Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

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    Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:08 am

    Note: this thread began as a discussion about Sif and developed into a discussion about the mythological lore that influenced Dark Souls. Rather than opine, the purpose of this thread is to see if external lore and etymology can shed light on some of the game's mysteries. That said, to keep things on topic and from bleeding over into Acidic's very important in-game lore uncovering please keep discussion here focused on direct links between internal and external lore.


    I think that wolf is Artorias, and have for a bit now. The covenant made with beasts turned him into a beast. My supporting evidence:

    All Boss soul created weapons/gear (dragonslayer spear, moonlight horn, gwyn's sword) are created directly using the owner's soul. Odd that Sif's soul would create his owner's weapons.

    Biggest easter egg? The boxart. If that is Artorias on the cover, with his back to us walking into the mist of souls, he is a lefty. Sif attacks from a lefty stance as well, primarily using a left to right slash with a lefty overhand combo finisher. Very rarely, he will switch to righty stance but always quickly switches back to the left positioning. I could not reconcile the idea of Artorias as the 4 Kings as a result because of their right handed only attacks. I just feel left handed Artorias, left handed Sif is too much of a connection to ignore.


    Last edited by Emergence on Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:10 pm; edited 4 times in total


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:00 am

    Also, evidence against the Four Kings is that Sif seems to appear at a Grave. This is corroborated (notice I don't use confirmed) by the Seal which indicates that the door in the forest "Leads to the grave of Sir Artorias." The size of the grave suggests he was similar in size to the Four Kings but it seems like a lot of the population was a tad bigger than us. Sif may not be Artorias but there is definitely a strong connection. Emergence, there's a few exceptions to the weapon rule (chaos blade, darkmoon bow) but I do find it odd that Sif is tied to three separate pieces or Artorias' gear. More evidence to Artorias in the forest comes from the Cat Covenant Ring which states Alvina was around since the early age of fire and was a trusted friend of both Artorias and Sif. This could mean the three jolly co-oped (were friends) and that Sif was Artorias' companion or that Alvina recognizes Sif for who he used to be. If From is heavy into lore than there could be MORE evidence that Sif is not Artorias. I present exhibit A:
    Sif
    The only lore I am aware of using this name is female. Artorias is clearly stated to be male several times. I can't find in game mention of Sif's gender (please please please tell me if there is).
    In addition, Sif's soul indicates it "inherited" the "divine greatsword"

    So here's my theory on Sif and Artorias.....Notice that Sif inherited the "divine" sword and there are two Greatsword's linked to Artorias. The other being cursed. My theory is Artorias bequeathed his original blade to Sif for safekeeping before traversing the Abyss. At this time he joined the covenant as stated in the other sword and thus his second weapon was born. For his treachery, Artorias was killed (likely by O&S which I can explain if anyone wants to hear it) and Alvina, a trusted friend helped Sif retrieve the body and bury it in the forest, the only area which seems almost completely independent of the curse afflicting the rest of Lordran (all the enemies here with the exception of the stone/crystal golems are "natural" as opposed to hollows).


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:19 am

    Sif from a lore perspective is interesting. The only instance of Sif in other lore is Norse mythology as the Lady Sif, consort of Thor, the God of Thunder. She is closely associated with nature/earth. Being consort to the God of Thunder is also very interesting because it is clear Norse mythology had a huge influence in this game with an Arthurian overlap. I have a whole ton of info on that stuff that I am compiling for a separate thread, but for now the name Artorias is the ethmylogical root of Arthur. Studying these other mythologies has been interesting, I think it can answer some questions while at the same time confuse.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:26 am

    So yes whether Sif is Artorias or not it is clear Artorias' essence lived on and was transmuted to Sif in some way. I always just assumed that finding the armor and wolf ring in the forest was either a result of Artorias shedding those items as he changed or they were dropped by bandits. Interestig you think S&O killed him too. I wondered if Ciaran's ring on a corpse right by the grave suggested that Ciaran was the one who did the deed and "backstabbed" his brother, but met his own death as well.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:30 am

    I know right....The sword in the ground near the stone lends weight to the Arthur connection. I didn't catch that one honestly. Sif is only missing the golden hair in my opinion as much of the rest seems to fit. Like my wikipedia link and your post, definitely connected to the earth. The hair is also theorized to symbolize wheat (good harvest, etc.) which makes sense in the only area showing signs of growth and life. The flowers STILL captivate me in the forest. I briefly thought that perhaps Sif was a mashup of...well, Sif....and the Fenris Wolf but the absence of a silken cord to bind him to the rock (grave) is conspicuous. Although a sword was placed in the jaws of the wolf, it was to prevent him from biting, not to ADD a weapon winking


