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A question of the Sylvari's culture

The Greyhawk.9107The Greyhawk.9107 Member ✭✭✭

This is a little question of the origin of the Sylvari's Celtic, mostly Welsh, based culture: where does it come from, the names especially? The Sylvari haven't had the centuries and millennia to develop the unique aspects of their culture, like social norms and in particular the style of naming, so where did they or the Pale Tree come up with these specific aspects of their society?

We know why from a design stand point, the Sylvari are meant to be that 'Fae' race and what better IRL culture to base a Fae race off of than the people that created the concept: the Celts. Early concepts of the Sylvari were even called Sidhe, which is a Gaelic Celtic equivalent for faeries and elves. The separation of the Tablet Sylvari from the Nightmare court is pretty analogous to the Seelie and Unseelie courts of the Celtic fair folk. As for the heavily Welsh focus, particularly on names, Anet wanted the Sylvari to also have that Arthurian chivalry as a pervasive aspect of their character, and as I recall a decent amount of the King Arthur legend has its origin in very old Brythonic Celtic lore it makes sense to go with the Brythonic culture of Wales.

But how in universe did the Sylvari pick up this culture, the naming conventions and the Arthurian chivalry, etc.? The story show their society to be almost a 'tabula rasa' especially in the near lack of gender norms, but not with these other aspects. I would suppose that to some degree some of the knightly chivalry could be derived from the Tablet, though I do question whether it would cover all of it. But what about the naming style, where did they get it? Where did the Pale Tree get it? While Ronan is a Celtic name he's only one person, Ventari to the best of my knowledge isn't a Celtic name, nor are the names of the others seen at the young Pale Tree in EotN (Plus Ronan is a Gaelic name, not a Brythonic one, though that probably doesn't matter, we're talking about a Tyrian equivalent to Celtic culture, not the real world one). Its very questionable that the Pale Tree could have gotten an entire cultures worth of naming styles and other cultural conventions from just one person.

So what could be the source of the Sylvari's Celtic culture? My best guess would fit into my general theory of the nature of the Sylvari themselves; that there is something more to them having become more than the soulless and will-less dragon minions they were meant to be than a pacifistic human and centaur somehow raising the Pale Tree to not be a dragon corrupted minion factory. Some greater force, an X-factor that changed the equation and as such changed the very nature of the Pale Tree and the Sylvari. And that change would also include the bits of Celtic culture the Sylvari have today.

But what do you lore-hounds think? Feel free to let me know what I might have missed or what's wrong with my little theory, I'm sure I mixed something up in that wall of text above.

Hate Is Fuel.

Comments

  • draxynnic.3719draxynnic.3719 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Hrrrmn. The assumption I've generally had is that the names came from the Dream. It's not really that sylvari are choosing Celtic names, but that they're born with them.

    It's possible that this is as deep as it goes - they need names, and it's just coincidence that the name generator is stuck on Celtic. If it is something deeper, however, it'd probably be a matter of looking at the early druids. The druid names we know now are pretty much all arboreal in nature, but given that druids are also a Celtic concept, it's possible that the original druids had a Celtic-like culture before assuming treeheart forms and names. This might have imprinted on the Dream in the Maguuma, and therefore onto the sylvari.

    It's possible that it might also go back further (I still think the Pale Tree's seed was cleansed before Ronan stole it), but I'd prefer to look towards a culture we know existed rather than hypothesising a link to some ancient culture which is purely speculation.

  • @draxynnic.3719 said:
    Hrrrmn. The assumption I've generally had is that the names came from the Dream. It's not really that sylvari are choosing Celtic names, but that they're born with them.

    It's possible that this is as deep as it goes - they need names, and it's just coincidence that the name generator is stuck on Celtic. If it is something deeper, however, it'd probably be a matter of looking at the early druids. The druid names we know now are pretty much all arboreal in nature, but given that druids are also a Celtic concept, it's possible that the original druids had a Celtic-like culture before assuming treeheart forms and names. This might have imprinted on the Dream in the Maguuma, and therefore onto the sylvari.

    It's possible that it might also go back further (I still think the Pale Tree's seed was cleansed before Ronan stole it), but I'd prefer to look towards a culture we know existed rather than hypothesising a link to some ancient culture which is purely speculation.

    That's actually a pretty good theory, I'd forgotten all about the Maguuma Druids. I've always had trouble identifying GW's druids with the Celtic druids, or even general fantasy druids, precisely because they take the forms of tree spirits. As such I don't think a lot about them. It would make sense for them to have had a Celtic based culture and this was somehow passed to the Sylvari via the Dream, its hard to ignore that they do both live in the Maguuma, it would also make sense for them to have been what helped purify the Pale Tree. We both agree that there was something more to the Pale Tree gaining a will of her own and becoming such a benevolent being instead of the corrupted dragon minion factory it was meant to.

