Greek letters at the Gold Saucer

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This is something I've only recently noticed and I've never seen anyone discuss it before.

At the Gold Saucer in the Speed Square (the trippy, shooty roller-coaster ride), there are Greek alphabetic letters visible on what I presume is the leaderboard.




The Greek letters are on the board at the top of the booth. The English word 'gift' is in green, but above it on what looks like a leaderboard are present the Greek letters 'ρανκινγ'. When transliterated into the English alphabet this is revealed to be just the English word 'Ranking'.

The word itself is rather fitting for a leaderboard, but why they have used Greek letters here is an absolute mystery to me. It seems so strange that they didn't either use Japanese characters or English.

Has anyone ever noticed this before? It probably has no bearing on anything whatsoever, but I just find it quite cool that there is so much to learn about this game over twenty years after its release.
 

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I've never noticed that before. Though I can't remember the last time I played that mini game. I don't even remember it. :lew:

I agree with you it probably doesn't mean anything but it's fun finding little easter eggs in games you've played through many times.
 

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I read an article recently that combines Greek and gift ideas.
I do not know how serious the website is, nor how much the story presented is faithful to the ancient writings.
If we consider that it is, I find that the parallel between "Jenova" and Pandora could be interesting to study.
There may be a relationship between Pandora's box and LOVELESS's Gift of the Goddess...
But all this has certainly already been noted somewhere :)

Story of mankind’s creation in Greek mythology
 

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I read an article recently that combines Greek and gift ideas.
I do not know how serious the website is, nor how much the story presented is faithful to the ancient writings.
If we consider that it is, I find that the parallel between "Jenova" and Pandora could be interesting to study.
There may be a relationship between Pandora's box and LOVELESS's Gift of the Goddess...
But all this has certainly already been noted somewhere :)

Story of mankind’s creation in Greek mythology
The Pandora story as told on that site is relatively authentic. With mythology there are often multiple versions as different poets and writers introduce different ideas, but generally speaking that pulls together a good amount of the information seen first in Hesiod (approximately 8th-7th Century BC).

That's an interesting idea about the 'Gift of the Goddess' and Pandora. The name Pandora itself does mean 'all-giving' (or 'all-gifted', depending on your angle) and while not a literal goddess, she is created via divine magic and 'gifts' the world with a lot of ailments, leaving only Hope inside the jar.

If we take the comparison of Pandora with the Biblical Eve (both are similarly presented as the source of all of man's ills - women being to blame for the decline of man) then Genesis' very name and his love of chomping down on Banora apples is also interesting for its symbolic content. The 'Gift' which Genesis was obsessed with was a temptation which led him to do horrible things.

Similarly, Pandora was tempted to open the jar and unleash terrible things. Jenova also unleashed terrible things and plagued the planet and were it not for the survival of hope Jenova (and the consequences of Jenova) might never have been defeated. That's certainly an interesting angle for a comparison.

I don't think that directly relates to the appearance of Greek writing at the Gold Saucer, but you are right that it does seem appropriate (though possibly coincidental) that it is placed above the word 'gifts'. After all, we must 'beware of Greeks bearing gifts' (according to Virgil's Aeneid when referring to the Trojan horse)... So there is more than one point of contact there between the two pieces of text on that screenshot.

My mind did wander on this after I posted this thread and I did wonder if there was anything behind Dio (the owner of the Gold Saucer). I wondered if Dio could reference Dionysos, but probably not. The Greek god of madness, entertainment, theatre and so on would be the perfect deity to oversee a theme park, particularly one as crazy and trippy as the Gold Saucer (which contains a theatre). Though Dio himself instead looks more like a Herculean type or like a performing strongman and it isn't at all clear if this was the intended reference.
 

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My mind did wander on this after I posted this thread and I did wonder if there was anything behind Dio (the owner of the Gold Saucer). I wondered if Dio could reference Dionysos, but probably not. The Greek god of madness, entertainment, theatre and so on would be the perfect deity to oversee a theme park, particularly one as crazy and trippy as the Gold Saucer (which contains a theatre). Though Dio himself instead looks more like a Herculean type or like a performing strongman and it isn't at all clear if this was the intended reference.
I never thought of Dio that way. For me it was closer to the French word "Dieu" (God) ( I just noticed that Dio means God in Italian and Esperanto), but I find your analysis of the character and his entertainment company very interesting (the reference to the Trojan horse too).
I wondered if the idea of a Gold Saucer could be related in any way to a known myth, there are some references to Judaism and Christianism in the game. I think that the comparison with the Holy Grail is interesting. This would be equivalent to comparing the Christ's Chalice to an amusement park in a sand desert, which would be much like criticising a system of values.
Now it turns out that this kind of criticism has already been implemented in the game, especially through the comparison between Midgar and a pizza from Pizza Hut. It could be that the game incorporates an underlying theme of criticism of the Western model.
It seems to me that the "obvious" themes that most players (myself included) have read during the adventure are, a universal request of respect for the planet, the power of multicultural friendship and cooperation, the hazards of genetical and global science experiments, the impotence of mankind. Yet the West seems particularly targeted, most likely rightly if we consider its global influence and the choices and results that could already be accounted a few decades/centuries ago.
Some will argue that I'm probably going too far in my analysis and they will certainly be right.

