Promoted from our Community Blogs!
[Dtoid community blogger Last Scion of the blah blah blah shares an awesome analysis of Dark Souls from a mythological perspective. Want to see your own blog appear on our front page? Go write something! –Mr Andy Dixon]
In the Age of Ancients, the world was unformed, shrouded by fog.
A land of grey crags, archtrees, and everlasting dragons.
But then there was Fire.
And with Fire, came Disparity.
Heat and cold, life and death, and of course…
Light and Dark.
Then from the Dark, They came, and found the Souls of Lords within the flame.
Nito, the first of the dead,
the Witch of Izalith, and her Daughters of Chaos,
Gwyn, the Lord of Sunlight, and his faithful knights,
and the furtive pygmy, so easily forgotten.
With the Strength of Lords, they challenged the dragons.
Gwyn’s mighty bolts peeled apart their stone scales.
The witches weaved great firestorms.
Nito unleashed a miasma of death and disease.
And Seath the Scaleless betrayed his own, and the dragons were no more.
Thus began the Age of Fire.
But soon, the flames will fade, and only Dark will remain.
Even now, there are only embers, and man sees not light, but only endless nights.
And amongst the living are seen, carriers of the accursed Darksign.
Thus begins Dark Souls, a game that I, for lack of a better term, absolutely f*cking love. I could go on and on about it. However, there is something else that I love. Mythology. This is a thing that Dark Souls is rife with, and which I (amongst others) have attempted to clarify. You see, nothing is very clear in Dark Souls. There are some things that are unlikely to ever be explained.
This is a reflection of Hidetaki Miyazaki, the director of Dark Souls, and his experience with Western fantasy books. A fan of fantasy and mythology, he was unable to fully understand what he was reading, leaving holes for him to fill in with his imagination, which is what we are often required to do. Now, in creating an entirely new world, it is understandable that one would draw from existing sources, so I’ve compiled some of the characters and other things that I believe have a strong connection to existing legends.
This popped up when I googled “mythology” –Andy
As I’ve said, I love this stuff, but I am by no means an expert, nor do I want to bore you by listing every single possibility of a mythological something, since there are often multiple explanations and interpretations of a single god or event, and that would just be ridiculous. I do go on a bit in certain places, regardless of what I just said right there. Anyway, I’ll be presenting the (oftentimes limited) information about the subjects I’m writing about, and follow it up with some conjecture and possible real world origins (generally).
Without much further adieu, I present my list. It’s divided into two sections: gods and other related subjects, and miscellanea that I felt didn’t fit in with the first section.
It should go without saying that this is chock-full of spoilers.
Anor Londo is the city of the Gods, their Olympus, you might say, which is especially fitting what with being on a mountaintop. Anor Londo is a magnificently shining city, basking in the light of an eternal setting sun. It is clearly beyond the work of human hands, being far too symmetrical and advanced (Archimedes screw elevators, anyone?). Far too… Perfect.
It has also been nearly abandoned for some time, and is in no way showing any sign of decay. The only guards left are a handful of knights, a few animate suits of armor and a small smattering of demons. Within the palace where Gwynevere lives, there are rooms with four poster beds and paintings of people wearing fine clothes. Perhaps these mysterious figures are depictions of the Gods in better times? The Tuatha de Danaan, a group of Celtic gods, gained their knowledge in four “marvelous” cities of the North: Falias, Gorias, Finias, and Murias.
A great city in the North? Anor Londo would seem to fit that bill fairly well.
The archtrees are amongst the oldest things in the world, having existed since long before the Age of Ancients when the Dragons ruled. You can see their enormous trunks and great canopies from almost anywhere in Lordran. Their bark is said to be as hard as stone. In more than one place, as you travel underground, you can see the massive tangles of roots that belong to them. In fact, you can even travel down inside of one, the Great Hollow, an archtree so open on the inside as to make traversal possible, and fit to host a variety of creatures.
Once you arrive, far below, at the bottom of the Hollow, you are greeted to an astonishing sight. Walking out onto a sandbar you see what appears to be an ocean, with hundreds of archtrees rising out from the water. Ash Lake. It’s such a dramatic departure from the other areas you’ve been to, that some have theorized you have actually traveled back to a primeval period by winding your way down that tree.
