N. del T .: The penultimate paragraph of the text contains references to the end of Persona 5. In this same paragraph, some incorrect references to what happens in the game have been corrected.
“They can be imitations, but together they create a beautiful spectacle …”
When I first played Persona, I immediately fell in love with the diverse roster of eponymous Persona in the game. Heroes and Horrors, Warriors and Giants, Deities and Demons; How do you choose a person to lean on? However, the more he played, the more familiar faces he recognized during skirmishes. I realized then that most of the people on the show were straight from the real mythology.
What is fascinating is that they do not belong to a single mythology. The final episode of God of War brought together many elements of Norse mythology, while Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is directly influenced by Greek myths found in Homer’s poetry. Persona, meanwhile, draws on a plethora of cultural and mythological sources from around the world. You can find everything from beasts of Japanese folklore to legendary Celtic heroes.
This is how I found the curious mythological multiverse of Persona my front door. When I saw the famous Cú Chulainn (pronounced cu-culain) from Irish folklore, I saw a character that I already knew. Little information about the hero is provided in Persona, like everyone else in the game. Cú Chulainn only has a sprite, a set of moves, and a brief description of his origins.
In Ireland, however, we grow up hearing stories about the legendary warrior. His name (Cú Chulainn) is actually his name “in Gaeilge”, that is to say in Irish. If we translated it, it would be something like “Culann’s hound”. A name that may seem a bit strange at first, but like the best mythological stories, comes from a fantasy story.
Cú Chulainn was born with the name of “Setanta”, who is also another person from the Persona series. Throughout history, Setanta has played hurling[[[[[[[[[N. del T.: Un sport celtique d’origine préhistorique relativement similaire au hockey]when observed by Conchobar mac Nessa, King of Ulster. Setanta impressed Conchobar so much that he invited him to a wonderful party at Culann the Blacksmith’s house that same afternoon. However, Conchobar arrived at the party much earlier and completely forgot that he had invited his protected throwing player. In response, when Culann asks if there are any upcoming guests, the answer is emphatically no. Satisfied with the knowledge that all guests are safe and sound, Culann drops his hunting dog, known throughout Ireland for his ferocity.
When Setanta arrives, the hunting dog inevitably attacks him. There are different English translations of this traditional Irish story, so details vary, but the general consensus is that when the hound jumps on Setanta, he pulls out his hurley stick and hits a sliotar (a small, hard ball used to throw) to insert it into the dog’s throat. Culann is devastated to lose his friend and protector; Therefore, Setanta offers to breed a puppy so that one day he can replace his hunting dog. Until then, Setanta himself will be tasked with patrolling the blacksmith’s grounds overnight. At this time, Cathbad (the Druid leader of the King of Ulster) proclaimed Setanta “Cú Chulainn”: Culann’s hunting dog.
Just as I was starting to get excited about Cú Chulainn’s appearance in the game, I ran into another person I recognized from my home country: Leanan Sidhe. Another name derived from Gaeilge, which more or less translates to “fairy lover”. This is how the Irish poet WB Yeats in his studies of folklore:
“Death does not allow him to escape. She is the Gaelic muse, for she inspires those she persecutes. Gaelic poets die young because she never rests; this evil ghost does not allow them to stay long on earth. ”
Today there are fairy houses all over Ireland. Ten minutes from my house, in an area called La Madriguera (basically the equivalent of the Lord of the Rings Shire in Dublin), there are fairy shrines in almost any patch of grass on the sides. of the road. They decorated two stumps with little fairy doors and there are all kinds of flowers growing around them. It is made to appeal to the fairies that inhabit these strains in Irish folk stories, and to this day they have been immortalized as an Irish cultural feature.
You can find fairy trails in parks across Ireland, and there are even food experiences designed with fairy tales in mind here in Dublin. However, the most interesting thing is when you see these tributes outside of a commercial setting. There are no visits to the La Madriguera fairy sanctuary; in fact, he is so small that if you blink, you miss him. However, it’s there, maintained by an anonymous fairy sympathizer, perpetuating the parts of our folklore and culture that served as the basis for Leanan Sidhe in Persona 5.
