“_Me miserable! Which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell…_” - John Milton, Paradise Lost
Hello everyone, Doom here! You might recognize me from my occasional posts about my favorite champ, Aatrox, here on the boards or perhaps you might know me from the [lore discord](http://discord.gg/wxRnKet) where I make my Aatrox love even more prominently known. In any case I figured it was about time for me to make another post about my boy, this time analyzing him as a “fallen angel” archetype as well as the allusions in his character to Satan from Paradise Lost, probably the best known “fallen angel” in literature.
With that out of the way let’s get right into it!
So, let’s start with the obvious - the physicality/appearance of the character. He very much fits into the stereotypical ideas of what a “devil” looks like in western culture. Head adorned with horns, red flesh, almost hoof like feet, large wings, imposing physique. He is, physically, for all intents and purposes The Devil. The only things missing would be maybe a tail with a spade at its end as well as a pitchfork - but all in all - physically he is extremely influenced by the western idea of what a devil is.
This is any newcomer’s first look at the character, his in game appearance/his splash is a devil. It informs us something about his character without knowing anything about him yet and of the character archetype he emulates.
But let’s not forget what he looked like prior to his fall either:
“_Remade as one of the Ascended, his wings were the golden light of dawn, and his armor sparkled like a constellation of hope from beyond the great veil._”
The description is short, but it feels angelic in nature. Golden wings, armor sparkling like a constellation of hope - its meant to evoke a certain kind of imagery in your mind and to me that imagery just screams “angel”. I think the choice to leave out any descriptors of any Ascended animal features beyond his wings was very deliberate. They wanted to make sure the response that clicked in your head was “angel” and not “bird” for instance.
And if these two known appearances of Aatrox were not enough to make “fallen angel” click in your mind then consider this as well.
This is Aatrox before he was sealed in his weapon and already look how different he is from the above description of his ascended form. He looks much closer to his current decaying form than anything. The darkin, and Aatrox in particular in this case, changing form and straying from his angelic state to this more imposing demonic form brings to mind Satan of Paradise Lost.
Throughout Paradise Lost Satan’s form shifts and degenerates. In Book V when Gabriel confronts Satan the angels don’t even recognize him because of how much his form has changed.
As the quote below this image states “they [the darkin] were completely unrecognizable as the noble warriors they had once been.” These kinds of physical changes show how much a character’s actions physically change them throughout a narrative. This can be said of Satan, it can be said of Aatrox, and can be said of many “fallen angel” archetypes. This shift in degrading appearance is common in characters of this archetype and if the other two descriptions didn’t send off any “fallen angel archetype” bells ringing in your head this gradual change of appearance (from an in universe perspective) should be.
Tell me, what did Aatrox specifically do that was horrible enough to warrant being sealed in his weapon? We know, in the general sense how many of the darkin treated mortals poorly and how their war was dangerous to life on Runeterra, but what Aatrox specifically did during the war… we don’t really know. And why is that?
Aatrox clings to his pride just as much as Satan does in Paradise Lost. Why would Aatrox ever address his crimes during the war if he didn’t think they were crimes? His pride keeps him from thinking he did any wrong. Never does Aatrox have a quote or moment where he goes, “Hmm, those things I did during the darkin war were terrible! This punishment is probably at least somewhat deserved!” Never.
Aatrox, like Satan, believes himself to be a victim. Things happen to him, unjustly, in his perspective. People do things to him as though he had no agency of his own and didn’t make terrible choices that lead to his imprisonment.
“_I have no goodness left, it was taken from me, stolen_!”
Lines like this highlight how, like Satan, Aatrox frames things as happening to him almost as though he’s in a passive state. Things just happen to him for no reason, you see, he _totally_ didn’t do anything wrong to warrant punishment. It’s the aspects’ fault he’s like this, see? They took his goodness! They trapped him! Their fault. Not his. He’s a victim. - That’s Aatrox’s logic, very similar to Satan’s.
And that’s why people like me feel sympathy for Aatrox even knowing he’s a bad guy. Like the archetypal fallen angel himself he controls the narrative around himself. We know only what Aatrox tells us, just as in Paradise Lost we know only what Satan tells us - that’s the perspective we get. A tragic villainous protagonist.
Also like Satan I find Aatrox to be very well spoken and almost poetic in some of his lines. It makes him sound more persuasive to the audience and again it makes us sympathetic to his plight.
Character-wise it seems to me like Aatrox draws more than a bit of influence from Paradise Lost’s Satan - and how could he not? Satan is the archetypal fallen angel/tragic hero and this is the sort of niche Aatrox is meant to fit into now. I mean let's not gloss over the most obvious thing about his narrative: that he's a fallen hero. A noble person gone bad, fallen from grace, tragic. At the bare bones of it he very much is that archetype narratively.
In design and characterization I think Aatrox fits the fallen angel archetype very well. He isn’t a 1 to 1 copy of any particular fallen angel, not even Satan. Though he may have been influenced by Satan I think he stands well enough on his own as his own unique character, I just used Satan as an example and proof that he leans into this particular archetype and does so very nicely. He's extremely well written example of the fallen angel archetype without being a carbon copy of previous iterations. ~~I might make another post some day of all the things that make him a unique version of this archetype, we'll see.~~
I know there were a small yet vocal group of people who would have preferred Aatrox and the darkin as a whole to be fallen Aspects and I hope if some of you read this post you can understand why Riot probably didn’t do that. It would have been WAY too on the nose as an allusion to Satan, it would have cheapened Aatrox as a character, and would have taken away his remaining uniqueness. (At least in my opinion.)
Anyway, I can’t end this post without a big shout out to Odin WAAARGHbobo Shafer who seriously did an amazing job on Aatrox’s characterization, interiority, and overall made him feel like a round and interesting character. Without Odin’s strong writing of this character I wouldn’t have such an awesome darkin boy to analyse and obsess over. ~~Feel free to completely refute me if Aatrox isn’t inspired by Paradise Lost/Satan/Fallen Angels, btw Odin, that’s just the conclusion I came to lol. ~~