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Mythology and Legends

"Sailormoon" is greatly influenced by Greek, Roman, and Asian mythology. Roman mythology is based on the Greek myths, and the Romans adopted the Greek gods and goddesses, giving them Latin names.

My major source for the Greek and Roman mythology is the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. It's very informative and well written. Some of the info comes from things I learned from other books and from sixth grade mythology :X Other sources are credited as necessary =)


Chaos

Chaos is the abyss, the confusing nothingness that was the only thing in the universe. The children of Chaos were Night and Erebus. From those two, Love was eventually born, and Love created Light and Day. Eventually Heaven and Earth were formed.


Also called "Ouranos," Uranus was the Heavens. With the Earth, or Gaea, he had monster children: three Hecatoncheires, giants each with 100 hands and 50 heads, three Cyclops (giant monsters with only one center eye), and the Titans. Because Uranus hated the Hecatoncheires, he sealed each of them within the earth. Gaea, furious at Uranus for his treatment of their children, asked for aid from her other children. Only Cronus, one of the Titans, assisted her. He used a scimitar to slice off Uranus's testicles, and from Uranus's blood, the Erinyes (the Furies), the Giants, and the Meliai were born. The testicles fell into the sea and later Aphrodite was created from them. Uranus was overthrown by Cronus, and Cronus became the supreme ruler of the universe.


Cronus was one of the Titans, son of Uranus and Gaea. After overthrowing his father, he and his sister/wife, Rhea, were the supreme rulers of the universe. Cronus, however, learned that one of his children would eventually overthrow him. Therefore, whenever Rhea had a child, he swallowed it whole. But when Rhea had her sixth child, Zeus, she hid him away in Crete. In the child's place, Rhea gave Cronus a rock covered in clothes, and Cronus swallowed it. After Zeus grew up, with the help of Gaea, he forced Cronus to throw up his siblings.

Zeus and his siblings fought a war with Cronus and the Titans. Zeus also released the Hecatoncheires to fight for the gods, and eventually he won. The children of Cronus became the rulers of the universe.

In Roman mythology, Saturn became identified with Cronus. Before the Romans adopted Greek mythology, Saturn was originally the god of the sowers and the seed. His wife was Ops (Rhea). After his son Jupiter dethroned him, Saturn fled to Italy, where he reigned peacefully until his death. His rule in Italy became known as the Golden Age, and in memory of that period, a holiday known as Saturnalia was held every winter.


Zeus is the leading Greek god, the supreme ruler of the universe. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter. Zeus and his five siblings, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia, were the children of Cronus and overthrew the Titans from their rule. Afterward, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades drew lots for their portion of the world, and Zeus got the heavens. The most powerful god, he has controls thunder and lightning. His wife is Hera. Zeus's god children are Ares, Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, and Aphrodite.

One of Zeus's most notorious traits was having affairs with other women, much to the anger of Hera. He often took alternate forms to seduce the young girls, such as turning himself into a huge bull or golden rain. Several of his mortal children include Perseus, Pollux, and Hercules.


Poseidon was the god of the sea, specifically the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, and underground rivers. He was the son of Cronus and Rhea, and brother to Zeus, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia. After the Titans were overthrown, Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades drew lots for their share of the universe, and Poseidon got the seas. He was second to Zeus in power. Known as the "Earth-shaker," his Trident could shatter and shake anything. He was married to Amphitrite, granddaughter of Ocean and one of the Nereids. Poseidon also gave the first horse to man.

Neptune is the Roman god who became identified with Poseidon. The Roman deity was originally the god of freshwater. "Neptunalia" on July 23 is a festival in honor of him, when there is a shortage of water.


Hades is the king of the dead and the god of the underworld, which is also called Hades. He was also called Pluto, the god of wealth, by both the Greeks and the Romans. However, his alternate Latin name is Dis. Rather dark and depressive, he rarely leaves the world of the dead.

Departed souls come to Hades, which is divided into two areas: Erebus, where the dead go to immediately after they die, and Tartarus, where the souls remain. The gate outside of Hades is guarded by Cereberus, the three headed dog with a tail of a serpent, who allows souls in but not out. Charon is the ferryman who takes the dead across the underworld rivers to the front of the gate.