    Hate Is Fuel.

  • Aaron Ansari.1604Aaron Ansari.1604 Member ✭✭✭✭

    As far as the Arthurian chivalry goes, that might simply have been an import from human culture- same with the Nightmare Court's system of noble titles. While there aren't any in modern Tyria, there are some indications- the jousting dummies in Krytan carnivals, the risen knights and squires, a thin scattering of Ascalonian NPCs with names like 'Sir Tydus' or 'Squire Zachary' in GW1- that there was a system of human knighthood in play at an undefined point in the past, and if that subculture picked up the same myth of chivalry that it did in the real world, it's easy to see how that would appeal to a people trying to reconcile their need for armed self-defence with the ideals of the morality they'd had drilled into them.

    R.I.P., Old Man of Auld Red Wharf. Gone but never forgotten.

  • @Aaron Ansari.1604 said:
    As far as the Arthurian chivalry goes, that might simply have been an import from human culture- same with the Nightmare Court's system of noble titles. While there aren't any in modern Tyria, there are some indications- the jousting dummies in Krytan carnivals, the risen knights and squires, a thin scattering of Ascalonian NPCs with names like 'Sir Tydus' or 'Squire Zachary' in GW1- that there was a system of human knighthood in play at an undefined point in the past, and if that subculture picked up the same myth of chivalry that it did in the real world, it's easy to see how that would appeal to a people trying to reconcile their need for armed self-defence with the ideals of the morality they'd had drilled into them.

    I can see that as a possibility, I do question the timing g a little. Were we ever told when humans and the sylvari first made contact, and how does it line up with when the Nightmare Court was founded?

    Hate Is Fuel.

  • anninke.7469anninke.7469 Member ✭✭✭

    @The Greyhawk.9107 said:

    @Aaron Ansari.1604 said:
    As far as the Arthurian chivalry goes, that might simply have been an import from human culture- same with the Nightmare Court's system of noble titles. While there aren't any in modern Tyria, there are some indications- the jousting dummies in Krytan carnivals, the risen knights and squires, a thin scattering of Ascalonian NPCs with names like 'Sir Tydus' or 'Squire Zachary' in GW1- that there was a system of human knighthood in play at an undefined point in the past, and if that subculture picked up the same myth of chivalry that it did in the real world, it's easy to see how that would appeal to a people trying to reconcile their need for armed self-defence with the ideals of the morality they'd had drilled into them.

    I can see that as a possibility, I do question the timing g a little. Were we ever told when humans and the sylvari first made contact, and how does it line up with when the Nightmare Court was founded?

    Maybe Faolain read too many romantic novels...

    Do not fear difficulty. Hard ground makes sore feet.
    All things...grow. And the blossom bothers the weed.
    Act with wisdom and axe.

  • @anninke.7469 said:

    @The Greyhawk.9107 said:

    @Aaron Ansari.1604 said:
    As far as the Arthurian chivalry goes, that might simply have been an import from human culture- same with the Nightmare Court's system of noble titles. While there aren't any in modern Tyria, there are some indications- the jousting dummies in Krytan carnivals, the risen knights and squires, a thin scattering of Ascalonian NPCs with names like 'Sir Tydus' or 'Squire Zachary' in GW1- that there was a system of human knighthood in play at an undefined point in the past, and if that subculture picked up the same myth of chivalry that it did in the real world, it's easy to see how that would appeal to a people trying to reconcile their need for armed self-defence with the ideals of the morality they'd had drilled into them.

    I can see that as a possibility, I do question the timing g a little. Were we ever told when humans and the sylvari first made contact, and how does it line up with when the Nightmare Court was founded?

    Maybe Faolain read too many romantic novels...


    What kinda romance novels are you reading?

    Hate Is Fuel.

  • anninke.7469anninke.7469 Member ✭✭✭
    edited March 13, 2020

    @The Greyhawk.9107 said:

    @anninke.7469 said:

    @The Greyhawk.9107 said:

    @Aaron Ansari.1604 said:
    As far as the Arthurian chivalry goes, that might simply have been an import from human culture- same with the Nightmare Court's system of noble titles. While there aren't any in modern Tyria, there are some indications- the jousting dummies in Krytan carnivals, the risen knights and squires, a thin scattering of Ascalonian NPCs with names like 'Sir Tydus' or 'Squire Zachary' in GW1- that there was a system of human knighthood in play at an undefined point in the past, and if that subculture picked up the same myth of chivalry that it did in the real world, it's easy to see how that would appeal to a people trying to reconcile their need for armed self-defence with the ideals of the morality they'd had drilled into them.