Nonetheless... The Signals are strong tonight.

I would just add that the "Gift" sign is kind of Mako green enlightened.
 
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I never thought of Dio that way. For me it was closer to the French word "Dieu" (God) ( I just noticed that Dio means God in Italian and Esperanto), but I find your analysis of the character and his entertainment company very interesting (the reference to the Trojan horse too).
I wondered if the idea of a Gold Saucer could be related in any way to a known myth, there are some references to Judaism and Christianism in the game. I think that the comparison with the Holy Grail is interesting. This would be equivalent to comparing the Christ's Chalice to an amusement park in a sand desert, which would be much like criticising a system of values.
Now it turns out that this kind of criticism has already been implemented in the game, especially through the comparison between Midgar and a pizza from Pizza Hut. It could be that the game incorporates an underlying theme of criticism of the Western model.
It seems to me that the "obvious" themes that most players (myself included) have read during the adventure are, a universal request of respect for the planet, the power of multicultural friendship and cooperation, the hazards of genetical and global science experiments, the impotence of mankind. Yet the West seems particularly targeted, most likely rightly if we consider its global influence and the choices and results that could already be accounted a few decades/centuries ago.
Some will argue that I'm probably going too far in my analysis and they will certainly be right.

Nonetheless... The Signals are strong tonight.

I would just add that the "Gift" sign is kind of Mako green enlightened.

I think that Dio = God is the more widely accepted interpretation of the name. Since the theme park prominently displays a colossal gold statue (with wings!) and a prized photograph of Dio, the owner of the Gold Saucer certainly has a godlike ego.





That said, linguistically speaking there are important connections between Dio / Deus / Dios / Zeus and the name Dionysos. The ‘Zeus/Dios/God of Nysa’ has been considered since antiquity an etymology for the name of the god Dionysos (Mount Nysa being where he was raised in mythology). Other etymologies exist, but most connect the ‘Dio’ element of the name with Zeus or from the roots of the proto-Indo-European Dyeus / Sky Father from which all of these words may have developed. So it is all in the same ballpark.

The Gold Saucer / Holy Grail comparison is interesting. While I believe the primary intended reference is to do with panning for gold (as in Wild Western tropes appropriate for the Corel region) I like this interpretation too. After all, people save up for a chance to purchase a ticket to see this almost magical place hidden away unlike anything else in the world (and owned by, as we have determined, a 'god' of some form).

Amongst many other items in Dio's Museum at the Battle Square there are a few cups and vases and other drinking vessels (albeit not gold). It almost reminds me of that iconic scene in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. :D




I think you are right that 'Western culture' (if that is a definable thing) is a target. I find the Gold Saucer to be a representation of Disneyland (although it is worth noting that Japan has enjoyed its Tokyo Disneyland since the 1980s and I'm not aware of serious movements against it calling it 'Western encroachment' or anything, so I think if there is inspiration it is also partly out of love rather than a full, venomous critique).

Comparing the two, the Gold Saucer has its own Thunder Mountain (the Speed Square roller-coaster has a Wild Western theme during sections, though also combined with the shooty-craziness presaging rides like Buzz Lightyear’s Astro-Blasters). Similarly it possesses its own Haunted Mansion (in the style of a creepy hotel). Topping it off it has popular fireworks displays, regular shows and costumed mascots representing popular characters (chocobos and moogles).

Linnaete discussed the similarities between Midgar and Disney’s original plan for EPCOT in issue 2 of our Timber Maniacs magazine, but I also find it fascinating to consider the Gold Saucer's similarities with this other side of the Disney park project.

Like Midgar, the Gold Saucer may be a dark examination of Disney / the West as the theme park is built over the ruins of a destroyed, semi-abandoned mining town. After its destruction by the Shinra company, the ashes of Old Corel barely had time to cool before Dio bought the land and built his mad tower of entertainment directly on top of it…

With it being in the desert I think it is also a bit like Las Vegas, but the critique is very similar.

But I don't think we are to take the Gold Saucer as an entirely malicious place. As noted, it is also definitely represented as a place of extraordinary achievement, where families (who can afford a ticket) can have a lot of fun. There is nothing else like it on the FFVII Planet, just like many people might say the same about Disneyland (although there are other excellent theme parks). The game does, however, force us to pay attention to the darker side by exposing its horrific underbelly by showing us the Corel Prison (AKA the ruined Old Corel) at the base of the Gold Saucer.

The player might forget after a while about all of this negativity and just continue enjoying the Gold Saucer during the later stages of the game, and this perhaps is a good summary of our society. :D Intentional or not, I like what they did with the place.
 