Hades, the god, has an magic cap that makes the wearer invisible. His wife is Persephone, daughter of Demeter. He kidnapped her, and because she ate four pomegranate seeds while in the underworld, she must live with him for four months every year.


The Greek god of war is Ares, whose Latin name is Mars. He is the son of Zeus and Hera. Ares is not particularly liked by the Greeks or the other gods, as he is ruthless, bloodthirsty, and a coward. His sister is Eris, goddess of discord, and the goddess of war, Enyo, accompanies him. He also had an affair with Aphrodite. However, to the Romans, Mars was a great symbol of power and invincibility, and he was not like Ares.


Hermes is the Greek messanger god, called Mercury in Latin. Hermes, the shrewdest of the gods, is the god of trade and commerce, and he is also a master thief. His famous symbols include winged sandals and the Cadeuceus, his wand. Hermes also invented the first lyre and gave it to Apollo. Although there are no stories that focus on him specifically, he appears in more myths than any of the other gods. Hermes' parents are Zeus and Maia, the daughter of the Titan Atlas.


Aphrodite, or Venus in Roman mythology, is the goddess of love and beauty. Her sometimes companion, sometimes son is Eros (Cupid), the god of love. In some stories, Aphrodite is married to Hephaestus, the lame god of fire who forges weapons. According to some stories, Aphrodite is the daughter of Zeus and Dione, but according to others, she was born from sea foam where Uranus's testicles fell into the sea.

Although Aphrodite helps those with love problems and brings beauty to the world, she is quite often vain, selfish, and petty. For instance, when Psyche's, a mortal girl, beauty caused men to abandon Venus's temples, Venus ordered her son, Cupid, to make Pscyhe fall in love with a monster. Unfortunately, Cupid fell in love with Psyche. However, Venus continued to try to destroy her after Psyche betrayed Cupid's trust. Eventually, the lovers reconciled, were married, and Psyche was made immortal.


The Moon

Greek and Roman Myths
In Greek mythology, the goddess of the moon is Selene, the sister of Helios, god of the son. The "Sea of Serenity" is derived from Selene's name, which in turn is where Queen and Princess Serenity get their names. In Latin, "Selene" is Luna, which is obviously where Luna the cat gets her name from.

However, the goddess of the hunt, Artemis, is often confused with Selene, so Artemis sometimes is called the goddess of the moon, too. In Roman mythology, Artemis is called Diana. The two cats, Artemis and Diana, get their names from these alternate interpretations.

When Artemis is called the goddess of the moon, she is sometimes said to have three forms: in the sky, she is Selene, on Earth she is Artemis, and the evil Hecate in the underworld. Hecate is the goddess of the dark side of the moon, and she surfaces in the sky during the new moon; she is also evil. The character most like Hecate in "Sailormoon" is Neherenia from SuperS, although Neherenia's name probably is derived from the Germanic goddess, Nehalennia, who is involved with abundance and sea-faring.


Asian Mythology
In Asian culture, there is a myth of a rabbit on the moon. There are variations of this story, but one friend got this from a Japanese mythology book: "A god went to earth disguised as a normal man. He met with a group of animals, one of which was a rabbit, and asked to share some food. All the animals did share, except for the rabbit, who had nothing to offer. So instead, the rabbit threw himself into the fire, sacrificing himself so the man could eat. The man was so touched by that action that he revealed himself as a god and took the rabbit to the moon as a reward."

A Chinese legend surrounds Chinese New Year: There once was a very strong and good man who became emperor. He eventually became corrupt and wanted to live forever, so he had special pills made that would ensure his immortality. His wife did not want such a cruel man to live forever, so she took the pills instead and floated up to the moon, taking with her her favorite pet rabbit. According to Chinese mythology, the rabbit is also supposed to be the pet of a wise medicine man who lives on the moon; the rabbit thus pounds medicine in a mortar.

