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March 9, 2003

Over on the HBO forum, stalwart defender of reason and intelligence Shishka has done an excellent job of condensing many of the Marathon-Halo connections into a well-written post. Much of it has been said before, and submitted to us here, but this overview is worth bookmarking. To wit:

Long before Halo, Bungie had released a trilogy of games, the Marathon series. The games have a cult following, and are part of the reason Bungie.Org exists today.

With the release of Halo, many Bungie fans noticed the connections between the Halo and Marathon Universes. Most obvious is the liberal use of the Marathon logo in Halo. It's seen on the Pillar of Autumn, Captain Keyes' uniform, and even in the Halo logo on the cover of the box the game came in. Many people have suggested that the logo can be found in other places within Halo, as well, though often it turns out to be a stretch of the idea.

Another well known connection between Halo and Marathon is Master Chief himself. Master Chief is a MJOLNIR MkV cyborg. MkVI in Halo, with his new battle armor. The character you play as in the Marathon trilogy is believed to be an MJOLNIR MkIV.

Those are two very well known Marathon connections. However, Cortana is also a Marathon connection, though it isn't as well known by people as the two aformentioned examples.

In the Marathon trilogy, you fight encounter after encounter at the whim of a rampant AI known as Durandal.

Durandal was the name of Roland's sword in "The Song of Roland:"

"Count Roland smites upon the marble stone;
I cannot tell you how he hewed it and smote;
Yet the blade breaks not nor splinters, though it groans;
Upward to heaven it rebounds from the blow.
When the count sees it never will be broke,
Then to himself right softly he makes moan;
'Ah, Durandal, fair, hallowed, and devote,
What store of relics lies in thy hilt of gold!'"

Roland, according to the epic poem, is supposed to be the Nephew of Charlemagne. This is also hinted at in the games:

"Durandan, Durandal, Durandana.
Charlemagne used to always call me
Durandana, the fruitcake. All the many
implements of war to him were in some way
feminine. Not that you know the story."

"Cool, Shishka, but what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?"

Nothing. However, a little research into Cortana's name gives a bit of legend about Charlemagne. That's right. Charlemagne. Particularly, this legend where Charlemagne presents a sword to the prince of the Danes.

The sword bears an inscription:

"My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durindana."

...Are we having fun yet? ;)


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