The Let's Play Archive

God of War

by kalonZombie

Part 2: Sleep of Bronze slams down some education on Kratos (the god not the murderman)

Interesting. Fun enough to watch, and I think I'll enjoy keeping this thread honest. (I'm coming up on my Greats year, so I have some familiarity with Greek myth.)

Bobbin Threadbare posted:

Smornstein posted:

So is Kratos actually based on someone from Greek myth I've just never heard of or did they just make him up for the series?
Kratos is the god of strength, brother of Nike, goddess of victory. He doesn't really have any myths associated with him, which is why I suppose the developers decided to use his name.
Kratos is one of the personification gods - like Nike, literally named Victory; Ploutos, named Wealth and so on. Kratos is Power, and his twin is Bia, Force. They do have a place in myth, as Zeus' enforcers, and probably the most famous occurrence is in the prologue of Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, where Kratos is particularly enthusiastic (and rather cruel, in the end) about chaining down Prometheus while Hephaistos is reluctant.

Prometheus Bound 1-17 posted:

We have come to the distant Scythian plain, the untrodden wilderness at the ends of the earth. Hephaistos, now you must fulfil the orders which the Father gave you: that this criminal be chained here, on these high, sharp rocks, in unbreakable fetters of binding adamant. It was your flower, the light of fire using which everything is made, he stole and gave to mortals. For such a transgression against you, he must make penance to the gods, so that he learns contentment with the rule of Zeus and gives up the human-loving ways he has had 'til now.

Power and Force, you have both carried out Zeus' command and there is nothing to keep you here any more; but I myself cannot summon up the courage or daring to bind my brother god by force to this mountain’s winter-scarred chasm. But it is impossible for me not to dare: disobeying the Father’s words is a weighty deed.

(Adapted from a friend's translation; she styled it in Shakespearean English because that's sort of how Aeschylus sounds in Greek.)

After being lazy about stealing that, I might as well do some actual translation, so here is how Kratos was born and came to be Zeus' ward and assistant.

Hesiod, Theogony 383-401 posted:

Στὺξ δ᾽ ἔτεκ᾽ Ὠκεανοῦ θυγάτηρ Πάλλαντι μιγεῖσα
Ζῆλον καὶ Νίκην καλλίσφυρον ἐν μεγάροισιν:
καὶ Κράτος ἠδὲ Βίην ἀριδείκετα γείνατο τέκνα,
τῶν οὐκ ἔστ᾽ ἀπάνευθε Διὸς δόμος, οὐδέ τις ἕδρη,
οὐδ᾽ ὁδός, ὅππη μὴ κείνοις θεὸς ἡγεμονεύῃ,
ἀλλ᾽ αἰεὶ πὰρ Ζηνὶ βαρυκτύπῳ ἑδριόωνται.
ὣς γὰρ ἐβούλευσεν Στὺξ ἄφθιτος Ὠκεανίνη
ἤματι τῷ, ὅτε πάντας Ὀλύμπιος ἀστεροπητὴς
ἀθανάτους ἐκάλεσσε θεοὺς ἐς μακρὸν Ὄλυμπον,
εἶπε δ᾽, ὃς ἂν μετὰ εἷο θεῶν Τιτῆσι μάχοιτο,
μή τιν᾽ ἀπορραίσειν γεράων, τιμὴν δὲ ἕκαστον
ἑξέμεν, ἣν τὸ πάρος γε μετ᾽ ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσιν
τὸν δ᾽ ἔφαθ᾽, ὅστις ἄτιμος ὑπὸ Κρόνου ἠδ᾽ ἀγέραστος,
τιμῆς καὶ γεράων ἐπιβησέμεν, ἧ θέμις ἐστίν.
ἦλθε δ᾽ ἄρα πρώτη Στὺξ ἄφθιτος Οὔλυμπόνδε
σὺν σφοῖσιν παίδεσσι φίλου διὰ μήδεα πατρός.
τὴν δὲ Ζεὺς τίμησε, περισσὰ δὲ δῶρα δέδωκεν.
αὐτὴν μὲν γὰρ ἔθηκε θεῶν μέγαν ἔμμεναι ὅρκον,
παῖδας δ᾽ ἤματα πάντα ἑοῦ μεταναιέτας εἶναι.

And Styx, Oceanos' daughter, joined with Pallas; she bore Nike of the beautiful ankles and Zelos in his hall, and also birthed the two glorious children, Kratos and Bia. They are never far from Zeus' house, and have no place to rest or road to travel which that god has not brought them to - they are always by the side of Zeus of the loud thunder. This was as Styx, immortal daughter of Oceanos, planned it on the day when the Olympian of Lightning called the deathless gods to Olympos' peak. There he told them that he would leave alone all the possessions and glorious titles of the gods who would fight beside him against the Titans, and he would give them honour like they had had before among the deathless ones. He said that anyone who had gone without reward or glory under Kronos would have them both, as was right. Then immortal Styx was the first to go to the Olympian - with her children - thanks to the counsel of her beloved father. Zeus honoured her and gave her extravagant gifts: he appointed her to be the great oath by whom the gods swore, and her children would live alongside him every day.

Spalec posted:

He doesn't rule Hell (as a Christian would think it) though does he? He rules Hades which is different to hell. Hades was where you went after you died to be judged and either went to Elysium (Heaven) or Tartarus which is closer to the Christian idea of hell (i.e. a place of eternal torment).
The use of Haides for the underworld is interesting to track through time. You might think "isn't it a bit weird that the god of the underworld and the underworld itself are exactly the same? Wouldn't that get a bit confusing?" Well, there are more confusing things with names going on in Greek myth, but in this care you're right. The most common way to refer to the underworld, certainly in the earlier Greek texts, is not as Haides, but as Aidao or Haidao. That's the genitive construction, literally 'of Haides': in context, with a name, it's understood as 'the place of Haides' or 'the house of Haides'. Eventually, the simple metonymic use of Haides for his house does gain more currency, but it's always understood that it derives from its ruler god.

And the obligatory reminder every time non-Classicists discuss the 'modern' phenomenon of portraying Haides badly, that it comes from the oldest and most respected Greek writings on the gods.

Homer, Iliad 9.158-159 posted:

...Ἀΐδης τοι ἀμείλιχος ἠδ᾽ ἀδάμαστος,
τοὔνεκα καί τε βροτοῖσι θεῶν ἔχθιστος ἁπάντων

...Haides, you well know, is savage and wild
and, because of that, mortals hate him most of all the gods.

Hesiod, Theogony 455-456 posted:

ἴφθιμόν τ᾽ Ἀίδην, ὃς ὑπὸ χθονὶ δώματα ναίει
νηλεὲς ἦτορ ἔχων ...

And mighty Haides, who lives in his palace under the earth
and whose heart has no pity ...