Giants - Titan - German surnames all over the place - Castle-Utgard - Ymir - you name it
It's pretty evident Isayama draws a lot from this kind of stuff. I'm going to list as many references/similarities as I can, hopefully this might help us with finding out about Isayama's sources of inspiration and hopefully achieving a better understanding of his manga in the process.
Some of this influences are pretty much common knowledge, but as I researched the topic I've found quite some interesting and surprising facts. The way I see this, similarities between things in SnK and bits from various Mythologies are so evident (once you find those) that they can hardly be the result of sheer luck and coincidence alone.
Feel free to contribute your own thoughts and findings, discuss, throw theories around, w/e. I'll add relevant stuff to the OP as I have the time.
Worst case scenario: this will lead us nowhere, but we will have learnt some cool shit along the way :derp
Thanks to the following people who contributed to the info contained in this list: Beatrice.
Also big props to Utsune, kkck and other contributors for their amazing work. It proved to be greatly useful with finding stuff in the manga.
List of Documented Evidence of Greek/Norse Mythology influences in SnK
Here I'll list all found evidence of similarities between facts/concepts in SnK and stuff from the Myths.
This won't be as much about theorycrafting. I'll provide links to chapter pages where relevant and include quotes from wikipedia for comparison. Notice you'll find the same quotes (and more!) in the relevant spoilered sections which can be found later on. I'm cross-posting the quotes just to make the whole thing more easily readable.
This is pretty evident and will most likely be spotted by all but the most distracted readers/watchers.
Nearly every character in SnK has either her first name or surname (or both) which can be identified as having Germanic (or, more generally speaking, Northern European) origin. This seems to imply one prominent source of inspiration for SnK would be Northern European culture, folklore and myths.
One notable exception to the "Germanic/NE names being Mikasa's first name, which is a testament to her status of last known human of Oriental ethnicity still alive in the world. Note how Mikasa's family name is Ackerman since she is Oriental only by mother.
Be aware that the name Rivaille (which definitely sounds French) was confirmed to be a misleading romanization for the english pronunciation of Levi (which is the official translation by Kodansha).
Also note the kind of society living inside the walls seems to more or less resemble a blend of late Middle Ages to pre Victorian Europe (sprinkled with a little bit of Steampunk for good measure).
Such an enigmatic character. Her name is incredibly important in Norse Mythology.
from Norse Mythology / Ymir
Also, in Norse Mythology, Ymir is accounted as the progenitor of all Jötunn (which are at large considered to be the primary source of inspiration for SnK's Titans) and is a Giant herself.Quote:
Ymir birthed a male and female from the pits of his arms, and his legs together begat a six-headed being. The gods Odin, Vili, and Vé fashioned the Earth (elsewhere personified as a goddess; Jörð) from his flesh, from his blood the ocean, from his bones the hills, from his hair the trees, from his brains the clouds, from his skull the heavens, and from his eyebrows the middle realm in which mankind lives, Midgard. In addition, one stanza relates that the dwarfs were given life by the gods from Ymir's flesh and blood (or the Earth and sea).
In SnK, Ymir is the only known Titan-shifter whose Titan-form looks very much alike regular Titans. While other shifter's Titans shown this far are roughly 15-meters in height, Ymir's is sensibly smaller. Ymir also stated that she made a fresh start when she got a second chance, but never stopped using her real name. Lastly, because of her recent chat with Reiner and Bertholdt, it would look like she isn't connected with any other shifter being introduced in the series.
As far as currently available info go, all of the aforementioned facts put together heavily imply she really is one of a kind, although future revelations might change this. A number of theories go as far as suggesting she might be the one original Titan and different supporters of this theories see all other Titans being directly or indirectly deriving from her.
As I stated previously, speculation isn't the focal point for this thread, but I felt like mentioning those theories because they would fit quite nicely with the according Norse Mythology entity.
