Following in the wake of many favourite detectives, I set about looking for clues... but, insert fingers drumming on desk sound...where to begin? What follows are the musings that came from my playtime.
So it all started with the Bat Cave which made me think of...The Underworld which made me think of... Hades. Ahhh … could Batman be a personification of Hades? - hmmm... little grey cells to the Bat Pole.
Hades is the Greek god of the dead and ruler of the Underworld (which is also known as Hades). He is not 'death' itself, but we'll come to that. He is one original six Olympians (with the advent of the Olympics upon us – what jolly good timing to bring Hades/Batman out of the closet & dust him off). He is brother to Zeus & Poseidon – when they were carving up the world, he drew the short straw & got the Underworld - I wonder if his sisters, Hestia, Hera & Demeter might not have been a bit peeved at being left out of the spoils - hell hath no fury & all that.
So “the Bat Cave is the secret headquarters of fictional DC Comics superhero, Batman, (the alternate identity of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne), consisting of a series of subterranean caves beneath his residence.” In searching out descriptions of realm of Hades I came upon these;
"It was a dark and dismal realm in which bodiless ghosts flitted across grey fields of asphodel."
"murky subterranean realm"
"where the uttermost depth of the pit lies under earth"
"Homer describes the passage of souls to Haides led by Hermes, the guide of the dead. Here they flit like bats through the dark places beneath the earth"
"And as in the innermost recess of a wondrous cave bats flit about gibbering, when one has fallen from off the rock from the chain in which they cling to one another, so these went with him gibbering, and Hermes, the Helper, led them down the dank ways. Past the streams of Okeanos they went, past the rock Leukas (the White), past the gates of the sun (pylai Hêlioi) and the land of dreams (dêmos oineiroi), and quickly came to the mead of asphodel (leimôn asphodelon), where the spirits (psykhai) dwell, phantoms (eidôla) of men who have done with toils."
Not a sought after holiday destination then.
Hades has a helmet given to him by the Cyclopes, which can make him invisible. Batman wears mask / helmet that he uses to make 'Bruce Wayne' invisible.
Hades has a number of other names including Clymenus ('notorious') & Eubuleus ('well-guessing')- sorry cant't resist this one - as a boy, Bruce Wayne falls down a well, disturbing a load of bats & the legend takes it's first baby steps.
Another meaning for Eubulus is the giver of good counsel - the name of Wayne's Butler, 'Alfred' means 'good counsel'.
One of the plants sacred to Hades is the Cypress so I was intrigued to find Actinostrobus arenarius or, the Bruce Cypress-pine.
Bruce Wayne is of course is a squillionaire - another name for Hades is Plouton meaning 'the Rich One'. The Latin name for Plouton is Pluto. In that little synchro world that can be such fun to play with, I found that the planet Pluto had some delicious little tidbits to offer.
“Pluto was quickly heralded as the ninth planet in the solar system when it was spotted Feb. 18, 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, a young amateur astronomer at Lowell Observatory. It still holds that title today, if somewhat tenuously.”
“The name Pluto was first suggested by Venetia Burney, an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England. Venetia was interested in classical mythology as well as astronomy, and considered the name, one of the alternate names of Hades, the Greek god of the Underworld, appropriate for such a presumably dark and cold world. She suggested it in a conversation with her grandfather Falconer Madan, a former librarian of Oxford University’s Bodleian Library. Madan passed the name to Professor Herbert Hall Turner,(British Astronomer awarded the Bruce Medal far astronomy in 1927) who then cabled it to colleagues in America.”
What a lovely tale & trail of coincidence – a goddess (Venus) in Oxford, whose interests sound a little like those of a cultivated beauty contestant, names the ninth planet after the god of the underworld “ Meanwhile we have the goddess’ grandfather ‘Falconer’ who is named after a solar symbol - “The Falcon is a solar emblem for success, victory and rising above a situation. Further evidence of its solar influence, the Falcon was symbolic of the rising sun in Egypt. It is also the king of all birds where many gods were shown with the head or body of the Falcon (including Ra).”
