Ah, Slytherin. While many, many Harry Potter fans proudly rock Gryffindor gear, and others align themselves with Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw given their personalities and values, Slytherin is a bit of a tougher House to get behind. That’s simply because of how it’s presented throughout the series– while there are several Slytherins who do noteworthy things, and the house values some admirable qualities, overall, Slytherin is portrayed as being a place where evil thrives. So, many feel a bit hesitant to disclose the fact that they feel a kinship for the snake-loving House, that they, unlike Harry Potter, wouldn’t argue if they were sorted into Slytherin– they’d be happy about it. Simply put, Slytherin gets a bad rap, and suffers from a case of people judging a book by its cover– or by it’s most famous alumnus.
Since Tom Riddle was a member of Slytherin House, and later became Lord Voldemort, many think that Slytherin is a place that only dark witches or wizards would thrive– but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, there’s a lot more to the green and silver-clad House than first meets the eye. Slytherin has a fascinating history, and many interesting things that you wouldn’t necessarily realize until you thought about it a little more. They’re talented, they have a storied history, they’re involved in the school in unique ways, and, well, they’re great songwriters– as awful as it was for Ron, “Weasley Is Our King” sounded like quite the tune!
Get out your green and silver scarves and your best Draco Malfoy snarl, because here are 15 things you may not know about Slytherin.
15. Not All Slytherins Are Pureblood
Slytherin has gotten a bit of a bad reputation for being a little insane about blood purity, partially because some of the most notable alumni– including several notorious death eaters– have been very outspoken about their disdain for muggles and half-blooded individuals. However, it’s worth noting that not all Slytherins are purebloods. While muggle-born Slytherins are fairly rare, there have been several half-blood Slytherins, including Dolores Umbridge, Severus Snape, and Tom Riddle himself. And, of course, while many Slytherins are indeed pureblood, that’s not the only requirement for getting into the house– there are many purebloods who were sorted into Hogwarts’ other houses, including Sirius Black, whose entire family up until that point had been Slytherins. It would seem that being sorted into Slytherin has a lot to do with how closely your values and personality traits align with what the house prizes (the best example being that Harry Potter himself was almost sorted into Slytherin, and managed to get re-sorted only because he asserted that he really, really didn’t want to be a Slytherin).
14. Their House Gem Is The Emerald
Everyone knows that Slytherin’s colours are green and silver, but did you know that their house gem is the emerald? The house gems are most notoriously spotted in the giant tracking system used for determining who wins the House Cup every year, flowing either in or out of the Slytherin cup just as rubies flow in or out of the Gryffindor Cup. Given some Slytherins’ elitism and obsession with purity, frankly, we’re a little bit surprised that Slytherin’s house gem isn’t the crystal clear and razor sharp diamond– it seems a bit more appropriate, if you’re thinking about which gems align with the house’s values. However, there’s no denying that emeralds are absolutely beautiful, and we have a feeling that plenty of noble Slytherin alumni have all kinds of emerald encrusted accessories that pay tribute to their house– plus, once they’ve finally graduated and emerged from the dungeon that is the Slytherin common room, they probably appreciate the lovely green tones even more.
13. Their Common Room Is Under A Lake
Most people know that the Slytherin common room is in the dungeons of Hogwarts Castle– it seems a fitting location, just spooky enough to satisfy the many dark wizards that have passed through it. However, the dungeons aren’t just below ground– they’re actually located underneath the Black Lake! Yes, you read that correctly. While members of other houses have views of the gorgeous Hogwarts grounds, Slytherins have managed to secure a thrilling view of the lake’s depths. In fact, it’s been said that often the Giant Squid and other water-loving creatures pass by the common room windows. That would certainly wake you up if you’re dozing off while studying those Potions formulas! Given the location underground and underwater, Slytherin doesn’t get any sunlight like the other house common rooms do– instead, the space is lit with green and silver lights, which we can only imagine totally adds to the spooky ambiance that Slytherins love.
12. They’re Aligned With The Element Of Water
This likely comes as no surprise once you know where their common room is located, but when it comes to the elements, Slytherin is aligned with the element of water. Some suggest that it’s due to the flowing, slippery nature of the substance– not unlike the flowing, slippery nature of snakes. Others suggest it’s because of water-loving serpentine creatures such as the Loch Ness. Their connection to water is also explained by the fact that water and rain are often portrayed as silvery, and the area around lakes in the UK is often lush and green, so the element ties in to Slytherin’s house colours quite well. They were certainly no slouches at Quidditch, but given that their house has ties to water, we can’t help but wonder how a Slytherin swim team would fare. After all, if it was time to practice in the Great Lake, they wouldn’t have very far to go.
