How are Sailor Moon’s Pharaoh 90 and Mistress 9 Connected to Egypt?

Some say that Mistress 9 walks like an Egyptian

Some say that Mistress 9 walks like an Egyptian

Or, asked in a more direct way: why is Pharaoh 90 a “pharaoh” in the first place when there are otherwise no tangible connections to Egyptian mythology in the Sailor Moon‘s Infinity arc?

Well, I’m really glad you asked!

Today we’re going to take a deep dive into the real world history and religious references surrounding one of Sailor Moon‘s more perplexing villains to see if we can suss out at least something about the background behind Pharaoh 90, Mistress 9, and their home back in the Tau Star System.

If Sailor Moon minutia makes you walk like an Egyptian your world turn, then today’s your lucky day!

Aah, the Death Busters. At least they're easy to understand.

Aah, the Death Busters. At least they’re easy to understand.

This isn’t actually the first time that I’ve taken a deep dive into the origins of Mistress 9 and her master Pharaoh 90, actually. At least with respect to their names.

While Sailor Moon‘s Infinity arc is one of my favorites (due in no small part to finally having Hotaru join the cast), I’ll be one of the first to admit that the “big baddie” of the season felt more than a little shoe-horned into the plot. Kind of like a certain sorceress from the future who is overly concerned with time kompression.1

To be fair, most of the other Sailor Moon seasons weren’t a whole lot better. Queen Metalia was nothing more than a sinister voice that spoke to Queen Beryl up until the climactic final battle where the two combined into Super Beryl. The final Chaos reveal at the end of Sailor Stars wasn’t a whole lot better.

But be that as it may, one thing in particular has always bothered me about this Johnny-come-lately villain: why is he a Pharaoh when the story arc is otherwise mostly devoid of Egyptian references? If anything, Christianity is the prevailing theme, though I’ll readily admit that Cardinal 90 doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Why aren't you Bishop 90??

Why aren’t you Bishop 90??

Once I was committed to trying to answer this question, it was time to start researching.

And then give up researching. Then start again. Rinse and repeat as needed.

The biggest issue with trying to get to the root of certain Sailor Moon issues is making sure that you’re asking the right question in the first place. There’s paltry little information about Pharaoh 90 out there and he obviously isn’t based on any real world figures, so we need to step things back a bit. Like, for example, where he and Mistress 9 make their home, back in the Tau Star System.2

Though the series canon itself is mum on the matter, fans have long-since theorized that the “Tau Star System” in Sailor Moon is in reference to the real world (other-world?) Tau Ceti.3

Yes, THE Kobayashi Maru (KHAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!)

Yes, THE Kobayashi Maru (KHAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!)

For well over half a century, Tau Ceti has been a favorite go-to among sci-fi authors as a location for extra-solar lifeforms. Even Star Trek got in on the game with the infamous Kobayashi Maru calling the city of Amber on The city Amber on Tau Ceti IV home.4

As if that wasn’t enough, the system has long since been the subject of heavy scrutiny by astronomers in the hopes of finding signs of life.

What does this have to do with Pharaoh 90, I hear you ask?

Just hang on, we’re almost there.

Tau Ceti, like many other celestial bodies — and by extension, Sailor Moon characters — gets its name from Greek origins. The 19th letter in the Greek alphabet “tau,” to be specific.5 But of greater interest to us right now is the object known as the “tau cross,” or crux commissa, one of the four basic types of iconographic representations of the cross. As Wikipedia tells us:6

The Greek letter tau was used as a numeral for 300. The Epistle of Barnabas gives an allegorical interpretation of the number 318 (in Greek numerals τιη’) in the text of Book of Genesis 14:14 as intimating the crucifixion of Jesus by viewing the numerals ιη’ (18) as the initial letters of Ἰησοῦς, Iēsus, and the numeral τ’ (300) as a prefiguration of the cross…

It then continues on to explain:

Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215) gives the same interpretation of the number τιη’ (318), referring to the cross of Christ with the expression “the Lord’s sign”…

With all the Christian iconography in Sailor Moon‘s Infinity story arc (the Holy Grail, references to the savior and the messiah, etc.), I feel like we’re making some decent progress with this Tau angle. And, wouldn’t you know, the tau cross is no stranger in Egyptian culture as well… kind of.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph known as an ankh — a symbol of life. But what many likely do not know is that early Christians in Egypt, known as the Coptic Egyptians, adapted the symbol of the ankh into the crux ansata, a variant of the Christian cross with a circular loop similar to the ankh’s oval one.7

And the base of this crux ansata, you ask? Well, aforementioned tau cross, of course.8

Just get to the point already!

