Is Tom Riddle related to Salazar Slytherin? The Truth Behind the Dark Lord’s Lineage

Harry Potter fans are well aware of the infamous rivalry between the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. The latter was known for his disdain for Muggle-borns and his desire to admit only pure-blood students to the school. He also created the Chamber of Secrets, a hidden chamber that housed a basilisk, a deadly serpent that could kill anyone who looked into its eyes. Slytherin’s intention was to have his heir open the chamber and purge the school of those he deemed unworthy of magic.

But who was Slytherin’s heir, and how did he inherit his legacy? The answer is none other than Tom Marvolo Riddle, better known as Lord Voldemort, the most powerful and dangerous Dark Wizard of all time. But how did Riddle become related to Slytherin, and what does it mean for his character and his actions? In this article, we will explore the connection between Tom Riddle and Salazar Slytherin, and how it shaped their lives and destinies.

The Origin of Tom Riddle

Tom Riddle was born on December 31, 1926, to a Muggle father, Tom Riddle Senior, and a witch mother, Merope Gaunt. Merope was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin through the House of Gaunt, a pure-blood family that traced its lineage back to the founder. The Gaunts were also known for their ability to speak Parseltongue, the language of snakes, which was a rare gift among wizards.

Merope fell in love with Tom Riddle Senior, who lived in the nearby village of Little Hangleton. However, he did not return her feelings, and she resorted to using a love potion to bewitch him and elope with him. She became pregnant with their son, but soon decided to stop giving him the potion, hoping that he had truly fallen in love with her. Unfortunately, he abandoned her as soon as he regained his free will, leaving her heartbroken and destitute.

Merope gave birth to her son at Wool’s Orphanage in London, where she named him after his father and her own father, Marvolo Gaunt. She died shortly after giving birth, leaving her son an orphan. Tom Riddle grew up in the orphanage, unaware of his magical heritage or his connection to Salazar Slytherin.

The Discovery of Tom Riddle’s Identity

Tom Riddle discovered his true identity when he was eleven years old, when he received a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, inviting him to attend the school. He was visited by Albus Dumbledore, then a Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts, who explained to him that he was a wizard and that he had inherited some of his mother’s abilities.

Riddle was intrigued by his new world, but also resentful of his father for abandoning him and his mother. He learned that his father was a Muggle, which he despised, and that his mother was a witch, which he admired. He also learned that he was a Parselmouth, which he considered a sign of his greatness.

Riddle was sorted into Slytherin House at Hogwarts, where he excelled in his studies and became popular among his peers. He also became interested in the history of the school and its founders, especially Salazar Slytherin. He learned that Slytherin had left behind a secret chamber that only his heir could open. He became obsessed with finding the chamber and proving himself as Slytherin’s heir.

He eventually succeeded in locating the entrance to the chamber in a girl’s bathroom on the second floor. He opened it using Parseltongue and unleashed the basilisk on the school. Several students were petrified by its gaze, and one girl, Myrtle Warren, was killed. Riddle framed another student, Rubeus Hagrid, for opening the chamber and unleashing a different creature, an acromantula named Aragog. Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts and forbidden from using magic.

Riddle also learned more about his family history from Horace Slughorn , then a Potions teacher at Hogwarts and the head of Slytherin House. Slughorn told him about the House of Gaunt and their relation to Salazar Slytherin. He also told him about the legend of the Deathly Hallows , three powerful magical objects that could make one master of death: the Elder Wand , the Resurrection Stone , and the Cloak of Invisibility . Riddle became fascinated by these objects as well.

The Transformation of Tom Riddle into Lord Voldemort

Tom Riddle graduated from Hogwarts with top marks and became a shop assistant at Borgin and Burkes, a dark magic shop in Knockturn Alley. He used his position to acquire several valuable and dangerous items, such as a locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin and a cup that belonged to Helga Hufflepuff. He also tracked down his Muggle relatives, the Riddles, and killed them with the Killing Curse. He then framed his uncle, Morfin Gaunt, for the murders, and stole his ring, which contained the Resurrection Stone.