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Yeah, I noticed this the last time I played about a year ago, because I've been learning Modern Greek to help me follow the Eastern Orthodox liturgy.

I don't think it has any significance. I think it's just there to give a façade of worldbuilding. Relatively few people in the world speak Greek (I think it's ranked like 251 or something like that; finding Greek dubs of Hollywood films is pretty much limited to kids' movies), and most cultural references to Classical / κοινή are isolated to college life and Bible schools. So I sincerely doubt Square had any deeper intended meaning for including it. It was an easy way for Square to make it look like the world of FFVII was bigger than it really is; as any student of any historical stage of Greek knows, that sequence of phonemes does not happen organically (i.e., in words that are not foreign-borrowed) in the language.
 

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Amongst many other items in Dio's Museum at the Battle Square there are a few cups and vases and other drinking vessels (albeit not gold). It almost reminds me of that iconic scene in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.
:D
Funny, I also thought of Indiana Jones recently about the game. I thought I remembered that one of the episodes staged the Pandora's box, but in fact it was the Ark of the Covenant. But maybe there is a relationship between these two myths! I do not have the knowledge ...

I think you are right that 'Western culture' (if that is a definable thing) is a target. I find the Gold Saucer to be a representation of Disneyland (although it is worth noting that Japan has enjoyed its Tokyo Disneyland since the 1980s and I'm not aware of serious movements against it calling it 'Western encroachment' or anything, so I think if there is inspiration it is also partly out of love rather than a full, venomous critique).
Perhaps the mirages of the consumer society were already too entrenched in the life of the Japanese for the installation of this theme park triggers an important protest movement (there has certainly been the challenge as for any project). It's hard to get out of "The American Way of Life", especially when it is pressed into your mouth by naval gunshots (see the "Modern era" section).

Linnaete discussed the similarities between Midgar and Disney’s original plan for EPCOT in issue 2 of our Timber Maniacs magazine, but I also find it fascinating to consider the Gold Saucer's similarities with this other side of the Disney park project.
I found Linnaete's article very interesting. Among other things it told me about the eight cities that preceded the creation of Midgar. I had the feeling that Midgar represented a summary of the main Western cultures. I think we can find the origin of some of these cities (countries) by observing the various bars of the city. A parisian brasserie (Les Marronniers), an American saloon (7th Heaven), the lair of an Italian godfather (Don Corneo's Mansion), an english phone booth (in the remake), a whorehouse covered with panels written in Japanese (I guess) (the corrupt part of Japan?).

Idealized Japan is represented in the far-away city of Wutai in a romantic version seeming very respectful of Shinto traditions. It is said that the country has just won a long war against Midgar who planned to install a Mako reactor there.
This reminds me of an episode in the relations between the West and Japan, which strongly mobilized the Japanese public opinion against the proposal by the United States (1954) to install nuclear power stations as compensation for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A gift that was finally built by a subsidiary of the GE Group ... (Shinra?) (see the "Early years" section)

This may possibly suggest that the creators of the game offered an uchronic view of the events that followed the Second World War, supporting a rejection of the West probably well deserved.

This is one of the twisted links that I can make with the "Gift" sign lit in green...
 
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Yeah, I noticed this the last time I played about a year ago, because I've been learning Modern Greek to help me follow the Eastern Orthodox liturgy.

I don't think it has any significance. I think it's just there to give a façade of worldbuilding. Relatively few people in the world speak Greek (I think it's ranked like 251 or something like that; finding Greek dubs of Hollywood films is pretty much limited to kids' movies), and most cultural references to Classical / κοινή are isolated to college life and Bible schools. So I sincerely doubt Square had any deeper intended meaning for including it. It was an easy way for Square to make it look like the world of FFVII was bigger than it really is; as any student of any historical stage of Greek knows, that sequence of phonemes does not happen organically (i.e., in words that are not foreign-borrowed) in the language.
I think this is probably correct. Like the signs scattered throughout multiple locations in FFVII, this helps to present the idea that there are multiple languages and cultures in the world. For example, the presence of a ‘Texas Cowboy Club’ on the façade of Tifa’s 7th Heaven bar is something which fits the theme of the saloon but otherwise doesn't really make a lot of sense considering that Texas does not exist in FFVII.

Linguistically, you are correct about references to Greek (the language). Only those who have studied it for one reason or another are likely to appreciate any particular references (and this is simply an English word using Greek characters, so it isn't even a famous Greek phrase). However, when it comes to mythological allusions the Final Fantasy franchise has been known to dig very deep.

I can't say that ρανκινγ here is truly signalling anything other than what you suggest, but I find the placement of it very curious.

