nasty to Mudbloods".|
|Gormlaith Gaunt||1587 - 1594 (possibly)||Eventually became the Dark Witch of Hag's Glen and parental guardian of Isolt Sayre. Killed by William the Pukwudgie in the Duel at Ilvermorny.|
|Phineas N. Black||c. 1858 - 1865||Eventually became Headmaster of Hogwarts from some point during the late 19th century to 1925. Now has a portrait in the Headmaster's office.|
|Black family||Except Sirius Black|
|Horace Slughorn||late 19th century and/or early 20th century||Well-connected player of favourites in his year. Eventually became Head of Slytherin House and Potions Professor of Hogwarts from 1931 to 1981 (a position he took up again from 1996 to 2015), and founder of the Slug Club.|
|Tom Riddle||1938 - 1945||Prefect and Head Boy, Leader of the his gang, Disgraced Winner of the Special Award for Services to the School in his fifth year, member of the Slug Club in his sixth year, and Winner of the Medal for Magical Merit in his seventh year. Eventually became assistant shopkeeper at Borgin and Burkes from 1945 to 1958, but dissapeared journey into the Dark Arts (via seven Horcruxes) as the most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time and leader of the Death Eaters under the alias "Lord Voldemort". Finally defeated by Harry Potter during the Battle of Hogwarts.|
|Lestrange||Members of the Tom Riddle's gang and Slug Club. Eventually became two of the first Death Eaters.|
|Dolores Umbridge||unknown||Unlikeable model in her year. Eventually became Head of the Improper Use of Magic Office at some point, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic from 1990 to 1998, Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor and "High Inquisitor" of Hogwarts during the 1995-1996 school year, Headmistress of Hogwarts from April to June 1996, and Head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission from 1997 to 1998. Imprisoned for her crimes against Muggle-borns.|
|Rodolphus Lestrange||c. 1960s - 1970s||member of a gang inspired by the Dark Arts. Eventually married Bellatrix Black and became a faithful and most loyal Death Eaters.|
|Bellatrix Black||c. 1962 - 1969||Eventually married Rodolphus Lestrange and became a devoted and most loyal Death Eaters. Killed by Molly Weasley during the Battle of Hogwarts.|
|Lucius Malfoy||c. 1965 - 1972||Prefect and member of the Slug Club. Eventually married Narcissa Black and became second-in-command of the Death Eaters from 1973 to 1981, Chairman of the Hogwarts Board of Governors from 1981 to 1993, Chief Briber to the Minister for Magic from 1990 to 1996, and out-of-favor Death Eater from 1995 to 1998.|
|Narcissa Black||c. 1966 - 1973||Eventually married Lucius Malfoy and became an ally of the Death Eaters until she defeced in 1998.|
|Evan Rosier||1960s or 1970s||Members of a gang inspired by the Dark Arts. Eventually became a duo of Death Eaters from 1978 to 1981. Killed by Alastor Moody.|
|Avery||Later became a Death Eater.|
|Severus Snape||1971 - 1978||Became Death Eater, but defected to the Order of the Phoenix; later Potions master and Head of Slytherin, and became Headmaster for one year. Murdered by Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts.|
|Regulus Black||1972 - 1979||Became Death Eater but defected and gave his life in an attempt to destroy one of the Horcruxes.|
|Merula Snyde's mother||unknown||A Dark witch who was inprisoned in Azkaban|
|Merula Snyde's father||unknown||a Dark wizard who was inprisoned in Azkaban|
|Felix Rosier||late 1970s - mid 1980s||a Prefect|
|Merula Snyde||1984 - ?|
|Gemma Farley||1980s and 1990s||A Prefect|
|Marcus Flint||1986 - 1994||Captain and Chaser of the Slytherin Quidditch team and he repeated a year.|