Riddle also learned about the most advanced and darkest form of magic: Horcruxes. Horcruxes were objects that contained a piece of one’s soul, which could be split by committing murder. By creating Horcruxes, one could achieve a form of immortality, as long as the Horcruxes remained intact. Riddle decided to create six Horcruxes, using objects that had a connection to Hogwarts or its founders. He used the diary he had kept during his time at Hogwarts, the ring of Marvolo Gaunt, the locket of Salazar Slytherin, the cup of Helga Hufflepuff, a diadem that belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw, and a snake named Nagini. He also unintentionally created a seventh Horcrux when he tried to kill Harry Potter as a baby, but failed and lost his body. A piece of his soul attached itself to Harry’s scar, making him a Horcrux as well.

Riddle also changed his name to Lord Voldemort, which was an anagram of his birth name: Tom Marvolo Riddle. He chose this name to distance himself from his Muggle father and to create a new identity for himself. He also wanted a name that would inspire fear and awe among the wizarding world. He gathered followers who called themselves Death Eaters , and waged a war against anyone who opposed him or his ideals of pure-blood supremacy.

The Fate of Tom Riddle and Salazar Slytherin

Tom Riddle’s connection to Salazar Slytherin was both a source of pride and a source of downfall for him. He believed that he was the rightful heir of Slytherin and that he had inherited his power and vision. He also believed that he had surpassed Slytherin in his achievements and ambitions. However, he also underestimated the power of love, friendship, courage, and loyalty, which were the values that the other founders of Hogwarts cherished and promoted.

Riddle’s Horcruxes were eventually destroyed by Harry Potter and his allies, who learned about them from Dumbledore’s research and clues. Harry also learned that he was a descendant of Ignotus Peverell , the youngest brother in the tale of the three brothers who possessed the Cloak of Invisibility. This made him a distant relative of both Riddle and Slytherin, as they were both descendants of Cadmus Peverell , the middle brother who possessed the Resurrection Stone.

Harry faced Voldemort in a final duel at Hogwarts, where he revealed that he was the true master of the Elder Wand , which Voldemort had stolen from Dumbledore’s tomb. Harry disarmed Voldemort and destroyed his last remaining Horcrux: Nagini. Voldemort’s Killing Curse rebounded on him and killed him once and for all.

Salazar Slytherin’s legacy was also tarnished by his heir’s actions. His name became associated with evil and darkness, and his house became stigmatized as the breeding ground for future Dark Wizards. However, not all Slytherins were bad or followed Voldemort. Some of them fought against him or helped Harry in his quest. Some examples are Severus Snape , who was Dumbledore’s spy and Harry’s protector; Regulus Black , who stole Voldemort’s locket Horcrux and tried to destroy it; Horace Slughorn , who provided Harry with crucial information about Horcruxes; Andromeda Tonks , who married a Muggle-born wizard and supported the Order of the Phoenix; Narcissa Malfoy , who lied to Voldemort about Harry’s death and saved his life; Draco Malfoy , who hesitated to kill Dumbledore and did not identify Harry at Malfoy Manor; Albus Severus Potter , who was sorted into Slytherin but befriended a Muggle-born girl; Scorpius Malfoy , who helped Albus prevent Voldemort’s return in an alternate timeline; and Astoria Greengrass , who married Draco Malfoy and raised their son to respect all people regardless of their blood status.


Tom Riddle was related to Salazar Slytherin through his mother’s side of the family. He inherited some of Slytherin’s traits and abilities, such as Parseltongue and ambition. He also followed Slytherin’s ideology of pure-blood supremacy and sought to open the Chamber of Secrets and unleash the basilisk on Muggle-borns. However, he also went beyond Slytherin’s intentions and created Horcruxes to achieve immortality

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