Ancestors are a concept in troll culture. Thanks to the way troll reproduction works, trolls are raised by animals and do not know their direct forebears; instead they have “lore [that] says wwe all got indivvidual ancestors wwho contribute to most of our genes abovve and beyond wwhat the grubs slurry does”.
Though finding out the exact identity of one's genetic progenitors is difficult if not impossible, trolls appear to believe in a sort of fate that ties ancestors and descendants together; a troll's ancestor shares their sign, which apparently means the two trolls , and a lot of trolls believe they are “meant to trace the footsteps of those ancestors” and “come across belongings they once had” in the process. When a troll discovers their ancestor, “your destiny will 8e tied to theirs. You will find clues pointing to them and who they were, 8ut you will only notice them if your eyes are open”, and “[y]ou then can choose to take up the life they left for you.”
- We saw that Sburb through its predestination mechanics supplied Earth with our four kid heroes and their parents, all at once. That established a convention for how the game seeds a planet with its own players and guardians. Next, we focus on a new race of kids, which played the exact same game as tailored to their species. It follows the same conventions we know of, but we also learned trolls are very different, and don't have parents or guardians in the same way humans do. Monsters raise them. So if the same pattern holds, where Sgrub creates its own heroes as well as twelve genetically similar alt-trolls to send even further back in time to live as adults, then how does that actually work? What societal structure can this idea fit into, if the trolls don't have parents or families? In other words, we need some cultural conventions that allow for adult trolls to have some kind of relevant relation to kid trolls in a way that's compatible with all of the societal constructs that have already been established. Not only do the trolls not have parents, there aren't even any adults on their planet, and there haven't been for centuries. So if any alt-trolls were sent back by Sgrub to live as adults, they would have to be sent back hundreds of years ago, which already begins to frame their relation to the players as necessarily ancestral rather than parental. And if these people are actually going to have any relevance to the kids, that means their culture needs to place some sort of fundamental importance on the idea of having ancestors, in a way that is compatible with their a-familial procreation system. It's more about being linked to certain figures of historical legend who share a lot of traits with you (like sign, caste, and genetic similarities) than it is about directly traceable lineage like it is for humans.
Given the heavy involvement of fate in Alternians' belief in ancestors, it is unclear just how much truth the concept actually holds in the case of trolls not born through ectobiology. Hiveswap's Trizza Tethis is an example of a troll who seems to be genetically descended from another troll, but does not share circumstantial traits such as a sign or second name.
Though characters in Homestuck tend to have the same names as their counterparts across the scratch, it seems to be tradition for trolls to take new names in their adulthood; Terezi Pyrope's ancestor Redglare, Vriska Serket's ancestor Mindfang, Equius Zahhak's ancestor Darkleer and Eridan Ampora's ancestor Dualscar all have new names, while other ancestors are referred to purely with an occupational title; in cases such as the Summoner and the Signless these titles were used during the troll's life and may have been invented by the troll themselves, while in cases like the Dolorosa and the Handmaid they may have been applied by other trolls through legends.
As most of the ancestors with proper names as well as titles are on the higher end of the hemospectrum, it may be that this is a tradition much like belief in ancestors that is practiced primarily by highbloods. Eridan giving Rose Lalonde the name in an attempt to make her appear more "noble" would seem to support this interpretation.
As with the three-letter monikers used by Rose's Mom, Dave Strider's Bro and John Egbert's Dad, almost all of the ancestors in Homestuck have names spelt with eight characters. In some cases, such as that of the Ψiioniic and Mindfang's alternate name for Darkleer, the "Expatri8", these are transformed into eight-character words from words with more or fewer characters by the use of quirks or rare characters. In the latter case, Mindfang's interest in the number 8 may have compelled her to do so. Gamzee Makara's ancestor the Grand Highblood is the only ancestor in Homestuck not to have a single title or name of only eight characters.
Unlike the "true" ancestors of troll folklore, the ancestors of the A2 trolls did not create their descendants by contributing to the reproductive slurry; instead all twenty-four trolls were created as paradox clones by Karkat Vantas and sent down to Alternia via the Reckoning. Unlike the ectobiology of the human sessions, it is unknown how the paradox slime was combined to create each generation, and Karkat was of who the other twelve wigglers would grow up to be.
As Alternia was actually the version of the planet after the scratch, Karkat and the A2 trolls were in fact the ancestors on Beforus "first", hence the name "dancestors" used by the Alternians to refer to the Beforans and vice versa; “[...] o+ur ancesto+rs as kids, o+r, I mean o+ur descendants as kids [...]” “#Descesto+rs? #Ancendants? #Dancesto+rs... #Hmm #Bingo+”. Little is known about the Beforan ancestors; the Beforan definition of culling to mean being “selected 8y a mem8er of a higher caste for adoption”, however, is no doubt due to the influence of Meenah Peixes' ancestor Feferi, who on Alternia .
