The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: July 1st, 2000

Clarifications and Corrections

By: Ian Andreas Miller

A few months ago, I submitted an article that explained the name "Eriosu" and how that name can be spelled in English. From the messages I have received since then, I can conclude that many fans found the article interesting and informative. Since then, I have managed to come up with more information regarding the name and its history. I found that though the information that I provided was basically correct, there seemed to be some details that needed to be mentioned. This time, I'll clarify some things for the readers. Moreover, I've done some more research into the names of the Sailor Moon movies. This article will provide not only more information about the name "Eriosu," it will also provide the corrected spellings of the names from the movies.

At this point, I should make it known that the form of Greek that Takeuchi is trying to approximate in her manga, when she uses spellings like "Eriosu" and "Eryushion," is modern Greek. For some time, I was under the impression that the names in the manga were derived from ancient Greek. A Japanese Web site has cleared this confusion up for me. I'll mention that site and how I found it below. As it turns out, the pronunciations of the letters in the modern language are similar to their ancient counterparts. There are also several dialects of this language in which some of the consonants and vowels are pronounced differently. Sometimes the letter theta is pronounced like the "th" as in "thick" and other times it's pronounced like an aspirated "t." The Japanese spelling of the name Lethe, which uses the Katakana for "Rete," is an interesting case. This spelling shows that the Japanese person writing the name was following a Greek dialect whose theta sounds like the "th" in "potholder."

I decided one day to e-mail the owner of the Ancient Greek Pronunciation Web site, John Opsopaus. He informed me that some dialects spell the name of the sun god "Aelios," "Helios," and even "Eelios." The "Helios" spelling seems to be the most common because we even use it. Though there is no letter in the Greek alphabet that approximates the English letter "h," the ancient Greeks put marks next to the beginning vowel letter (in words that start with a vowel) to indicate either a "rough" or "smooth" breathing. The "rough" breathing is always transliterated as "h." In the case of Helios, there is indeed a "rough" breathing mark next to the first vowel in the word, Eta. This is why we usually write the name of the Greek sun god as Helios in English. However, this is not the only way to spell his name! Furthermore, these "rough" and "smooth" breathing marks are no longer used in the language today.

I have a modern Greek dictionary and the word for sun is "elios." There is no "rough" breathing mark used this time. Judging from the pronunciation key provided with the dictionary and the Japanese spelling of "eriosu," it seemed reasonable to assume that the name of the Sailor Moon character had to be related to the modern Greek word for "sun." I decided to use the Japanese search engine called Goo ( to help me find a site that uses the "Eriosu" Katakana to approximate the Greek word. For a while, I thought that the name "Eriosu" should be written as Ieleos because the word "ieleos," according to my dictionary, means "priest"! After some reasoning, however, I realized that if the name was supposed to be the word for "priest," wouldn't the name be spell in Japanese as "Iereosu"? Finally, I succeeded in finding a Japanese site that looked promising. The owners of the site used Greek words to name their computers. One of them happens to be named Elios (Helios to us), whose name comes from the Greek word for sun! The Katakana used to spell the name are the same ones used in to spell the name of the Sailor Moon character. I was right originally! The modern Greek spelling for "sun," and the name of the personification of the sun, is spelt as Helios in English. The Greek language has dropped the breathing marks, but they kept the same letters "elios." In other words, when a modern Greek wants to write about the sun god in his own language, he writes it as "Elios."

There should be some mention about the terms Elysion and Maenad. These terms are used in the Sailor Moon manga, but they aren't used in the same way they are in classical mythology. Takeuchi has created her own mythological world using these names. That's why Helios isn't a sun deity, but rather a priest who receives his name from the word for "sun." The Elysion in classical mythology, or Elysium in English, was the realm of happiness in which a selected few mortals went to when they died. The Elysion in Sailor Moon is realm which supposedly exists spiritually somewhere within Earth. The Greek term is Elysion (using the Greek letters Eta, Lambda, Upsilon, Sigma, Iota, Omicron, and Sigma) and the English term is Elysium. The Japanese spelling that Takeuchi has chosen is approximating the Greek spelling of the word. On the other hand, the Greek spelling for Maenad is "Mainad" according to my dictionary. In the Sailor Moon manga, the Maenads are not the crazed women in mythology, but rather the gentle characters who live in Elysion. My Greek dictionary tells me that the diphthong "ai" (alpha and iota) is supposed to be pronounced like the "e" as in "bed." The Japanese spelling of the term is "Menaado." Clearly, this is the word "Mainad" in Greek, or Maenad in English.

On my computer, I have a helpful Japanese word processing program called JWPce. Surprisingly enough, in the dictionary that's provided, the name Hermes is written with the Katakana for "Erumesu" and not "Herumesu." There is a section in my Greek dictionary that states that this name is spelled as "Ermes." Again, somebody has decided to use the Greek spelling of the name to write it into the Japanese writing system. This example proves that the name used in the Sailor Moon series can be written in our language as either Helios or Elios.

So which spelling is correct for "Eriosu"? Helios or Elios? The truth is that both are acceptable, and there are two ways one can go about spelling it and the other names.

* If you want to be strictly accurate, and you want to be faithful to the original Japanese and Greek, the spellings should be Elios, Elysion, and Mainad.

* If you want to use the common English spellings of the names, the ones that people are more likely to recognize in our language, use Helios, Elysium, and Maenad.