    I can see that as a possibility, I do question the timing g a little. Were we ever told when humans and the sylvari first made contact, and how does it line up with when the Nightmare Court was founded?

    Maybe Faolain read too many romantic novels...


    What kinda romance novels are you reading?

    I may have worded it wrong. What I had in mind was not romance but "romantic" as in about the heroic knights of the times past with their loyal squires and hearts devoted to their one beloved lady. Thus the inspiration for the NC's ranks.
    I do, however, read a romance novel ocasionally and quite enjoy their simple take on things. Especially the kind where a modern emancipated girl comes to work for a lord/millionaire with difficult past, heals his heart (after his beloved wife died usually), makes his kid/s love her and as a bonus solves an ancient curse or two... :)

    Edit: Oh, well, there was one that included some kind of dark cult and making enemies choke on heaps of insects crawling all over them. That one drastically changed how I see flies. Forever.

    Do not fear difficulty. Hard ground makes sore feet.
    All things...grow. And the blossom bothers the weed.
    Act with wisdom and axe.

  • @anninke.7469 said:
    Edit: Oh, well, there was one that included some kind of dark cult and making enemies choke on heaps of insects crawling all over them. That one drastically changed how I see flies. Forever.

    Eeeep!

    Hate Is Fuel.

  • Teratus.2859Teratus.2859 Member ✭✭✭✭

    There is so much speculation to be had on this subject.

    For starters we know the Pale Tree comes from Mordremoth and Mordremoth itself is potentially millions of years old and has seen countless cultures and races come into existence and been wiped from it, some part of that knowledge could have been passed down unintentionally and subconsciously to the Pale Tree and fragments of it somehow been preserved as part of the dream.
    The Dream itself is an enigma that nobody fully understands or controls but for Sylvari this pre-life dream allows them to experience the world from the memories and experiences of the Sylvari before them, they come into the world already possessing many skills they'll need to survive along with a decent amount of knowledge as well, unlike us inferior Humans who are born completely clueless and helpless :P

    The culture the Sylvari have created for themselves will have already taken root in newer generations of Sylvari as well, since as mentioned the newborns experience memories and experiences of older Sylvari via the Dream so they will already know what their culture is like prior to awakening as it will likely be one of the most familiar experiences every Sylvari in the dream will experience.
    It's also simply logical that a race of plant based beings who were born from a tree would have a strong affinity for nature and strive to live in harmony with it.

    As for names it seems that Sylvari instinctively know their names, there's no indication that they are given to them or chosen.. my guess is they feel their names similarly to how Dragons instinctively know their names as well much like Aurine despite being freshly hatched told us what her name was.
    Which when you think about it makes total sense considering the Sylvari do originate from an Elder Dragon and we've known multiple Dragons in this franchise that have had both mortal race given names and also their true names Glint/Glaust and Gleam/Vlast.

  • Jimbru.6014Jimbru.6014 Member ✭✭✭✭

    When talking about Sylvari culture, it's important to remember that the Pale Tree herself is not yet 250 years old; Ronan planted her seed when he came home after the Krytan Civil War (ended in 1079 AE; no specific date is given for her planting). Even the eldest of the Firstborn (awoke 1302 AE) are only 31 years old at the present moment of the game calendar (1333 AE).

    There may be ancient influences from Mordremoth, but I think Sylvari names and such probably also include old Krytan influences. When I say Krytan, I mean OLD Kryta, way before the other human kingdoms fell and Kryta became the cultural melting pot it is today. The Druids (who may have created the seeds of what became the Pale Tree and Blighting Trees) were originally a Krytan human tribe that migrated to Maguuma hundreds of years before Ronan's time, and Ronan himself was also Krytan. It's just a thought, anyway.

  • Jimbru.6014Jimbru.6014 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Teratus.2859 said:
    The Dream itself is an enigma that nobody fully understands or controls but for Sylvari this pre-life dream allows them to experience the world from the memories and experiences of the Sylvari before them, they come into the world already possessing many skills they'll need to survive along with a decent amount of knowledge as well, unlike us inferior Humans who are born completely clueless and helpless :P

    As the Sylvari themselves say in game, they come into the world with knowledge, but not experience. A Sylvari may "know" what a certain food like bacon will taste like from their Dream, but they have not had the actual experience in reality -- which once they do, it may or may not match their expectations from the Dream.

    When talking to Sylvari, It's also important to know that while they may generally resemble adult humans, most Sylvari are only a few years to a few decades old at most. As I said before, the very eldest Firstborn are only 31 years old. It can be more than a little weird to realize that the attractive "adult" Sylvari you're hitting on at the tavern, may be only the same physical and experiential age as a human child. We'll just leave that thought where it lies and move along...

