Eidolon (apparition)

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This article is about Eidolon as a term used to mean a phantom or spirit. For other uses, see Eidolon.

In ancient Greek literature, an eidolon (plural: eidola or eidolons) (Greek εἴδωλον: "image, idol, double, apparition, phantom, ghost") is a spirit-image of a living or dead person; a shade or phantom look-alike of the human form. The concept of Helen of Troy's eidolon was explored both by Homer and Euripides. However, where Homer uses the concept as a free-standing idea that gives Helen life after death, Euripides entangles it with the idea of kleos, one being the product of the other.[1][2] Both Euripides and Stesichorus, in their respective works concerning the Trojan Horse, claim that Helen was never physically present in the city at all.[3]

The concept of the eidola of the dead was explored in various literature regarding Penelope, who in later works was constantly laboring against the eidola of Clytamnestra and later Helen herself.[1]

Homer's use of eidola also extends to the Odyssey where, after the death of the suitors, Theoclymenos notes that he sees the doorway of the court filled with them.[4]

Walt Whitman's poem by the same name in 1876 used a much broader understanding of the term, expanded and detailed in the poem.[5] In Whitman's use of the term we can see the use broaden to include the concept of an oversoul composed of the individual souls of all life and expanding to include the Earth itself and the hierarchy of the planets, Sun, stars and galaxy.

In Theosophy, the astral double or perispirit or kamarupa after death, before its disintegration is identified with the eidolon.[6]

In popular culture[edit]


  • In The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan, three eidola appear as antagonists.
  • In the short story "The White Ship" by H. P. Lovecraft the city of Thalarion in the Dreamlands is ruled by an eidolon named Lathi.
  • In Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Tessa, the main protagonist is a 16-year-old girl whose father was an Eidolon, a shape-shifting demon. Tessa is a shape-shifter as well, though not a demon, and is told by a Silent Brother that she is Eidolon.
  • The third part of "Helen in Egypt," the long poem by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), is titled "Eidolon."
  • In Ian Tregillis' Milkweed Triptych, the other-worldly entities responsible for magic are known as Eidolons.
  • In J. McCrae a.k.a.: Wildbow's web serial "Worm", Eidolon is the name of one of the most powerful parahumans in the world, and one of the founders of the Protectorate.
  • Beings called Eidolons appear in the series Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe.
  • In the Wildstorm Comic "Stormwatch" by Warren Ellis. The Eidolon is a superpowered villian who travels the world telling people he's seen "the other side" and that there is no God. In reality he is actually just a disimbodied ghost pining for oblivion.


  • The Eidolon, a 1985 game by Lucasfilm Games.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Lord Commander Eidolon is the First Captain of the Emperor's Children Astartes Legion.
  • In the Magic: the Gathering plane of Theros, an eidolon is a spirit created when the soul of a dead person separates from its body.
  • In the multiplayer online battle arena video game Dota 2, the hero Enigma conjures minions called Eidolons with his spell Demonic Conversion.
  • In the 1996 video game Death Rally, one of the tracks is titled "Eidolon".
  • A demon named Eidolon is the main antagonist and final boss in the 1997 game Hexen II, the third game in the Hexen/Heretic series.
  • Many Final Fantasy games, specifically Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy XIII, and Final Fantasy Type-0, allow players to summon magical entities called "Eidolons" to assist in battles.
  • In the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, an eidolon is a supernatural creature bonded to a character of the Summoner class.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, 4th Edition, an eidolon is a golem-like animated statue brought to life by a shard of divine energy.
  • In Eclipse Phase, an eidolon is a specialized computer program that acts as digital body for digitalized minds, allowing infomorph characters to specialize.[7]
  • Eidolon, a 2014 first-person narrative introducing the protagonist or player-vehicle to a far-flung post-apocalyptic western Washington. The title was taken from Walt Whitman's poem "Eidolons".[8]
  • Aura Kingdom, an MMORPG produced by Aeria Games, has a plot-line that revolves around creatures called Eidolons.
  • In the 2012 MMORPG Guild Wars 2 there is a shield with a ghostly appearance called Eidolon.
  • In The Dark Below 2014 expansion of the Destiny video game there is an auto rifle called Eidolon Ally.
  • In the Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide an Eidolon is a Purity/Supremacy (aka Mastery) hybrid upgrade of a Soldier unit.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game Eidolon is an archetype.

Film and television[edit]

  • In the 2014 television series The Bridge, season 2, episode 10, "Eidolon".


  • The 8th track on Karnivool's album Asymmetry.
  • The 5th track on Cities of the Plain's album Where Our Homes Used to Be.
  • The 1st track on Epica´s album The Holographic Principle.
  • Rishloo's second album.
  • "Eidola" is also the name of an experimental post-hardcore band[9]
  • The 5th track on RichaadEB and Ace Waters' album Determination: The Purple Side.
  • The 7th track on The Decemberists' 2015 song, "The Wrong Year", contains the line: "Sing me some eidolon, and I'll sleep all the winter long."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Holmberg, Ingrid E. (Spring 1995). "Euripides' Helen: Most Noble and Most Chaste". The American Journal of Philology. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 116 (1): 19–42. JSTOR 295501. 
  2. ^ Meltzer, Gary S. (Oct 1994). ""Where Is the Glory of Troy?" "Kleos" in Euripides' "Helen"". 13 (2). University of California Press: 234–255. JSTOR 25011015. 
  3. ^ Papi, Donatella Galeotti (1987). "Victors and Sufferers in Euripides' Helen". The American Journal of Philology. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 108 (1): 27–40. JSTOR 294912. 
  4. ^ Barasch, Moshe (2005). "The Departing Soul. The Long Life of a Medieval Creation". Artibus et Historiae. IRSA s.c. 26 (52): 13–28. JSTOR 20067095. 
  5. ^ Carpenter, Frederic I. (Mar 1942). "Walt Whitman's "Eidolon"". College English. National Council of Teachers of English. 3 (6): 534–545. JSTOR 370944. 
  6. ^ http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/etg-hp.htm Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary: A Resource on Theosophy, G. de Purucker
  7. ^ Morph Recognition Guide
  8. ^ Kelton Sears (August 26, 2014). "Eidolon Asks Us to Imagine a World Without Us". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved December 13, 2016. 
  9. ^ https://eidolamusic.bandcamp.com/

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advanced/baseClasses/summoner.html Pathfinder Reference Document