Since Usagi is Princess Serenity of the Moon Kingdom, you can see how that myth relates to "Sailormoon" as well. In one of the later "SM" episodes, Usagi asks Luna if there really is a rabbit on the moon pounding mochi. This little reference is explained from a different Japanese mythology book another one of my friends has: "To this day Japanese peasants still believe in the hare in the moon. This animal employs its time in pounding rice in a mortar and making it into cakes. The origin of this conception is probably to be found in a pun, for 'rice-cake' and 'full moon' are both described by the word *mochi*."


In Greek mythology, Endymion was a shepherd who was so beautiful that when the goddess Selene saw him, she instantly fell in love with him. To make him hers, Selene put him into a magic sleep; in this sleep, Endymion was immortal, but he never woke. Every night, Selene came to earth to be with him, watch over him, and caress him. However, while Selene posesses Endymion, her love for him in this condition brings her pain. In some versions of the story, Selene bears a lot (I'll find the exact # later) of Endymion's children. @.o;;;


Helios, Pegasus, Maiden, Maenads, and Elysian

Helios is the Greek god of the son, brother to Selene, son of the Titan Hyperion. He drives his sun chariot across the skies every morning to bring light to earth. He is referred to as the Sun. One of Helios' mortal sons, Phaethon, tried to ride the chariot, but he lost control of the horses, which ran wild and set the world ablaze before Zeus struck him with a lightning bolt, killing him and destroying the chariot. Helios' daughters, called the Heliades, were turned into poplar trees near Phaethon's grave.

Elios from SuperS, or Pegasus, probably has his name derived from Helios. Elios is Prince Endymion's guardian, and Mamoru's astrological sign is Leo, who's planetary symbol is the sun.

Elios appears mostly in the form of Pegasus. In Greek myth, Pegasus was a winged horse that sprang to life from the blood of Medusa, after Perseus sliced off her head. Only Bellerophon could tame Pegasus with the golden bridle that the goddess Athena gave him. Later in life, Bellerophon tried to fly Pegasus up to Mount Olympus, the home of the gods, to become one of them; Pegasus threw him off, however, and the winged horse eventually made his home in the Olympian stables. Whenever Zeus wanted his thunderbolts, Pegasus brought them to the god.

Elios is also the priest of the shrine in Elysion. Elysion is the land where Prince Endymion's Golden Kingdom used to be. Elysion's name comes from the Elysian Fields, the part of Hades (the underworld), where the good go after their death.

The Maiden in the "Sailormoon" manga is the one with the "beautiful dream" who can break the seal on the Golden Crystal. The meaning of the Maiden draws from general myth in which only virgin girls can draw unicorns to their sides. In "Sailormoon," Pegasus is a combination of a unicorn and a pegasus.

The two odango-ed women in Elysion are called the Maenads, and they are the shrine maidens of the central shrine in the land. In Greek mythology, the Maenads were the followers of Dionysus, god of wine, and they were constantly in a state of drunken insanity. They tore up animals and people with their bare hands and ate them.


Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, and she is the twin sister to Apollo. She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Artemis has several names, including Cynthia, after Mount Cynthus, the city she was born in; Phoebe (the name of a female Titan) and Selene, the moon goddess who she becomes confused for; and Diana in Latin. Artemis is one of the three virgin goddesses, and young females often want to be free and unmarried like her. Usually Artemis protects the youthful.


Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta

In the manga, the Amazoness Quartet (CereCere, ParaPara, JunJun, and VesVes) became the Sailor Quartet (Sailor Ceres, Sailor Pallas, Sailor Juno, and Sailor Vesta).

Ceres is the Latin name for the goddess Demeter, who is goddess of the corn and the harvest. She is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped by Hades and taken to the underworld to be his queen. After Persephone's disappearance, Demeter neglected the earth so that winter came and nothing grew. Eventually, Zeus had to intervene between his siblings, and because Persephone had eaten four seeds of a pomegranate while in Hades, she had to live there for four months every year. During that period every year, Demeter grieves for her loss and winter comes to the earth. For the rest of the year Persephone lives with her mother, and the earth experienced spring, summer, and fall.

Pallas refers to Pallas Athena, Greek goddess of war, wisdom, and weaving. She created the bridle for horses and is the goddess of the city. Her Roman name is Minerva. "Grey-eyed" Athena is the daughter of Zeus; she sprung from his head fully grown and fully armored. As her father's favorite child, she carries his aegis, buckler, and thunderbolt for him. Athena is one of the three virgin goddesses.