The story of the Homestuck ancestors, both on Beforus and Alternia and especially the parts told by Doc Scratch, loosely parallels parts of the Bible. In particular, the Beforans making a deal with Echidna (the depicted as a serpent) and causing the "fall" from Beforus to Alternia mirrors the Genesis or Beneshit story of the fall from Eden, while the story of the Signless alludes to the New Testament tale of Jesus Christ, with the Dolorosa playing the role of Virgin Mary, the Ψiioniic and Disciple acting as Christ's disciples, and the E%ecutor playing the apocryphal Pontius Pilate, using a bow and arrow rather than a spear. Andrew Hussie comments on both of these narratives .
The following is a timeline of events experienced by the ancestors on Alternia in Homestuck. It is not to scale, and only serves to show which events took place definitively before or after other events; for example, though Mindfang and Dualscar are shown as arriving on Alternia at the same time, the details of their arrival are not elaborated on in the story, and the long lifespans of trolls high on the hemospectrum could easily have allowed either of them to have been centuries before the other.
|Time travel in the service of Lord English||Born*|
|Follower of Sufferer||Preaching||Follower and lover of Sufferer||Follower of Sufferer|
|Enlisted as Helmsman||Executed||Spared by Darkleer||Sold into slavery||Exiled|
|Serves as Helmsman||Seclusion and eventual death||Possibly killed by Dualscar||Captures Mindfang||Captured and maimed by Redglare||Seclusion and eventual death||Kills Dualscar||Killed by Highblood|
|Hanged by lowbloods||Escapes trial||Eventual death|
|Relationship with Mindfang||Relationship with Summoner|
|Kills Mindfang||Killed by Summoner|
|Revolt fails||Bans adult trolls from Alternia|
|Dies in the Vast Glub||612 sweep long return trip to Alternia|
|Raised by Doc Scratch|
|Young self enters service of English
Older self killed by Condesce
|Arrives at Alternia, confronted by and kills older iteration of the Handmaid|
|Enters kids' universe|
*Arrived by meteors delivered by the Reckoning
Several ancestors, as well as Doc Scratch's interference in the events concerning them, can be interpreted as direct references to characters from the mythological tales involving ancient Greek/Roman gods, in particular the story of Prometheus. Prometheus was a peaceful titan, the only one that sided with Zeus against Cronus. In the battle against Cronus, Hekatonchires were released from Cronus's hold in the Underworld, and helped overthrow him with their awesome strength. Prometheus is generally considered wise and represents forethought. He is the only one that knew who the mother of Zeus' son, the one destined by prophecy to overthrow him, was. For loving men, and for knowing this knowledge, he was sentenced to agonizing torture by being bound to a rock on a mountainside eternally, and an eagle eating his liver over and over, since gods can regenerate. Not a word was spoken as he was tortured and about thirty years later, Chiron, a centaur, took his place and died for him. Zeus accepted Chiron's sacrifice and freed Prometheus from this torture. However, so Zeus did not appear to be going back on his command of eternal punishment, a piece of the mountainside was put into a ring made from a link in the chains Prometheus was bound by. Another telling says instead of Chiron being sacrificed, Heracles simply slew the eagle and freed Prometheus.
There is a Greek tragedy called Prometheus Bound. In the play, Prometheus is chained to a mountain, much like how the Sufferer is shown chained to a high place. He's credited with playing a key role in Zeus coming into power and the chaining is considered a harsh betrayal. In the story Zeus wanted to obliterate all of mankind, but Prometheus somehow stopped him. It consists mainly of speeches and is the first story in a trilogy called Prometheia.
Alternian could be a nuance of Athenian. Athenians are known to be the only ones to have any religious temple to Prometheus. They originally made a torch race in honor of Prometheus that started and ended at his altar and had regular celebrations on the calendar for him.
- The tale of the Sufferer (Prometheus): a peaceful man that also represents rebellion, was very wise, and had a prophecy that eventually someone would rise to overthrow this form of rule, and was severely tortured by the Condesce (Zeus). The Sufferer is shot where the liver would be located, and the eagle is said to have eaten Prometheus's liver once every day. Prometheus has been referred to in ancient and modern stories as the sufferer. The chain link from Prometheus's shackles made into a ring with a pebble of the mountainside attached to it became a symbol of Prometheus much like how the Sufferer's shackles became his symbol. Prometheus's name means 'forethought', possibly referenced by the Sufferer's role as a seer by foretelling future events. He was known for being adept at prophecy, and he desired to share all his knowledge with mankind, a desire not met with approval from the gods.