Even though references to Titans and Giants can be found in both Greek and Norse Mythology, it's safe to assume for the primary source of inspiration for the creatures in SnK to be the Norse Jötnar.
from Norse Mythology / Jötnar
"glutton" "man-eater", "blood-thirst", "towering person". Seems pretty self-explanatory, all of those names seem to perfectly describe the Titans from SnK.Quote:
Jǫtunn (Proto-Germanic *etunaz) might have the same root as "eat" (Proto-Germanic *etan) and accordingly had the original meaning of "glutton" or "man-eater", probably due to their enormous diet because of their size. Following the same logic, þurs might be derivative of "thirst" or "blood-thirst." Risi is probably akin to "rise," and so means "towering person" (akin to German Riese, Dutch reus, archaic Swedish rese, giant). The word "jotun" survives in modern Norwegian as giant (though more commonly called trolls)
Again, lots of similarities between the jötnar and the Titans we know. Greatly varying in size and appearance, some of them showcase physical features which are so twisted that they almost don't resemble a more familiar human shape anymore.Quote:
Some of the jötnar are attributed with hideous appearances – claws, fangs, and deformed features, apart from a generally hideous size. Some of them may even have many heads, such as Þrívaldi who had nine of them, or an overall non-humanoid shape; Although some jötnar are said to have been of considerable size, many were of no difference in size than that of the Æsir or Vanir.
This is subtle but significant. While regular/deviant Titans all share an otherwise twisted and similar appearance, Titan-Shifters (ie named Titans) are very different from the rest, often featuring a unique aspect. I wouldn't call them beautiful, but they surely are less ugly than your average man-eating titan :)Quote:
Yet when jötnar are named and more closely described, they are often given the opposite characteristics. Many of the jötnar are described as beautiful, Skaði being described as the “bright bride of the gods".
I wouldn't claim this is pointing to something which is going to unfold in SnK, but it is a well known fact that the manga is very focused on themes like "who is the real enemy?", "maybe Titans are not the real culprits here", "maybe Titans have been attacked first". The story is sprinkled with this kind of ideas, although it surely is too early to have a final word on any of these matters. Regardless, the point I'm trying to show here is that the jötnar from mythology are not universally depicted as "evil" beings in a strict sense, but rather act in various ways, some times as the offenders, other as the victims.Quote:
Her relationship with Freyr is noticeable in the fact that it is not consensual. Freyr's page, Skírnir, first attempted to bribe Gerðr then subsequently had to threaten Gerðr with banishment and a life devoid of pleasure in order to convince her to lie with Freyr. This shows that the Jötunn were not always acting as the aggressor in Norse mythology, but sometimes quite the opposite.
As a whole, the Æsir-Jötnar relationship is a complex one, with a deep history embedded in murder. Odin, Villi, and Ve killed Ymir, the primordial giant, and then killed the rest of the race, save Bergelmir, by spilling Ymir’s blood and flooding Niflheim. Then, there are many myths of hostilities over resources, women, and valuable objects: Odin steals the mead of poetry from Suttung and Gunnlöð; the Æsir trick a giant out of his prize; Útgarða-Loki tricks Thor, Þjálfi, and Loki into losing many contests. Throughout the mythology, the Æsir subordinate the Jötnar and steal their wealth, knowledge, and women, even when the Jötnar are given some of the most important roles in the world.
Maybe not that important of a connection, but I can't be helped and think that never once Titans have been shown to harm animal or plant life. Well, they do have a thing for tossing horses around, but it has more to do with killing the humans riding them rather than anything else xDQuote:
Many giants play greatly influence the natural world; they could even equate with gods of nature.
It is mentioned in Vafþrúðnismál From Ymir's flesh the earth was formed, and the rocks from out of his bones;
Therese a strong link between all kinds of Jötnar and earth/stone. Unsurprisingly, we've seen a number of Titans showcasing the ability to turn their skin into a stone-like substance. Furthermore, it's been implied the walls themselves have been carved out of rock produced by the Colossal Titans sleeping inside them.Quote:
The Jötunn do appear to have some shared characteristics between a few of them, "according to well established skaldic precedents, any figure that lives on, in or among rocks may be assumed to be a giant"
Furthermore, different kinds of jotnar exist among those fire giants and frost giants are prominent species. Guess what? Colossal Titans are able to literally engulf themselves in flames, while Annie uses a crystal like (which soosely resembles solid ice) substance to put herself in hibernation thus avoiding being interrogated.