Funny, I also thought of Indiana Jones recently about the game. I thought I remembered that one of the episodes staged the Pandora's box, but in fact it was the Ark of the Covenant. But maybe there is a relationship between these two myths! I do not have the knowledge ...
In Indiana Jones the Ark unleashes death spirits of sorts which plague those opening the box. Like a curse. I believe the Ark of the Covenant of the Bible was said to have afflicted the Philistines who coveted it and stole it from the Israelites, and generally nobody was allowed to look at it or anything. But aside from the general symbolism of a box bringing with it a curse, there's not much that I can think of which would directly relate it to Pandora's box/jar.

The ills released by Pandora were universal and afflicted all of mankind, regardless of whether they individually deserved it or not (hence very much like all humankind being punished for Eve and Adam chomping down on that juicy apple). I believe, and I might be wrong, that the afflictions related to the Ark of the Covenant only related to those who misused it. Similar to how the Nazis were melted in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark but Indiana himself was spared despite being within the vicinity.


Perhaps the mirages of the consumer society were already too entrenched in the life of the Japanese for the installation of this theme park triggers an important protest movement (there has certainly been the challenge as for any project). It's hard to get out of "The American Way of Life", especially when it is pressed into your mouth by naval gunshots (see the "Modern era" section).

I found Linnaete's article very interesting. Among other things it told me about the eight cities that preceded the creation of Midgar. I had the feeling that Midgar represented a summary of the main Western cultures. I think we can find the origin of some of these cities (countries) by observing the various bars of the city. A parisian brasserie (Les Marronniers), an American saloon (7th Heaven), the lair of an Italian godfather (Don Corneo's Mansion), an english phone booth (in the remake), a whorehouse covered with panels written in Japanese (I guess) (the corrupt part of Japan?).

Idealized Japan is represented in the far-away city of Wutai in a romantic version seeming very respectful of Shinto traditions. It is said that the country has just won a long war against Midgar who planned to install a Mako reactor there.
This reminds me of an episode in the relations between the West and Japan, which strongly mobilized the Japanese public opinion against the proposal by the United States (1954) to install nuclear power stations as compensation for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A gift that was finally built by a subsidiary of the GE Group ... (Shinra?) (see the "Early years" section)

This may possibly suggest that the creators of the game offered an uchronic view of the events that followed the Second World War, supporting a rejection of the West probably well deserved.

This is one of the twisted links that I can make with the "Gift" sign lit in green...
There probably is something to that. The comparison of Mako energy with nuclear energy is definitely intended. For a start the Mako energy is converted into energy in reactors, but the post-explosion ruins of the Gongaga reactor reminds me of the accident at the Chernobyl power plant. But I suspect that there are deep anxieties regarding nuclear energy in Japan at play here (as well as fossil fuels, which Mako also represents).



Yeah, as a contrast to Midgar which has engulfed a multitude of cultures into one, Wutai represents a purer, West-free version of Japan (albeit mixed with other Asian influences such as the Buddhist-like Da-chao statue which probably relates to the Dazhao monastery).

Interestingly, like most places in the FFVII planet outside of Midgar and Junon, Wutai almost becomes a caricature of itself. As you say, it is an idealised version. It is almost as if most of the other towns in that planet have been forced to turn towards tourism and performing their heritage (maybe exaggerating it to combat the influence of Shinra and the 'West'). Everywhere the player turns there are people from Midgar 'on holiday' (the Turks, Hojo, Don Corneo, and so on) so Wutai managed to hold Shinra back from dominating the region and defiling its natural landscape, but they've still become a tourist town of sorts for people of the 'Western culture'. They even send out flyers advertising the Turtle's Paradise bar across the entire planet. It seems that they need it and their economy might rely on it. Another sad truth for many places.

Maybe with the Gold Saucer writing being an English word using Greek letters, that just sums it all up that the dominant culture is infiltrating all others in unique, unstoppable, and sometimes undetectable ways.

I wonder if the happy families think about any of that after they step off that roller-coaster and collect their 'gift'!
 

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Yeah, as a contrast to Midgar which has engulfed a multitude of cultures into one, Wutai represents a purer, West-free version of Japan (albeit mixed with other Asian influences such as the Buddhist-like Da-chao statue which probably relates to the Dazhao monastery).
Yes, this carved cliff definetly deserves to be analyzed seriously!

There probably is something to that. The comparison of Mako energy with nuclear energy is definitely intended. For a start the Mako energy is converted into energy in reactors, but the post-explosion ruins of the Gongaga reactor reminds me of the accident at the Chernobyl power plant. But I suspect that there are deep anxieties regarding nuclear energy in Japan at play here (as well as fossil fuels, which Mako also represents).
I'm not sure that Mako is also a fossil fuel. I assume that the game is very much inspired by our reality. In the movie "Advent Children" Barret gives Cloud a voice message telling him that he has just discovered the biggest oil field. I think this type of fuel was already known before the Meteor event and was used to propel the vehicles through basic engines.
The Shinra rocket also had to use this kind of fuel (or something else), now the abundance of electric power supplied by the Mako reactors has certainly been decisive for the development of the technologies that prevailed to the production of the launcher (machine tools) and on-board electronics (piloting software and mission tracking).
But maybe there are evidences that points Mako as a fossil fuel, I do not know.

