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Why I Named My Pokémon After Mythological Creatures

Like many people over the summer, I was swept up in the “Pokémon Go” craze. It’s an incredibly fun way to pass the time—it’s a cellphone game that allows you to collect little creatures that show up on a map of whatever area you’re in and then train them to fight other creatures in gyms.

One of my favorite features of the game is that when I catch a Pokémon, I can name it. At first I wasn’t sure how to go about naming them, but then I hit upon the idea of naming my Pokémon after mythological figures with whom they share characteristics. Not only do my Pokémon now have some pretty cool names, I’ve also learned a little bit in the process! I’ve compiled a list here of ten of my Pokémon and their namesake mythological figures.

 

Vaporeon / Aegaeon

Vaporeon is one of three possible Eevee evolutions in the game and has powerful Water moves, such as Water Gun and Hydro Pump. I liked the idea of naming mine after a Greek god because I knew there were lots of water gods and goddesses. Besides, I love the way Greek names sound. Aegaeon (also called Briareus) was a son of Poseidon and god of sea-storms, with a base in the Aegean Sea.

 

Snorlax / Morpheus

Snorlax is one of the biggest Pokémon, known for extreme sleepiness and psychic abilities. As Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams, I thought his name would be a good moniker for a Pokémon whose base move is Zen Headbutt and major move is Hyper Beam. My Morpheus has both a calm and aggressive side, just as the god of dreams can bring pleasant dreams or nightmares.

 

Ponyta / Embarr

A Ponyta evolves into Rapidash, and both are horse/unicorn-like creatures with fiery manes and tails. Embarr is a magical horse who, in Irish mythology, carried Niamh across the Western Sea. I was excited to come across Embarr’s tale, because not only is it about a magical horse but Embarr sounds like “ember,” which brings fire to mind.

 

Pidgeot / Gullinkambi

A Pidgeot is the final evolution of the humble Pidgey (a bird-like creature), while Gullinkambi, a figure out of Norse mythology, is a rooster that lives in Valhalla (the banquet hall of the gods). While I was looking for interesting mythological bird figures, I had a hard time choosing among the many in Norse mythological canon (Huginn and Muninn are two other famous birds). I chose the rooster because roosters are famously pugnacious and Pidgeots have a majestic tuft of hair much like a rooster’s comb and blade.

 

Golbat / Camazotz

Before I went looking for a mythological figure to name my Zubat (a bat-like creature), I was worried that I wouldn’t find anything interesting. I needn’t have been stressed, because one of the first results I saw was for Camazotz, a Mayan god associated with darkness and death. I rarely, if ever, use my Golbat, but Camazotz is one of my favorite monikers. (It would also be a good name for a heavy-metal band.)

 

Machop and Machoke / Wang Shan

For Machop and Machoke, humanoid Pokémon who use fighting moves, I cast my net wide, searching for names of different war deities. In the Wikipedia article “List of War Deities,” I scrolled until I came to the Chinese Mythology section. The description for Wang Shan read simply, “Primordial Lord-General.” I liked this title for its simple descriptiveness, and it seems even more apt now that my Machop evolved into a Machoke.

 

Haunter / Penchapechi

Fun fact: there are many, many types of ghosts from all around the world. I knew I wanted a ghost name for my Haunter, a ghost-type Pokémon that hovers above the ground, so I clicked around for awhile before finding myself looking at a Wikipedia article (thanks, Wikipedia!) called “Ghosts in Bengali Culture.” There were quite a few interesting ones to choose from but in the end I chose “Penchapechi,” which is a type of ghost that flies around in owl form and preys like a vampire on unwary travelers.

 

Slowpoke / Aergia

Technically a water-type Pokémon, the Slowpoke “often forgets what it’s doing and often spends entire days just loafing at water’s edge,” according to the Pokedex in “Pokémon Go.” When I looked into gods of laziness, I wasn’t sure I’d find anything specific, but I discovered Aergia! Aergia is a Greek goddess who personifies sloth and laziness.

 

Sandshrew / Psamathe

The Sandshrew is a cute, armadillo-esque creature that lives in the desert. Psamathe is a figure from Greek mythology (I know, I know, I have a ton from Greek mythology, I’m trying to branch out, I swear) who is a Nereid (daughter of Nereus, an old god of the sea) and the goddess of sandy beaches.

 

Squirtle / A’Tuin

Squirtle is one of my favorite Pokémon. I used it as a starter in “Pokémon: Sapphire,” still the only video game I’ve played all the way through. A Squirtle is a super cute mix between a squirrel and turtle. A’Tuin, or more properly The Great A’Tuin, will be familiar to fans of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. The Discworld is carried on the backs of four elephants who in turn stand on the back of A’Tuin, a giant turtle flying through space. No, A’Tuin isn’t exactly a figure from ancient mythology (the late eighties at the earliest), but it’s still a character from my favorite book series!

 

I hope this was fun to read, and if a spark of curiosity was kindled in you, by all means, research these figures more! I’ll warn you that I got most of my information from Wikipedia, which is a great jumping off point and perfect for a little project like this, but should not be used for any serious scholarship.

Now, excuse me, but I gotta go catch ‘em all!

 

Image credits: Pokemongofans.com, Imgur, Pinimg

Katie is a senior (well, basically, it's a long story) English major and history minor from Woodstock, Vermont.
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