Juno is the Roman goddess whose Greek counterpart is Hera. The sister and wife of Zeus, Hera is the queen of the gods. She is very proud and very jealous of Zeus, since Zeus frequently has affairs with other women. She never forgets an insult, and when she is angered, she punishes the innocent and guilty alike. Hera is the goddess that married women prayed to, and she is the protector of marriages.

Vesta, or Hestia in Greek, is the sister of Zeus. She is the goddess of the hearth, the most important symbol in the home. Every home and every city had a hearth to Hestia. Like Athena and Artemis, Hestia is one of the three virgin goddesses. However, Hestia has no distinct personality.


Lethe and Mnemosyne

Lethe, in Greek mythology, is one of the rivers of Hades, the river of forgetfulness. The souls of the dead who leave Hades and return to life must drink from Lethe before they leave.

Mnemosyne is memory, and she is the mother of the Muses. Zeus is the Muses' father.


Castor and Pollux

Castor and Pollux are Nephrite's twin youma in the first anime season of "Sailormoon." In Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux are brothers, and although they are not twins, they are very close. In some stories, both Pollux and Castor are divine, and in other stories, only Pollux is divine, being sired from Zeus, while Castor is mortal, having a mortal father. Their mother was Leda. As divinities, the brothers are the protectors of sailors (ironic given the use of their names in the "Sailormoon" anime). After Castor was killed, Pollux mourned the death of his brother so much that he prayed to die. Zeus, taking pity on Pollux, let him share half his life with Castor, so that the two would be allowed to live half their lives on earth, the other half in heaven. One version of the story says that they are always together on earth and in heaven, the other version says that they are always apart, one brother living in heaven while the other lives on earth, then vice versa. The stars of Castor and Pollux are Gemini, the twins.


Lemures

The Lemures are the monsters from the Dead Moon Circus in "Sailormoon SuperS."

In Roman mythology, the Lemures (Larvae) are the 'spirits of the wicked dead.'


The Three Lights

From Mnemosynehime's site:

"The San Hikari are the three lights (sun, moon, and stars) in Shinto. This goes back to the three element rule, including that of the triangle, circle, and square, in Shinto. They are necessary and important to all life in the universe.

"Sun: This is Seiya's representation. He wears the red rose which can be for Leo, ruled by the Sun. Starfighter's attack, Star Serious Laser, may have something to do with the idea of the sun's ray or light perhaps. That may give an indication to Seiya's name, but I'm not sure of this interpretation. The Sun is principal of the three deities or elements, and Seiya is the one most prominent of the three in the story.

"Moon: This is Taiki's representation. The light in the Atmosphere probably is supposed to be the Moon (hence Taiki's name). He wears the white rose which can stand for both the Moon and wisdom. The elements of water and life correlate to the element of the Moon, so might explain Starmaker's attack, Star Gentle Uterus, symbolic of growth or the creation of life. Also, the Moon is the quietest of the three, and Taiki can be said to be the quietest and least intrusive of the three lights.

"Stars: This is Yaten's representation. The lights of the night sky are the stars (hence Yaten's name). He wears the yellow rose, but I'm not sure how that fits, maybe yellow for starlight. The stars also correlate to the gas state, with liquid to the Moon, and solid to the Sun. I'm not sure how Starhealer's attack, Star Sensitive Inferno, fits, but I do know that stars are self-luminous (the Sun is an example), so maybe from the idea of light and heat comes an inferno."


Sword, Mirror, Jewel

In "Sailormoon," Sailoruranus, Neptune, and Pluto possess the three Talismans: the Space Sword (Uranus's), the Deep Aqua Mirror (Neptune's), and the Garnet Orb (Pluto's). These three items correspond to the sword, mirror, and jewel from Japanese mythology.

Excerpts are from Encyclopedia Mythica:

Ninigi-no-mikoto
"Prince-Ear-of Rice and Plenty; the rice-god, ancestral god the Japanese imperial family. He is a grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu and her husband Takami-Musubi. His mother sent him to the earth take charge of the general and political affairs.