Just get to the point already!

In summary, I think that we at least have a decent connection here leading Pharaoh 90 all the back the the prevailing themes of Christianity that permeated the Infinity arc.

Tau Ceti → tau → tau cross → crux ansata → ankh → Egyptian concept of eternal life → Pharaoh 90

Whether or not this is truly the correct answer or just one of many false roads the series sends us down is unfortunately anyone’s guess, but it’s an interesting intellectual exercise at the very least.

Personally, I do think that the Tau connection back to Christianity does hold up in explaining why Ms. Takeuchi chose Tau Ceti to be the home of Pharaoh 90, even if that’s where the references end. It fits in quite nicely with the rest of the narrative she set up.

But, as per usual, this is all just my opinion! What do you think about all of this? Do you have any other theory for where the pharaoh angle comes into the story? I’d love to hear it!

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  1. Final Fantasy VIII fans know what I’m talking about; see Ultimecia.
  2. Or Tau Nebula, depending on which translation you’re reading.
  3.  See Tau Ceti (Wikipedia)
  4. See Tau Ceti in Fiction (Wikipedia)
  5.  See Tau (Wikipedia)
  6. See Tau Cross (Wikipedia)
  7. See Ankh (Wikipedia)
  8. See Crux Ansata

26 thoughts on “How are Sailor Moon’s Pharaoh 90 and Mistress 9 Connected to Egypt?

  1. Kinda think that Pharaoh 90 might be somewhat inspired of Nyarlathotep, an Outer God in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, but it’s mostly because some of his titles like Crawling Chaos, Black Pharaoh, and Stalker among the Stars (just to mention a few).
    I don’t have anything to support this guess. It’s just the kind of vibes I get.

    • Honestly? I really just wish that Mistress 9 was the main villain of the Infinity Arc (making Hotaru both the villain and the savior) would have been a better play rather than the mostly pointless Pharaoh 90.

      On the same point, I think Queen Metalia was pretty much useless to the plot. The same story could have been told with just Queen Beryl.

  2. I totally agree with your interpretation. The Death Busters are based on Greek Christian symbolism, and it stands to reason that what seems to be an Egyptian reference would actually acquire meaning when seen through a Greek lens (given how Egypt and Greece do have a link in both history and myths). Even seemingly random Death Busters terms like the Thyoron Crystal do have a deeper symbolism within the Greek historical context — even its shape.

    It’s evident that Takeuchi did a lot of astrological/historical/religious research when creating Sailor Moon, and while on the surface the story is by-the-numbers, a closer inspection reveals a lot of depth into what she wanted to portray. I have enjoyed your entries in this blog greatly as you seem to be one of the very few sites, if not the only one, who’s actively trying to figure all of this out, and believe you me, some of it is impossible without actual Greek reference texts by your side. Cheers!

    • I’m always amazed at just how much research she was able to do when you consider that the series was written back in the early 90s, when the internet was still a mostly text experience and libraries were the go-to resource.

    • Re: The “Thyoron” Crystal

      I have tried and tried, but I can’t seem to turn up any information about the “thyoron” except from the Suda, which, again, I was only able to turn up by searching for it with the internet.

      I find it very hard to believe that Naoko’s intention with “Taioron” was “Thyoron.” She doesn’t read Greek or Latin, so even if she found a copy of the Suda, she wouldn’t be able to read it, especially well enough to single in on such a random, obscure term. Any seeming contextual significance the term “thyoron” may have is almost certainly purely coincidental. We’re never gonna know what Naoko intended unless and until someone asks her (or at least Osabu) about it directly. (And as official translators for the manga, I feel like the Nibley twins should have been able to shoot a message to Osabu asking for such clarification.) Personally, I think it’s just a word Naoko made up to sound vaguely Greek and mysterious.

