Half-Life 2’s Father Grigori


In the second installment of the Half-Life franchise, Half Life 2 (2004), the world is taken over by Combine Aliens, who enslave the population of Earth. From the dimensional portal the Combine used to invade Earth, other alien live forms slipped through. One of them is the infamous Head Crab, who takes over the body of its victims, turning them into mindless zombies. Only when on the brink of death, the parasitized humans regain control of their body, screaming to be relieved from this horror. The Combine tries to eliminate the resistance of the city of Ravenholm by sending larger amounts of rocket bombs filled with head crabs.

When the player arrives in Ravenholm all citizens are taken over by the crabs, except for one figure: father Grigori. Father Grigori is a middle-aged man with a shaven head, dressed in embroidered clothing and red Converse sneakers covered with Headcrab slime. Around his neck hangs a crucifix with – together with his ranting – gives him the appearance of a Eastern Orthodox priest. On both hand he has scars in the form of a cross. He ‘takes care’ of his zombified fellow inhabitants of Ravenholm by ‘saving their souls’, by which he means: shooting them in the head with a large shotgun. Here are his quotes, randomly heart in the game.

  • I remember your true face!
  • The grave holds nothing worse!
  • Balm for your affliction, child!
  • I think nothing less of thee!
  • Rest, my child!
  • Come!
  • Come to the light!
  • It is not me that you want, it is the light that shines through me!
  • Yes, my children, it is I!
  • Come my children! It is not me that you seek it is the light that I bring!

Head crab + human = zombie

Grigori’s killing, at least in his own eyes, is not murder, but signifies salvation. The humans-turned-into-zombies are beyond recovering, as the player finds out when roaming the Ravenholm level. At a certain point the player enters a house with multiple dead zombies, with detached head crabs. Apparently separating the crabs from their victims, means the death of the host. The only way left for Grigori is ending their misery. His soul southing, pastoral quotes of course get a rather cynical overtone.

The Wachters

‘Father’ Grigori is probably derived from the angelic beings from the Daniel and 1 Enoch. In Daniel 4,10.14.20, king Nebuchadnezzar has a dream in which he sees ‘a watcher and holy one come down from heaven.’ The Hebrew word iyr (from the verb ‘to wake’) in Daniel 4 is unique for the Old Testament texts, so its translation is rather difficult. The Septuagint translates aggelos (‘angels’), while Symmachus and Aquila renders egregoroi (‘watchers’). Grigori is the Slavonic translation. Our Half-Life ‘father’ is named after angelic beings, while his actions are something different from what we associate with angelic behavior.

Fallen angels

The term egregoroi also features the text of 1 Enoch, an apocryphal book from the period between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. In it one of the most well known stories of Christian tradition is found: the story of the fallen angels (chapters 1-36).  This book, which claims to have been written by Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, describes the events prior to the Flood.

The angels, the children of heaven, saw the beauty of mortal women. But the chief angel Semyaza  feared his fellow angels would not dare to do what they intended and bound them by oath. Two hundred angels took a wife whom they taught charms and enchantments, root cutting and knowledge of plants. From this unions giants were born, who consumed all the possessions of mankind. Eventually they turned to cannibalism too. The earth cried out to God, who sent Uriel  to warn Noah of the impending flood, and Raphael  to bind Azazel (of of Semyaza’s accomplishers) and imprison him in the desert place Dudael, to wait eternal judgment when he shall be cast into fire.

The whole earth was corrupted by the works the fallen angels had taught. Gabriel  was directed to incite the giants to mutual slaughter, in spite of their father’s prayers that they might live five hundred years. Michael  was ordered to bind Semyaza and his companions. After their children (the Nephilim) were slain, they (the corrupted angels) were imprisoned in the valleys of the earth for seventy generations. When the final judgment comes, they will be led off to the abyss of everlasting fire.

Ranting

This image of renegade angels fits Father Grigori’s behavior better. When traveling through the Ravenholm chapter it is common for players to hear Grigori’s words echoing from the rooftops. These words may be difficult to hear and understand when surrounded by enemies, but it is possible to retrieve and hear the recordings from Half-Life 2 content files. (Source: http://enq.translatum.gr/wiki/Father_Grigori)

  • Iniquity’s snares are cunning, but by the light of lights; mine are greater still.
  • Woe to all, for our dwelling place is distant, and we wander through the domiciles of Chaos!
  • My power was lost in places which where not mine. Affliction besought me, and the merciless ones attacked me without cause.
  • Although they call me crazy, I care not, for thou art my helper, my strength, and my saviour.
  • Thy will be done oh light of lights, I bless the glory of thy greatness through the day and through the darkness of this night.
  • I pray do never turn away thy light, give heed to me, and spring thy traps upon mine enemies, when I cry out to thee!
  • For it was said, they had become like those peculiar demons, which dwell in matter but in whom no light may be found.
  • Turn not thy face away from me; incline thy ear and hear me! When I shall cry to thee in my affliction.
  • For the days of my life have vanished like smoke, and my bones are parched like ash, and let all my impurities be as… fuel for that fire! Until nothing remains, but the Light alone.
  • From the voice of my groaning my bone has cleaved to my flesh.
  • For my soul is filled with evil, and like this place, must be purged.
  • For the dead know no sleep in their graves, nor dost thou remember them, until they are destroyed through thy hands.
  • I have been laid down in a pit of darknesses and the shadow of death. And thy anger has pressed down upon me; and all thy cares have come down upon me. And from this bed I cry out for the kindling of thy Light!
  • And what terrible wonders are these those hast done among the dead. What shades rise to confess thee, and what specters shall know thee by thy name?
  • Oh, light may thy name be spoken in the graves, and spelled in bones and ashes.
  • Thy rages have come down upon me, and thy pains have agitated me.
  • Judge those who do injustice to me, fight with those who fight with me!
  • Take hold of a weapon, a shield, and rise to help me!
  • Draw for the sword, and sheath it in those who afflict me, say to my soul, I am thy salvation.
  • May they become like dust before the wind; may the angel of the Lord pursue them.
  • May their paths become dark and slippery; and may the angel of the Lord afflict them.
  • May the snare that they do not know come to them, and may the net they have hidden for me catch them in my place.

These quotes sound very Biblical for the untrained ear, but none of them are actually from on of the books of the Bible, neither from any other apocryphal book known. Father Grigori is something of an angel of death, the one who kills everyone in sight (except the player, who receives help from him). But his kills are out of mercy, not out of jealousy or revenge.

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