If we can stay a while on the theme of nuclear, I watched the animated adaptation of the novel "On the way to a smile - Episode: Denzel". The scene that shows the apocalypse caused by the presence of Meteor over Midgar seems to me very similar to what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the seconds following the explosion (at least to the vision that I am able to get from the different sources that were presented to me).
Asteroid itself has probably no connection with nuclear energy, but the black materia used to invoke it should logically be composed of Mako energy.
 
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Yes, this carved cliff definetly deserves to be analyzed seriously!


I'm not sure that Mako is also a fossil fuel. I assume that the game is very much inspired by our reality. In the movie "Advent Children" Barret gives Cloud a voice message telling him that he has just discovered the biggest oil field. I think this type of fuel was already known before the Meteor event and was used to propel the vehicles through a basic engine.
The Shinra rocket also had to use this kind of fuel (or something else), now the abundance of electric power supplied by the Mako reactors has certainly been decisive for the development of the technologies that prevailed to the production of the launcher (machine tools) and on-board electronics (piloting software and mission tracking).
But maybe there are evidences that points Mako as a fossil fuel, I do not know.

If we can stay a while on the theme of nuclear, I watched the animated adaptation of the novel "On the way to a smile - Episode: Denzel". The scene that shows the apocalypse caused by the presence of Meteor over Midgar seems to me very similar to what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the seconds following the explosion (at least to the vision that I am able to get from the different sources that were presented to me).
Asteroid itself has probably no connection with nuclear energy, but the black material used to invoke it should logically be composed of Mako energy.
By Mako being like a fossil fuel I meant just in the essence of what it is. Mako is spirit energy from the Lifestream, which itself is made up of the dead things of the Planet (ready to be recycled, etc). So in that sense it is a form of fossil fuel, but a more active / living form. So maybe not fossil fuel in the sense that the dead matter had been buried for millions of years, but the energy from dead things and the very cycle of life itself which Shinra was harnessing.

But I was mostly thinking less about the nature of the fuel and more to do with the symbolism. The anti-industrial and pro-environment message is strong in FFVII. Square Enix may be a bit inconsistent in Advent Children by having Barret excited about discovering a new source of oil. While Barret and his people were coal miners before the Mako reactor was built at Corel, Barret was supposed to have learned about the dangers of misusing the resources of the Planet. Oil doesn't seem to be the obvious healthier alternative energy source for a former eco-terrorist to contemplate extracting as soon as the mega-corporation he had dedicated his life to ending had crumbled.

But I think the nuclear symbolism is also very strong in FFVII. My thinking is that Square Enix was critiquing any attempt to manipulate the resources of the planet without fully considering the consequences.

Aside from a clip or two I can't remember seeing the animated version, but I recently read the novella version of Episode Denzel.

The Midgar in that story is the very definition of post-apocalyptic, so it doesn't surprise me that it evokes Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In this case it is the Lifestream coming out of the earth which causes the Geostigma and quite a lot of extra damage to Midgar, as it contained infected Jenova particles. The Lifestream emerged from within the Planet to aid Holy in holding back the Meteor. The Planet was spared, but because of the exposure of the poisoned Lifestream, a lot of people got sick with some dying horrifically on the spot (as seen in Episode Denzel) while others lived long enough to die uncomfortable, drawn-out deaths. So if we want to read into that radiation poisoning, I guess it is a bit like a nuclear accident (or nuclear attack) with some being exposed at the epicentre of the crisis dying very quickly, with others who were exposed in lower doses dying over time. Tragically, this crisis was unwittingly initiated by nature (although you could argue that nature wouldn’t have needed to step in to stop Meteor at this point were it not for the meddling of mankind). A sad side-effect and another legacy of the Shinra Corporation's attempt to meddle with both the Planet and the extraterrestrial entity known as Jenova.

It is evident that ending Shinra didn't end the Planet's problems. Particularly if people like Barret thought it would be clever to drill for oil, etc! I wonder how life at the Gold Saucer fared compared to elsewhere.
 

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I wouldn't have noticed that because I don't know Greek, lol. Interesting though. I wonder if there are any other Greek letters in the game besides that.
 

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I wouldn't have noticed that because I don't know Greek, lol. Interesting though. I wonder if there are any other Greek letters in the game besides that.
I don't know of any others in FFVII per se, but in Advent Children the plate on Jenova's helmet is retconned to refer to a "[μ]-Era":
(Scroll down on the linked page to find the relevant question.) According to Grimoire Valentine, who says he bases his information on multiple primary sources (though he doesn't offer precise citations), FFVII's chronology is divided into 2000-year partitions. There was an [α]-Era, a [β]-Era, a [γ]-Era, and so on, each lasting 2000 years. This would mean that, as of the events in the game, the world's known history goes back to about 26,000 years. (Whether this is simply the beginning of history or the actual beginning of Gaea and all its life forms is unknown.)

