Slytherin

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The Slytherin blazon.

Slytherin is one of the four Hogwarts houses. It is named after Salazar Slytherin, one of the four school founders. Slytherins are said to be cunning, ambitious, resourceful, determined, and rather unscrupulous in the means they choose to achieve their goals. As Salazar was a firm believer in pure-blood supremacy, students from pure-blood families are generally favoured for this house (PS7, CS9, CS18, GF12, OP11). The Slytherin colours are silver and green, and its mascot is the serpent (PS17). Its corresponding element is water (IME). The Bloody Baron is the Slytherin ghost (PS7).

The Slytherin common room is located in the dungeons under the lake, concealed behind a bare stone wall. A secret door slides open at the correct password, leading to a long, low room lit by by greenish lamps hanging on chains. The walls and ceiling are made of rough stone. On the other side of the room, there is an elaborately carved mantelpiece with a fire, surrounded by high-backed chairs. The room is decorated with skulls and has a spooky beauty (CS12, DH23, IME).

Potions teacher Horace Slughorn is the Slytherin Head of House for several decades, including the school years of Tom Marvolo Riddle (1940s) and Lily Evans and the Marauders (1970s) (HBP4). Headmaster Albus Dumbledore later appoints Severus Snape as Head of House, who keeps the post for several years until he kills Dumbledore in June 1997 (PS8, HBP27). After Snape's escape, Slughorn resumes his old post. He continues as Head of House when Snape is made Headmaster after Voldemort takes over the Ministry of Magic (DH11, DH30).

Slytherin is often said to create Dark wizards—Voldemort is a Slytherin, as are most of his followers and their children (PS5, CS5, GF27). Rubeus Hagrid goes as far as to say that there are no misguided wizards that haven't been in Slytherin; an obvious overstatement that shows how deep-rooted the prejudice against Slytherin is (PS5). In truth, although there are more students connected to Death Eaters than in other houses, they still make a minority of the Slytherin population (IME). Nevertheless, Slytherins often face mistrust from wizards from other houses, and children are often afraid of being Sorted there (PS5, PS6, CS9, DH33, DHE). In turn, many Slytherins look down on Muggle-borns, Half-bloods and "blood traitors" (CS7).

However, Slytherin is also a highly successful house. Together with Gryffindor, it is one of the main contenders for the Quidditch Cup and the House Cup, which it wins six times in a row from 1985 to 1991 (PS7, PS9, PA15, OP11). Many of the established pure-blood families who believe in the superiority of their blood, such as the Blacks and the Malfoys, are proud to have been in Slytherin for generations (PS5, OP22, DH10, DH33). Slytherin therefore provides connections to some of the most powerful and wealthy families in the wizarding world. The Sorting Hat himself admits that being in Slytherin can help those who aspire to greatness (PS7). Long-time Head of House Horace Slughorn has built an impressive network of influential students and alumni, the so-called Slug Club. While membership is not restricted to Slytherins, many members come from Slughorn's house (HBP7).

There exists a feud between Gryffindor and Slytherin that dates back to the Founder Era—formerly best friends, Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin fell apart over the question of pure-blood supremacy (CS9, OP11). To this day, students of Gryffindor and Slytherin share a profound dislike of each other (CS7, PA15, GF18, OP19, HBP7). The two other houses, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, usually support Gryffindor against Slytherin (PS15, PS17, CS10, PA15, HBP14). In their fight against the other houses and for house points and the Quidditch Cup, Slytherins are not afraid to use sabotage, deceit and brutality (PS9, PA13, PA15, GF37, OP19).

Whereas most of the students from other houses side against Voldemort and his followers in the Second War, Slytherin's stand is more ambiguous. Some of the students openly defy Dumbledore and support the Dark Lord (GF37, OP38). There are no Slytherins in Dumbledore's Army, whereas the Inquisitorial Squad, a unit created by Dolores Umbridge to eliminate rumours of Voldemort's return and other violations of official Ministry doctrines, apparently consists exclusively of Slytherins (OP28, OP32). Before the Battle of Hogwarts, Minerva McGonagall warns Slughorn that his Slytherins can leave the castle if they want to, but that sabotage will receive deadly punishment (DH30). When Slytherin Pansy Parkinson suggests that the school hands over Harry Potter to Voldemort, she and her house mates are confronted by all other houses. All the Slytherins leave the castle before the battle, and several join Voldemort (DH31, DH32). However, the others return to the battle to fight Voldemort with reinforcements (DH36).

Even after Voldemort's final defeat, Slytherin retains its bad reputation, though its principles have become somewhat diluted; it no longer favours pure-bloods (BLC).

Notable Slytherins

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