In a darling little synch to top this off I find that the info regarding the ‘falcon’ is given by one A. Venefica – site here: http://symbolic-meanings.com/category/egyptian/
To round off our little trip to Pluto, why not pick a random date to officially announce it’s new name - how about the 121st day of the year –1st May, 1930 or Beltane - “As the festival that celebrates the triumph of summer over winter, Beltaine is also the time when the victory of the new solar god is achieved over his rival the old year god, whose power had waned over the winter”.
We can’t quite leave this little detour without a wink over to those lovers of children everywhere – Disney.
“The Disney connection: Mickey Mouse’s dog made his debut in “The Chain Gang” in 1930 — the year Pluto was discovered. A year later, he was named Pluto, probably because the planet of that name was so much in the news.” – sounds ok, just getting in on all the excitement of the time – but... I found it rather interesting that ‘DIS’ is the Walt Disney Company’s NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) symbol – yes I thought that would raise an eyebrow or two, knowing as we all do that Dis is the Roman god of the Underworld & of course we all remember that Dis is a version of ‘dives’ meaning ‘rich’ – what a tight little circle we are turning in here.
Just before we head off I did just have a wee play with Dis, I know very naughty - Dis is a city in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. It is the last known location of The Orange Bend of the Rain bow - come on now that's not a bad reward for a bit of play - make of it what you will.
Sorry I was having fun & got carried away.
Persephone is the wife of Hades. He lured her into a convenient spot with a beautiful flower (narcissus), & then abducted her to the Underworld. She eventually became his wife. Interestingly... her animal symbol is the bat. From wiki "Bats symbolize death and rebirth. Sometimes, they are known as the "Guardian of the Night."
Switching civilisations for a moment, I couldn't help noticing a similarity between Batman & Anubis - ok it's those big pointy ears that did it.
This 'ear' ily endowed god, was once the most important god of the dead, but Osiris muscled in & Anubis took on more of the god of undertakers role.
"Originally, in the Ogdoad system, he was god of the underworld...Since he was more associated with beliefs concerning the weighing of the heart than had Osiris, Anubis retained this aspect, and became considered more the gatekeeper and ruler of the underworld, the "Guardian of the veil" (of "death").
Returning to Hades we find that one of his most impressive possessions was "his dark chariot, drawn by four coal-black horses" which "always made for a fearsome and impressive sight".
Here we see Hades in his awesome chariot whisking off his extremely reluctant bride- to- be for a slap up meal at Chez Hades.
Another awesome vehicle in a dashing shade of black.
In Batman Forever, Batman assigns the car the power of a chick magnet when he says to Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) "It's the car, right? Chicks dig the car." Perhaps if Hades had had modern technology he might not have had to stoop to trickery & abduction to 'claim' his bride.
Because Hades spent most of his time in the underworld, signals were needed to call him forth - "when mortals invoked him, they struck the earth with their hands" - when Batman is invoked, a signal is shone in the sky.
Now Hades seems to have a mixed reputation & if we overlook that itsy bitsy irksome bit about him keeping the souls of those we have loved forever & a day, we can see him as as an ok kind of guy just doing his job - a sort of caretaker.
Now in this little jaunt round the underworld, there is another character we need to see. If I carry on playing & also refer back to my previous post on 'Groundhog Day', I come to this sentence "the jester is the symbolic twin of the king" - I suggested that The Joker was the symbolic twin of Batman. You with me on this?? If Batman is Hades & The Joker is his symbolic twin, then which god does he symbolise?
"Hades rules the dead, assisted by various (demonic) helpers, such as Thanatos and Hypnos, the ferryman Charon, and the hound Cerberus."
So I just have to go with Thanatos - the god of death. Now he does actually have his own twin, which is Hypnos, who is the god of dreams. But I'm not going to let that get in the way of play & anyway we're looking at symbolic twins.
A little aside here - "In Roman sculptural reliefs he was portrayed as a youth holding a down-turned torch and wreath or butterfly (symbolising the soul of the dead)."
"Thanatos might be poetically called the brother of Hypnos (Sleep) and the son of Nyx but no matter how you describe him, he is a creature of bone chilling darkness. From on high, Helios (the Sun) never casts his light on Death. (Theogony, line 760)"
"Hypnos goes kindly among the mortals but, his brother, Thanatos has a heart made of pitiless iron. When he takes hold of you, the world of light ceases to be."