      • I don’t think we should underestimate Takeuchi. It’s too much of a coincidence that the Greek term for a sacrificial altar/table is used for an object meant to feed and be “the source of life” for the arc villain, an object that has a shape similar to Ptolemaic altars/incense holders no less (some lexicons list “perfumer” as an alternative meaning for “thyoros”).

        While somewhat obscure, “thyoros” is not a term exclusive to the Suda. It appears in various philosophical works, too: Diogenes Laërtius gives a brief overview of it, and it is a concept discussed by Pherecydes, Pythagoras, and Aristotle, among others. It is certainly possible that Takeuchi may have come across it in a reference text when studying Greek symbolism, which is something she clearly did when coming up with the Death Busters. This very article sheds light on how good her reference texts must have been: for the thyoros to be mentioned in such a text does not seem like a stretch.

        I think we can all agree that Takeuchi’s attention to detail in the symbols that she uses is painstaking; in my opinion, this does not translate all that much into the actual stories that she ends up telling, but regardless, that wealth of symbolism still permeates all arcs. To me, making up a random term for a key object does not seem like something she would do …especially when such a term coincidentally harkens to both the function and shape of said object!

        • There are a lot of similarities between Sailor Moon and Moon Girl, and certain character designs (Queen Beryl’s for one) have an almost uncanny resemblance to characters in some obscure old horror comics….but these similarities are all almost certainly coincidental. There’s no reason to assume that’s not the case here.

          I’m not saying Naoko isn’t incredibly clever and that she didn’t do lots of research and put lots of thought into the symbolism and other story details she used. But we’re talking about the term “thyoron,” not “thyoros.” If “thyoros” were really what she had in mind, why not call it the “Thyoros Crystal” instead of the “Thyoron Crystal”? (And, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe “thyoros/n” is pronounced with the “th” sound, not a hard “t” sound, so would “taioron” even be the proper approximation in Japanese?)

          Unless you can point me to a specific example, I’m only seeing the vaguest resemblance between the Taioron Crystal and Ptolemaic/ancient Egyptian incense holders. It’s probably more likely that the crystal was designed after a real world piece of crystal jewelry or bric-a-brac like many other things in the manga.

          And while I can see how its meaning could make “thyoros/n” an appropriate name for the crystal, I’m not completely convinced that it’s such a perfect and apt name to certainly be its true etymology.

          At the end of the day, we’re not going to know the truth until Naoko tells us. If you or anyone else wants to go with “Thyoron Crystal,” that’s totally fine. I’m going to stick with “Taioron Crystal.”

          • Ancient Greek is a language with case inflection. “Thyoron” is the accusative form of the nominative “thyoros” (second declension). They’re both the exact same word.

            It’s hard to exemplify this in English, but think as if Takeuchi had named Sailor Moon’s attack “Therapeutic Kiss” instead of “Therapy Kiss”. Both names would mean the same.

            Regarding the transliteration, the Ancient Greek pronunciation of “thyoron” begins with a voiceless dental plosive (a hard t that is aspirated at the end); in Modern Greek it begins with a voiceless dental fricative (what you call the “th” sound). Taioron is thus a proper Japanese transliteration of the Ancient Greek term.

            Just as an example, Thanatos (Θάνατος) has the same initial letter and declension as “thyoros” (Θυωρός), and its Japanese transliteration is “タナトス”, with a “hard t”. Just like with “taioron”.

            Not that this is something that only happens with Ancient Greek, because, for instance, “theme”, which is absolutely pronounced a “th sound”, becomes “テーマ” in Japanese, with a “hard t”.

            So what I’m saying is, thyoron is the same noun as thyoros, and the transliteration used by Takeuchi does follow common Japanese standards (while respecting its Ancient Greek standards to boot!).