"Accompanied by his sister, the vivacious Uzume, he descended to earth and arrived at the point where eight paths lead in all directions of the compass. They he met the terrible deity who guards the Floating Bridge to Heaven, who frightened him but not Uzume. Therefore, the god of the paths guided Ninigi to all the regions of his terrestrial kingdom. Out of gratitude, Ninigi give his sister in marriage to him. He himself married Ko-no-Hana.

"Later, Ninigi and his descendants fought their way from southern Japan to the Jamato plain (east of Osaka) and there they founded the imperial dynasty of Jamato. Amaterasu gave him a mirror, a jewel, and a sword (which are still the imperial symbols of sovereignty in Japan)."


Amaterasu:
"When her brother, the storm-god Susanowo, ravaged the earth she retreated to a cave because he was so noisy. She closed the cave with a large boulder. Her disappearance deprived the world of light and life. Demons ruled the earth. The other gods used everything in their power to lure her out, but to no avail. Finally it was Uzume who succeeded. The laughter of the gods when they watched her comical and obscene dances aroused Amaterasu's curiosity. When she emerged from her cave a streak of light escaped (a streak nowadays people call dawn). The goddess then saw her own brilliant reflection in a mirror which Uzume had hung in a nearby tree. When she drew closer for a better look, the gods grabbed her and pulled her out of the cave. She returned to the sky, and brought light back into the world."


Susanowa:
"His little pesterings, especially against his sister, proved his undoing: he looses his beard, his fingernails, and all his possessions, and is banished. He wanders the earth and has many adventures, such as the slaying of the eight-headed snake Koshi and by defeating this monster he obtained a powerful sword, called Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi ("grass cutting sword"). Some other feats were conquering Korea and wiping out the plague. Okuni-Nushi, his son, eventually tricked him out of the sword."


Princess Kaguya

Manga volume #11 and the "Sailormoon S" movie recall the Japanese story of Princess Kaguya. The following retelling of the legend comes from this site:

The Tale of the Princess of Bamboo KAGUYA HIME
(A Japanese Folk Tale)
Retold by Chifuyu Omma from Japan

"Once upon a time there was an old man and his wife. One day he went to a bamboo grove to collect bamboo shoots, where he found a bamboo tree illuminated at the middle part. He wondered why and then became curious about what was inside. He carefully cut the bamboo and was astonished to find a pretty baby inside. He decided to pick her up and bring her back to his home. He consulted with his wife how to handle this baby, and they made up their minds to raise this baby as a gift from God.

"After several years had passed, the baby grew up and was a young and beautiful lady in the town. Everyone knew her because she was graceful and beautiful. Hearing about her reputation, there were so many gentlemen who proposed marriage to her that the old parents were now very proud of her and tried to make her choose a candidates. She, however, declined any proposal. She became very sad and was crying everyday. The old parents couldn't understand why and couldn't get the daughter to answer.

"On a full moon night, she decided to tell why she was crying and to say she had to leave home and go back to the moon. She was frustrated for a long time because the time for her departure had come. The moon beams arrived to transport her back to the moon. She said good-bye to her old parents and gave them an elixir of life as a good-bye gift. The old parents lived a long life after that.

"[This is the story of a beautiful moon princess, but it is also a story about bamboo, a plant which was once believed to be sacred.]"


Altair, Vega, Theta, and Epsilon

The myth of Altair and Vega is an Asian myth and is the legend of Tanabata, a Japanese festival held on the seventh day of the seventh month. The myth comes up in "Chibi-usa's Picture Diary" #2, and it is explained in the story.

From Alex Glover's translation:

"The Weaver star. The legend of Altair and Vega. The child of Providence, Vega, loved weaving, and everyday, that's all she did. God was unable to simply stand by, so he married her with the Cowherd from the other side of the Milky Way, Altair. As soon as the two married, they only played, and they neglected their work. God became angry, and pulled them apart. He only allowed them to meet once a year, on the night of July 7th."

In the "Sailormoon" story, Ami also tells Chibi-usa and Diana that in China, the stars Vega, Theta, and Epsilon are called the "three weaver stars."

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