"The first recorded Basilisk was bred by Herpo the Foul, a Greek Dark wizard and Parselmouth, who discovered after much experimentation that a chicken egg hatched beneath a toad would produce a gigantic serpent possessed of extraordinarily dangerous powers."
-- Newt Scamander (FB)
Herpo the Foul was an ancient Greek Dark wizard and the first known creator of a Basilisk.
Herpo was a Parselmouth so he could control the great serpent, which lived for 900 years (FB). He was also the first wizard to successfully create a Horcrux (PC/JKR1).
Raising a Basilisk, splitting his soul with murder, Parselmouth
Other canon notes and references
Whether Herpo survived trying to make a Horcrux, or how long he survived because of his Horcrux, is left to the mists of ancient history, but the J.K. Rowling said many wizards had tried to create one and neither succeeded nor survived:
". . . wizards would have been looking for ways to do exactly what Voldemort did for years. And some of the ways they would have tried would’ve killed them. So, I imagine it- well, they’re huge parallels- splitting the atom would be a very good parallel in our world.
. . . I do imagine that other people are going to have tried. I think it would be naive not to think that people have been trying for a long time, and thought they succeeded and hadn’t, or else maimed themselves or killed themselves in the attempt. It’s such a dangerous thing to do." (PC/JKR1)
"herpeton" = Greek for a reptile; from "herpo" = Greek "to creep"
Tags: ancient times evil experiment inventors