            I think it’s fine to call it “Taioron” as it is the Japanese pronunciation of the term, so it is correct in its own way. But I still think that there was meaning put into that name, the coincidences would just have to be too numerous for that meaning not to exist.

    • As a massive grammar/language nerd, I appreciate all the information about (ancient) Greek. 🙂

      I understand that “thyoron” and “thyoros” are effectively the same word. Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear; my point was that it’s easier to come across mentions of “thyoros,” but I was only able to come across one usage of “thyoron” (which was in the Suda, which is what the Nibley twins point to as their source). I find it unlikely (not impossible, but unlikely) that Naoko has/had a copy of the Suda that she could read, and so the only way she could turn “thyoros” into “thyoron” is if she’s familiar with Greek grammar, and as I don’t see when, where, or particularly why she would ever have studied that, again, it just doesn’t seem likely to me.

      If we’re to believe Naoko is some kind of scholar of ancient languages (and with her use of “Saffer,” perhaps that’s not so crazy a notion, admittedly), why not believe she’s also familiar with Hebrew? (She does have Beryl speak in Hebrew briefly in the manga, although I believe what she says is just gibberish.) I’ve found Thelemic sources that list “Ha-Taiolon” as one of the names of the Leviathan. Sure these sources are dated around 2006, but that doesn’t mean earlier sources contemporary with the manga don’t exist. And as these sources “calculated” the name using the magic square, why shouldn’t a hypothetical linguistic genius Naoko be able to do the same? With the occult themes of the Infinity arc (in addition to the Christian themes and very, very vague Greek/Egyptian themes), drawing on Thelemic and other esoteric sources would be very fitting. (And, though it’s doubtlessly just a coincidence as they used whatever hanzi would allow them to approximate the pronunciation of “taioron,” it’s worth noting that the Mandarin translation of “Taioron Crystal” used the symbol for dragon, a creature not unlike the Leviathan.)

      It’s also worth pointing out that this is the arc that probably features the most kanji. The Outers’ attacks, Super Sailor Moon’s attack, the Holy Chalice’s name, and even “hostie” are written with kanji readings. (As with the aforementioned “Saffer Crystal” in the Stars arc.) Naoko’s not stupid. She’d realize that “thyoron” is not a sufficiently well-known word that her readers would easily grasp its meaning. To avoid any confusion, why wouldn’t she supply the crystal with a kanji reading?

      Again: Anyone who wants to use “Thyoron Crystal,” cool. Doesn’t affect me. But I don’t want to see its usage start getting treated like a definitive fact when the argument in its favor is weak at best.

      • It wouldn’t be uncommon at all to find “thyoron” in a text. I actually first came across that word in its accusative form in a Diogenes Laërtius book. Whenever a text says something to the effect of “X said that thyoros etc…”, that instance of the word is accusative, and some translators just keep its inflection when transliterating. Bear in mind that “X said Y” is a very common style in Ancient Greek philosophical works.

        I also have to underscore that I haven’t even read the Suda. You keep bringing it up, but again, it’s not its only source. It’s irrelevant. Thyoron is a philosophical term discussed by several Ancient Greek authors. My favorite definition of it is that it’s the table where Gods eat immortality, and that’s just one of many you can find. At it’s core it’s an “offering table” and every author makes of it what they will.

        Takeuchi didn’t use kanji for most of the Death Busters terms (I can only remember “師”…?), so that’s not really a relevant point either. What I think IS relevant is that the Death Busters are laden with Greek symbolism, even the last Pharaohs were Greek. It stands to reason that their “source of all life” would be a Greek reference as well and not some random thing that comes out of nowhere, and lo and behold, it uses the exact romanization as a Greek esoteric term for an item that feeds the gods.

        Your “Ha Taiolon” example is a one-source term “decoded” by the Fraternitas Catena Aurea. Their publications are exclusively web-based and in German, and their earliest web presence dates from 2001… so this is all clearly completely irrelevant. Besides, nobody is claiming that Takeuchi is a “linguistic genius” (and making out letters from magic circles isn’t linguistics anyway). You’re the only one who has claimed she made up the term to begin with (to sound “vaguely Greek”, which indeed would require her to be familiar with the language!)