The key thing here is that the archtrees connect the world above with the world below, while supporting both, like pillars. In this fashion, they seem to serve a similar purpose to Yggdrasil, the world tree of Norse mythology. In fact, while there is really nothing to support this, I think it is possible that if you could delve deeper, you might find that what seem to be individual archtrees may well be branches of a single larger tree. Just an idea, but as it is, a couple hundred trees seem to be holding the worlds together just fine.
As her name implies, Priscilla is a crossbreed. Of what? Well, that is more difficult to determine. Half dragon, half human? Half dragon, half god? Was she created the “old fashioned way” (which raises a whole host of other questions), or by some sort of artificial means (perhaps an experiment of Seath’s)?
Considered an abomination, Priscilla was locked away in the Painted World of Ariamis, which is apparently a prison for things that pose a threat to the gods’ reign — including items associated with the rogue goddess Velka, and the Dark Ember, a remnant of the Occult (an organization that once attempted to slay the gods). Priscilla herself is known as the Lifehunter, for her ability which was viewed dangerous even amongst the gods.
Crossbreeds are somewhat common in mythology, particularly in the area of monsters. One of the most famous examples being the Minotaur, who was born of a heavenly white bull and the wife of King Minos of Crete — who had fallen in love with it due to divine influence as revenge for an insult to Poseidon on Minos’ part. More common than that however, were the demigods. Children of mixed human (or sometimes other beings) and divine blood, they were often heroes, such as Hercules, Perseus, and Theseus. Priscilla seems to be a deliberate subversion of the heroic demigod; powerful, but unwelcome.
The Everlasting Dragons
Beings who ruled the world during the Age of Ancients, before Fire and the Lords. They were immortal via their stone scales, which were also nigh impenetrable. They seem to me, more than anything, to represent nature. Not caring to mold the world, but simply to oversee it, unlike the Lords, who wished to shape the world as they saw fit.
According to the director, the dragons themselves are more similar to elemental spirits possessing artificial bodies than actual living things, although it seems that in taking a body, they give it life, since the whelp in Ash Lake bleeds if you cut off his tail and so does Seath. The Gaping Dragon is also described as a descendant of them, and it bleeds as well.
Oftentimes in myth, the Gods supplant an older race as rulers. The Olympians overthrew the Titans, and the Norse Aesir defeated (but made peace with) the older Vanir. I think that the dragons most closely resemble the Fomorii, however.
The Fomorii were a race of deformed sea gods that fought over Ireland against the Tuatha de Danaan, a separate race vying for control. The Tuatha de Danaan would eventually be victorious, but they themselves would be overthrown later by the sons of Milesius, who organized a human takeover. The Fomorii had strange and irregular forms, and were led by Balor, a god whose single eye instantly killed anything that fell under its gaze.
Amongst the most powerful of the Everlasting Dragons is Kalameet, a one-eyed black dragon who breathes black fire (which is badass). While Kalameet doesn’t kill you just by looking at you, you still don’t stand much of a chance if you choose to fight it. However, as the older Gods inevitably fall when the younger Gods rise, so did the dragons fall to the combined might of Gwyn, the Witch, Nito, and the traitorous Seath.
All except for one. Deep beneath the surface of Lordran, hiding in the roots of an archtree in Ash Lake, there is the last of the everlasting dragons — a whelp, immortal though it may be. I believe the whelp is a reference to Nidhogg, the dragon who dwells amongst the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil in Norse mythology. Niflheim (the lowest of the Nordic worlds and the place where Nidhogg lives) is described as a dark and misty place, which is not dissimilar to Ash Lake, and both dragons are survivors of enormous godly battles.
The Furtive Pygmy
The ancestor of humanity, from whom they inherit a piece of the Dark Soul. The Pygmy found the Dark Soul at the same time the Gods found their various Lord Souls. Also unlike the Gods, he did not appear to have taken part in the fight against the Ancient Dragons. Instead, he seems to have bided his time, waiting for the Age of Fire to end, so that his descendants could usher in the Age of Dark.
