I know this one took me forever. But I was busy! And I don’t care if this actually only took me a few days to do, my Senior Honours Research project was a challenge, darnit. Incidently, the project ended at 203 pages of prose, beating out my “most pages handed in for a single project” of 124 pages and, coincidentally, “the most horror I’ve ever seen in a faculty member’s eyes” records from last year.
But now, we continue on with Shadow of the Colossus! I think I’ll do one more Colossus then move on to a Majora’s Mask entry followed by a Shadow of the Colossus character entry. The character ones require a lot more scrutinizing than the Colossi. But anyway…
Thy next foe is…
A giant canopy soars to the heavens…
The anger of the sleeping giant shatters the earth…
Though Dormin isn’t particularly helpful here, his last statement will be worth looking at.
Gaius, or Terrestris Veritas, by the community, is the third of sixteen Colossi encountered by Wander in the Forbidden Lands. Its lair is atop a large round arena-like plateau on a lake that is surrounded by bleak stone canyons. Its lair is reached by running up a long ramp and jumping to traverse a broken pillar.
Gaius, in my interpretation, is a kind of battle god. The primary evidence for this is its armour, which includes a breastplate, wrist, and leg guards. Also, the fact that its weapon is a gigantic club-like sword grafted to its right hand should be a pretty big indicator that Gaius is heavily-associated with battle. The community also likes to call Gaius the “Earth Knight” and I think that’s fair. Minus Malus, I think Gaius is probably the most human-looking of all of the Colossi. Even though Gaius is not wearing a helmet (which would seem like a good idea actually, since its sigil is under there and Gaius is clearly a warrior-type Colossus), it does look as close to a knight as a towering monster of stone can.
It should be fairly obvious to anybody that has had more than a passing glance at Gaius to know that it’s more than a little strange looking. Its feet are orbs, its head has a strange deflated look to it, its “sword” is really just a long club which appears to be fused to its right wrist and its left wrist is just a mess of crude “fingers.” In a word, I feel like “crude” really is the best way to describe Gaius. Its construction looks rather amateurish, or as amateurish as somebody can be in creating a giant rock golem. However, I think there is a completely reasonable reason for this oddness. Consider the five humanoid Colossi, Valus, Gaius, Barba, Argus, and Malus. Next, separate them into two groups, one called the “slim” group and the other called the “wide” group. Valus, Barba, and Argus fit into the “wide” group and Gaius and Malus fit into the “slim” group. Now, as anybody who has dabbled into physics could tell you, it’s much easier to make something function efficiently the lower it is to the ground and the wider surface area it has to distribute its weight. That is to say, making a car is much easier than making a walking bipedal robot. Alternatively, a human can run on all fours like a dog but a dog cannot truly walk on its hind legs like a human.
The two builds are separate, this is the same for the Colossi. The non-humanoid Colossi would likely have been much easier to sculpt for the residents of the Forbidden Lands. So, while it would have been harder to create the humanoid ones compared to the animalistic ones, making more bulky and simple Colossi such as Valus, Barba, and Argus would likely have still been easier than managing the correct proportions of slimmer humanoids. Also keep in mind that Valus, despite its vaguely humanoid shape, still lacks any kind of human-like head and, as touched on in its own article, it is covered with crude architectural details just jutting out of its body very haphazardly. So, if we consider for a moment that the Colossi were made in the number they are fought, making Valus the first made and Malus the last to be built, then it would logically follow the Gaius was made when the residents of the Lands were still new to this whole giant golem-building business.
And no, not just the humanoid Colossi are subject to this phenomenon as it turns out, but we’ll get to that around the time we eventually stop to talk about Celosia and Cenobia.
However, Gaius as a warrior god or spirit does not just come from its appearance. Its arena is worth noting.
Despite its important, there’s not a whole lot to say about Gaius’ arena. It is a wide-open earthen disc with carved edges with the Colossus itself just lying out in open space. The only two things that seem to be of interest are the ramp coming up to the arena and the large metal plate in the middle. The ramp, like Quadratus’, probably plays a role in letting us examine just who would be coming up to see Gaius. Gaius’ ramp is very long and wide enough to accommodate about two or three people. Note that there is no guardrail on the bridge, although that could have potentially just worn away with time because, as you’ll see later, I don’t think Gaius’ ramp was supposed to extend deep into the water. If one looks at the ramp when running up it, the bridge seems to be fractured into segments and don’t seem to be fitting together as well as they probably once did. The whole thing seems to sag and droop. However, I will say that while it’s possible for the guardrail to have fallen away, I think it fits in with the metal plate’s purpose for there to be no secure way of getting up to see Gaius.