        It bears repeating, Takeuchi doesn’t need to know Ancient Greek to have come across “thyoron”. All she needs to do is have a good reference text on Greek esoterism (which she clearly had) and come across that term (which is obscure, but quoted by several ancient authors in several ancient texts). This is not at all a reach coming from a woman who has clearly done crazy amounts of research, as proven in this very article and several times in this very site.

        • “I also have to underscore that I haven’t even read the Suda. You keep bringing it up, but again, it’s not its only source. It’s irrelevant.”

          It’s not irrelevant to the discussion at hand because it’s what the Nibley Twins cited as their source. I never claimed it was the only source of that word, just that it was the only source I could find online that used it. (Though after doing another Google search just now, I was able to find it in…a Spanish translation of a Diogenes Laërtius text. So that’s two sources, which I think speaks to the relative obscurity of the term. Of course, I’m not a scholar of Greek philosophy, so perhaps the term does turn up more frequently in such texts, and they simply haven’t been preserved on the internet yet, at least not where Google has noticed them.)

          “Takeuchi didn’t use kanji for most of the Death Busters terms (I can only remember “師”…?), so that’s not really a relevant point either.”

          I don’t see how that’s not a relevant point. She did use kanji for multiple things, so why not for that?

          “What I think IS relevant is that the Death Busters are laden with Greek symbolism, even the last Pharaohs were Greek.”

          Could you list specific examples of Greek symbolism re: the Death Busters? Because other than talking about an “Omega Zone,” I’m not really seeing anything?

          “You’re the only one who has claimed she made up the term to begin with (to sound “vaguely Greek”, which indeed would require her to be familiar with the language!)”

          You only need to be vaguely familiar with a language in order to make up something that sounds vaguely like a word in that language. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks she just made up the word.

          Anyway, let’s just agree to disagree.

          • The Suda being what made a couple translators understand the term is extremely irrelevant because we’re not talking about one translation, we’re talking about the origin of the term in Takeuchi’s work. Your initial argument about her not being able to read the Suda is only relevant if we run on the assumption that the Suda is the source for the word, which it clearly isn’t, so why bring it up again? You also keep looking for online sources to make a point about how obscure thyoros is or isn’t, when most of the corpus that would contain the word is scholarly and not online, and Takeuchi most certainly worked with print materials.

            In this particular example, the translators weren’t well versed in Greek materials (and why would they?) and even then they stumbled across thyoron. It’s not that hard if you go to Greek myth sources.

            If we’re questioning the lack of kanji for “Tairon”, then why not question the lack of kanji for Death Buster, Tau Ceti, Pharaoh, or any other Death Buster related term? Takeuchi simply does not use kanji at all for them unless it’s related to their “Mugen” front.

            The Death Busters have mineral names with Greek roots that play into some of their characteristics (like Mimette’s), the numbers on the names of their commanders have meaning through Greek numerology, Daimon is a Greek word and concept, the last Pharaohs were Greek, Tau Ceti is a Greek name and acquires meaning through Greek symbolism, the Messiah and the Apocalypse are Christian concepts, the texts of which are originally written in Greek… etc., etc.

            Sailor Moon has always been based on Greek myths overall (Selene/Serenity and Endymion being the biggest, most obvious connection), and there are very small details that show that Takeuchi is well versed in hardcore astrology (the main corpus of which is Greek in origin). But while the Greek connections are usually reserved for the protagonists, the Death Busters are the only villains that use Greek symbolism as well.

            You have taken me through quite a ride here, and from all possible angles (linguistics, history, mythology, symbolism, corpus availability, thematic cohesion, etc.) “thyoron” checks out time and again. To me it just feels like a disservice to Takeuchi to go “eh she probably made it up, who cares”. She did care. Either she cared way too much about the names she gave to the elements of her story, as proven for every single one of them, or there’s just a huge mountain of coincidences piling up for “thyoron” — and I think that this “everything is a coincidence” argument is the weak one.

