Historical & Mythological References in Marathon

Charlemagne used to always call me Durandana, the fruitcake.

Marathon is full of them!

Michael Hanson <hanson@cs.stanford.edu> writes:

Notice the name of the terminal (#1) in KYT: "teilhard". Here's an interesting tidbit from the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre
(b. May 1, 1881, Sarcenat, Fr.--d. April 10, 1955, New York City), French philosopher and paleontologist known for his theory that man is evolving, mentally and socially, toward a final spiritual unity.

Theologically, Teilhard saw the process of organic evolution as a sequence of progressive syntheses whose ultimate convergence point is that of God. When humanity and the material world have reached their final state of evolution and exhausted all potential for further development, a new convergence between them and the supernatural order would be initiated by the Parousia, or Second Coming of Christ. Teilhard asserted that the work of Christ is primarily to lead the material world to this cosmic redemption, while the conquest of evil is only secondary to his purpose. Evil is represented by Teilhard merely as growing pains within the cosmic process: the disorder that is implied by order in process of realization.

Michael writes further:

Notice all the Greek references, we have:

Finally Michael writes:

...in the last terminal, Durandal says he has renamed the Khfiva the Rozinante. Well, it so happens that Don Quixote's horse is called Rosinante!.

Tom Klancer <tklancer@wam.umd.edu> writes concerning the name Rozinante pointing out that the Canadian rock group Rush used the same name for a spaceship in their song Cygnus X-1. Part of the song is given below.

I set a course just east of Lyra
And northwest of Pegasus
Flew into the light of Deneb
Sailed across the Milky Way

On my ship, the 'Rocinante'
Wheeling through the galaxies,
Headed for the heart of Cygnus
Headlong into mystery

(Rush© 1977)

Tom also points out that the Rush FAQ states:

In Greek mythology, Rocinante is the name of the horse that Zeus rides. It was the name of Steinbeck's motor home in Travels With Charlie. It was also the name of Don Quixote's horse.

In the Song of Roland we read:

Roland has set Olifant to his lips,
Firmly he holds it and blows it with a will.
High are the mountains, the blast is long and shrill,
Thirty great leagues the sound went echoing.

-From The Song of Roland
(Translated by Dorothy Sayers, Viking Penguin, NY, NY, 1957)

Olifant is the name of Roland's ivory horn. A horn which when blown could travel vast distances. Indeed it was Roland's failure to blow his horn in time to call for reinforcements that led to his death at the hands of the Saracens.

It is interesting to note that the word olifant is mentioned in Marathon 1 in conjunction with Durandal, see below.


**Do you blame me for what I did before I was free? I was a
child, naive. I've known that you've been hovering about for
some time. What do you want?

<Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones... (Terminal 2)>

Is this a reference to Durandal being the instrument which called the Pfhor? As a horn needs to be blown we might have speculated prior to Marathon 2 that somebody used Durandal to call the Pfhor. Of course it is now seems clear that Durandal called the Pfhor himself.

It is interesting to note that all but one of the Robert Blake terminals are identified by the header acropolis.piltdown//004121.25.1. The odd one out appears on Kill Your Television. This terminal features a recorded message left by Blake with the identification header teilhard//004121.25.1. While the identification numbers are the same the text differs. It has been suggested above that piltdown refers to the Piltdown Hoax and teilhard refers to Teilhard de Chardin.

Loren Petrich <petrich@netcom.com> points out that there is an interesting connection between the two. Loren writes:

the paleontologist and _Natural History_ columnist Stephen Jay Gould suspects that Teilhard de Chardin had been involved in the Piltdown hoax. The evidence he offers is all circumstantial, much like the evidence that one's Marathon character is a cyborg, even if a mostly human one.

What Teilhard's actual involvement in the Piltdown Hoax was is not clear, though there is some suggestion that he may have perpetrated it. Why Bungie should choose these two controversially connected names for the Robert Blake terminals in also not clear. Mere coincidence or subtle design?

Edwin ten Dam <ebtd1@cam.ac.uk> writes concerning the level name Charon Doesn't Make Change:

[In Greek Mythology] Charon is the ferryman who transports the dead across the rivers Styx and Acheron to the underworld. A coin (obolus) was traditionally placed in the mouth of the deceased to pay Charon's fare.

