Utena - the names Dios and Akio

Dios (Ancient Greek δῖος, Wiktionary) means divine or noble. It can be used of both mortals and gods, and it is most closely associated with Zeus. In the prince story, Dios tells Utena to preserve her nobility—and when Dios loses his nobility he also loses his name and becomes Akio. I do not know how closely this Ancient Greek idea of nobility agrees with Utena’s Japanese word, kedakasa (気高さ), which suggests refinement, elegance, grace—qualities attributed to nobles.

Besides being an independent word, Dios is the Ancient Greek genitive case of Zeus. See Ζεύς (Wiktionary; see the declension). It means roughly “of Zeus”. Akio corresponds to Zeus, so it says that Dios is Akio’s in some sense. In fact, Akio created the fiction of Dios.

Akio (暁生) claims that he is named after the morning star, in Japanese ake no myoujou (明けの明星). He presumably chose the name himself (the name fits with his interests). In any case, the Lucifer story (episode 25) linking Akio to the fallen angel is appropriate to his origin myth (the prince story); he fell from angel to devil (and he doesn’t mind admitting it to naive Utena as an extra touch of cruelty). The character 暁 means dawn, and by itself is pronounced akatsuki, which is also the name of the Japanese space probe that orbits Venus as I write; the character itself is associated with Venus. The pronunciation chosen for it in Akio’s name, “aki”, is derived from ake 明け which also means dawn (you can see it at the start of ake no myoujou 明けの明星). As the name of other people, Akio is more often written directly as 明生, which is connected to dawn and not so much to Venus. The character 生 here pronounced “o” is vague, but life is its most basic meaning. In a name, it seems likely that purity is the intended meaning. Akio is quite pure... in an evil way, as Dios was pure in an old-fashioned noble (kedakasa) way.

“Lucifer” from Latin means light bringer and also refers to dawn, and to Venus as the morning star, via classical mythology. It is Christianity that identified Lucifer with the devil, or Satan.

Zeus. Akio is tied to Zeus by the name Dios, as well as by other correspondences like his position of power, his high dwelling like Olympus, his stars which connect him with heaven and (via constellations) with Greek myth, and his philandering. Akio’s handling of Utena parallels the myth of Zeus abducting Ganymede . In Saionji’s memory of the prince story in episode 9, a thunderstorm rages as Utena lies in the coffin in the church. Zeus’s weapon is lightning, so it suggests that Akio has arranged the whole story. In episode 36, Saionji points out that Akio prepared the metaphorical coffins that people are in, suggesting that he may have prepared the three real coffins for Utena’s family too. He must have; the coffins bear the Academy’s rose symbol.

Zeus and Hera

Zeus is married to Hera (after some other wives). Anthy is independently tied to Hera by her name and personality.

Hera is Zeus’s sister: Their mother was the Titan Rhea and their father was Cronus. Rhea and Cronus were also sister and brother; Rhea corresponds to Anthy before she met the Swords of Hatred, and Cronus to Dios. Cronus ruled over the Golden Age, and his planet is Saturn; see celestial bodies - Saturn. Zeus and the Olympian gods overthrew Cronus, ending the Golden Age. Zeus’s planet Jupiter does not show up in Utena as far as I can tell.

There are alternate stories of how Zeus and Hera came to be married. I’m not sure which story Utena has in mind, but I’m certain it is one of the stories in which Zeus transforms himself into a cuckoo. Cuckoos are sacred to Hera. The cheating-on-lovers meaning of the cuckoo applies; Akio cheats on his lovers as a matter of course. Akio is ruler over all birds via the name Ohtori.

Giving Akio and Anthy mythological identities essentially says that they play symbolic roles: Utena is an allegory. And that it’s all false; myths are fictional stories. Utena also has a mythological identity; she is Ganymede.

Jay Scott <jay@satirist.org>
first posted 14 November 2021
updated 9 April 2024