        • Okay, so upon further digging, I was able to turn up a mention of “thyoron” in a (French) book on religious architecture from 1964.
          My main issue with the Taioron = Thyoron interpretation was that I didn’t really feel like a term from Greek philosophy was exactly ~on trend~ with Naoko’s work / references. Architecture definitely is though, so now that I can conceive of how Naoko could have come across it, I’m more open to the idea. I’d still like a more definitive yes or no answer straight from the source, but then there’s a good chance she no longer even remembers what she meant.
          (I still think Taioron looks better tho, lol)

          • I think by know it’s clear I’d rather it be “Thyoron” for accuracy, but you know what? I prefer the hard t of Taioron (and that’s how it’s pronounced in Ancient Greek anyway!), it gives the word more phonetic strength.

            I’d love to get an interview that confirms Takeuchi’s references, but at the same time it’s more magical if she just doesn’t explain them… it keeps us wondering forever. But I’d certainly love to know what materials she used for, at the very least, her astrology research, which I feel is surprisingly solid across the board.

    • I just wanted to respond to your latest comment, and then I’m done with this conversation:

      Before the Nibley twins decided that “Taioron” was “Thyoron” because they found that word in the Suda, this wasn’t even a discussion. When I initially looked into the matter, the Suda was the only source of the word I could find online. That’s why I mentioned it. That’s how it became part of this conversation. I didn’t ~keep bringing it up~ apropos of nothing. It’s not especially germane to the question of whether or not Naoko intended “thyoron,” but it’s not totally irrelevant to this specific conversation either.

      Again, I acknowledge that I was mistaken in how obscure a word I believed “thyoron” to be, but I’m hardly a stranger to Greco-Roman mythology, history, philosophy, and culture myself, and I’ve never encountered it before in all my years of reading on the subjects. I think that does speak to the word’s having some level of obscurity. I wasn’t going to go out and buy a hundred more books to search for the word in them, so obviously I’m going to use the internet to research it, and the fact that I’ve had to do quite a bit of digging specifically looking for the word to turn up a handful of relevant results also speaks to the term’s relative obscurity. It’s 2019. Scholarly texts are available online. If this word were common enough that a woman living in early 90s Japan encountered it and really registered its meaning, I should be able to come across it while casually reading about relevant topics (mythology, architecture, etc.). That even specifically seeking out the word generates only a handful of results is what makes me question the likelihood of its being what Naoko intended.

      “In this particular example, the translators weren’t well versed in Greek materials (and why would they?) and even then they stumbled across thyoron. It’s not that hard if you go to Greek myth sources.”

      They didn’t “stumble across” it. They were specifically Googling all possible transliterations of タイオロン. Again, I’ve read plenty of Greek myth sources without ever having encountered “thyoron” before.

      “If we’re questioning the lack of kanji for “Tairon”, then why not question the lack of kanji for Death Buster, Tau Ceti, Pharaoh, or any other Death Buster related term? Takeuchi simply does not use kanji at all for them unless it’s related to their “Mugen” front.”

      She uses kanji for “hostie.” She uses これが師 for “Master.” She never mentions “Tau Ceti”; the Death Busters originated from the タウ星系 Tau Star System. “Death Busters” and “Pharaoh” are accessible enough that they don’t require kanji readings to be understood (and they’re basically just Engrish anyway). And there are other terms, like vessel and atavism, that she only used kanji for, without an associated katakana/foreign term. I didn’t mean to suggest that Naoko gave kanji readings to everything, but if she were really as careful and methodical as you claim she was, then not giving タイオロン a kanji reading (or otherwise explaining its meaning in any of her many pages of author’s notes in the multiple releases of the manga) if she really intended it to mean something (whether “thyoron” or something else) seems like a bit of a slip.