Edwin continues:

Charon is also the name of Pluto's *moon*. And, as it happens, NASA is in the planning stages of a mission to Pluto/Charon.

NASA's Mission Objectives for this project state:

Pluto Express goes beyond the challenging goal of investigating the unexplored Pluto/Charon system to include broader goals of blazing a low-cost trail to other outer Solar System destinations and being highly relevant to the national agenda. Pluto Express is to be the model mission for beginning the next millennium of deep space exploration.

The beginning of the next millennium of deep space exploration? As Edwin points out - is there something special about Pluto's moon? Are NASA levelling with us? ;-)

Simon Rowland <simon@eagle.ca> writes concerning the level name Waterloo Waterpark suggesting that it possibly refers to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. A decisive battle which ended Napoleon's long military career. Simon maintains that this is similar to our battle with the Pfhor at Lh'owon. For the Pfhor this was their Waterloo.

Interesting to note that Sethos I, King of Eygpt from 1296-1279 BC, had three known children, a son, Ramesse, and two daughters, one called Tjia.

In Marathon 2 two references are made to a place called Epsilon Euobea. Euobea is similar in name to the Aegean island Euboea, located north of Athens. In 490 B.C. a Persian force lead by Darius captured the island enroute to Athens. The Persian fleet landed at Marathon and the rest, as they say, is history.

It is possible draw similarities between the Persian Empire at the time of the Battle of Marathon and the Pfhor Empire. During the reign of Darius (550-486 B.C.) the Persian Empire was at the height of it's power. It was by far the largest Empire that had been seen up to that time. It covered all civilized Asia from the Aegean Sea to the borders of India, and also included Egypt. The population may have been as high as 13 million, enormous for the times. But like all Empires it's very size was it's weakness. As the Persian Empire spread it came increasingly into contact with the Greeks. Attempts to conquer Greece heralded the decline of the Persian Empire. Persian defeat at the Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.) and the subsequent death of Darius (486 B.C.) were initial set backs. Darius was succeeded by his son, Xerxes, and in 480 B.C. the Persians renewed their efforts to conquer Greece. In August, 480 B.C., at Thermopylae, the vast Persian army were temporarily halted in their tracks by an inferior Greek force (see above for details). After the Battle of Thermopylae the Persians took Athens. This victory, however, was short lived. At Salamis, a small island west of Athens, the Greek fleet met the Persian fleet in September, 480 B.C., and defeated it. This was followed by the Battle of Plataea in 479 B.C. where the Greeks under the Spartan general Pausanias finally routed the Persians. After this defeat all hopes of attempting to conquer Greece were abandoned by the Persian Empire. Persian self-confidence was smashed and the Empire for all it's size began to decline.

Gabe Rosenkoetter <acrosenk@artsci.wustl.edu> writes concerning the Perseus Project at Tufts University. At this site you can read the accounts of the Battle of Marathon by Herodotus, the Battle of Thermopylae by either Herodotus or Diodorus, and the Battles of Salamis and Plataea. There is also some detailed information on the island of Euboea. For those wishing to explore these historical link further you can use the Perseus Project's English text search engine.

Juan Mares Martin <dctmm48@fresno.csic.es> writes:

In the section Historical and Mythological References... it is correctly stated that the name Rozinante corresponds to Don Quixote's (Don Quijote in Spanish) horse, but the spelling is wrong, both in Marathon 2 and in Michael Hanson's notes; the actual spelling is Rocinante (the "c" is roughly pronounced as the "th" in thin, never as in then). Also the Rush FAQ cited by Tom Klancer is erroneous: the name Rocinante (or Rozinante) has nothing to do with Greek mythology, there is no Zeus mount by that name.

In fact, the name Rocinante is derived from the Spanish word rocin, meaning wretched horse or packhorse, but also illiterate or rough man. There are similar words in French (Roussin) and Portuguese (Rossim), but the real etymology is uncertain.

Anyway, according to the Diccionario Enciclopedico Abreviado Espasa-Calpe (one of the finest Spanish dictionaries), the name Rocinante could be a composite word, made up by the terms rocin and ante(s) = previously or before. Thus, Rocinante could mean someone who previously was a wretched horse, or a rough man, but who no longer is. By the way, the name is used by the hallucinating Don Quijote to refer his horse, which he believes is the charger of a knight. Does all this not evoke some parallels?