He is something akin to the first human, a common mythological idea, with the interesting twist of not having been created by the Gods, but having existed alongside them at the beginning. It is also a possibility that the Pygmy is in fact, Manus, Father of the Abyss.
Manus is described as once having been a primordial human, twisted into his monstrous form by the power of the dark. This would also set up a parallel between him and the player, if the player chose the pendant starting item (which is otherwise useless). It is described as holding fond, comforting memories, and Manus desires his own pendant so badly that he reaches through time to get it. As an aside, Manus’ name sounds like it could be the basis of the word “man”. Of course, “Manus” is the Latin word for hand…. which is also rather fitting.
It is possible the idea of giants arose in the human mind from memories of childhood, when adults towered over us. Giants can also symbolize primal forces beyond the control of humankind. They could be predators who devoured humans, or (relatively) gentle beings.
The giants in Lordran however, appear to be of a somewhat artificial nature and possessed of simplistic mindsets. The few times they are found, they seem to be performing simple tasks until they are interrupted. They bear more than a passing resemblance to golems found in Jewish folklore; the two exceptions being the Giant Blacksmith and Hawkeye Gough.
The Blacksmith is capable of speech, and reminds me more than a little of the giant Cyclopean helpers of Hephaestus, who assisted him at his forge. Even then, the Blacksmith is fairly simpleminded in contrast to Gough, who is much more intelligent. Perhaps Gough was an earlier or later design, meant for more than manual labor like his brethren. If he was, he would appear to be a success, having been decorated for his actions in the war against the dragons.
Apart from these possibly artificial beings, there also appears to have been a race of giants sometime in the distant past, judging from the Tomb of the Giants and all of the skeletons within, not to mention Nito, or the other gods, who may or may not have been a part of this same race before their apotheosis.
There are also many giant creatures that live within Lordran, from the Great Felines, to the Giant Crow who carries you away from the Undead Asylum. Another thing about gigantic creatures is that their enormity can imply great age — whether that is from the fact that it is so large that it must have taken an immense amount of time to have grown, or that in the real world, there were enormous creatures that walked the earth in the distant past (and a few that are around today), I couldn’t say.
The God of Death and the First of the Dead; Nito is a massive skeleton covered in smaller skeletons and shrouded in a cloak of shadow. Nito resides in his sarcophagus, in the Tomb of the Giants, overseeing all death within Lordran. Similar to Hades, Nito is a somewhat passive deity, quietly resting in his gloomy domain amongst the dead. Grim, certainly, but he could almost be considered kindly.
He doesn’t go out killing things, although he may gain strength from the actions of his servants (which is kind of a catch-22, admittedly). He even admits you into his covenant himself. Hell, he is so passive that he lets Pinwheel drain his power away from him, and Pinwheel is pathetically weak. This may have to do with the current state of the world. Nito draws his strength from death. With so many rampant undead, how can he get any stronger? How could he recover the strength stolen from him by Pinwheel? It’s almost enough to make you feel bad for the guy.
One thing that had me wondering was his title, “The First of the Dead.” Is it referencing the fact that he was the first being to die? Or is it similar to how Roman emperors would refer to themselves as “The First Citizen?” The Emperor of the Dead…
I like to believe that both are true.
Death gods are common characters in myths around the world. Perhaps the best recognized is the Grim Reaper, the physical personification of Death as a human skeleton clothed in black, carrying a scythe with which to harvest human souls. Coincidentally this is the death god that Nito seems to most resemble.
Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight
The Great Lord, Gwyn received the power of the Sun from his discovered Lord Soul, which was the mightiest of them all. He also led the combined might of the gods against the dragons in their war. When the fire that fueled his new age began to die, he gathered half of his knights and set out for the Kiln of the First Flame, intent on relighting it.
An indeterminate amount of time before this, he had already split his soul, bequeathing shards to the Four King of New Londo and Seath the Scaleless, all of whom squandered his gifted power. His firstborn son inherited the Sunlight, and wasted it as well. Gwyn succeeded in kindling the First Flame, turning himself into living fuel, and burning the bodies of his knights away, leaving behind hollow suits of animate armor. After burning alive in the Kiln for a thousand years, Gwyn became hollow, whereupon he was known as the Lord of Cinder.