But again, this is all just Shadow of the Colossus syndrome, y'all. These are games. They take finite resources to develop, and developers simply don't have time to sneak in complicated, coordinated coded messages with real payoffs, unless they're selling a strategy guide that tells you exactly how to obtain said payoff. What they have time to do is give throwaway lines and visuals that entice the audience into staying excited about the product via fan discussions of the lore. (Just think about the Space Jockey in the Alien franchise prior to Prometheus or the comics.) It's like J.J. Abrams said in the infamous TED Talk: The key to hooking the audience is to give them a mystery box.
 

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By Mako being like a fossil fuel I meant just in the essence of what it is. Mako is spirit energy from the Lifestream, which itself is made up of the dead things of the Planet (ready to be recycled, etc). So in that sense it is a form of fossil fuel, but a more active / living form. So maybe not fossil fuel in the sense that the dead matter had been buried for millions of years, but the energy from dead things and the very cycle of life itself which Shinra was harnessing.
I totally see your point.

In this case it is the Lifestream coming out of the earth which causes the Geostigma and quite a lot of extra damage to Midgar, as it contained infected Jenova particles. The Lifestream emerged from within the Planet to aid Holy in holding back the Meteor. The Planet was spared, but because of the exposure of the poisoned Lifestream, a lot of people got sick with some dying horrifically on the spot (as seen in Episode Denzel) while others lived long enough to die uncomfortable, drawn-out deaths. So if we want to read into that radiation poisoning, I guess it is a bit like a nuclear accident (or nuclear attack) with some being exposed at the epicentre of the crisis dying very quickly, with others who were exposed in lower doses dying over time.
I think you're right to connect the assault of the lifestream with the "nuclear" incident. But I also think that this incident must be considered as the result of the convergence of three elements, the meteor (invoked by the black materia), holy (invoked by the white materia) and the lifestream (raw mako). These three elements are related to mako and together form the heart of the "nuclear" disaster, in my opinion.

One could say that the incident is related 75% to the lifestream and 25% to particles of "Jenova", if we consider that the latter is responsible for Geostigma (Geo: An element in many compounds words of Greek origin, meaning 'the earth' or 'earth,' or 'land.' - Stigma: A visible indicator of disease.)
Now there's no sign of stigma on the earth itself, only on people that were close to Midgar. Strange that the disease is not called Jenostigma...
I wonder if it is customary to talk about the symptoms of a disease by exposing it in these terms: Ebola stigma, Plague stigma (I am not a native English speaker), but it would certainly make more sense than Human body stigma...

But I was mostly thinking less about the nature of the fuel and more to do with the symbolism. The anti-industrial and pro-environment message is strong in FFVII. Square Enix may be a bit inconsistent in Advent Children by having Barret excited about discovering a new source of oil. While Barret and his people were coal miners before the Mako reactor was built at Corel, Barret was supposed to have learned about the dangers of misusing the resources of the Planet. Oil doesn't seem to be the obvious healthier alternative energy source for a former eco-terrorist to contemplate extracting as soon as the mega-corporation he had dedicated his life to ending had crumbled.
I do not know if Barret's motives are really ecologist. I know he signed a kind of pact with the devil (Shinra), which led to the destruction of Corel, the death of his wife and many of his friends, the loss of contact with his friend Dyne. These reasons would be sufficient to desire revenge, I guess...

Aside from a clip or two I can't remember seeing the animated version, but I recently read the novella version of Episode Denzel.
I did not see Episode: Denzel in full, just an excerpt on Youtube. I have not read the novels, which I would like to find time to do.
 
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Dionysos

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I don't know of any others in FFVII per se, but in Advent Children the plate on Jenova's helmet is retconned to refer to a "[μ]-Era":
(Scroll down on the linked page to find the relevant question.) According to Grimoire Valentine, who says he bases his information on multiple primary sources (though he doesn't offer precise citations), FFVII's chronology is divided into 2000-year partitions. There was an [α]-Era, a [β]-Era, a [γ]-Era, and so on, each lasting 2000 years. This would mean that, as of the events in the game, the world's known history goes back to about 26,000 years. (Whether this is simply the beginning of history or the actual beginning of Gaea and all its life forms is unknown.)
That’s interesting. I knew that some dates were thrown about for the era represented in the game, but I’d forgotten about the reset after Meteor when the calendar went back to 0 (the [ν]-era). That's if I ever really noticed it. I vaguely recall people pointing out the writing on the monument commemorating the fall of Midgar, but I hadn't really thought about the letters they used to mark the eras.

If there really were 2,000 years for each recorded era then that would imply a long, long history which we are unaware of. The Cetra were only supposed to have experienced the Calamity (Jenova) 2,000 years ago, which would be shortly before the beginning of the [μ]-era (so presumably the [λ]-era by this logic)…

If true, that would mean that there had been civilisations capable of recording history, dates, etc, long, long before even the Cetra. Unless the Cetra (or even modern humans) created this system and simply counted backwards based on a contemporary understanding of what they believe had passed before them.