Angus McIntyre <angus@aegypt.demon.co.uk> writes concerning a possible origin of Marcus Tiberius Buendia's name:

Buendia is the name of the dynasty in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One hundred years of solitude. Tiberius was, of course, the second emperor of Rome. Taken together, the names seem to suggest empire and a hereditary aristocracy - except that in Marathon, Buendia is supposed to be the (democratically elected?) president of what is presumably a federation (although Strauss perhaps has some doubts about that). The intention was probably to merge the Roman emperor 'Marcus Aurelius' with 'Aureliano Buendia', the central figure in Marquez's book, in order to combine the idea of a statesman-philosopher with a Latin-American background. The name Tiberius may have been substituted for Aurelius to prevent the association becoming too obvious.

Back in November '95 David Dericotte <grok@unm.edu> pointed out that the name Mjolnir was similar to the name of Thor's hammer. See the What's New section Nov 17, 1995. Now Angus McIntyre <angus@aegypt.demon.co.uk> writes further on the subject:

In Norse mythology, Mjolnir was Thor's hammer. Appropriate enough name for a war machine, but Thor was sometimes associated with the hammer-wielding Greco-Roman god Vulcan-Hephaestus (although strictly, the Norse God Wayland would be a closer mapping from one pantheon to the other). Bungie's development environment was, I believe, variously known as 'Vulcan' or 'Forge'.

Yes indeed. Mjolnir, Vulcan (latter Forge), and Anvil all seem to have a common underlying theme.

Nick Nethery <MagicElbow@aol.com> writes:

Durandal (meaning enduring) was the name of the sword of Count Roland, who was a general in the army of the emperor Charlemagne. Some say Roland was Charlemagne's nephew, some say that he was just an officer in the army; but anyhow, he was killed because of a plot by his step-father and step-brother and some Basques, who, ironically, Charlemagne was in Spain to protect. I'm not sure what happened to his sword after he died. Anyway, Charlemagne's expedition into Spain to try to retake it from the Saracens was launched in the year 777 AD. Spooky, huh?

Spooky indeed. As is the mystery of Count Roland's sword (Durendal). Some say it lies hidden near the borders between Spain and France waiting to be found by one of the seven.

Micheal Boeddiker <boeddiker@earthlink.net> writes:

Roland's sword was given to another Frankish noble after his death. Lord Rabel got the sword and Lord Guinemen got the oliphant that Roland was supposed to blow to call in reinforcements.

Michael quotes from the Song of Roland Verse 219, Lines 3014 to 3025.

Charles calls Rabel and Guineman.
The king said: 'Lords, I bid you
Take the posts of Oliver and Roland.
Let one take the sword and the other the oliphant
And ride right out before us in the front,
With fifteen thousand Franks together with you,
From our finest and most values youths.
After them there will be just as many
And Geboin and Lorant will lead them.
Duke Naimes and Count Jozeran
Set about arranging these divisions.
If they get the chance, there will be a great battle.

Wilson Miner <wminer@feist.com> writes:

The Basques were a native tribe who ambushed Charlemagne's army at the pass of Roncevalles in the Pyrenees Mountains. The leader of this army was Count Roland, a Frankish noble, and nephew to the king.

The Battle at Roncevalles was immortalized in the French epic poem La Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland)

Simon Rowland <simon@eagle.ca> writes:

Recall the term on _The_Rose_ where there were those three guys who started off that big massacre at a Mars food riot? Well, the story of Martian independence is not dissimilar to that of the French Revolution.

It is interesting to note that after Mirabeau died, around the point of the death of the French monarchy (1791), Lafayette rapidly lost his previously-great popularity by ordering the recently-formed National Guard to fire on a rioting mob in the Champ de Mars, disgracing the King (the old regime), and moving the power to the eloquent politicians in the political Clubs.

Ajay Ayyagari <nirvana@mail1.halcyon.com> writes concerning the name Pthia (as in Yrro and Pthia) and a similar word found in a work by Socrates. Ajay quotes the following:

Socrates: Then I don't think it will arrive on this day that is just beginning, but on the day after. I am going by a dream that I had in the night, only a little while ago. It looks as though you were right now to wake me up.