Oscar Wilde’s mother, known as Lady Wilde, wrote hundreds of children’s stories in the 19th century. When I was in college at Trinity College Dublin I was fortunate enough to find one of his books in the Old Library, which houses the famous Book of Kells. Entitled “Ancient Legends, Mystical Charms and Irish Superstitions,” this book tells a ton of stories about the imaginary fairyland; These are the stories Oscar Wilde himself grew up with. Cú Chulainn’s fairy tales and stories are so prevalent in Irish culture that it’s very likely that the most famous Irish person you can think of grew up with the same stories I’m telling you here.
After finding such an interesting reflection of my own cultural heritage in Persona, I decided to study the backgrounds of people I didn’t know. Of course, I already knew some people who were not from Ireland. He knew Thor, the god of thunder from Norse mythology, and he knew Prometheus, the Greek titan recognized as the creator of mankind. He even knew some of the more esoteric ones, such as the Hécantoristes, Belzebú, Tchernobog and Orfeo. However, some of the names of the people in the game were completely unknown to me. So I did some research.
Did you know that Garuda, the mythological bird with wings so large it could block the sun, generally appears as the Mount of Vishnu in Hindu mythology? Or that Mokoi is an evil spirit from Australian Aboriginal folklore who punishes those who practice black magic and is even often seen as the herald of death himself?
Persona’s source of mythological influences goes even further. Consider Koropokkuru, a small gnome who appears in some of Persona’s last palaces. This representation of Koropokkuru comes directly from the Ainu myths of Japan. The name consists of three parts: “koro” means “butterbur plant”, “pok” means “below” and “kuru” means “person”. Overall, the name means “person under the butterbur,” which makes sense because in Ainu folklore, the Koropokkuru were a small race of people, similar to gnomes or fairies, who lived in houses created from of leaves. butterbur. In person, Koropokkuru is a short man with a beard who wears a leaf that doubles in size. I always thought it was a cool design, but it’s even better now that I know where it came from.
What about the almighty dragon, Seth? When I first saw the jet black scales of this colossal serpent, I was troubled by why a dragon was called “Seth”[[[[[[[[N. del T.: Seth est un nom commun en anglais]. After digging a bit, I discovered Set’s stories in Egyptian mythology. Set is often considered one of the most infamous deities in Egyptian mythology, reaching the point of killing his own brother, the famous Osiris.
When it comes to reconciling Seth’s appearance with an animal counterpart, historians ultimately decided to regard Seth as a typhoon deity, a term derived from the typhoon in Greek mythology (the huge serpent-shaped monster trying to ‘spoof Zeus). Perhaps that is why he appears as a dragon in person; Having been mistaken for a Greek typhoon, the Egyptian god of destruction and chaos was intrinsically linked with the figure of the serpent. This fact has its own references to other cultures; for example, when Moses transforms a staff into a serpent in the Old Testament of the Bible, the imagery is likely directly related to the ancient images of Set as a serpent. And I learned everything from a unique Persona sprite!
At the end of Persona 5, you summon Satanael. While this may seem like a creation of the developers, Satanael is actually a spirit that was cast out of heaven like Satan, which is in fact part of his name. In some denominations of Judaism, Satanael is the name of Satan. So when you summon Satanael to fight at the end of Persona 5, you are fighting alongside the demon (an idea reinforced by the fact that you have to fight Gabriel, Miguel and other angels on your way to the final boss)!
My gateway to the immense mythological multiverse of Persona was finding the representation of my country’s folklore in the game, but it wasn’t until I started looking for other people that I realized just how he was influential. In a way, Persona opened my eyes to the history of myths from other cultures, something that ended up being fascinating. After I finished my game I started reading about all the people I mentioned above and more. To this day, I have a better understanding of their respective myths and folklore. The person taught me a lot, or maybe it is more accurate to say that he invited me to learn on my own. All of those times that I gave up on my real-life studies to improve my gameplay stats ended up coming in handy.
At least now I know why the dragon’s name is Seth.