American Gods Wiki
Advertisement
American Gods Wiki

He had stood beside the man as he got into the car, had opened and closed the door for him, and was unable to remember anything about him. He turned around in the driver's seat and looked at him, carefully noting his face, his hair, his clothes, making certain he would know him if he met him again, and turned back to start the car, to find that the man had slipped from his mind. An impression of wealth was left behind, but nothing more.

Chapter Six

The Forgettable god, also called the Forgotten god, the Nameless god or the Unknown god (none of these names official), is a mysterious Old God that no mortal seems to be able to remember. Left unnamed in the novel, Neil Gaiman never answered who the Forgettable god's exact identity was, wishing to keep it a mystery.

Significance in narrative[]

Chapter Six[]

When returning from the House on the Rock, Shadow drives some gods to a restaurant. Among them are Mama-Ji, a man he thinks is named Elvis, and the Forgettable god. Shadow, no matter how much he looks at him or talks to him, can't remember what is his appearance, what his voice sounds like or even what he talked about.

Chapter Ten[]

Mr. Wednesday visits the Forgettable god in Las Vegas. Shadow still cannot seem to remember anything about the god, including his name. In Vegas, the god follows around briefcases full of cash as Wednesday and Shadow follow him in a taxi. Wednesday corners him in a bar and asks him if he's in the war against the New Gods and the god ultimately says yes for some Soma. Wednesday later explains to Shadow that Soma is like bottled prayers and love for the gods.

Physical appearance[]

No mortal seems to be able to remember the Forgettable god's appearance. After Shadow met him, he couldn't remember his face, his appearance or the sound of his voice.

The narration describes him as a dark-haired and dark-eyed man, clean-shaved and with well-manicured hands. He is seen in Las Vegas wearing a charcoal-gray immaculate suit, and it is mentionned that his face and demeanor are "in every sense, forgettable".

Powers and abilities[]

The main ability of the Forgettable god is his inability to be remembered by any mortal - no human can remember his name, face, appearance or the sound of his voice. This ability seems to work in a stronger way on normal and regular human beings (such as the workers of the casino's counting room in Chapter Ten who even forget the god's presence as he stands near them and never notice him even once) and on a lesser way on god-related mortals such as Shadow (who in Chapter Six has a conversation with the god and knows he is in the same car as him, but cannot remember what he looks like or what they talked about). The Forgettable god only leaves behind "an impression of wealth". The Forgettable god can use this power in his favor by leaving subliminal messages to humans during their conversations - while the mortal he speaks with will forget any subject or topic talked about, their subconscious will remember the advice or order given (an exemple being the waitress of Chapter Ten). It seems the Forgettable god cannot control this ability of being forgotten.


The Forgettable god is also strongly associated with wealth and money. He can "see" and "feel" the flow and movement of money in Las Vegas as a "fine latticework, a three dimensional cat's cradle of light and motion". He is able to follow these "golden threads" and study the "matrix" in order to determinate, guess or prophetize immediate events in the future related to money, or where money will spatially go. As a result, he could for exemple tell a waitress that if she was at a certain place at a certain time she would meet a man who recently won a huge sum of money.


Gallery[]

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Graphic novel

Clues about his identity[]

Due to this god's identity being kept a mystery, many theories were made about the deity's cultural background - in fact, the Forgettable god may be the biggest mystery of the entire American Gods world. Neil Gaiman, as he explains on his website's FAQ, had planned to reveal the god's identity to the fans, due to the amount of people asking him questions about it, but then he decided not to, after receiving a "heartfelt plea" begging for the mystery of the character to be kept. [1]. Neil Gaiman still revealed some information about the Forgettable god:

  • He explained on Tumblr that the Forgettable god was not the Abrahamic God [2].
  • On March 2012, Neil Gaiman said on his Tumblr that currently only one person knew about the identity of the Forgotten god, this person being himself, and that he never told the god's identity to anyone. [3]
  • In The Annotated Edition of American Gods, Neil Gaiman promised that he would reveal the identity of the forgettable god in the sequel to the novel. The Edition also identifies the "nameless god" as associated with "money and fortune".