Ok back to the Joker, I have to admit I have not seen the new movie, nor do I feel the call to do so (it was with utter glee that I learned that when my son went to see it there was a power cut during a particularly tense moment followed by a break in which ABBA's Dancing Queen was played - a spell breaker if ever there was one). I do however have access to the Internet so finding out about the movie is not too difficult.
This "Clown Prince of Crime" is most certainly an instrument of indiscriminate death. He is described as an "indiscriminate killer that lives for his teasing confrontations with Batman".
Batman, like so many superheroes were borne (born) along the same energy wave that brought inWWII - a very interesting theme in itself. He was a creation of one Bob Kane (or Bob Kahn, a Jewish American comic book artist & writer). I'm just going to pop off topic for a moment to bring you a little something to chew on. Kane was "a high school friend of fellow cartoonist and future The Spirit creator Will Eisner". Now I can't help noticing a distinct similarity between the signatures of Will Eisner & Walt Disney - not to mention the lettering - I've noticed other's on the interent have picked up on this too.
The official Will Eisner logo (if I try & centre this text I know everythings going to go askew so it can stay as it is)
I found this signature on a book about comic book action heroes, it is what got me interested - the similatiry is intriguing n'est-pas?
Ok returning to the scene of the Joker & his possible secret identity as Thanatos.
“Batman Vs The Joker” – Batman #1 (Spring 1940) The first Joker story ever by creator Bob Kane and ghost writer Bill Finger instantly set the tone for all Joker stories to follow in the next 68 years. He appeared as a straightforward mass murderer - ah the good old days.
Now Thanatos is not necessarily seen as a 'bad' grim reaper. He is often referred to as the bringer of peaceful death (that's where something in this life is so crap you want to get away- the Underworld may perhaps not be your ideal choice of getaways however). "Violent death was the domain of Thanatos' blood-craving sisters, the Keres, spirits of slaughter and disease. Oh dear, does this mean the end of playtime, have our synchs run dry. I think not - are you game to se how far we can stretch this? Good for you - come on then.
It seems our latest helping of The Joker features him in a cross dressing role & "... a thread developed by Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns, which implied that the Joker is gay, or at the very least bi-curious. A few writers like Morrison and Miller have made this a recurring theme in writing the Joker, and the character’s sexuality is a subject of a lot of discussion amongst online fans" - Ok so perhaps our psycopathic jester is a combination of Thanatos & his sisters - the bloodthirsty Keres.
How's this for a storyline "Going Sane” – Legends of the Dark Knight #65-68 (Nov ’94-Feb ’95)Believing that he’s finally killed the Batman, the Joker, apparently having lost the anchor of his existence, goes through plastic surgery to return him to “normal” and wakes up one day as “Joseph Kerr” or perhaps we should read that as Keres.
Tying together the idea of Batman as Hades with The Joker as Thanatos & the symbolic twin of Batman we have The Joker, in fetching nurses uniform (I'm told), resonating with female Keres, telling Batman "You complete me" - need I say more!!
The closing credits of the Batman movie acknowledge not one but two deaths - that of the Australian Heath Ledger & a New Zealand-born special effects technician, Conway Wyckliffe who was killed when a camera truck crashed into a tree. Wyckliffe previously worked on Bond film Casino Royale and the Tomb Raider films with Angelina Jolie.
There's an anagram site I use to play with names & words when looking for ideas - here are some anagrams for Christian Bale / Batman:- - Lie In Bat Crash - Bat Lairs Niche - Line His Bat Car - Rich Bat In Sale - Bat As Rich Line
Heath Ledger / The Joker: - The Hag Elder - Geld Heather - Get He Herald - Glad He there - He Geld Earth
Well play time is almost over, now I've got to get on to the serious work of chasing down spelling areas & glitches in this bag of tricks. Lets have just one more toss of the dice & see what happens when we play with Batman / Hades for the last time. If we mis-spell The Dark Knight we get The Dark Night & I can think of no better epithet for 'death' than that phrase - and of course the bat is the guardian of the night...