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What the names in the MATRIX series mean

So the plan was to see the movie Wednesday to review it for you, but that didn’t work out. So, until I get to see it, I thought I would explain what some of the names in The Matrix mean (or might mean). I also have reprinted my review for The Matrix Reloaded below, in case you weren’t a Hyperion X reader then or you smoke a lot of pot and forgot.

NON-CHARACTER NAMES

The Matrix

In the first part of the trilogy, Morpheus said, “No one can tell you what the Matrix is.” Except me. Well, maybe. The Matrix could mean a lot of things. William Gibson, who’s considered the father of Cyberpunk, wrote about the Matrix in his hugely influential novel Neuromancer. There, Matrix refers to a large world of computing resources that can be visualized holographically by the user. The hero in the book connects to the matrix through wiring that is integrated with his brain.

Most basically, the Matrix is sometimes what the Internet, the World Wide Web, Usenet, and what all connecting networks flow into. That fits too.

A mathematical definition: A rectangular array of numbers, algebraic symbols, or mathematical functions, especially when such arrays are added and multiplied according to certain rules. This would explain the numerical “code” we sometimes see the Matrix represented as.

As for origins, the word matrix comes from the Greek word for womb, which is from the word mater, or mother. You can see how that fits too.

Zion

This is the city where all the freed humans live. I could write five hundred pages on this, or just a few sentences. Basically this is straight from the Old Testament. The Israelites saw Zion as their “City on the Hill, “ the perfect embodiment of what life would be like when God delivered them. They used Zion as a codeword for victory and for the future (it’s also used in Revelations). It’s pretty easy to understand why the Wachowskis (the writers and directors of the Matrix trilogy) would call the only free city Zion. Of course, the Zion in the Matrix isn’t on a hill, but in a cave, and for there you have to go to Plato (I think I wrote about this in my first review). To understand the significance, you need to read Plato’s “The Cave,” or if you’re lazy, just do a Google search with those two terms.

Logos

This is the ship that Niobe (played by Jada Pinkett Smith in the movie) captains. Logos usually refers to reason or logic in Greek, while in biblical parlance it means the wisdom behind all of creation, and is often associated with Jesus himself. (John 1:1, which reads, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, uses Logos (Word) to mean both the truth of creation and Jesus.) Unless there is more significance to Niobe in the third movie than I am aware of, I think this is just one of those cool Greek words the Wachowski Brothers wanted to throw in.

Nebuchadnezzar

This is the ship that Morpheus captains. In the first movie, the name just seemed kind of cool, but not all that much. Nebuchadnezzar is the King in Daniel (in Babylonian mythology Nebo was the god of Wisdom) who had those dreams, and Morpheus is the god of Dreams in Greek Mythology, so I thought that was it. But I was reading the book of Daniel the other day, and I came upon something. Daniel is already a difficult book to understand, because much of it is written in code, but in chapter 2 (vs. 31-35), Daniel tells this to King Nebuchadnezzar about his dream:

You looked, O King, and there before you stood a large statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

What does this mean? Who knows? But, it’s possible that the Wachowski Brothers used Nebuchadnezzar because as you recall, the Architect told Neo there had been five previous “the ones” before him (which could stand for the gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay). So, maybe Neo is going to smash away that built up statue too and save the earth.

NAMES

Architect

This one seems easy to understand. The real question is: who does he look more like; Col. Sanders or Freud?

Trinity

In Christian Theology, the Trinity stands for The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. Many other religions have the three-in-one aspect, but as we’ll see with Neo, this is probably where the Wachowskis were going. Also, Trinity may represent the coming together of her, Neo, and Morpheus in the first film. You could go on and on looking for symbolic “threes,” (like three movies!), but what I really want to know is this; couldn’t they have found a hotter actress to play her?