  • Teratus.2859Teratus.2859 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Jimbru.6014 said:

    @Teratus.2859 said:
    The Dream itself is an enigma that nobody fully understands or controls but for Sylvari this pre-life dream allows them to experience the world from the memories and experiences of the Sylvari before them, they come into the world already possessing many skills they'll need to survive along with a decent amount of knowledge as well, unlike us inferior Humans who are born completely clueless and helpless :P

    As the Sylvari themselves say in game, they come into the world with knowledge, but not experience. A Sylvari may "know" what a certain food like bacon will taste like from their Dream, but they have not had the actual experience in reality -- which once they do, it may or may not match their expectations from the Dream.

    When talking to Sylvari, It's also important to know that while they may generally resemble adult humans, most Sylvari are only a few years to a few decades old at most. As I said before, the very eldest Firstborn are only 31 years old. It can be more than a little weird to realize that the attractive "adult" Sylvari you're hitting on at the tavern, may be only the same physical and experiential age as a human child. We'll just leave that thought where it lies and move along...

    Yeah that's pretty much what I was saying, they have all the knowledge.. but they don't have the physical experience.
    They may know how to swing a sword or tend to a wounded plant but not the experience of doing so, otherwise they would all be born eventually as experts in everything.

    And yeah their age thing is pretty amusing as well, most of them are in many ways still children, it's also interesting to note that we don't even know if they can die of old age yet or if they can even age.
    Likewise Gender is also a irrelevant factor for their race too, they may have different genders dictating physical form but it's more or less a cosmetic thing rather than a functional one.
    In most other races males and females exist for reproduction purposes but Sylvari don't have this ability at all.. in fact it's likely the only reason Sylvari even have 2 genders is because their physical forms might be based on Humans.

  • Leo.3428Leo.3428 Member ✭✭

    Now that I think of it, I remember an asura telling, on condition of anonymity, that they crossed the Otherworld on their way to the surface and they saw things from long gone dragon cycles, creatures that described a vastly different world, continents shuffled, humans everywhere, and some who called themselves aos si and jokingly spoke "arpie" or "received" or something. One scientist captured a few in a bubblematic jar for experiments but things went wrong of course, and unfortunately I don't have further details, the asura disappeared in the middle of a sentence, never to return. Not finishing a sentence is extremely rude for an asura, and I suspect something big is hidden from us.

  • @Leo.3428 said:
    Now that I think of it, I remember an asura telling, on condition of anonymity, that they crossed the Otherworld on their way to the surface and they saw things from long gone dragon cycles, creatures that described a vastly different world, continents shuffled, humans everywhere, and some who called themselves aos si and jokingly spoke "arpie" or "received" or something. One scientist captured a few in a bubblematic jar for experiments but things went wrong of course, and unfortunately I don't have further details, the asura disappeared in the middle of a sentence, never to return. Not finishing a sentence is extremely rude for an asura, and I suspect something big is hidden from us.

    Hate Is Fuel.

  • Aaron Ansari.1604Aaron Ansari.1604 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @The Greyhawk.9107 said:

    @Aaron Ansari.1604 said:
    As far as the Arthurian chivalry goes, that might simply have been an import from human culture- same with the Nightmare Court's system of noble titles. While there aren't any in modern Tyria, there are some indications- the jousting dummies in Krytan carnivals, the risen knights and squires, a thin scattering of Ascalonian NPCs with names like 'Sir Tydus' or 'Squire Zachary' in GW1- that there was a system of human knighthood in play at an undefined point in the past, and if that subculture picked up the same myth of chivalry that it did in the real world, it's easy to see how that would appeal to a people trying to reconcile their need for armed self-defence with the ideals of the morality they'd had drilled into them.

    I can see that as a possibility, I do question the timing g a little. Were we ever told when humans and the sylvari first made contact, and how does it line up with when the Nightmare Court was founded?

    We don't have a date, but we do have some pieces we can put together. We know from the old interviews that humans were the second race the sylvari encountered; we know from the racial blog post that the Court wasn't formed until sometime after the sylvari began fighting the krait; so human contact came before the Court's formation, we just don't know by how long.

    It's also possible, though, that the ideas reached the sylvari through the Dream, via the Tree's observations of the humans in Ronan' and Ventari's settlement. While we never hear anything of it, it stands to reason that the humans there would have had a similar foundational impact on her outlook, if perhaps at a smaller scale. (This is particularly true if you subscribe to the notion that the Tree can shape her children as she sees fit, and freely chose to model them after humans.) And while it's a stretch, I also wouldn't be surprised if a society that was founded to embrace ideals that their mother kingdom had discarded also found antiquated notions like knighthood appealing, or if they drew a link between the nobility and time before Kryta was plunged into chaos and civil war.

    R.I.P., Old Man of Auld Red Wharf. Gone but never forgotten.