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:02 am

    The wolf ring outside of the grave area is intriguing. I tend to believe that the reference to bandits suggests that at one point someone almost got away with something, got lost in the woods and met their end. I don't have a lot of evidence beside the bandit reference. Ciaran's ring is also intriguing. I tend to to believe O&S for several reasons but don't rule out Ciaran. I think he might be a third party in the deed but feel more confident about O&S. Smough's lore makes me believe he aspired to be the fifth Beatle (knight) but his bloodthirsty ways prevented it. But who ruled him out of the group? Ornstein doesn't seem bothered by Smough in the least. Ciaran is pretty much missing in the game, as is Gough. Evidence suggests that Gough stayed in Anor Londo as he led the Great Archers who still have a presence and his ring is still there as well. I'll get to my Ciaran theory in a second. So in order to be excluded from the group of knights there would have to be either a vote that didn't go in his favor (either split or majority) or there was a leader who ruled him out. In the event of a vote, I feel confident Artorias said "no thanks." Either he was the leader and his vote was law or one or more other Knights agreed. Ornstein seems to like Smough and their Statues grace the entry to Anor Londo seeming to suggest they became equals at some point in time. Statues of the other knights are NOT present seemingly. Gough seems to be around like I said but is no longer revered. Perhaps he voted "no" to Smough as well but recanted once Artorias and Ciaran were gone. Or he voted "yes" but was relegated to a lower status. Or they kept him around for his value as a tactician. I feel strongly that Gough was around but diminished. Ciaran is harder to peg. The presence of the ring makes me confident he was at the grave. I am pretty sure he didn't leave either. A few theories (with little proof). Assuming Artorias was the leader, perhaps there was resentment and Ciaran went along with O&S (and possibly Gough) to remove Artorias from power. This is definitely possible as they seem to have served Gwyn and Artorias joined the Darwraiths (a covenant Gywn went to great lengths to destroy). Adding to this is Ciaran's apparent specialty.....backstabs. This could be taken to mean not the move but the act of treason. I do believe that Ciaran might have backstabbed Artorias. However, I don't think that Artorias died in the forest. The presence of the sword and Sif alive seem to suggest that the body was moved after death as I don't think that Sif would be left alive or the sword left as tribute (at least not if O&S were involved there). I believe that the ring, like the body got there after the murder of Artorias. Did Ciaran feel guilty about his involvement and leave the ring as tribute? Perhaps he sent the ring via a messenger as I believe it's found on a corpse smaller than the knights are suggested to be. This could be perhaps another bandit who didn't quite make it but either way the ring was there. This could have been done covertly to avoid leading O&S to Artorias' grave. Ciaran would have been watched with my theories as I don't think he was fully on board with Smough as the fifth knight and a visit to the grave would be bad news. Or did Ciaran make a stand with Artorias and also paid the price? Backstab meaning he betrayed Gwyn. The lack of a second grave or lore to that effect makes me doubt this.

    To make my case for O&S as the murderers, EVERYTHING about Artorias makes me believe he is special (more so than Rhea and Solaire) and therefore likely pretty stellar combat wise. O&S are definitely buddy-buddy which goes against the concept of Smough not being invited to the Knight party. They have practice fighting together which I think they would need to do to beat Artorias (they would have lost if Sif was there unless Gough and/or Ciaran joined in). Anor Londo has been renovated to remove the old heroes (Gwyn's first born, Ciaran, Gough and Artorias). Ornstein and Smough are the new idols meaning they rose to power together (possibly after Gwyn took off but I doubt it).

    So to summarize my beliefs......Artorias and his divine weapon was originally assigned to hunt down evil forces but eventually realized he didn't agree with the way things were heading with Gwyn. Knowing that his actions would be considered treason and punishable by execution he bequeathed his weapon to Sif for safekeeping and left, on his own down his new path. Artorias joined the Darkwraith covenant and his cursed sword was forged as a replacement to his divine weapon and a symbol of his new journey. Fearing the covenant now that the best knight was on board, Gwyn ordered it's destruction. With Artorias out of the picture, Ornstein became the new head of the knights, initiated Smough to the ranks. Gough and Ciaran were torn but reluctant to leave their old life behind. They remained with the knights but were demoted in the new regime. New Londo was flooded in the battle and Artorias was murdered in a final stand. Possibly this occured in New Londo (Ornstein has a LOT of drake heads which aren't big enough to have been a trophy of the war between the Lords and the Dragons). I am unsure if Ciaran was an accomplice but lean toward "probably." Eventually, those loyal to Artorias (Sif, possibly Alvina, possibly Ciaran) recovered his body and hid it in the forest, again the only place I feel that has true "life" in Lordran.