      “The Death Busters have mineral names with Greek roots that play into some of their characteristics (like Mimette’s)”

      Except that “Kaolinite” comes from “kaolin,” which is of Chinese origin. “Viluy” gets her name from “Wiluite,” named for the Wilui River region of Russia. “Tellu” gets her name from “Tellurite,” from the Latin “Tellus,” meaning the planet Earth. And Cyprine’s namesake is derived from the Latin “cyprium,” meaning copper. Only Eudial’s, Mimete’s, and Ptilol’s names are of Greek origin, and none of them exactly play into their characteristics. (Mimete is a cutesy idol, not quite an imitator; that would be more apt for the twins Cypine and Ptilol. “Well decomposable” hardly seems relevant to Eudial. And “feather stone” describes Ptilol…how?) Tellu’s name is the only one with any kind of personal relevance. There’s simply no rhyme nor reason to their names other than they’re all minerals.

      “the numbers on the names of their commanders have meaning through Greek numerology”

      That’s speculation on Tuxedo Unmasked’s part. They could just as easily mean something else or have no meaning whatsover. The level numbers of the Witches 5 are seemingly arbitrary; why not Mistress 9 and Pharaoh 90?

      “the Messiah and the Apocalypse are Christian concepts, the texts of which are originally written in Greek…”

      LOL. That’s all I have to say to that.

      “Sailor Moon has always been based on Greek myths overall (Selene/Serenity and Endymion being the biggest, most obvious connection), and there are very small details that show that Takeuchi is well versed in hardcore astrology (the main corpus of which is Greek in origin). But while the Greek connections are usually reserved for the protagonists, the Death Busters are the only villains that use Greek symbolism as well.”

      1. The central romance of Serenity and Endymion is inspired by Greek mythology, but it’s also inspired by Romeo and Juliet just as much, and there are a handful of Rapunzel references in the first arc (Serenity’ long, long hair; Mamoru’s temporary blindness). While Greco-Roman culture is one of the biggest influences on the manga as a whole, it’s still only one of an eclectic collection of sources.

      2. Yeah, because the Greeks invented and own the monopoly on astrology. Okay. Also, while Naoko is obviously familiar with solar biology, I don’t know that she’s “well versed” in real astrology.

      3. Why would Naoko decide to use Greek symbolism for the Death Busters if she otherwise didn’t use it for villains? This just highlights how haphazard a lot of her writing is.

      Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to the original point of contention between us: did Naoko really intend タイオロン to be read as “thyoron”?

      Let’s assume that either Naoko or one of her research assistants came across θυωρόν.

      Does its meaning fit? Yes. (“Offering table” seems to fit in with the Death Busters’ search for “hostie” and with the crystal’s function as their life source.)

      Does it fit the naming pattern? No. (All other crystals in this series are named for colors. [Or gems/metals that could still serve as color names.] “Silver Crystal.” “Dark Crystal.” “Black Crystal.” “Saffer Crystal.” “Golden Crystal.” “Thyoron Crystal” doesn’t follow that convention.)

      Does タイオロン even approximate θυωρόν? No. Having noticed the way the word is pronounced by Google Translate, I decided to look up Greek pronunciation and ask Greek speakers how to say the word. It’s pronounced “thee o rôn.” (Even if we go by ancient Greek pronunciation, it would be something like “two aw rôn.”) There are a number of ways that could be approximated in katakana, but タイオロン is not one of them.

      I think it’s worth pointing out that all results on Google for タイオロン are Sailor Moon related. I was only able to find one Japanese hit for θυωρόν, but it did not provide a katakana reading. I’ve tried searching a few of the possible readings, but haven’t turned up anything that seems relevant.

      So what do I think that means? Well, if we suppose that Naoko did intend “thyoron,” it means she came up with the katakana reading for it on her own, and that she got it wrong. But if we’re willing to accept that Naoko would just make up a(n erroneous) katakana reading for a Greek word, why be so unwilling to accept the idea that she simply made up the word altogether?

      So how about we agree to split the difference. What if Naoko was simply inspired by θυωρόν for タイオロン but did not intend for the two to be literally read as the same word. (Like how “Avada Kedavra” is based on “Abracadabra,” but that doesn’t mean translations of Harry Potter should render it as such.) In which case, I’d say “Taioron” is indeed the best way of translating the crystal’s name.

