Come, pity poor Etro, she was left all alone. Her blood pouring forth, in Chaos to atone. Queen of nothing, goddess of death—so let her be known.
- —Fang reciting a rhyme about Etro.
Etro (エトロ, Etoro?) is a fal'Cie goddess in the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series. She is a key character in the mythos, being the one who provided the material from which humans were made, and the one who protects the balance between the mortal world and the afterlife. Many of her actions shape the events of Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels, but her exact role in the other games is still unclear. Motomu Toriyama has stated that while Etro is the same deity across the games of the series, her roles in the universes of Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Type-0 and Final Fantasy XV vary greatly.
Final Fantasy XIIIEdit
- See also: Datalog/Analects
- Her Providence sought nothing.
- Her Providence made nothing.
- She but looked on, silent in Her sorrow.
- The Goddess pitied mortals, destined as they were to die, and so She deigned to intervene in the hour of their greatest peril. She averted cataclysm that was to be, and put to rest the ones who would have robbed so many of what time fate had ordained.
- Her compassion did not end at this.
- The Goddess pitied also those subjected to that fate of Focus, crueler still than death. To them She sent Her messengers, to deliver hope when all was lost.
- —Sermons of the seeress Paddra Nsu-Yeul
- Children of Hallowed Pulse scour earth, searching substance for the Door. Those of Fell Lindzei harvest souls, combing ether for the same. So have I seen.
- The Door, once shut, was locked away, with despair its secret key; sacrifice, the one hope of seeing it unsealed.
- When the twilight of the gods at last descends upon this world, what emerges from the unseeable expanse beyond that Door will be but music, and that devoid of words: the lamentations of the Goddess Etro, as She sobs Her song of grief.
- —Author unknown
Final Fantasy XIII-2Edit
In the ancient annals of Gran Pulse, Etro appears as the goddess of death and chaos. She is said to reside in the world where the souls of the dead find their rest—Valhalla.
The people of the lowerworld worship Pulse, the great deity from which the land takes its name. Many tales from their folklore portray Etro as the abhorrent goddess of the afterlife.
In the city of Paddra, however, faith in the goddess was commonplace, and it was said that the seeress drew from prophetic powers directly from Etro.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIIIEdit
- See also: Datalog/Mythology
Etro was the goddess of death, enthroned in a world filled with Chaos and known as Valhalla. Most people now believe the teachings of the Order, which preaches devotion to Bhunivelze, but there still exists minority groups of heretics who are devotees to the goddess Etro.
Though her believers have not realized it, the goddess Etro died centuries ago. She was the one who held back the Chaos, keeping it within her own realm of Valhalla. Lightning was a sworn servant of Etro who fought to protect the goddess—a battle she eventually lost. Thus began the destruction of the world.
Etro was a goddess created by almighty Bhunivelze.
She was a foolish goddess who held great affection for humanity. Etro gave all of herself for humanity's sake, until she sacrificed her own life and fell into the long sleep of death.
- See also: Fragment/Oracle of Etro
- Yeul's Confessions
Etro granted the most selfless of gifts. Her power and strength flowed through the gate to the Unseen World, and with each passing second she grew weaker and weaker.
Now the goddess sleeps within the Heart of Chaos. Should she cease to exist, then the power that she granted to humanity, the power that makes their universe whole, will disappear. When the sands of time run out on the goddess, so too do they on the world of man.
- —Etro's Sorrow
Etro is never seen in person, but depictions of her in artwork exist. A painting of her is displayed in Final Fantasy XV, and she appears in murals in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. In the mural Etro has golden wings, wears a winged helmet that covers her eyes, and has shoulder pauldrons. She is never depicted in Final Fantasy Type-0, while in Final Fantasy XV she is depicted as a pale woman wearing blue-grey garments which hide her arms. She also sports a great crown and adornments similar to staves.
Etro displays through her actions a kind and compassionate personality protective of humans and l'Cie. Her bond with humans can be seen in Final Fantasy XIII-2 Fragments After, where she sees Lightning as a sinner for her actions before their meeting. Her compassionate nature is also seen in Final Fantasy Type-0, where she watches over the people of Orience. She suffers a great sadness due to her isolation and the memories of countless human deaths.