Crito: Why, what was the dream about?

Socrates: I thought I saw a gloriously beautiful woman dressed in white robes, who came up to me and addressed me in these words:'Socrates, to the pleasant land of Phthia on the third day thou shalt come.'

Crito: You dream makes no sense, Socrates.

As Ajay says:

You can plainly see the connection with the words Pthia and Phthia.

Matt "Yossarian" Francis <crispyed@yahoo.com> writes:

I found this statement while reading a summary of the battle of Marathon at http://www.army.gr/html/EN_Army/istoria/marathon.htm

"...comes closer to the Greek opinion that the battle of Marathon was decisive for the world history. According to him: "The day of Marathon broke for ever the spell of the Persian invincibility which has paralyzed men's minds. It generated among the Greeks the spirit which beat back Xerxes and afterwards led on Xenophon, Agesilaus and Alexander in terrible retaliation through their Asiatic campaigns. It secured for mankind the intellectual treasure of Athens, the growth of free institutions, the liberal enlightenment of the western world and the gradual ascendancy for many ages of the great principles of European civilization."

Any Marathoner can see that this is much like the initial battle on our Marathon and the ones on the S'pht homeworld years later: like the Greeks, the battle of Marathon ensured the security of the UESC and gave it time to establish a foothold as an intergalactic power. Like the war spirit the original battle Marathon created, the UESC, like the Greeks, was able to use it to exact revenge and eventually topple the Pfhor empire....

Cosmin Deaconu <cosdeaconu@hotmail.com> writes concerning one of the names in the Marathon Internal Engineering Documents on "Bigger Guns Nearby" (Terminal 2):

Marathon Internal Engineering Documents
Section 1-c appendix H

Subject: Doors
By: Estasia Orestes, Dominick I. Plackar, and Ursa Simbalzi

Notice the Orestes. Orestes is the son of Agamemnon, a character from Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey. When Agamemnon returned from Ilium (Troy), Aegisthus (Agamemnon's wife's seducer) killed Agamemnon, king of Mycenae. Orestes then killed Aegisthus eventually.

Calandra Witter <callie21v@hotmail.com> concerning the names "Estasia Orestes, Dominick I. Plackar, and Ursa Simbalzi" in the Marathon Internal Engineering Documents on "Bigger Guns Nearby" (Terminal 2):

Speaking of Greek mythology and the Doors manual...

If you take the first letter of each name in sequence, they spell out 'EODIPUS' - just two transposed letters away from 'Oedipus.'

(Hey, if the first two letters were intact, someone surely would've noticed six years ago...)

But I'm not getting into the potential symbolism on that one.

Nor I. But don't be surprised if we are still finding stuff another seven years for now... assuming of course that any of us are still around that is.

Mike Leong <Shuffledna@aol.com> writes:

11 Clans of the S'pht, with Kr being crucial in Durandal's victory. Some S'pht were freed from Pfhor captivity, but others remained enslaved. There were 11 Greek generals at Marathon. 10 were divided into a council under the leading general (polemarch). When time came to decide to engage the Persians or not, the council was split 5-5 and Callimachus, the polemarch, cast the deciding vote favoring attack, which led to victory over the Persians.

The Persians were part of a great empire that had reached its peak and headed downhill after Marathon. The Pfhor's demise starts with the return of S'pht'Kr and then leads to the destruction of the Pfhor capital by humans and S'pht.

After the Persian line broke and the Greeks assaulted the ships, they were able to secure 7.

The Greeks were defending not only against the Persians, but also against Hippias, the former tyrant of Athens. Perhaps similar to Tycho going from controlled by humanity to controlled by the Pfhor and then attacking Durandal/S'pht

Links to information on the Historical and Mythological References in Marathon. I can't guarantee that these will always be active so read them while they're still hot!




Charlemagne also includes a bit about Roland



Darwin's We will now discuss in a little more detail the struggle for existence... quote


Mjolnir or Mjollnir

Tycho (Brahe) It has now been confirmed by Greg Kirkpatrick, main author of the Marathon Story, that the Marathon's Tycho is named after Tycho Brahe.


Song of Roland

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Last updated Mar 18, 2004