Not saying Fire Titans and Frost Titans are actually a thing in SnK, but rather that a similar motif with the connection between Titans and various aspects of the natural world seem to exist in SnK.
Iconography for Walls Maria, Rose and Sina (also as depicted in the anime)
This is one of the simplest, yet most evident clues at how much Isamaya looks into Greek Mythology/Art/Hystory while working on SnK.
Examples of very similarly looking Ancient-Greece related crafts are plenty: here are some.
Titan-Shifters emerging from a Titan corpse
from Greek Mythology / Titans
Pretty clear influence if you ask me.Quote:
One iteration of this story, that of the Late Antique Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus, recounted in his commentary of Plato's Phaedrus, affirms that humanity sprang up out of the fatty smoke of the burning Titan corpses. Pindar, Plato and Oppian refer offhandedly to man's "Titanic nature". According to them, the body is the titanic part, while soul is the divine part of man. Other early writers imply that humanity was born out of the malevolent blood shed by the Titans in their war against Zeus.
Also, to briefly delve into theorycrafting territory, this might possibly hint at normal humans in SnK descending from Titans as opposed to Titans being artificially created using humans as a basis. Please don't take this too seriously though, we simply can't know :P
Titans regurgitating human remains once their bellies are full
from Greek Mythology / Cronus (Titan)
Note: on a second thought, I don't really think this is a direct reference to Greek Mythology, as I'm pretty sure creatures of various kinds swallowing people only to regurgitate them later are pretty common in all sorts of myths, legends and tales (Jonah and the Whale, for instance. And hell! I guess the the Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood might as well be considered another instance xD). I'll leave this here anyway cause, you know, it's one little similarity between SnK and Mythology I happened to find, even if chances are high this is no more than just a coincidence.
This is a subtler one. Cronus ate his children (see the Greek Mythology section to know why), several years later, Zeus forces Cronus to throw 'hem up and they are still alive. Obviously Zeus' siblings are immortal gods themselves, so no wonder they can survive after being swallowed. Still, you know, Titan eating people -> Titan regurgitating (dead) people.Quote:
Once he had grown up, Zeus used an emetic given to him by Gaia to force Cronus to disgorge the contents of his stomach in reverse order: first the stone, which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Mount Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men, then the goat, and then his two brothers and three sisters.
The mysterious rock
from Greek Mythology / Cronus (Titan)
That rock is HUGE. It's hard to believe humans placed that stone there themselves. Also, why would they bother and put the required effort into it even? Not even mentioning the nearby sign stating "Big Rock which was here since before the town was built" or something along those lines.Quote:
Rhea secretly gave birth to Zeus in Crete, and handed Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes, also known as the Omphalos Stone, which he promptly swallowed, thinking that it was his son.
Once he had grown up, Zeus used an emetic given to him by Gaia to force Cronus to disgorge the contents of his stomach in reverse order: first the stone, which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Mount Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men
No matter how you put it, that fat-ass rock held some significance to the people who found it. I would suggest people weren't that much into placing a sign next to every big rock they found, especially when you think humanity just barely escaped their doom at the hands (actually mouths?) of the Titans.
I believe it's safe to assume the rock is linked to the walls. The walls are believed to be of divine origin, especially by people from the Cult of the Walls. Also, we do know the walls themselves hold titans in the inside. Maybe the mysterious rock is a piece from the titan-made crystal used to build the wall?
Or maybe, in the SnK world like in Greek Myths, the rock is linked to Titans in a more significant way, possibly leading to the Walls being built where they are because of it? Is the rock intended to be (or resemble) the actual Omphalos Stone? If that's the case, is the mountain around which the were built the SnK equivalent of Mount Parnassus?
I don't know. And honestly I don't think it really matters much at this point. Still, given how important the huge rock seems to be, I believe the Omphalos Stone might be among Isamaya's various sources of inspiration.
Reference material (mainly wikipedia excerpts) about Greek and Norse Mitology in the following post.