An easy figure to compare Gwyn to is Zeus. The respected and powerful leaders of their pantheons, they both used lightning bolts as weapons. “Gwyn” however, is the actual name of a Welsh god, Gwyn ap Nudd (“ap” being part of Welsh patronymic naming, meaning “son of”). He was an otherworldly king and a psychopomp, escorting the souls of the slain to the afterlife. Later, he would be considered the king of the Tylwyth Teg, the fairies of Welsh folklore. In this role, he would he would occasionally lead the Wild Hunt, and to hear his baying hounds was to mean imminent death.
Gwyn, apart from his name, is not very similar to the real Gwyn, and in fact bears more similarity to his father, Nudd. I will now refer to Nudd by his Irish counterpart’s name, Nuada. Nuada was the leader of the Tuatha de Danann, and known as Nuada of the Silver Hand, because of the prosthetic he wore after losing his own in combat. He later received a replacement made from flesh and blood after he decided that his silver hand wasn’t good enough.
As the leader of the gods, Nuada would seem to fit Gwyn much better than his son. Unless you consider that the Tuatha de Danaan survived the conquest of the sons of Milesius by hiding underground and becoming the fairies. In which case, Gwyn ap Nudd, king of the fairies, fits even better than his father.
I also think there’s a link between Gwyn and King Arthur. They both had famous orders of knights (The Knights of Gwyn and The Round Table), both had a magical counselor (Seath and Merlin), and the Queens of their kingdoms have very similar names (Gwynevere and Guinevere), except Gwynevere is Gwyn’s daughter and not his wife. I suppose Gwyn’s son Gwyndolin wants to rule in his father’s stead in a similar way to Mordred as well, although Gwyndolin has a weird sort of reverence for his father (or at least the sun), unlike Mordred.
Gwyn is an almost undeniably tragic character who has had everything he worked for lost or destroyed in his lifetime, culminating with his becoming of an empty shell of his former self.
The Four Knights of Gwyn
The best of Gwyn’s soldiers, each knight appears to have led a specialized unit, except for Artorias. Ornstein was apparently the captain of the knights, supervising all of them. Ciarin led the Lord’s Blades, a group of spies and assassins. Gough led the Greatarchers, all of whom wielded enormous Dragonslayer bows. It’s difficult to say what exactly Artorias’ position was, but given his skill, it’s possible he was a sort of shocktrooper or Special Forces unit unto himself, especially how it seems he headed into Oolacille to fight the Abyss with only a young Sif by his side.
Apart from Gough, who is a particularly intelligent giant, the rest seem to be of the somewhat nebulous race of the Gods. They vary in height, from about 7-8′ (Ornstein) to about 10’+ (Artorias), and seem to have a hazy array of supernatural abilities, which apparently includes absorbing the power from one another — if the Ornstein and Smough fight is anything to go by. It is also clear that they are not human, as it is stated that the reason Artorias could not defeat Manus and seal the Abyss was because he was not.
This makes me curious about the various Dark and Silver knights as well. Were they of the godly race? They were clearly taller than an average human. Perhaps they were the somewhat smaller descendants of the old race of giants? The taller precursors to humans?
They were likely not artificial, at least not the Dark knights, as they were said to have had their bodies burned away in the relighting of the Kiln of the First Flame, becoming spirits. What exactly were they then? Humans imbued with power? The Gods can apparently transfer their power to others, in a similar way to how a Pyromancer can share their pyromancy flame. All conjecture, of course. Who’s to say?
The Knights of Gwyn are alike to the Fianna, an elite group of warriors from Irish mythology, charged with the protection of the High King.
The fear of powerful forces beyond human control were often given physical shape in the forms of monsters. Serpents and dragons were composites of everything inhuman: scales, claws, wings, fangs, they were strong and enormous. They flew through the sky and swam in the ocean, where people do not belong, and have little defense against them. Serpents were often equated with chaos, and later, evil. The snake who tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden, for example.