    Sorry for the thesis


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:25 am

    Good read, we are speaking the same language. What stands out to me about Ciaran as the murderer is the presence of the ring on the backside of the grave. It seems such a strong symbol. A gift at a grave would normally be placed at its front. Otherwise, I think there is creedence to everything you said as well.

    Just a wild symbolic observation: Arthur and Lady Guinevere had quite the tumultuous marriage, full of infidelity and distrust. There isn't any in game lore to support it but I wonder if the choice of names is meant to imply something.




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    Artorias: The Mystery

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:32 am

    Lol....Here we continue....Think we hijacked this thread Emergence. That's a great point about the placement of the ring. I am starting to lean toward Ciaran had a hand in it for sure. The small body still could be meaningful though. I am not sure if the rings were found by bandits (as Alvina has to recruit persons from all walks of life to protect the forest) and this bandit didn't get far or if a messenger brought it to the grave. The placement is odd though for sure. If a bandit took it was he trying to hide behind the grave or did he find it there and was immediately killed? Like you said....a messenger probably would lean toward the front of the grave. Great observation. So...new theory. Sif got to that guy quickly and the other was able to run......just not very far. As far as Arthur and his tumultuous marriage I would have to look for in game evidence since I didn't catch the Arthur root of the name until you pointed it out. Off the top of my head though, why did Gwynevere leave Anor Londo? It seems like most of the Gods did but reasons are lacking for many. Were Arthur and Guinevere alive and well in Lordran at some point? Is her statue also missing in Anor Londo? To the item descriptions and a tour of Anor Londo later tonight!!!!


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:42 am

    I split the topics to avoid a hijacking lol


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:44 am

    She left Anor Londo with the old gods as wife to the flame god Flan. I know it's complete conjecture but love and love lost have driven many a man to crazy lengths, even unbendable ones. Just ask Paris and his poor brother Hector.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:50 am

    Ok retitled the thread. Sounds like a college class now lol but it gives room to expand upon the Nordic and Arthurian myths as they relate to characters other than Artorias.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:52 am

    So if I read you correctly, she left first, leading Artorias to rethink his place in Anor Londo? That could be it for sure. I was thinking the opposite but that's biased toward my noble perception of Artorias. He left everything behind thinking there would be retribution for his treason. Again, I need to go back to things for Gwynevere lore as I hadn't put much into her role in the game prior to this but am intrigued at the possibility that they are tied. Their names certainly lead me to believe they are linked somehow. Oh boy.....who doesn't love a good love story on top of everything else?


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:10 pm

    Lulz I know. The only reason why I haven't pushed for something between Artorias and Gwynevere is because all I have is that one connection. I don't normally speculate or expand upon things in my mind unless something in game supports it but it's screaming at me!

    There is something with Gwyn here too. The only instance of Gwyn I found in mythology is a mythical ruler closely associated with the Wild Hunt which is also synonymous with Odin the paternal god of Norse myth who slayed the old giant gods and gave rise to the new ones. Thus there is a connection between Odin and Sif so there is precedent here.

    Also Yggdrasil, the everlasting Ash tree that holds up the world? Eerily close to the arch tress of Ash lake which seemingly support the world as well.


    Just observations for now, don't want to detract the focus from Artorias for now but I think it's all connected and Ragnarok has a part in this too.
    Sh
    Also don't get me started on the Norse creation story. Full of themes of fire and ice and the life giving friction caused by the competing of disparities.




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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:38 pm

    To add more potential questions:

    -The Witch of Izalith creates the Bed of Chaos, spawning demons. Chaos and demon spawning seem a lot like Loki, who was also known for his numerous and sometimes monstrous children although the Spider daughters are a far cry from Fenrir, Jormungandr (been awhile, had to look for the spelling on that one) and others. The non spider witches all resemble some depictions of Hel however.
    -Perhaps Sparkly and Snuggly should be called Huginn and Muninn (I think I might start calling them that).
    -Balder knights are maybe knights of Baldr, whose death was thought to be the signal of Ragnarok and was a symbol of bravery.


    Last edited by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:49 pm; edited 1 time in total


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:49 pm

    I noticed that about Baldr as well. Also the connection between Gwyn and Seath and Odin and one of the Jotnrr. Can't remember the name right now...