- Karkat at one point says to John that “MY HATE IS THE LIFEBLOOD THAT PULSES THROUGH THE VEINS OF YOUR UNIVERSE. IT IS MY GIFT TO YOU. YOU'RE WELCOME FOR THAT. YOU UNGRATEFUL PIECE OF SHIT.” Since Karkat's the descendant of the Sufferer (Prometheus), this can be taken as an allusion to Prometheus, since he's credited with creating the human race from clay and water, or to his gift of fire.
- The tale of the Condesce (Zeus): a wrathful being more powerful than all other ancestors (Gods) that tortured the Sufferer. The Condesce controlls powerful blasts of energy as well as a potent thrown weapon (her trident), parreleling Zeus' lightning. She also shares Zeus' wishes to overthrow Lord English (the Lord of Time - the titan of time is Chronos, which sounds similar to Cronus, Zeus' father). Less relevant parralels can also be drawn to Poseidon and Hera.
- The tale of the Expatri8 (Chiron the Centaur), a centaur that took pity on (instead of the Sufferer/Prometheus) the Disciple, and freed her. However, instead of death in the mythological tale, he is outcast by the Condesce (Zeus).
- The tale of the Expatri8 (Hephaestus), a god known for being lame (a pun if nothing else) and was a great craftsmen who made weapons for all the gods (Ancestors). The Expatri8 built a new arm for Mindfang. Both Horuss and Equius, his descendant and counterpart, are gifted at advanced metalwork and robotics, including the repair of lamed individuals; Hephaestus was known for building automatons. Hephaestus fell from Heavens (twice) on account of his lameness - just as the E%ecutor earned the titled of E%patri8 on account of his weakness.
- The tale of the Grand High Blood (Dionysus): a god of alcohol wine known for raucous festivities and ritual madness. Gamzee, the descendant of the Highblood, consumes large quanities of the narcotic Sopor Slime, and both he and the Grand High Blood are known for their fits of madness, their religiousity of the Grand Highblood, and their involvement with a wild festival - the Dark Carnival. Dionysus interestingly was once a beloved pupil of the centaur Chiron.
- The tales of Mindfang and Redglare (Athena and Arachne). Athena was born from Zeus's forehead and is a goddess known for her mass of skills and mental prowess as well as prowess in womanly arts, war, and justice. Arachne is a princess of Colophon whose skills in weaving surpassed even Athena. Arachne entered a weaving contest with Athena and won; but, fearing Athena's wrath, instead hung herself. Athena turned Arachne into a spider and the noose into a web. Arachne scuttled away and escaped further wrath. Arachne's name is connected to the word Arachnid (spider). All five of Mindfang, Redglare, Terezi, Vriska and Aranea are shown to be smart and scheming characters, with skills in seduction as well as conflict. Many of these characters manifest psychic or Mind-aspect powers via a glowing symbol on their forehead while straining - Athena was originally a headache of Zeus. Athena's major role as a patron/matron of justice is an obvious connection to Redglare and Terezi, as is Arachne's arrogance and spider-fate to Mindfang and Vriska. However, in a cruel inversion of roles Redglare would be hung as a product of Mindfang's machinations, highlighting that both ancestors have connections to both mythological figures. If Athena is seen as the mind of Zeus as he experienced a headache, then Redglare and Terezi are the Mind of Athena while Mindfang and Vriska are the pain.
- Lord English, despite not being an ancestor (Cronus and Chronos): Cronus was a universal ruler and destroyer, and like most titans, is considered a cruel, powerful but weak-hearted ruler, who ate his own children (Lord English destroys the universes in which he inveigles himself) and was overthrown by the plots of Zeus (The Condesce). This allegory by genealogy would make Caliborn and Calliope's parents metaphors for Uranus and Gaia; Uranus rained and struck the Earth (planets) with lighnting which Gaia sought to halt, unsuccessfully until the conception of their child Cronus. In an inversion, the mother of the Cherub siblings won, forcing the father to deposit an egg onto a barren earth. Chronos, which sounds largely identical to Cronus, is the embodiment of time, and is of the oldest and most abstract of the primordial titans; like most of his kin, he is considered a mindless entity whose tremendous power is a background force, awesome yet distant.
- The Horrorterrors, despite not being ancestors, fit this allegory (Hekatonchires): A legion of hundred-armed, fifty-headed giants, they were the tortured siblings of the titans, powerful but aesthetically-horrifying creatures; this parralels the Horrorterror's inhuman tentacled appearance. The Hekatonchires help Cronus defeat Uranus but are then betrayed and resealed by him, and later give their aid to Zeus (the Condesce, who was raised by a lesser zoologically-dubious creature) in overthrowing Cronus. For their dark nature and appearance, they are supposedly useful and helpful creatures, providing assistance when they are afforded leave of their dark realm.