Mythology

In Sailor Moon, its creator Takeuchi Naoko loved to use mythology as one of her many references for characters. Sailor Lethe & Mnemosyne were no exception either.

Lethe

Lethe's name, pronounced "LEE-thee" , comes from Greek mythology. The word Lethe (meaning forgetfulness) is derived from the Greek word "a-lethe-ia" which means "truth" or "Un-forgetfulness". It's main reference is to the name of the river Lethe, which surrounds the underworld. It's also known as the "River of Oblivion", for dead souls would drink from it to forget their past lives before going into the underworld. A second reference to Lethe in Greek mythology is to Hades' chair Lethe ("chair of forgetfulness"). The chair, which was in the underworld, would bind people seating in it with serpents. The reference comes from the myth of Theseus and Pirithous going to the underworld to obtain Persephone as a wife. However Hades would have none of that, offering them a chair to "sit down in " as a way of feigning hospitality. However another main reference to Lethe is the Greek deity (a nymph/naiad) herself called Lethe. As the deity of forgetfulness, all we know besides that is that she is the daughter of Eris. Interestingly enough, Eris was the sister of Ares and the creator of the apple which caused the Trojan War. It's also believed that Eris was the sister of Nemesis and the Fates. Which would relate back to the underworld.

The connections to the character Lethe can be seen through her powers but also through her connection to rivers, etc. Lethe is a river in the Underworld and people would drink from it to forget. When Eternal Sailor Moon starts to drown in Lethe's desert river she forgets who she is and her memories. Her powers are to make people forget but her power also seems to control the movement of people. When Sailor Lethe uses her "Galactica Mysotis Alpestnis", it looks as though Usagi is bound and can't move. This could be seen as a reference to the myth of the chair called Lethe binding people with serpents. Also, the deity Lethe was a naiad, a type of nymph. This type of nymph would preside over rivers, lakes and all types of bodies of water. This relates back to Sailor Lethe's association with water. Lethe's initial appearance is also a reference to Charon, the boatman who travels along the rivers in the Underworld. She is first seen wearing a long and very big robe that covers her entirely with an oar like tool in her hand.

Mnemosyne

Mnemosyne (Mνημοσύνη), comes from Greek mythology also. The word "mne" means "memory". The major reference to Mnemosyne is to the Greek personification of memory, which goes by the same name. She was a titaness and was the daughter of Gaea and Uranus. In a popular myth, she slept with Zeus for nine nights and because of it, gave birth to the nine Muses. The Muses being different forms of memories and recording the happenings of the universe. Also with documents from the 4th century, myths in the documents talked about a river called Mnemosyne in which people who went to the underworld could choose which river to drink out of, Lethe or Mnemosyne. It was believed if you drank from it you would retain your memories or regain them.

Connections can clearly be made to Mnemosyne's abilities in the manga. Mnemosyne clearly has powers involving memory. Her powers also make a direct reference to 4th century documents of there being a river Mnemosyne. Mnemosyne makes Princess Kakyuu drink water out of her hands and it revives her, it's also not until Mnemosyne stops Lethe that Usagi regains her memories of being a Sailor Senshi. Also in the manga, Mnemosyne makes a direct reference to the beliefs of a river existing in the the myths by saying "I am the guardian of the river of memories".


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