To further avoid what I should be really talking about (the plate), note that Gaius has no temple on its arena. Or rather, it has no immediately apparent temple on its arena. However, if one looks at the braces around the arena, they are bearing the sigils often seen throughout the Lands at various points of importance. Examples that we’ve already seen of that would be along the stone walls and on the base of the pillars in Quadratus’ area. In other words, Gaius’ arena is its temple. And when warriors come to worship Gaius, they worship the only way warriors truly can- with fighting. So if these warriors were about to fight each other, potentially to the death, not having a handrail when going up the ramps seems to only push the heavy symbolism involved with being a warrior. Care and balance must be kept at all times to stop stupid mistakes from getting you killed. Furthermore (I’m almost to the disc, I swear), I’m really quite stumped with the whole hammer-shaped thing jutting up from the water near Gaius’ arena. I highly doubt that it was there by design if we continue with the theory that warriors visited Gaius most frequently. Trying to make that jump with any kind of weapon larger than a short-sword (like the Ancient Sword) or armour would be disastrous. And it would hardly be becoming of Gaius, as god of honourable duels and battle, to have its worshippers and adherents drown in a lake. It was probably a bridge at some point, I imagine. And ALSO, Gaius’ arena is tilted ever-so-slightly. Dormin oh-so-helpfully lets you know that, “The anger of [Gaius] shatters the earth…” and while that probably is a hint for Wander to look groundward for the way to defeat Gaius, I would like to bring back the old theory about Quadratus’ door. Let’s face it, Gaius is huge and has a habit for smashing the ground with its huge sword. Also, Gaius’ arena shows a large amount of fracturing, tilting, bridge dilapidation, etc. So, what if Gaius was like Quadratus in that, upon its first walk in the waking world, the god of battle, now animated, went a little bit lopsided and started to wildly attack everything around it. That would certainly cause a lot of seismic activity on a plateau, perhaps enough to tilt it and break apart some of the structures around it. It also appears that underneath Gaius’ arena, there are spots of reinforcements and a general shape of the rock that gives hints of decay or damage. Gaius didn’t take its new life particularly well, it seems.
That metal plate (finally!) seems to be a kind of miniature arena. When Wander stands on the plate, another duelist could easily fit on the plate and the combatants would have plenty of room to move and fight. I think the way the plate is shaped and decorated, it being a slightly-raised metal disc with a smaller, more off-colour disc inside of it, and then an even smaller off-colour disc inside of that, shows that circular motion was emphasized in its creation and was intended to play a role in how people (read as: warriors wanting to worship Gaius) interact with it. Duels in such a confined but well-defined space would almost certainly revolve around circular motion as the duelists try to gain what advantage they can through movement and footwork. So imagine, if you will, two swordsmen dueling atop the disc while the gargantuan statue of Gaius, the god of battle, standing vigil over them.
Inspiring? Certainly. Telling? Very.
By “telling,” I mean that the people of the Forbidden Lands, at least in this earlier age of their civilization’s timeline, were very interested in holding duels of honour between individuals rather than waging wars or larger-scale battles. Note that this seems to change a little bit by the time Argus arrives much later in the Land’s timeline but for the time being (relatively speaking), Gaius’ method of fighting, that is to say, the duel of honour, seems to be highly respected and important to the people of the Lands. Otherwise they wouldn’t have turned an entire plateau into a huge arena to hold a massive warrior god’s statue. Or perhaps the people in the Lands were just really bad at conserving and meaningfully directing their resource. That might by why there’s no freaking roads in that place.
Or not and my incoherent rambling actually might hold water. Little miracles happen day, questers!
So here is where we part, I swear I’ll get Phaedra (the next Colossus’)’s entry up sooner than I got this ones! Phaedra’s one of my favourite Colossi so I can’t wait to start talking about it and dissecting its absolutely sublime design.
I’ve been using the word “sublime” more and more often now. But what does it really mean? To be sub-lime? Are limes really that great that they are determining what is good or great based on their merits alone?
People of Paper would have me believe so.
I’ll stop talking now.
Keep questing, you seekers of lore!
1. Images from the Team ICO wiki.
2. Screenshots from the Game Grump’s playthrough of Shadow of the Colossus