The Primeval Serpents in Dark Souls– Kingseeker Frampt and Darkstalker Kaathe, are enormous, seemingly infinite beings with gray, veiny skin, bulbous eyes, big square teeth, and drooping jowls. They are not traditional serpents. It is noted in item descriptions that serpents (along with being a symbol of the undead and of gluttony) are imperfect dragons, and perhaps that has something to do with their unorthodox appearance. Nevertheless, they fit the mythological standard of serpents well.
They dwell in a seemingly infinite blackness called the Abyss, Frampt will consume basically anything you give to him (associating gluttony and serpents within the setting rather well), and they are both deceptive. Frampt, while not technically lying in telling you that you must succeed Lord Gwyn, does not deem it necessary to inform you that it requires you to burn alive in Gwyn’s place. Kaathe seems to tell you some hidden truths, but it is also implied that he was the one who tricked the people of Oolacille into awakening Manus, and gave the Four Kings the art of Lifedrain, leading to the flooding of New Londo, which in and of itself is reminiscent of the various world myths of the great flood.
The point is, never trust a snake.
Seath the Scaleless
An albino, blind dragon. Jealous of his immortal kin, he betrayed them to Gwyn during their war with the gods. He was awarded dukedom, and given his own library to perform research into the scales of immortality that he so desired.
How he made use of the books with him being blind is anyone’s guess. Maybe he had them read to him. He eventually went mad, but not before developing the systematized magic in use by humans, earning him the title “Grandfather of Sorcery”, and finding his own method of immortality, involving a magical (albeit easily destroyed) crystal.
I would hazard a connection to Merlin, who, although he didn’t create magic, was gifted in it, and was born different as the result of human and either demonic or faerie parentage, depending on the tale. It’s unknown, likely even to Seath, why he was different from the other dragons. However, his habit of capturing young women (via servants, but still), brings to mind the classical European dragon, who traditionally like to capture maidens and princesses.
The Witch of Izalith
The Witch is seemingly Dark Souls version of a Mother Goddess, a common mythological character. She had what seems to be the largest number of children among the gods (at least seven daughters and one son) and was heavily associated with fire, which in the context of the game is associated with life.
After attempting to replicate the first flame with Fire sorcery, she was engulfed and became the Bed of Chaos, a demonic corruption of the life giving power of fire. She is the mother of all of the horrible demons that one faces when traveling throughout Lordran (an interesting aversion to the standard mother of the human race, while still tying in with the Mother Goddess trait of creation), and what the Dark Knights were trained to fight against long ago.
It also appears the demons you can fight are much smaller than they once were, possibly indicating the weakening of the Bed of Chaos, which fits in rather well with the theme of dying fire. If you want an example of the size of the old demons, take a look at the skull in Ash Lake.
As it is with most of the Gods, she had a giant stature and was considerably larger than most of her children, who were mostly of human size — pardoning her son, who was massive, even amongst the gods. Whether that is due to his unique condition or not is unclear.
There was once a larger Pantheon of Gods who lived within Anor Londo, but they abandoned it when Gwyn left to link the fire, or perhaps before. The gods themselves confuse me somewhat. They seem to be a race of beings separate from humans and giants (although possibly related to either). Did their powers derive from the Lord Souls? Did each individual find their own soul within the flames? How many were there? Did they all have the same abilities? They raise many, many questions. On average they appear to be tall (although it is possible that they can alter their height), strong, and humanoid, with various inherent divine powers, and long life-spans, if not outright agelessness. They can, however, die.
Here is a list of the various minor, or at least, less detailed deities mentioned.
The Uncle of Gwyn, and apparent leader of the Way of White. He is described as having a gold halo, and his knights are famous for their undead hunts. Lloyd is a Welsh name, like Gwyn. Interestingly, Lloyd apparently means grey, while Gwyn means white or blessed. It could be that Gwyn was the head of the Way of White’s church until he left to link the fire, upon which Lloyd took his place. It could be that Lloyd has used the absence of Gwyn to assert his own power, which could be signified by the use of the term “Allfather,” which is usually reserved for the leader of a pantheon.