Morpheus

As I wrote earlier, Morpheus is the Greek god of Dreams. He would send images to humans in their sleep. This seems to jive well enough with what we know of Morpheus, especially in part 1. I could go on here, but you get the point.

Merovingian

The Merovingian line is considered the first French dynastic line of Kings. The Merovingian in the Matrix movies likes to think of himself as French. I have one reader who thinks this goes a whole lot farther, but as most people aren’t even likely to know that much, I seriously doubt the Wachowskis planned this whole mythology around the guy. I could be wrong, and you’re welcome to see for yourself.

Persephone

She was the wife of Hades (a cold-hearted god) in Greek mythology, and is associated with the seasons, spring when she’s happy and winter when she’s not. But I found another interesting angle: in one set of stories, Persephone has lost the ability to feel real human emotions and so she sucks them from the people she can get ahold of. This certainly explains that memorable bathroom scene in Reloaded.

Niobe

There are several Niobes in history, but given the movie’s tendencies, the most likely here is the Niobe from Greek myth (first recreated in the Iliad). Niobe compares herself favorably to the goddess Leto (sine Niobe bore 12 children and Leto only 2), and of course this pisses Leto off something fierce and she sends her two kids, Apollo and Artemis, to punish Niobe. As the Iliad puts it:

Apollo, making his silver longbow whip and sing,
shot the lads down, and Artemis, with raining
arrows killed the daughters - all this after
Niobe had compared herself with Leto,
the smooth-cheeked goddess.

Niobe is so devastated by this turn of events (i.e., all 12 children dying), she turns into a rock statue on Mt. Sipylon, where the poet Ovid writes that she still cries real tears. I’m not at all sure if this has anything to with the Matrix, but the story behind her name is pretty cool.


The Oracle

You should know this. In Greek (and other) mythology, the Oracle can “see” into the future. Need I write more?


Link

I’m only including this because my Webmaster asked me to. I don’t think the name (that I’ve seen) means all that much. Maybe Link is the link to the characters from the first Matrix that died. Anyone has a better theory I’d love to read it.

Agent Smith

Okay, first of all, as an aside, when you were watching Fellowship of the Ring for the first time, and Elrond was talking to Frodo (or whomever), didn’t you half expect him to say, “You must destroy the ring, Mr. Anderson”? Maybe it was just I. But
Agent Smith has to be one of the most underrated bad guys of all time. According to Jeffrey Deaver in “The Blue Nowhere,” an agent is a computer term for a program that goes into a system to clean up, regulate, or destroy other programs (usually without their knowledge). That seems pretty self-explanatory. The Smith part I rather think comes from the generic-ness of it. After all, the Agents all dress alike, and in the second and third films, there are many Smiths.

Thomas “Neo” “The One” Anderson

I’m sure you already have heard much of this, but to rehash a few ideas: Neo’s many names seem to be a mix of Biblical and Greek history. “The One” is used in many religions and cultures to mean the most enlightened, the savior, etc. One is also an anagram of Neo. Thomas is Greek for “twin,” which makes sense because Neo has a twin nature, his personality as a computer guy in the Matrix, and what he is to become. Thomas may also refer to the Doubting Thomas of scripture, who didn’t believe it was the resurrected Jesus until he saw the wounds in Christ’s hands. As you’ll recall, Neo doesn’t think he’s been shot (in the first one), until he looks down and sees the bullet hole.

What else have we? Obviously there is all the Christology here, that Neo is the Christ figure. In the first film, Neo actually dies and is born again; simple enough. But it gets better. If you break down Anderson, you get the suffix “Son” (which means “son of) and Ander, which comes from the Greek word “Andros” which means “mankind.” Add in the word “Neo” which means “new” in Greek and you have: “the New Son of Mankind.” Then again, you probably already got that, but it’s kind of cool anyway.

As soon as I manage to see this damn movie I’ll review it, but in the meantime my review for The Matrix Reloaded is below the credits. Hope all of this makes it a bit more enjoyable for you.

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