11. In Several Translations Of The Books, The House Name Has Been Changed
When you’re translating something as complex as Harry Potter, with its many magical names and creatures, it’s likely incredibly difficult to decide which of Rowling’s made-up words you should keep and which you should translate so that the new readers better understand it. In many translations, such as the German, Hebrew, Turkish, Polish and Swedish, the name Slytherin is used– no changes. In other languages, however, it’s a little bit different. In Dutch versions, for example, Slytherin is called “Zwadderich,” a word taken from an old dutch noun meaning snake poison– fitting, no? In Finnish versions, Slytherin is called “Luihuinen,” a word that is crafted from the adjective “luihu” which translates to deceptive or sneaky. We get it. Given how creative Rowling is with language, it only makes sense that the translator might want to convey the House names’ feel in the same way that the English version does. After all, though it’s not a real word we were familiar with, Slytherin definitely conveys the image of snakes, slithering, and sneakiness.
10. Merlin Was A Slytherin
When you’re discussing wizards, many will have certain characters who come to mind immediately – some think of the venerable Albus Dumbledore right away, others might think of teachers such as Minerva McGonagall or Severus Snape, while others yet may think of some of the younger characters, such as Neville Longbottom or Draco Malfoy. However, even to someone who isn’t familiar with the Harry Potter books, the name Merlin likely strikes a chord– he’s pretty much the most known wizard in the entire fictional world. You may be surprised to know that Merlin himself was a member of Slytherin house during his time at Hogwarts. Allegedly, the ribbon granted for winning the First Class Order of Merlin is green precisely as a nod to the colours of his former house. Who would have ever guessed? Although, when one of your most famous alumni is Voldemort, we suppose that might overshadow even the biggest names in the wizarding world.
9. Many Have A Gift In Occlumency
Everyone knows about the link that Slytherin has to the trait of being a Parseltongue. After all, who could forget the iconic moments when Harry is speaking to the Basilisk without knowing he isn’t speaking English? Or the fact that Lord Voldemort himself is a Parseltongue? However, that’s not the only trait that Slytherins are associated with. It turns out, there are many Slytherins who are incredibly gifted in Occlumency. Obviously, the most notable example is Severus Snape, as he’s the one Dumbledore tasks to teach Harry Potter Occlumency when the need arises. However, other famous Slytherins, including Voldemort himself, Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco Malfoy and Horace Slughorn are all gifted Occlumens as well. Perhaps it’s their snake-like cunning, perhaps it’s their ambition to get the information they need in whatever way possible, it’s still an admirable accomplishment– as Harry finds out when he tries to learn the craft, Occlumency isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
8. The Bloody Baron Is Their House Ghost
Hogwarts’ many ghosts all have unique personalities– who could ever forget the mischievous Peeves, always wreaking havoc on the poor students, or Moaning Myrtle, forever crying in that bathroom? However, of all Hogwarts’ ghosts, the Bloody Baron is one of the most memorable– and he’s also Slytherin’s house ghost. First of all, he’s the only ghost that Peeves is frightened of, which is proven when Harry Potter manages to scare Peeves away while wearing his invisibility cloak by pretending to be the Baron. His appearance is fairly frightening– he’s described as having a very gaunt face, and robes that are stained with silvery blood. At the end of the day, though, he’s not such a bad guy. After all, he even shows his support for a fellow ghost by attending Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party. He may not be as chatty as Peeves or Myrtle, but the Bloody Baron is a pretty great Hogwarts ghost.
7. No Outsider Had Entered The Slytherin Common Room In Over Seven Centuries
At the time when Harry Potter and his crew were attending Hogwarts, no one outside of Slytherin house had entered the Slytherin common room in over seven centuries. Now, everyone knows that the common rooms are supposedly off limit to everyone who isn’t a member of that particular house– there’s a reason that they’re password protected. However, there’s no denying that while other houses may have admitted a clever member of a different house, or a stranger (in the case of Sirius Black’s sneaking into Gryffindor before Harry knew who exactly he was), Slytherin’s ability to keep outsiders out is admirable. And we know what you’re thinking— Harry and Ron managed to get in! Well, yes, but they got in after disguising themselves as Crabbe and Goyle through the complex and sophisticated Polyjuice Potion, so that situation doesn’t really count, as they essentially became Slytherins (albeit temporarily) for those few minutes of admittance.