Old Man McLoyf:
The God of Medicine and Drink. He has a Gaelic name. Grasping at straws here, but there may be a connection to the Blacksmith deity, who himself is similar to Goibniu the smith deity. Goibniu was an able brewer and could make mead of immortality. Apart from that tenuous connection, he might be similar to Dian Cecht, the Physician God.
A Goddess said to possess “Fateful Beauty”. She is possibly a goddess of love. The Embraced Armor of Favor worn by Lautrec of Carim is designed in such a way as to represent the arms of the Goddess wrapping around the wearer. However, it is also worth noting that Fina may be somewhat of a jealous deity. Lautrec is described as having to forsake everything during a period of solitude to either earn or keep Fina’s love, and the Ring of Favor and Protection she bestowed upon Lautrec breaks if it is ever removed, implying something of a mercurial nature. Fina shares a resemblance to Cliodhna, an Irish goddess of beauty who fell in love with a mortal.
The god of Fire who married Gwynevere (lucky bastard), taking her away from Anor Londo. He has a Gaelic name. Fire is symbolic of life in Dark Souls, so it is fitting that he would marry a fertility goddess.
Gwyndolin, The Dark Sun:
The Darkmoon, the last remaining deity in Anor Londo, and lastborn of Gwyn’s children; Born with an affinity for the moon, he was raised as a girl (the sun being masculine and the moon feminine) and may not have been well respected by his father. Regardless, he is reverent of the sun, going so far as to constantly wear a mask depicting it, and manipulating those who come to Anor Londo with an illusion of his sister Gwynevere, while he himself guards his father’s honorary tomb. His legs, which are a tangle of snakes, may be referential to the Gigantes of Greek myth, as they were sometimes described as having snake tails or snake legs.
Gwynevere, Princess of Sunlight:
Also known as the Godmother and Queen of Sunlight, Gwynevere is the goddess of bounty and fertility (appropriately). Although she seems to be the current reigning deity in Anor Londo, in reality, she has long since left with her husband, Flann. I would hazard inspiration from the Norse goddess Freyja, although her clothes seem more Greek to me. Interesting fact; the original plan for her design was a much more lithe and elegant appearance, but the artist who brought the current design of Gwynevere to Miyazaki was so proud of it that he couldn’t bring himself to say no.
The Nameless Blacksmith Deity:
The god who forged the weapons of the other gods. He passed away long ago, and when he did, demons rose out of the Titanite which he used to forge weapons with. This seems to imply that he could imbue life into inanimate objects, so it seems likely that he was the one who created the Giants. Perhaps the giant blacksmith was an attempt to create a successor? Regardless, as a smith god he is akin to the Greek Hephaestus and the Irish Goibniu, who were also smith gods.
The Nameless War God:
Gwyn’s firstborn, a god of war. He inherited the sunlight (manifest as lightning) from his father, but was obsessed solely with conflict. An act of foolishness on his part led to the loss of the annals of ancient history, and his deity status was rescinded. I hypothesize that the sole remaining record of Gwyn’s wife (who I believe is the woman seen as a statue holding an infant in various places) were amongst the destroyed records, and the destruction of them were at least partially responsible for his banishment.
As a violent and foolish war god, he more than bears a similarity to the Hellenic Ares.
The black-haired witch; a rogue deity of Vengeance and the Goddess of Sin. Has a connection with crows, if the equipment and miracle related to her being in the crow filled Painted World is any indication. She punishes the guilty and exhibits a wide range of influence, even for a god. She bears similarity to The Morrigan, a deity of Strife, who would fly over battlefields and signify imminent death in the form of a crow. Her focus on punishment is also like the Erinyes of Greek Myth, known as the Furies to the Romans. They would mercilessly hound those who had done wrong.
Cauldrons were a recurrent motif in Celtic myth. They possessed brews of wisdom, overflowed with bounty, and brought the dead to life. I bring this up because I am almost certain that the Lordvessel was inspired by Celtic cauldrons, made to hold the spiritual essence of the most powerful beings in the world, and allowing you to revive yourself at it. Celtic cauldrons also helped shape the legends surrounding the Sangreal, also known as the Holy Grail.
