Over his lifetime, Herpo invented many vile curses, although he is best known as the first wizard to hatch a basilisk. He by extension spoke Parseltongue, giving him the ability to communicate with and control his basilisk. He was also the first wizard known to successfully create a Horcrux. Accordingly, he must have committed murder in order to split his soul, though it is unknown whom he killed. He must have had great understanding on the nature of the soul, and the effect of murder upon his soul, and was depraved and evil enough to damage it so irreparably.
Magical abilities and skills
- Dark Arts: Herpo was known as one of the most powerful and influential Dark Arts practitioners in history, having immersed himself into Dark Magic of the most advanced and dangerous kind. Herpo is the first wizard to have ever successfully created a Horcrux and is possibly the wizard who invented the process by which to do this. The creation would have left his soul unstable, and rendered him less than human.
- Spell creation: Invented many vile curses, which earned him his well-deserved malevolent reputation.
- Parseltongue: One of the earliest known Parselmouths, an uncommon gift to speak with snakes, which has been often connected to the Dark Arts.
- Basilisk breeding: First wizard to have discovered that hatching a chicken egg under a toad will create the King of Serpents. He managed to control it with Parseltongue, thus initiating one of the few cases of a wizard "domesticating" a XXXXX-classified creature (known wizard-killer that cannot be tamed).
- In Ancient Greek, ἑρπετόν (pronounced "herpeton") means "creeping animal". In modern times, herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles. Basilisks are snakes, and thus reptiles, and Parseltongue is the language of snakes.
- In Ancient Greek, Herpo's name would be "Ἕρπων ὁ δεινός" (pronounced "Herpōn ho deinos"). This comes from the active participle of the verb ἕρπω, which is cognate with Latin serpo, the active participle of which is serpens - the root of English "serpent."
Behind the scenes
- It is unknown when or under what circumstances Herpo the Foul died or his Horcrux was destroyed, assuming that these things did happen. If his Horcrux was never destroyed it is possible he is still alive, possibly as a wandering spirit (in a state that Horace Slughorn described as being worse than death).
- If Herpo did indeed die, it is unknown whether his soul had shared a fate similar to that of Tom Riddle after the latter's death in 1998, assuming he never repented to repair his damaged soul.
- Herpo the Foul's depiction on his Chocolate Frog Card is somewhat snakelike, though not as much as Lord Voldemort's. This could be reference to Voldemort's decaying appearance in his later life, as he became progressively less human with the more murders he committed. As Herpo does not look as snakelike as Voldemort, he likely only made one Horcrux, as it has been stated that Riddle is the only known wizard to have made multiple Horcruxes.
- Ironically, he bred a creature whose venom could destroy his Horcrux.
- Herpo the Foul might have been a distant ancestor of Salazar Slytherin, as Herpo was the earliest known Parselmouth, Slytherin was a Parselmouth himself, and the gift of Parseltongue is likely hereditary, as seen in the Gaunt descendants. Though it is unlikely that the Slytherin family was the only Parselmouth family in existence.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Appears on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (Appears on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (Appears on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them