I totally see your point.


I think you're right to connect the assault of the lifestream with the "nuclear" incident. But I also think that this incident must be considered as the result of the convergence of three elements, the meteor (invoked by the black materia), holy (invoked by the white materia) and the lifestream (raw mako). These three elements are related to mako and together form the heart of the "nuclear" disaster, in my opinion.

One could say that the incident is related 75% to the lifestream and 25% to particles of "Jenova", if we consider that the latter is responsible for Geostigma (Geo: An element in many compounds words of Greek origin, meaning 'the earth' or 'earth,' or 'land.' - Stigma: A visible indicator of disease.)
Now there's no sign of stigma on the earth itself, only on people that were close to Midgar. Strange that the disease is not called Jenostigma...
I wonder if it is customary to talk about the symptoms of a disease by exposing it in these terms: Ebola stigma, Plague stigma (I am not a native English speaker), but it would certainly make more sense than Human body stigma...
I’m not sure about the precise percentages if we were to divide it up, but certainly all three of those things together led to the terrible events we’re discussing. The Lifestream should have been a pure force cleansing everything as it helped destroy Meteor, but instead it included those terrible particles of Jenova. I’d say that the actual number of particles of Jenova must have been relatively low otherwise the damage would have been far more severe, but it was still enough to wreak havoc on Midgar and pollute the Planet.

I do believe that the disease spread elsewhere as well, but it was mostly concentrated on Midgar as that was where the Lifestream focused due to the presence of Meteor directly above it.

As for the naming of the disease. As you say, Geo = 'earth' and Stigma = indicator of disease (or 'mark'/'scar'). Geostigma essentially means the ‘scarring of the earth’, relating to the damage to the Planet’s spirit (Lifestream) by Jenova and Sephiroth. In a way, the Planet itself has the disease and it is expressed by the sickness of its inhabitants. That is one possible interpretation.

But stigma also has another meaning in English, meaning something which might cause shame in the person or affect their reputation. On top of the illness, people with leprosy historically suffered the added stress of being made outcasts and to be called sinners who deserved their illnesses due to their 'immoral natures' and were being punished by God. Likewise, there was (or is still, amongst some people) a stigma surrounding AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, particularly aimed at homosexual people. It’s not a very healthy thing for those who are sick to then deal with becoming a social outcast, but throughout history people have shunned people with particular illnesses.

It may be possible that Geostigma might carry connotations like this with it too. People do seem to be shunned when they get it by some people. Cloud was ashamed and tried to hide his Geostigma at first. Maybe the stigma surrounding Geostigma was due to people's fear of contagion, or maybe they were afraid that the person must have deserved it somehow (and thus would be unsavoury people).

Plagues tend to hit cities the most (where the concentration of people is greater and trade networks, etc, lead directly to them). It is therefore not surprising that Midgar (by a long way the largest city in FFVII) was hit the hardest anyway. We might add to that the possible belief amongst inhabitants that Midgar deserved its punishment as it was a city of sin.

But on your point about the names of diseases, it truly varies from disease to disease and when the terms were coined. Ebola relates to the Ebola River in the Congo where the disease was discovered. The catch-all term ‘plague’ is (like many words we’re discussing lately) Greek in origin, filtered through Latin and French. It stems from the word plaga (meaning ‘blow’, ‘strike’ or ‘impact’). So when Athens suffered its devastating plague in 430 BC, it was struck with its illness (though loimos was the more common Greek name for a plague, so the etymology for our word plague I'm referring to is based on the feeling of having a plague attack you and your people beyond your control). The Athenian plague hit Athens while it was fighting Sparta during the Peloponnesian War, so naturally there were some citizens who believed that the gods were punishing Athens and favoured Sparta instead.

Epilepsy, similarly, has Greek roots (meaning to be ‘seized upon’) and was in antiquity commonly called the 'sacred disease' as it was once believed that Gods possessed those who suffered from it. This is why we call them seizures. People were believed to be seized by divine beings and forced to shake uncontrollably and foam at the mouth, etc.

So yeah, these particular terms seem to be related to concepts outside of the patient themselves. In this case rather than describing the experience of the patient or the symptoms, these diseases relate to the perceived external source of the illness (the location they are discovered, a verb describing the action the gods must have taken in order to punish people, and so on).

But the names of other diseases will be different and do relate to the internal state of the patient themselves or their visible symptoms (leprosy falls under this category as that relates to peeling, scabby skin - again, Greek origin), rather than their external origins. I’m not an expert on medicine by any means though. I'm just trying my best to answer your question.

I think that Geostigma probably fits in with the external origins category of disease names. The name doesn't appear to describe what is visible on the patient (though a form of mark or scarring is present, it isn't 'earthly' in appearance in my view). Instead the term possibly relates to the origins of the illness as being due to the infected Lifestream (the very life-force of the Planet itself) which can be much like a scar. Or the disease relates to the tainted earth scarring people.