|Lucian Bole||1988 - 1995||Beater for the Slytherin Quidditch team during the 1990s.|
|Cassius Warrington||1989 - 1996||Chaser of the Slytherin Quidditch team from 1993 to 1996; member of the Inquisitorial Squad.|
|Graham Montague||Chaser of the Slytherin Quidditch team during the 1990s|
|Adrian Pucey||1990s||Chaser of the Slytherin Quidditch team until 1993.|
|Flora Carrow||Member of the Slug Club|
|Miles Bletchley||Keeper of the Slytherin Quidditch team from 1991 to 1995.|
|Terence Higgs||Seeker of the Slytherin Quidditch team in the 1980s and 1990s.|
|Urquhart||Captain and Chaser of the Slytherin Quidditch team during the 1996–1997 school year.|
|Vaisey||Chaser of the Slytherin Quidditch team in 1996.|
|Draco Malfoy||1991 - 1998||Prefect, Seeker for the Slytherin Quidditch team, member of the Inquisitorial Squad and later blackmailed by Lord Voldemort to become a Death Eater (defected). Eventually married Astoria Greengrass.|
|Vincent Crabbe||Beater of the Slytherin Quidditch team from 1995 to 1997; member of the Inquisitorial Squad; became a Dark Wizard in his seventh year. Killed by his own Fiendfyre during the Battle of Hogwarts.|
|Gregory Goyle||Beater of the Slytherin Quidditch team from 1995 to 1997; member of the Inquisitorial Squad; became a Dark Wizard in his seventh year.|
|Millicent Bulstrode||Member of the Inquisitorial Squad|
|Pansy Parkinson||Prefect and member of the Inquisitorial Squad.|
|Blaise Zabini||Member of the Slug Club.|
|Daphne Greengrass||Sister of Astoria Greengrass.|
|Theodore Nott||Was supposed to be a member of the Slug Club.|
|Bridget||1992 - 1993||Duelling Club member|
|Harper||1992 - 1999||Reserve Seeker of the Slytherin Quidditch team in 1996.|
|Graham Pritchard||1994 - 2001|
|Mafalda||A cousin of the Gryffindor Weasley family sibklings.|
|Albus Potter||2017 - 2024||The second son and child of the famous Harry Potter. The only member of his family to be sorted into Slytherin House.|
|Scorpius Malfoy||The only child and son of Draco and Astoria Malfoy.|
In many translations they have changed the name:
|Finnish||Luihuinen (taken from the adjective 'luihu' which means 'deceptive' or 'sneaky')|
|Dutch||Zwadderich (taken form the old dutch noun ''zwadder'' which means snake poison)|
|Portuguese (Brazil)||Sonserina (taken from "Sonso" a term to someone who pretends to be innocent or harmless)|
|Czech||Zmijozel (taken from "Zmije" = viper snake)|
|Hungarian||Mardekár (mar = bite (like snake), de kár = but it's a pity)|
|Russian||Слизерин [Slizerin](Sleezerin - Слизь means slime), Слайзерин [Sluytherin], Пресмыкайс [Presmykais] (Пресмыкаться means to slither)|
|Italian||Serpeverde ("Green Serpent")|
|Albanian||Gjarpërblertit (Green snake)|
|Hindi||Nagshakti नगशक्ति (Sanskrit naga-shakti = "snake-power")|
|Macedonian||Змијолик (Zmijolik, which means "Snakeface")|
|Traditional Chinese||史萊哲林 (Shi-lai-zhe-lin)|
|Simplied Chinese||斯莱特林 (Si-lai-te-lin）|
|Lithuanian||Klastūnynas (taken from the noun 'klasta' meaning 'guile' or 'ruse'. Also could be translated as 'viper' or 'scoundrel'.)|
|The same name is used for the Arabic, Croatian, German, Hebrew, Swedish, Spanish, Danish, Turkish, Icelandic, Irish, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal), and Indonesia languages.||Slytherin|
Behind the scenes
- The fact that J. K. Rowling intended to place a character named Mafalda, a half-blood who was the daughter of a Squib and a Muggle, in Slytherin, suggests that Rowling at least does not view the Slytherin House desire for blood-purity as particularly influential upon the Sorting Hat. Also as Voldemort and Snape are both half-bloods there seems no reason to suspect a racially pure Slytherin.
