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One of the fun things about Fate/Zero is the fact the Servants are (loosely) based on figures from history, myth, and legend, all of which tends to mix together a bit in ancient times. (And arguably still does!) I thought to do some brief research on some of the famous figures that inspired some of the characters in Fate/Zero, and share some of the basic details here.

I will be covering Saber and Rider in this post. So if you haven’t watched much of the show yet, this post will contain some SPOILERS!

Saber – King Arthur

The legend of King Arthur has been told many times and in many ways over the years, and is one of the most well-known stories in European history. If Arthur Pendragon was a real historical figure (as it is debated), it seems he would have lived around the fifth/sixth centuries CE. Some elements of the legend you may be familiar with:

  • Pulling the sword from the stone (as placed by Merlin, the wizard) and becoming king of Britain
  • Forming the Knights of the Round Table (round so that all were equals, as nobody sat at the “head” of the table)
  • Gaining the magical sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake
  • Defeating lots of enemy nations in battle (including the Romans) and forming an empire
  • The quest for the Holy Grail (the dish/cup used by Christ in the Last Supper, said to have miraculous power)
  • Various stories involving Guinevere (Arthur’s wife) as well as Lancelot (Arthur’s top knight)

In Fate/Zero (and Fate/Stay Night), it turns out Arthur is a woman, but she lives by much of the same chivalrous code that the legend exemplified (such as courage, honor, and fairness). Loyalty to country and church are both important, as well as the desire to protect the innocent and the weak, and to always stand up for what’s right and good. Another aspect of chivalry that is still well-known is the need for a knight (or proper gentleman) to always be charitable and gracious to his lady (and women in general).
It seems that Saber feels she has failed her country, and I’m not certain what specifically she is referring to. I imagine the series will go into it more (though I suppose Fate/Stay Night may have already done so). There is a lot to the legend of King Arthur, and it would take quite some time to read up on all the stories. Those with an interest in ancient Britain should find it quite intriguing, however.

Rider – Alexander the Great

In Fate/Zero, Rider proudly proclaims himself as King Iskandar, which is the Persian reading of Alexander. He was king of Macedon (i.e. Macedonia), which was a part of ancient Greece. He lived from 356 to 323 BCE, dying at age 32 (either by disease or possibly by poisoning).
Alexander the Great is a historical figure, and is best known for conquering a large empire that stretched from Greece down to Egypt, and all the way across the Middle East toward India. Not an easy feat, as you can imagine. Part of this empire-building including conquering the Persian Empire, and the spread of Greek culture across the land (though in turn, Persian culture influenced Greece as well).
When he was young, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle (a central figure in Western philosophy). When he went on to become a general, Alexander would create effective strategies for winning every battle his armies fought in. He has since been recognized as “the Great” because of his military genius, which gave his armies victory even when greatly outnumbered. An infantry formation Alexander utilized well was the phalanx, where a group of soldiers armed with spears and shields would form a tight rectangle, and work as one whole unit that would leave no gaps for enemies to attack.

In Fate/Zero, Rider certainly has a strong conquering spirit. It doesn’t look like there’s a consensus for how Alexander looked in real life. One interesting tidbit is that it seems Alexander had heterochromia–AKA differently-colored eyes (in this case, one eye blue, and the other brown). It also sounds like Alexander was generally clean-shaven, and in all the statues I saw of him, he is portrayed as handsome and youthful. In other words, he practically sounds like a bishie, which is amusing since Rider is a burly giant.
It appears Alexander certainly knew how to ride a horse well, though I haven’t found anything about an ox-driven lightning chariot yet. =P The oxen were apparently offered to Zeus though, the ancient Greek god of lightning (and father of the gods in general).

I will get another post up soon for some of the other servants, so look forward to that. But for now, feel free to mention any interesting tidbits about King Arthur and Alexander the Great you may know, and how Saber and Rider compare and contrast with these famous figures.