I do not know if Barret's motives are really ecologist. I know he signed a kind of pact with the devil (Shinra), which led to the destruction of Corel, the death of his wife and many of his friends, the loss of contact with his friend Dyne. These reasons would be sufficient to desire revenge, I guess...
You're right. His initial reasons for turning on the organisation were personal.

It's possible that Barret simply appropriated AVALANCHE's cause and did not care as much about the environment as he claimed. He possibly became zealous about it when leading AVALANCHE but maybe that was just his way at getting at Shinra and expressing anger at everything Shinra does.

The environmentalism may have been his rallying cry to recruit others to fight against Shinra, but his true motivations were revenge. At first at least. I think there is a part of him which was genuinely concerned about the Planet and Shinra sucking the life-blood from it - he's a convincing fraud if not.

I just don't think he had a clear plan on what to do afterwards. Oil was less damaging than sucking the Lifestream out of the Planet, so maybe he figured it would be okay as a temporary measure. He's not a scientist, so he wouldn't have the answers there. He did all he could do. Before he became an eco-terrorist he was a miner, so he just went back to his roots, I guess. He needed someone else to guide him on a more sustainable, cleaner form of energy but apparently all the best scientists are dead or preoccupied.
 
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mothcorrupteth

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If true, that would mean that there had been civilisations capable of recording history, dates, etc, long, long before even the Cetra. Unless the Cetra (or even modern humans) created this system and simply counted backwards based on a contemporary understanding of what they believe had passed before them.
But if the Cetra did that, then how did they know when the [α]-Era began? They would have to in order to reason that they were in the [λ]-Era. That implies that the [α]-Era's start coincides with their creation myth or the founding of their first major civilization.

I think a third possibility is more likely: This is a dating system that has arisen among humans recently, to describe pre-history.
 

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But if the Cetra did that, then how did they know when the [α]-Era began? They would have to in order to reason that they were in the [λ]-Era. That implies that the [α]-Era's start coincides with their creation myth or the founding of their first major civilization.

I think a third possibility is more likely: This is a dating system that has arisen among humans recently, to describe pre-history.
I think that'll be more likely, yeah.

The entire dating system using Greek letters might be a modern one. Maybe they needed to account for not just the Cetra but the prehistory excavated at places such as Bone Village (although that is a jumbled-up place and would be a nightmare for any real archaeologists to stratify their finds and record precise context, etc).

Realising that their Planet is very old, they probably needed a system which could deal with the distant past (though it seems not deep time in the sense as we would know it relating to distant geological eras dating back millions of years ago). A system divided into 2,000 year eras probably seemed neat to them. They would have had to have been fairly confident with their starting point of an [α]-Era so maybe we're to imagine that they based that on that on the earliest archaeological evidence available to them, but they must know that this can change with further finds. Maybe then we'd start to see them use an [-α]-Era and so on.

I know it is more likely that the creators simply decided to use Greek letters and express vague ideas about humans existing on the Planet for a long time, and they likely didn't for one moment expect us to think about the eras before the [λ]-Era. But here we are! Testing the consistency of the FFVII universe can be quite fun at times.
 

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But if the Cetra did that, then how did they know when the [α]-Era began? They would have to in order to reason that they were in the [λ]-Era. That implies that the [α]-Era's start coincides with their creation myth or the founding of their first major civilization.

I think a third possibility is more likely: This is a dating system that has arisen among humans recently, to describe pre-history.
This is a possibility.

But I am convinced that the Cetra are people who migrate from planet to planet (perhaps of their own will but I rather think of that of their leader (god, lifestream). They migrate, they cultivate, they leave.
From there I think that the [α] -Era (Alpha) could be the date on which they arrived on this planet and that the [Ω] -Era (Omega) should be the date in the future to which they are meant to leave.
Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end.

I think it makes sense.
 

mothcorrupteth

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From there I think that the [α] -Era (Alpha) could be the date on which they arrived on this planet and that the [Ω] -Era (Omega) should be the date in the future to which they are meant to leave.
Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end.

I think it makes sense.
Like Hindu kalpas combined with an Mayan calendar. Every 4.32 billion years the world is reborn, but the calendar stops in 2012 and no one is sure why.
 

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Like Hindu kalpas combined with an Mayan calendar. Every 4.32 billion years the world is reborn, but the calendar stops in 2012 and no one is sure why.
Yes, kind of. Great reference, thanks !
I've got another hypotesis much more controversial. An Era (2000 years) could corespond to the duration of a migration (the time that should be spent on each planet).
Of course that would make Cetra the people of Jenova... Omega would then be the vessel for migration, it would have been named after the final destination, perhaps the promised land.
But I have not really studied the integration of this hypothesis in the game. For it to have any validity it would be necessary to know if this nomenclature was created/used by the Cetra, to begin with.
 
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