- Slytherin students might possess a certain skill in Potions. Harry's two Potions masters, Severus Snape and Horace Slughorn, both belonged to the Slytherin house. However, it is possible that this talent in Slytherin students could merely be a coincidence, as students from other houses at Hogwarts also shared this talent, such as Harry Potter's mother, Lily Potter (nee Evans) (whose skills were shown through Slughorn's many references to her skill in the subject throughout most of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Hermione Granger who were both Gryffindors.
- Slytherin students also seem to be gifted in Occlumency. Most of the known Occlumens in the books come from Slytherin (namely Voldemort, Severus Snape, Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco Malfoy, and Horace Slughorn).
- Elizabeth Burke was most likely a Slytherin.
- J. K. Rowling stated in a PotterCast interview that some Slytherins were among the reinforcements brought by Slughorn during the Battle of Hogwarts.
- J. K. Rowling stated that by 2017, Slytherin is no longer the pure-blood bastion that it once was. However, its dark reputation still lingers, hence Albus Potter's fears.
- It is interesting to note that Slytherin is both the first Hogwarts house mentioned in the series (by Draco Malfoy), as well as the last mentioned in the series (by Albus Potter).
- In early drafts of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, members of the Slytherin house were known as "Slytherites".
- Slytherin House was the winner of the first, third and seventh house cup on Pottermore.
- The Sorting Hat considered placing Gilderoy Lockhart in Slytherin. It finally chose Ravenclaw.
- In the Game Boy Advance Game Mother 3, there is an enemy called Slitherhen. The name is a reference to Slytherin.
- Peter Pettigrew was a Hatstall and considered for Sorting into Slytherin, but, in the end, was Sorted into Gryffindor.
- Scarlett Byrne, the actress who portrayed Pansy Parkinson in the films, was sorted into Slytherin on Pottermore.
Pottermore House Cup
- Slytherin won the first house cup with 72,734,274 house points.
- Slytherin came second for the second house cup with 48,495,275 points.
- Slytherin won the third house cup with 26,990,924 points.
- Slytherin came second for the fourth house cup with 24,865,387.
- Slytherin came second for the fifth house cup with 27,795,479 points.
- Slytherin came fourth for the sixth house cup with 31,926,625 points.
- Slytherin won the seventh house cup with 52,652,850 points.
- Slytherin came second for the eighth house cup with 26,564,159 points.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Wonderbook: Book of Spells
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
- Salazar Slytherin
- Salazar Slytherin's Locket
- Slytherin Quidditch team
Notes and references
- ↑ Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Colours" at Pottermore
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Pottermore
- ↑ Interview with J.K. Rowling on Pottercast
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Pottermore Introductions to Hogwarts Houses#Slytherin (Archived) from Pottermore
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Leaky Surprise
- ↑ The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling
- ↑ Interview with J.K. Rowling on Pottercast
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 23 (Malfoy Manor)
- ↑ F.A.Q. question (Internet archive) from J. K. Rowling's Official Site
- ↑ Black family tree
- ↑ F.A.Q. at J. K. Rowling's Official Site
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Flora and Hestia Carrow have only appeared in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Extra Stuff: Mafalda at J. K. Rowling's Official Site
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- ↑ http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2007/7/30/j-k-rowling-web-chat-transcript
- ↑ 
- ↑ Congratulations Slytherin on Winning...
- ↑ Pottermore biography of Gilderoy Lockhart. audio clip by J. K. Rowling
- ↑ Let's Test MOTHER 3 #15 - The Magyspy Scene That Isn't What You Think But Whatever
- ↑ Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Hatstall" at Pottermore
- ↑ https://www.pottermore.com/news/watch-the-new-trailer-for-new-mobile-game-harry-potter-hogwarts-mystery