6. Before Harry Came, They Won The House Cup Six Years In A Row
As all Harry Potter fans know, the House Cup is a big deal at Hogwarts– it’s a yearly award given at the end of the school year to the House that has earned the most points throughout the year for merit inside and outside class– and for not losing too many points due to mischief. Once Harry Potter arrived at Hogwarts, many of the House Cups were won by Gryffindor because, well, Potter and his friends had to grapple with things like defeating Voldemort, so they understandably won a fair share of points. However, before Potter entered his first year at Hogwarts, Slytherin had actually won the House Cup for six years in a row (from 1985 to 1991). Now, since we don’t know as much about those years at Hogwarts, it’s possible that they earned all those points by sucking up to figures like Snape and simply pretending to do good deeds, but hey, even if it’s won through cunning, winning the Cup that many years in a row is an impressive feat.
5. Salazar Slytherin May Have Been A Teeny Bit Misunderstood
Okay, okay, hear us out. Many individuals have nothing but bad things to say about Salazar Slytherin, given that his rift with the other founders stems from the fact that he only wanted pureblood witches and wizards to enter the doors of Hogwarts. However, if you consider the situation as it’s laid out in the story, and the context of when the houses were supposedly founded, his reasoning becomes a little bit more understandable. Hogwarts came into being at a time when witches and wizards were being persecuted by muggles who didn’t understand what their powers were. So, Slytherin feared letting muggles into the halls of Hogwarts for fear that the witches and wizards would be in danger– in fact, while the Chamber of Secrets’ Basilisk was portrayed as being trapped so that Slytherin could potentially eliminate non-purebloods from Hogwarts if he wanted, others have suggested he may have crafted the Chamber to ensure students had a safe place to hide if something happened. Sure, he did many questionable things, but there’s a possibility that he was looking to protect Hogwarts’ students.
4. The Rivalry Between Slytherin And Gryffindor Started With The Founders
Everyone knows that throughout most of the books, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy were huge rivals, and Gryffindor and Slytherin more generally were seen as rivals. However, that particular feud didn’t start because of Potter and Malfoy– it started way, way back when Hogwarts was first founded. You see, because of their different views on blood purity, Salazar Slytherin and Godric Gryffindor got into quite a spat. Given that both houses contain students who are incredibly brave and ambitious, well, it may just be that they’re too similar in many ways to truly get along like other houses can. Regardless, it’s sort of crazy to think that the big rivalry was in place almost from the school’s founding. I mean, it’s no wonder that the Gryffindors and Slytherins hated one another– that’s a lot of history to overcome! Many of the students likely heard tales about the awful Slytherins/Gryffindors from their parents, and grandparents, and they strut into Hogwarts with that mentality already in place.
3. Albus Severus Potter Was Sorted Into Slytherin
Okay, for those who haven’t yet read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we do apologize for the spoiler– although, to be fair, it was kind of hinted at in Albus’ question at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While Harry Potter and all his closest friends were sorted into Gryffindor, and Harry’s own parents were in Gryffindor, when the sorting hat came to rest on young Albus’ head, it sent him to Slytherin– although Gryffindor was certainly the expected house. While any witch or wizard who gets sorted into a different house than the rest of their family might feel a bit strange at first, like something is wrong with them, Albus just needs to look to his middle name for reassurance. His namesake, Severus Snape, was also sorted into Slytherin, and as Harry told Albus, he was one of the bravest men he knew. See? Slytherins aren’t all bad.
2. It Has Many Powerful Alumni
Slytherin’s most notorious alumnus is, of course, Tom Riddle (who later became he who must not be named, Lord Voldemort). However, the house has tons of other notable alumni, powerful wizards who once studied their Potions homework in the common room. There are many who went on to become notorious Death Eaters, including Bellatrix Lestrange, Narcissa Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, Evan Rosier and more. There were also several members of the Black family, including former headmaster Phineas Nigellus Black, Sirius’ brother Regulus, and Andromeda Tonks, who was disowned from the Black family for marrying a muggle. Other Slytherins include Horace Slughorn. Though many alumni ended up using their powers for evil rather than for good, it’s obvious that many of the house’s desired qualities lead to the students within achieving greatness. Imagine if some of the Slytherins who became Death Eaters ended up using their cunning and ambition for good rather than evil– the wizarding world may have been completely changed!
1. They Have Many Positive Traits
You know the saying that a few bad apples spoil the bunch? Well, that kind of seems to be the case with Slytherin. While there are several great individuals who attended Hogwarts wearing green and silver, the fact is that, when your house alumni includes figures like Voldemort and his Death Eaters, it can be easy to view many of Slytherin’s desired traits negatively. However, as the sorting hat proves when it initially wants to sort Harry Potter himself into Slytherin, there are some admirable qualities that are sought after in that particular house. Slytherin are meant to be cunning and shrewd, yes, but that’s partially because they’re hugely ambitious, they’re leaders, they seek achievements and are striving for greatness. Yes, sometimes these traits can lead someone to be very, very successful achieving things that would lead many to shudder, but there’s no doubt that there have likely been many former Slytherins who went on to be total bosses.
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