She is most prominently featured in Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels, which explore her background and her relationship with the world. In Final Fantasy XIII-2 Fragments After it is stated that Paddra Nsu-Yeul was the first human born and fashioned into Etro's image. While she has good intentions, many of Etro's actions have unforeseen harmful consequences, such as establishing Yeul's cycle of reincarnation and making Caius Ballad immortal and her decision to save Lightning and her friends on the Day of Ragnarok. Given the numerous times her actions have caused inadvertent disasters, Etro can be seen as a capricious goddess in the universe of Final Fantasy XIII. She has shown a stricter side, as she created the laws within Valhalla that its resident creatures and Eidolons follow: the weak must serve the strong.
According to the official mythology, the universe of Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy is divided in half: the visible world, or the world of the living, and the invisible world, or the world of the dead. The two worlds must remain in balance, or the universe might be destroyed. Etro was created by the god Bhunivelze, who became the sole ruler of the living world by defeating his mother, Mwynn, and banishing her into the world of the dead. This did not satisfy him, as Bhunivelze believed all things were destined to die due to a curse laid on the world by his mother. To reach the realm of the dead and destroy her, Bhunivelze created the three deities: Pulse, Lindzei and Etro.
Etro was the second deity to be created after Pulse. The mythology at this point calls Etro and the others fal'Cie, even if all other sources know them as the gods and goddesses of Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy lore. Bhunivelze regretted having created Etro, because he had unknowingly created her as the image of Mwynn. Bhunivelze feared Etro and gave her no powers to create anything of her own. Bhunivelze crystallized himself to sleep until his creations would find the door to reach the realm of the dead. While Pulse and Lindzei were busy creating the world and creating many more fal'Cie, Etro was lonely. As revealed in Final Fantasy XIII-2 Fragments After, out of a desire for Bhunivelze's attention, Etro tore up her body and disappeared from the world and Lindzei used her spilled blood to create the first human: a girl named Yeul, who was made in Etro's likeness, and by extension, Mwynn.
Entering Valhalla, the middle realm between the unseen realm and the visible world, Etro found Mwynn as she was almost overtaken by the chaos that festered as a result of Bhunivelze's attempt to reach the Unseen World. Before disappearing into the chaos, Mwynn tasked Etro with protecting the world balance. The goddess grew fond of the beings created from her blood and bestowed each of them with a piece of the chaos, which became their heart. Etro also acted as their guide: when a person died, their heart and soul would retreat to Valhalla. The heart would melt into the chaos, and Etro would retrieve the soul from inside it and guide it back to the Visible Realm to be reborn. In the English localizations of the Final Fantasy XIII games no distinction is made between "heart" and "soul" but they remain separate entities in the Japanese versions.
Etro is mentioned in the Datalog entries, where she "sings a lament for the dead". Etro intervened during the War of Transgression 500 years previous by turning the l'Cie bestowed with the "burden of the beast", Oerba Yun Fang and Oerba Dia Vanille, into crystal before they could finish carrying out their Focus.
Though unseen in Final Fantasy XIII, later installments reveal Etro aided Lightning by providing her, Snow Villiers, Hope Estheim, Sazh Katzroy, Fang, and Vanille with Eidolons, and released Lightning, her sister Serah Farron, and their friends from the burden of being l'Cie after Fang and Vanille sacrificed themselves to create the crystal pillar to save Cocoon. During the final battle in Final Fantasy XIII, Etro also reversed Fang's transformation into Ragnarok.
Etro's act of mercy to Lightning and her group at the end of Final Fantasy XIII causes distortions in time as chaos emerges in Gran Pulse and draws Lightning to Valhalla. Though the goddess subdues the chaos, Etro is gravely weakened. When Lightning appears before her throne, Etro reveals she at first hated Lightning and her companions for the deaths they caused as l'Cie. Etro briefly links with Lightning to have her understand the isolation she has endured and her love towards mankind.
As revealed by the in-depth storyline section of Final Fantasy XIII-2 Ultimania Omega, Etro reveals the countless deaths of many swirling within the chaos, along with the unintended suffering she caused for Yeul as the time distortion causes ripples in time that kill the seeress's incarnations while driving Caius over the edge. After giving Lightning her gift of sight to see various moments in time, Etro enters a deep sleep with Lightning choosing to stay in Valhalla as the goddess's champion to protect the timeline and atone for her sins.
