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I realized that some of the Forsaken names were familiar to me (Ishamael and Ishmael from Moby Dick, Asmodean and Asmodeus the demon). Did Jordan take inspiration for the names for all the Forsaken, and if so what were the other inspirations for the other Forsaken?


Edit: Thanks to @Mithrandir for pointing out that Ishmael is also a biblical name, with him being the son of Abraham

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    I'm tempted to close this as being too broad. More to the point, what does knowing that the name Ishmael is a biblical name tell you about the Wheel of Time? – user111 Mar 29 '17 at 18:56
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    @Hamlet it doesn't! I sometimes ask questions simply because I think things like this are cool. I will ask you not to close this unless other people agree with your opinion. – Matrim Cauthon Mar 29 '17 at 22:15
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    @Hamlet It's interesting to see where some of the names come from; it can increase people's (e.g. my) appreciation of the books. For instance, there are a lot of Arthurian names in WoT, and many of them are connected to the Andoran royal family - this has been used as evidence for a theory that our own world is meant to be a future version of WoT. If there are lots of biblical connections among the Forsaken, that might suggest something about how we're meant to imagine them. – Rand al'Thor Mar 29 '17 at 22:42
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    @Hamlet More importantly, I wish you wouldn't be such a spoilsport. If you don't feel a question is interesting to you personally, downvote it; but leaving comments on such questions to imply that they're worthless because "what do they tell you about the book" willl discourage people from asking questions and ultimately could kill the site. It's a literature site, not a literary analysis site, and this is a question about literature which at least five people find interesting/useful. What's your problem? – Rand al'Thor Mar 29 '17 at 22:44
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    @Shokhet WoT as a whole has over 2000 named characters, but this question is asking about just thirteen. Some of those thirteen have a couple of different names, but it's still a clearly scoped question. – Rand al'Thor Mar 29 '17 at 22:55
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Jordan uses many mythological and historical sources for the Forsaken. Some etymologies are more clear than others. I'll go through each of them:

Aginor: Aginor was a character in the Iliad who attacked a stronger opponent (Achilles) and was defeated, similar to Aginor's own demise.

Aran'gar: Etymology explained in the series as a type of blade.

Asmodean: As you acknowledge, comes from the demon Asmodeus.

Balthamel: This article draws parallels between Balthamel and Dionysus.

Bel'al: May come from בליעל Belial, which means worthless in Hebrew. In the Bible, "sons of Belial" is used for evil men. (eg Deut. 13:14) (Source)

Cyndane: Etymology explained in the series as "last chance" in the Old Tongue.

Demandred: This site says that Demandred is the name of one of Arthur's knights; however, I cannot find that anywhere else.

Graendal: I'm not sure. It may be related to Grendel, a villain in Beowulf, but I don't see much similarity.

Ishamael: From Ishmael, the name of Abraham's first son by Hagar in the Bible. (Gen. 16:15)

M'Hael: May be a reference to Michael, the archangel in the Bible, coming from Hebrew מיכאל Mikha'el = "Who is like God?" He's the enemy of Lucifer, the morning star, who might be Lews Therin, Lord of the Morning.

Lanfear: From l'enfer, the French word for "Hell." Selene is probably related to the Greek moon-goddess by the same name.

Mesaana: From here,

Possibly from Messalina, the notorious third wife of Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus, Emperor of Rome. Jose Abrigo observes that there was actually an ancient city called Messana, whose civil war was the catalyst for the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage.

Moghedien: Etymology explained in the series as "spider" in the Old Tongue.

Moridin: It means Death in-series; however, it might be a reference to Mordred from the Arthurian legend.

Osan'gar: Etymology explained in the series as a type of blade.

Rahvin: The wiki says that he may be based on a Hindu demon Ravana. His alias Gaebril is probably based on Gabriel the angel.

Sammael: Might be related to the prophet Samuel, but probably closer to Samael, a biblical archangel who, according to Wikipedia, has been seen as both good and evil.

Semirhage: Possibly based on Semiramis, a legendary Assyrian queen.

  • Having never read the series, I can't say for sure, but note that many languages (eg French) have words for death that have sounds similar to "Moridin." – Shokhet Mar 29 '17 at 22:28
  • "Mesaana" reminds me of "Masada" (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masada), but that's probably a stretch. – Gaurav Apr 5 '17 at 16:08

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