Personally, I like using the latter group of spellings. Why? It's because I think that by using them, most English-speaking people will be likely to recognize the mythological figures from which Takeuchi used for inspiration. Though both groups are acceptable, one must remember to chose either group and stick with it. Flip-flopping between the two can confuse the reader.

Now that the "Eriosu" name has been better explained, it would be pertinent to now present the corrected list of names from the movies. This list won't list every name that has appeared in the movies, but it's meant to be a follow-up of the list I provided previously. I've learned that most of the names from the Sailor Moon SuperS movie are supposed French in origin. So, the corrected French spelling of those names will be listed here. There is also one name from the Sailor Moon R movie that has been fixed. The letters in brackets [] represent the romanization of the Kana or Kanji used to spell the names. The Helpers system of romanization will be used. According to this system, a - macron is placed above a vowel letter whenever that vowel is long. Due to the limitations of ASCII text, long vowels will not indicated with a - macron. Instead, the long vowels will be indicated by simply doubling the vowel letter. For instance, the Japanese spelling for "sailor" will be "seeraa" because the "e" and "a" are long vowels.

Sailor Moon R Movie

Darian -- [darian] The Darians are the slithering, snickering, serpentine monsters that appear from the pink flowers on Fiore's meteor. The name comes from the term cnidarian. Cnidarians are radially symmetrical animals having saclike bodies with only one opening and tentacles with stinging structures. They occur in polyp and medusa forms. The Greek word "cnidos" means "stinging nettle," and that's how the cnidaria got its name and definition.

Sailor Moon SuperS Movie

Perle -- [peruru] In the French language, the word "perle" means "pearl" in English and the Japanese spell the French word as "peruru." In Kyoto, there is a clothing store named "Boutique Perle" and they spell the "perle" part in Japanese as "peruru." The pearl serves as Perle's characteristic emblem and pearl-like spheres can be seen on his uniform.

Poupelin -- [pupuran] In France, there is a pastry called poupelin and they pronounce that name like "puh-puh-lahn" like the Japanese spelling of the name suggests. This gateau, which was popular in former days, is made by cooking chou paste in a plain round mould. Three- quarters of the pastry spill outside the mould during cooking, and all that is left is a sort of outer crust that is filled, once it has cooled, with chantilly cream, fruit mousse, or ice cream.

Orange -- [oranja] Orange's name is the French spelling of the English word "orange." The Japanese spell the French word as "oranja." Orange is the fairy who wears the orange motif and becomes a pink bird when fleeing. His name is obviously derived from the fruit called the orange. An orange refers to any of several trees of the genus Citrus, widely cultivated in warm regions and having fragrant white flowers and round fruit with a yellowish or reddish rind and a sectioned, pulpy interior.

Banane -- [banânu] Banane is the French word for the English word "banana" and the Japanese spell the word as "banaanu." Banane is the fairy who wears the banana motif and becomes an orange bird when fleeing. His name is obviously derived from the banana. These elongated, edible fruits of the plants belonging to the genus Musa have a thick yellowish to reddish skin and white, aromatic, seedless pulp.

Queen of Black Thunder Badiane -- [koku rai no joô badiyânu] Badiane, which is the French spelling for star anise, is a type of exotic spice that is extracted from the star-shaped fruit of a small evergreen tree native to China. The Japanese plant the tree in their temples and on tombs. The reddish-brown fruit ripens into a six or eight pointed star shape. This same star-shape, which the queen wears on her forehead and on her chest, serves as the her characteristic emblem.

Massepain Castle -- [majipannu kyassuru] The word "massepain" is the French word for "marzipan." The donut-shaped Massepain Castle is the strangely ornate fortress where Badiane and her cohorts take the children. Marzipan refers to a confection made of ground almonds or almond paste, egg whites, and sugar, and it's often molded into decorative shapes. The alternate spelling, "marchpane," is closer to the original form of the word, Arabic "mawthapan," which means "seated king." The exact line of derivation from king to candy is conjectural.


Sources Cited:

Collins, Allen. Introduction to the Cnidaria. (Web page); (Accessed 28 May 2000).

Cotgrave, Randle. A Dictionary of the French and English Tongues. London, 1611;
Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 1950.

Gager, C. General Botany, With Special Reference to its Economic Aspects. New York: Maple Press Company, 1926.

Halpern, Jack. NTC's New Japanese-English Character Dictionary. Chicago: National Textbook Company, 1993.

Jim Breen. Jim Breen's Japanese Page. (Web page); (Accessed 28 Feb 2000).

Lexico LLC. (Web page); {Accessed 28 Feb 2000}.

Lexico LLC. (Web page); (Accessed 28 Feb 2000).

Kodansha Staff. Pretty Soldier Sailormoon, Another Story Perfect Guide. Tokyo: Kodansha of Japan, 1995.

Kodansha Staff. Pretty Soldier Sailormoon SuperS, The Movie Memorial Album. Tokyo: Kodansha of Japan, 1996.

K,S Design Works. Boutique Perle. (Web page); (Accessed 28 May 2000).

Opsopaus, John. A Brief Guide to Ancient Greek Pronunciation. (Web page); (Accessed 10 June 2000).

Pring J. T. The Pocket Oxford Greek Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995., Inc. Natural Star Anise Pin. (Web page); (Accessed 28 Feb 2000).

Orient Resources Company. Anise (Star). (Web page); (Accessed 28 Feb 2000).

Sullivan, C. Star Anise is an Exotic Spice. (Web page); (Accessed 18 Feb 2000).

Comments on this article can be sent to: Ian Andreas Miller.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

  Current Lemures Top || Main || Email   
© 2002 AQ