On top of the elements mentionned previously, here are additional traits of the God mentionned in the novel and used in theories:

  • As mentionned before, the Forgettable god seems to be strongly associated with money or wealth. On top of his wealth and money-related abilities, he leaves behind a "feeling of wealth", lives in Las Vegas, spends his time in the counting rooms of the casinos (described as sanctuaries and "Holy of Holies", and the narration explains that what he finds "attractive" in the city is the "speed of movement, the way money moves from place to place and hand to hand ; it's a rush for him, a high, and it pulls him like an addict to the street".
  • Other elements seems to rather indicate that the Forgettable god is rather linked to the notion of gambling and games - such as how Mr. Wednesday salutes him with an anecdote about a man being robbed at a crooked game of faro, and still playing despite knowing that it is a cheated game.
  • He appreciates the "dry cold" of the "desert's winter".
  • The Forgettable god drinks Laphroaig (an expensive Scottish whisky) and appreciates the Laphroaig's "marshy" taste, the "body-in-the-bog" quality to it.
  • Mr. Wednesday promises the Forgettable god a bottle of Soma in order to get him on board with the war. The Soma is a divine drink in Hindu mythology (though it might not be a direct clue, since Mr. Wednesday presents Soma as "concentrated prayers" supposedly all gods could drink no matter their pantheon).
  • Mr. Wednesday asks of the Forgettable god to "come in, be there when we need you" and let Mr. Wednesday "take care" of him, treating the Forgettable god almost like a living object or a sentient concept.
  • The Forgettable god is looking for a female supernatural entity, presumable a goddess, who according to Mr. Wednesday hasn't been seen or heard of in two hundred years (the novel taking place somewhere around 2000, it would mean her last appearance must have been somewhere near 1800). Mr. Wednesday says that, if "she" isn't dead, she probably committed suicide.


Theories about his identity[]

Here is a list of theories about the Forgotten god's identity:

  • The most basic theory considers that the Forgettable god is Luck itself, the embodiment of its concept ; or similar concepts such as Chance or Fortune. However this theory doesn't use any mythological or religious background.
  • Many like to think that the Forgettable god isn't based on any known mythology or legend, assuming that if nobody can remember his name, it is because he is indeed entirely "forgotten". However such a theory opposes directly the idea expressed in the novel that being entirely forgotten is equivalent to a god's death.
  • One of the most popular theory is that the Forgettable god is a manifestation of the Greek/Roman god Hades/Pluto. Hades was the Greek god and lord of the Underworld. The "forgetfulness" part of the character is explained by two elements related to Hades: the association of the Underworld with forgetting one's memory (the shades, or souls of the dead, often forgot their previous existence due to the river Lethe, whose waters erase memory) and the fact that Hades's name (which means "the unseen one" or "the hidden one") was never pronounced out loud, out of fear to attract bad luck or the attention of the Underworld beings. As a result, Hades was called by the alternative name "Plouton", which means "wealthy". Indeed it was believed that Hades was the wealthiest of all the gods, since he reigned over everything located under the earth: he was the god of gems, grains and metals. Through time Plouton was associated with Ploutos (in Roman Plutus), the blind son of Demeter who embodied wealth. The name "Plouton", latinized as "Pluto", was later used to refer to the Roman lord of the Underworld and Latin equivalent of Hades, Dis Pater (The Wealthy Father), a god of mineral wealth and agricultural fertility. The "she" the Forgettable God looks for may be, as a result, Persephone, the wife and love of Hades (in Roman mythology, Proserpina). Hades was also said to own a magic helmet able to make him invisible, unnoticed even by the oldest and more powerful gods. His enjoyment for the "marshy" taste may also be explained by the strong association Greeks and Romans saw between the Underworld and marshes/bogs (seen as entries or rivers of the Underworld).
  • Another very popular theory is that the Forgettable god is the Roman god Mercury. Mercury, a god created by the Roman religion to be the equivalent of the Greek Hermes, was the god of commerce and commercial success, as well as of trade and financial gain. He was also considered a god of luck, and syncretized with the Celtic god Lugh (who was also a god of commerce and luck). The "she" he is looking for might be the goddess Rosmerta: when Mercury was fused with Lugh and became a very popular god in Gaul, he was given a consort as Rosmerta, a Gallo-Roman divinity of fertility and abundance, usually represented holding a cornucopia. This theory also points out that the scene of the meeting between Mr. Wednesday and the Forgettable God in Las Vegas creates a true parallelism between the two: one is in a light grey suit and drinks a bourbon whiskey, while the other is in a dark grey suit and drinks a scotch whiskey... That, added to the background song "Why Can't He Be You" and the presence of several Elvis look-alike on the television led people to believe that it was a reference to how the Romans assimilated the Germanic god Wotan/Nordic god Odin with Mercury. Finally, this theory mentions that several details of the scene may be references to mercury, the element also known as quicksilver : the charcoal suit may be a reference to the use of charcoal to contain or absorb mercury ; the Laphroaig's distillation uses peat, mercury being a natural byproduct of peat ; gaseous mercury in used in neons (mentionned several times in the description of Las Vegas) ; and one of the side-effects of mercury poisoning is memory loss.
  • The third most popular theory is that the Forgettable god is Kubera, an Hindu mythological figure, either an asura (powerful spirits ennemy of the devas, usually translated as demigods or demons), either a deva (benevolent and powerful spirits, considered the deities and gods of Hinduism), but always king of the yakshas (nature spirits). He was said to be the Lord of Wealth, owner of all the treasures of the world. Kubera was mentionned among the gods brought to America during Odin's speech in Backstage. Being an Hindu god, it makes sense that a deal with him would be done with a bottle of Soma, a divine drink from Hindu mythology. The "she" he is looking for may be his wife, identified either as Bhadra, goddess of the hunt, either as Riddhi, embodiment of prosperity. However, opposed to this theory is the fact that Kubera was noted to have a very specific and noticeable appearance: at best, a plump and pot-bellied dwarf, at worst a deformed beings with three legs, three heads, four arms and broken teeth (Kubera meaning "deformed" or "monstrous").
  • Some believe the Forgettable god may be Mammon. Originally a Biblical term for wealth and money found in the New Testament, in the Middle-Ages it became the embodiment of money, thought to be the demon of greed and avarice. 
  • A theory supports that the Forgettable god is Agni, a fire god extremely important in the Vedic times of Hindu religion, and who lost his fame in post-Vedic hinduism, becoming a metaphor for all transformative energies. The Vedic texts claim that Agni was the owner of all the riches and wealth in the world, and as an Hindu god he was a regular consumer of Soma. The "she" he is looking for might be Svaha, Agni's wife, a minor goddess and personnification of oblation. Finally, Agni was considered the "messenger" of the gods in a very specific way - since he embodied the fire, he was seen as the entity allowing all sacrifices to reach the gods. This may explain the instructions Mr. Wednesday gives him to "participate" in the upcoming war. As for the forgetfulness, in Vedic texts Agni was said to be a mysterious god, liking to play hide-and-seek with mortals and gods alike, and always hiding in the most unexpected places. It was also declared that Agni needed a loving and perpetual attention, else he "vanished" (a reference to how fire, not protect or kept, dies out).
  • Another theory claims that the Forgettable god could be Manann mac Lir. Sea god, member of the Tuatha dé Danann, he was a warrior and king ruling over the Celtic Otherworld or Blessed Isles, land of delights and abundance. Being an Irish god that also appeared in Scottish and Manx legends, he would have a fondness for bogs and marshes. Associated with merchants and commerce, he was also said to be able to manipulate the "féth fiada", a magical mist or veil the Tuatha dé Danann shrouded themselves in to render their persons and their domains unknown, unnoticeable or invisible to the mortals eye. A legend also mentions that when his wife, Fand, fell in love with the hero Cuchulainn, Manann erased both of their memories (for the love of a mortal and a "fairy" would destroy the fairy for sure).


Notes and trivia[]

  • Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab created for their "American Gods III" line a perfume oil based on the Forgettable god: A faint impression of scent, a memory slipping like water through a sieve.


References[]

<references>

Advertisement