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:01 pm

    We're hijacking our own thoughts here but get this possible pendant explanation.......

    Huginn
    and Muninn always intrigued me so I just re-read up on them. Typically, they are ordered in that way (Huginn being first). So....Sparkly = Huginn and Snuggly = Muninn. Huginn means "thought" while, drum roll please......Muninn means "mind' or more importantly "memories." The pendants "true" description says it is linked to memories and it's only known use is to give to Muninn. The description
    actually says it "comforts travelers." Both ravens always struck me as
    seeking comfort and the ravens' jobs were to travel for Odin. Muninn
    also was sent to look for slain bodies which might explain why the
    "gift" from Muninn is a souvenir of reprisal, an item that is always taken from a slain opponent.

    From what I've seen of the director's hints, he suggested it was probable that most players
    wouldn't figure out its use until NG+. A couple thoughts on this. Not everyone will realize that Muninn accepts items for trade or the mechanic at first and might need a few visits and not everyone would take the pendant. So NG+ ups probability for knowledge of Muninn's mechanics and likelihood of having a pendant to trade. Not everyone will realize you can go back to the asylum either so again, playing the odds, many players will only see the asylum again after beating Gwyn. This could be important as the above theory reflects a fairly deep analysis of the lore as it intertwines with other lore, which I admit, I would not have even thought about if it weren't for multiple playthroughs, numerous item reads and this thread.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:12 pm

    Kicking it back to Arthurian symbols, the Grail Quest has some intriguing parallels. Described as a cauldron or "wide saucer" it was the vessel which caught the spilled blood of Christ. Those are some strong symbolisms for the LordVessel and the filling with Lord Souls. The grail being the key to immense power and rule jives with the Lordvessel being set aside for the chosen successor to Gwyn.




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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:15 pm

    Ninja'd me! Good observations! I don't think we are hijacking our own thoughts. It's best to lay out all the connections before forming conclusions. Figure we need to confirm there is an actual connection to the Nordic and Arthurian mythologies first.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:23 pm

    I think if there's not deliberate connections then there are a heck of a lot of coincidences. Definitely gonna be looking for more now.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:28 pm

    Going back to Artorias, the whole scene with Sif just implies a ton of regret. From the way Sif limps at the end to the grandeur of the grave. Artorias died a traitor's death but was given the posthumous treatment of a God. I think there is complexity to the choices made by both Gwyn and Artorias and to their relationship.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:29 pm

    And with the pendant, wasn't the trade list for Snuggly already spelled out at launch? Wouldn't seem like much of a mystery if it was.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Emergence on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:42 pm

    And btw the Knights Gough and Ciara are square in line with the Irish, Scottish, English, Celtic lore.


    The meaning of the name Ciaran btw: "Small Dark One"

    Described as the Lord's Blade, proficient with a dagger. In other words, assassin. Ciaran wasn't fighting too many duels, I bet most of his work was quiet and covert.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:51 pm

    I'm not sure about that since I avoided spoilers for the longest time but that wouldn't surprise me. If so.....who released the list? If From did then maybe a hint but it does put a little rain on my pendant theory parade.
    I am better versed in Norse than Arthurian lore so just did some reading into Arthur's death (I know most general ideas with the story but not enough particulars.....yet). The final battle doesn't have any surface corollary in the game from what I can tell, and neither does Mordred (was hoping for a story in which he killed a dragon). However, if I recall correctly, Sif's arena is circled with a shallow stream before the wall. The entire area is also independent of the Garden and is cut off by a river. I know it's no sea voyage but the grave does draw some parallels to Avalon being an island of sorts in a forest that blooms without need of being tended.


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by skarekrow13 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:52 pm

    Lol.....was just about to start looking for info on the knights


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

    Post by Serious_Much on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:52 pm

    I never noticed that about ciara, thats pretty interesting.

    Also I like the point of the Lefty stance, i never realised, and while i previously tied artorias to being four kings, that completely refutes that in my mind.

    I'll be looking upon this thread with interest, one part of the lore that really intrigued me was the mystery of artorias, however I've never been able to glean anything as meaningful as these ideas from it.

    The direction you're going in by linking it to mythology follows a general pattern, where many creatures and area/ideas in the game comes from some sort of mythology..

    Even though he's dead if there is DLC the one thing i'm still rooting for is an Artorias Boss fight. silly


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    Re: Linking Internal and External Lore: Norse, Arthurian, and Etymology in Dark Souls

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