Divine Etro. Go peacefully to your rest. I will stand guard over your legacy.
Etro took pity on the deceased Yeul when her soul could not pass on like the others, and returned her to the Visible World in a cycle of reincarnation. Yeul gained the Eyes of Etro, which shorten her life to point of dying in her teens, while giving her glimpses of the changing timeline. Although Yeul's soul is perpetually reincarnated, each new Yeul has a new heart given by Etro, making each Yeul a unique person. Due to her ability to gaze into the future, Yeul became the seeress of the city of Paddra.
Etro gave her heart to Yeul's Guardian Caius Ballad to bestow him eternal life to protect every incarnation of Yeul. The Heart of Chaos is Etro's physical heart with Etro's soul existing outside of it.
These acts, however, prove to be more of a curse than a blessing as Caius begins his war on the goddess to free both himself and Yeul from their fates. He alters the timeline to create the ideal conditions to bring the reality Etro has been preserving to an end. Caius has Noel Kreiss destroy the "Heart of Chaos", the source of Etro's life, so the chaos within Valhalla erupts from Etro's Gate and distorts the two worlds into a timeless realm where Yeul would no longer be endlessly reincarnated. In the secret ending Caius declares Etro dead and beyond any chance of revival.
The ability to use Time Gates and thus time travel appears linked to Etro. When activated, text in Etro's script swirls the gate, and as Snow is unable to enter a gate that "wasn't meant for him" it appears someone is orchestrating the appearance of the Time Gates specifically to help Serah and Noel on their quest to fix the timeline. At the beginning of her quest Serah awakes finding her clothes mysteriously changed by a paradox. Her new attire has text in Etro script, hinting Etro had her hand in Serah's transformation. Noel's attire likewise has text in Etro's script at the back of his shirt. It is unknown whether the attire was given to Noel the same way Serah received hers, however. Even in the flashback world from the Dying World Noel still wears the same attire, but it is not the true past, but a dream world made manifest from his heart's desires.
Wicked Savior! Go now to Etro's side!
- —Leader of the Children of Etro about to perform a sacrifice.
Because of Etro's death no new people can be born as the souls of the dead lost their guide back to the Visible Realm, and there is no one to grant hearts to the souls. To uphold the balance between the new Visible and Unseen Realms, Bhunivelze intends to condition Lightning to replace Etro. Lightning rebels against him and destroys him after severing his hold on humanity's souls. After Bhunivelze has been felled, the incarnations of Yeul declare their intention to remain in Etro's place in the Unseen Realm. Caius allows the final Yeul to depart with Noel to the new world, while the other Yeuls remain behind as Nova Chrysalia is destroyed.
A cult named the Children of Etro defies the Order who worship Bhunivelze, and consider Etro to have only lost her power. They believe that the savior's task is equivalent to killing them and stage a series of murders in Luxerion with the victims matching the rough description of the savior. Etro is also depicted in murals in the Temple Ruins in the Dead Dunes telling the story of humanity's creation.
Blessed by Etro's smile, the spiral shall revolve again. The one shall receive this blessing, relinquish each spark, and begin a new journey. But the glimmer of the sparks shall still remain as a different cycle is born unto us. A cycle of despair, a cycle of joy, or...
- —Character Info, Arecia Al-Rashia, entry 4
While Etro plays no major role in the story, she is mentioned in the Nameless Tome, a text chronicling the myths and legends of Orience. According to the tome, Etro receives the souls of Orience's dead and allows them to return in new forms, and to return during a new cycle.
Due to the actions of the nations' crystals negating the ability for living to have no memory of the dead, Etro uses her power to keep the souls of Orience from vanishing forever by repeatedly returning them to the spiral created by Arecia and Gala after Tempus Finis comes to pass. Prior to the final battle, Cid Aulstyne refers to Etro during his tirade over how powerless Class Zero is compared to him. It is also hinted that, through Rem Tokimiya, Etro kept watch over Machina Kunagiri during his efforts to rebuild Orience after the death of Cid Aulstyne and Class Zero and the waning of Orience's crystals.