      • first: Messiah is a HEBREW concept. Christianity only has it because it’s an offshoot/reinterpretation of Judaism. The Jewish and Christian interpretations of what and who the Messiah is/was/should be are extremely different and pretty much the fundamental reason Christianity broke away in the first place. That said: I’m just being pedantic. It’s pretty clear Naoko was working with the Christian symbolism.

        The other thing I wanted to point out is that it doesn’t matter if Naoko is an ancient languages scholar or has access to esoteric books. If she’s doing research on Christianity or Ancient Greek the very first thing she probably would have done in the 1990s was pop off to the local library and ask the librarian for information. And somewhere in those suggestions (Especially as she’s been doing this several years now and the librarian know she asks for crazy weird research) is going to be: “Well why don’t you talk to professor X Y Z at the local university? They have a greek department.” I promise you, any librarian worth their salt is going to suggest that when it becomes clear that a patron is looking for really esoteric stuff. In fact if Naoko is really that good of a researcher she very likely would have thought of that step herself. She’s not working in a vaccuum. She doesn’t need to know this stuff herself. She just needs access to the crazy person who decided “Ancient greek is awesome, I want to know more.”

        Additionally: christianity is uncommon in Japan, but they do have seminaries there and no seminary worth its salt won’t have a professor who’s familiar with ancient greek, and very likely would be extremely conversant with greek religious terms.

      • You two had a long conversation which seems to be over so I will only comment to the part about the greek pronunciation. Yes you are right, the word is pronounced with a “th”, both in modern and ancient greek and I am comfirming that as a native speaker. It also means “guarding the divine/those which were offered to the Gods” or something like that.

  3. I always thought Pharaoh was used because it sounds serious and foreign but my theory was that the Omega Area (was it its name?) is a basis of a piramid.

    Personally, I like how the anime introduces ”big bad” in the last episodes of a season. Death Phantom is my least favorite of them just because he was there all the time as Wiseman and Nehellenia never felt like a main villain for me because she actually did something instead of just ordering others around. Strange way of looking at the series, I know :p

  4. Maybe it’s connected with the fact that the Pharaoh is the villain in the Book of Exodus and we have 10 plagues of Egypt there (10 x 9 = 90)? Just my guess.

  5. Interesting article all though I would add that I don’t think the Tau Galaxy is supposed to be Tau Ceti. The reason I say this is because the Tau Galaxy was stated to be in another dimension and Tau Ceti is definitely in this dimension.

    • You’re definitely right. It’s clear that Pharaoh 90 isn’t supposed to be from our own dimension (though this is possibly ret-conned when we find out that Chaos created Pharaoh 90), though I think that Tau Ceti was used as the inspiration for the “Tau” part of the name.

  6. After reading (most of) the information here, my little tidbit seems fairly simple, yet I am surprised I saw no mention of it in any of the comments above. The star system is known as Tau Ceti. Now…if I am wrong here, please correct me… I take the “Ceti” part to be pronounced “Set-ee”. Seti was the name of the Pharaoh in the story of Moses in the bible. (Pharaoh Seti was father to future Pharaoh Rameses and adoptive father of Moses). Maybe a connection?

  7. I don’t want to be negative but the explanation is probably more simple. The author picked these words and concepts because they sounded foreign and mysterious without too much thought into deep symbolism. I imagine she did her research to dig up ideas, designs and names, but seems to have put more thought into how the sailor outfits change with each power up than into world building and symbolism.

    • To be totally fair, 95% of the inconsistencies or weirdness in the Sailor Moon (or even most anime/manga) universe can be explained by “someone just thought it sounded cool.”

      But it’s nice to at least try to make sense of it!

  8. So interesting! Thank you for all of the research that you did.

    I may be reaching (I’m definitely reaching), but seeing the picture of Hotaru that you posted made me notice that the Saturn symbol has a “t” shape at the top, with the lower part reminding me of the ankhs in the links you shared and the Silence Glaive’s blade. Kinda cool to think of her as a host to a god-like being (Pharaoh 90) who is also connected to these symbols.

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