Slytherin: Why the Snakes?

So, to finish up the House animal analysis, we have Slytherin. So analysis after the break!
This one is truly a house animal that fits fairly well, and it's hard to think of any viable alternates that define the house as much. For evil and ambition, we could say that wolves, or bats, or weasels or stoats would be something that could be it. However, none of these quite demonstrates the nature of slytherin as the snake. Snakes are venomous, some swallow prey whole, some strangle, but they are something that is debatably essential in it's nature, as the venom can be used as poison or as medicine, depending on how it's used.

They are symbols of temptation, and this goes back to so many stories, that the snake is a something that tempts individuals with knowledge, or in this case, greatness. Putting this into the role of Slytherin, we see the first way that it opens people up to that doubled edge. Knowledge itself can be used for great things, though it can always be used for great evil. Especially as some may pursue darker paths (What is a Horcrux Professor Slughorn) instead of using new-found knowledge to pursue cleaner goals to benefit all around them.

We also have the medical connotation from earlier, in the Rod of Asclepius, a greek symbol for medicine and healing, with the serpent intwined over the staff, meant to heal, and this gives notion to the house's rather excellent affinity with potions, as they reflect the nature of the serpent, a source of venom in poison, and for healing in the rod. There is also the Caduceus, the symbol of Hermes to demonstrate commercial ties (though this is what is often used in medicine as well, especially in the United States).  This demonstrates Slytherin's aims for riches and glory.

As for Salazar himself, and the involvement of the basilisk, it becomes more complex. Slytherin, despite being a house of double edges in ambition, knowledge and progress being for better or for worse, the founder of the house seemed to demonstrate different aspects to this. Being a pure-blood fanatic, he did not wish to train muggles (though, if I would argue for it, I would say that this was out of a belief that the muggle-borns would be a security risk, but it appears it was more prejudice than rational thought). So with a that, what can be said of this "purity" aspect of Slytherin? Interestingly enough, the serpent is the only one of the Hogwarts animals with cold blood. It pushes its blood to a point where it is different from the usual. The snake is also an animal which, compared to the others would be inherently magical in its nature, fangs to be used in potions, skins to be used in potions, heightened senses and stresses that the snake is a far more magical creature than any of its peers

So what do you think of Slytherin being the snakes?


  1. Well, Hermione knows her "Hogwarts, a History," and in Chamber of Secrets she remarks that the emblem of Slytherin House is a snake because it stands as a reference to Slytherin's Parselmouth ability. The subject is also touched upon on Pottermore, in the Chamber of Secrets moment. Jo said that no other founder had draped the school in emblems of his own personal powers, the snakes being a reference to Slytherin's ability as a Parselmouth. So the snake wasn't really chosen because of its supposed association with subtlety and cunning, but because Slytherin was a Parselmouth.
    Of course, if we are talking about why Jo herself chose the snake, that is easily answered: the snake is seen as an evil creature in many traditions, including the Christian one to which Jo has of course said she is close to.
    The stigma is not really wholly deserved (I'd feel much safer in a room with a snake than with a lion) but there you go.
    One interesting fact I recently found out about snakes is that, apparently, the females keep the seed of all the males they have mated with in them and "select" which one they want to be fecundated by, deeming the rest as unworthy. This kind of behaviour is in line with Slytherin's pureblood mania. By a curious coincidence, all the snakes we have met in the books are female. Not just Nagini, but also the Basilisk (according to Fantastic Beasts, male Basilisks have a red plume on top of their head).

    1. Bravo, Bravo, but let's face it the entry would be so much more dull if I just wrote "parselmouth" and hit publish. Though staying on the western half of mythology that's sort of where I was going, the snake is seen by evil in the West especially (thus the dark associations) but as Hap mentions below, there's another side to them. It is a wonderful duality and contradiction.

      As a final note... maybe not all. There is the first snake, the Boa that Harry freed. I always have thought of him as a him. Though I suppose it'd be rude to ask.

  2. In Hindu culture, snakes are prayed and believed to be Gods and Goddesses.


Tell me what you think?