In Final Fantasy XV, Etro is the patron goddess of Lucis. During the formal party to celebrate the treaty-signing between Lucis and Niflheim, Stella Nox Fleuret talked to Noctis Lucis Caelum about a legend from her home country of Tenebrae. The legend states that whenever Etro opens the Unseen Gate, the souls of the dead ascend as a streak of light to the heavens and through the Gate. It is said that when few among the dying see the light, they are given power from the Kingdom of the Dead.
Stella states she can see the light, as can Noctis. Noctis guesses both of them have had a near-death experience though little else is currently known about the goddess or the power imbued in Stella and Noctis.
Etymology and SymbolismEdit
Etro may have multiple origins: Etra is an Italian noun meaning "sky, air", être is French for "to be", and etre is Breton for "between". All three appear to relate to Etro's story and role: a divinity who comes from the 'realm between' (Valhalla) responsible for the cycle of life and death, sustaining life.
In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the Temple Ruins murals depict Etro as a valkyrie. Valkyries are the goddesses from Norse Mythology that collect the souls of dead warriors to take them to Valhalla, the hall of the slain. Valkyries are often depicted as beautiful women wielding shining spears and riding flying horses. The word "valkyrie" comes from Old Norse valkyrja, which means "chooser of the slain".
There are many examples of a goddess of death in world mythologies, but Etro may relate to two of them in particular: Atropos from Greek mythology and Izanami-no-Mikoto from Japanese mythology.
The goddess of Fate and Destiny in Greek mythology, Atropos, chose how a mortal would die and would cut their thread of life, drawing their soul into the underworld. Everyone who died would pass under the gaze of Atropos. Like Etro, she is inextricably associated as a goddess of death. Also, Etro's father Bhunivelze is the supreme god of light, whereas Atropos' father is Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods. Sometimes Atropos and her sisters are known as the daughters of Nyx, the goddess of night, whereas in the Fabula Nova Crystallis, Nyx could be considered a daughter of Etro, being one of the Shiva Sisters. Furthermore, Atropos has two siblings. Etro also has two siblings, although of different genders. The three sisters of fate are considered cruel deities, and much like the gods of the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythos, bind their subjects using fate; the impossibility of escaping one's predetermined death and the impossibility of escaping one's god-given Focus, in the case of Lindzei and Pulse. Fighting against that fate acts as one of the major themes through the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy.
The mythology of Fabula Nova Crystallis is based on Japanese mythology's take on the creation story. The part of the story where Etro meets Mwynn in the Unseen Realm is reminiscent of the part of the Japanese mythology where Izanagi-no-Mikoto searched for Izanami-no-Mikoto in the world of the dead but was too late as Izanami-no-Mikoto had already eaten the food of the underworld and had become one with the land of the dead, unable to return to the living. Izanami-no-Mikoto is known as the goddess of death, similar to Etro.
- The Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania Omega reveals that the Latin writing that appears during the Eidolons' summoning animations each mention Etro. For example, Odin's summoning animation has writing that translates to, By grace of Etro, let thunder herald your arrival. The writing, using a different writing system from the Pulse and Cocoon alphabets is attributed as Etro's script. This script also appears around Time Gates and in Serah's and Noel's attires in Final Fantasy XIII-2.
- The painting in which she is depicted in Final Fantasy XV is held by a grim reaper statue, evoking her status as the goddess of death. In addition, her depictions in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII evoke a connection to the Valkyries, warrior maidens in Norse mythology who carry the souls of warriors to Valhalla.
- Etro is sometimes thought to be the Maker, but of all the deities she is the only one not to be interpreted as the Maker.
- In 2008, her name was already known in Final Fantasy Versus XIII, later renamed Final Fantasy XV.
- Sometimes when Noel refers to Etro in Final Fantasy XIII-2, he paraphrases terms from the real world; e.g.: "God's sake" for "Etro's sake", and "for the love of God" altered to "for the love of Etro".
- The chiming heard at various points during Final Fantasy XIII-2 is said to be the funeral bells of Etro.
- The Crystal Legends Student in Ruffian in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII implies that Etro had power over when people died, as well as when they were reborn.
- Etro is the only offspring of Bhunivelze without a villainous nature; the Double Deity's description mentions Pulse's violent tyranny and Lindzei's dark cunning.