The Undead in Dark Souls bear some similarity to the Einherjar from Germanic myth, although in a more limited, random, and undesirable fashion. The Einherjar were dead warriors plucked from the battlefield by Valkyries and chosen to fight in Odin’s army at Ragnarok. They would fight every day and feast every night, while any wounds they sustained were magically healed, and when they died they would instantly be brought back to life in the mead hall of Valhalla.
The Undead, in contrast, are people seemingly cursed at random to be revived at a bonfire every time they die until they eventually lose their minds and go Hollow, mindlessly attacking the living. They both show up in great numbers at the doom of their respective gods; Ragnarok, for the Einherjar, and the end of the Age of Fire for the Undead, respectively.
Big Hat Logan shares a few things in common with the aforementioned god, Odin. They both shared an insatiable thirst for knowledge and similar choices in head-wear. Odin would wander the land as an old man dressed in grey, with an equally grey and particularly broad-brimmed hat, endlessly testing and expanding his own knowledge.
The image of an old man dressed in grey robes with a wide brimmed hat was a partial inspiration to J.R.R. Tolkien for the wizard Gandalf. Logan wound his way up to the Duke’s Archives in order to satisfy his own curiosity, relying on his magical know-how to survive. In the end, Odin wound up hanging himself from a branch of Yggdrasil, only to revive nine days later with the knowledge he had gained from the afterlife. For Logan…. It ends with him going completely mad and stripping naked except for his hat, in an attempt to emulate the grandfather of sorcery (who, as a dragon, doesn’t wear clothes).
It is common in fantasy to find magical rings, and Dark Souls is no exception. Providing the wearer with various abilities, rings are an undeniable asset. The modern concept of the magic ring may have its roots in Scandinavian culture. Rings to the Vikings were symbols of power, wealth and fame. Used as a form of currency, it was also a gift of great honor.
In their myths, the magical rings were symbols of destiny, and more bleakly, doom. Grimly, the Domhring of Thor (not a ring that you would wear, mind), was made from a circle of stone statues surrounding a central punishment pillar in front of his temples, and may have symbolized the inevitability of retribution. The ring Andvaranaut created gold, but cursed whoever possessed it, as seen when it was taken by the hero Sigurd after he slew the previous owner of the ring, the dragon Fafnir.
More wondrously, Odin’s ring Draupnir dripped eight golden rings off of itself every nine days, without any sort of drawback.
“We are amidst strange beings, in a strange land. The flow of time itself is convoluted, with heroes centuries old phasing in and out. The very fabric wavers, and relations shift and obscure. There’s no telling how much longer your world and mine will remain in contact.”
-Solaire of Astora
In Lordran, time is distorted, allowing one to meet people who lived long ago in the past, or possibly those who have yet to been born. Such temporal mangling is a common effect from visiting otherworlds in Celtic myth, one famous example being the story of Oisin.
A renowned bard and warrior, he followed Niamh, daughter of the sea god Manannan, to the otherworld called the Land of Promise. After several adventures there, he grew homesick and wished to return to Ireland. Niamh gave him a magic horse, and told him not to dismount it or he would never be allowed to come back.
Ireland seemed strange. Everyone he knew had died long ago, and the people were sadder and smaller than the heroes he had grown up with. He eventually came upon a group of men attempting to move a boulder, which he easily did while still seated on his horse. Unfortunately, the saddle slipped and he fell to the ground. The horse vanished and Oisin, the valiant and youthful warrior, was transformed into a blind and frail old man. He told the people of the land his magic legends and slipped away, never to be seen again.
Well, that about wraps up the things I’ve noticed. If you found any of this interesting, I would wholeheartedly recommend that you find a book on the mythology of your choice and do some reading! Maybe you’ll make a connection that I didn’t, or at the very least, learn a little something interesting. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I do so love the world that was created here, and in drawing these connections, and sharing my findings with you, I hope to have made a fitting tribute to a fantastic game.
I have one final thing to mention.
I’m pretty sure Zoroaster was a pyromancer.