Before I talk about Astrology, Blood Types, and the star of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Pharaoh-formerly-known-as-Nameless Atem, a little background: in the lead-up to the release of the newest Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, Dark Side of Dimensions, Kazuki Takahashi put out something of a revised Gospel of Truth Yu-Gi-Oh! manga guidebook, The Millennium Book.
In it, he includes character information that was not included in the Gospel of Truth character guide, including birthdays for many of the characters that appeared in the final act of the manga, in Ancient Egypt.
To go along with this setting, Takahashi didn’t use modern birthdays; instead, he listed birthdays according to how the Ancient Egyptians (probably) did it: the season, the month, and the day.
An Introduction to Egyptian Seasons
The Egyptians were among the first civilizations to adopt a 365-day calendar. However, they didn’t have four seasons and 12 months with about four weeks each; instead, they had three seasons, plus one special set of five “Epagomenal Days” that corresponded with the birthdays of several prominent gods. From there, they had twelve months with 30 days each (360 days), and each week was 10 days long (so there were 3 weeks in a month).
The seasons in Ancient Egypt were, unsurprisingly, tied to the Nile River, and often the star Sirius, which they called Sopdet (and the Greeks called Sothis), and personified as a goddess. Often, the rising of Sirius preceded the flooding of the Nile, so New Year’s celebrations often occurred when Sirius rose. That meant that the New Year kicked off with the flood season, followed by the planting season, and then the harvesting season. The epagomenal days followed, as a transition between the old year and the new. The seasons are as follows:
- Akhet – the flooding season, roughly from June to September
- Peret – the planting season, roughly from October to January
- Shemu – the harvesting season, roughly from February to May (another source says from May to September, so you can see how complicated this gets)
- Epagomenal Days – either five or six days corresponding to the births of various important Egyptian gods: Osiris, Horus the Elder, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. The sixth day was unassigned, and just corresponded to when Sirius rose (so I suppose you could associate it with Sopdet…)
Much of the historical evidence indicates that many people didn’t bother with individual month names (though they do exist); you just indicated what number month in a season you were in. The Millennium Book cites Atem’s birthday as falling on the third month of the harvest season, and more specifically on the 19th day of that month.
The problem comes with converting that date into a modern calendar. The Egyptian calendar didn’t take into account that a year is actually 365 and ¼ days long, which meant every four years, the calendar would be off by an entire day. Over a period of 3,000 years, that would mean approximately 754 lost days — more than two years’ worth!
Takahashi doesn’t list birth years in The Millennium Book; he only states that, as of the events of the final arc, Atem is 16 years old. If we consider that the events in Ancient Egypt are supposed to take place 3,000 years ago (from when the arc was first published, perhaps, in 2003? The Millennium Book was published in 2015, while the final chapter of the manga was published in 2004), then we can do the following math:
2003 (publication date of the first Ancient Egypt chapter) – 3000 (years ago) = 1013 B.C. If Atem was 16 years old at the time of his first “live” (that is, not as a ghost/spirit) appearance in the Ancient Egypt arc, then that appearance took place in 997 B.C. (The 21st Dynasty in the Third Intermediate Period).
You could base it off the date of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s first publication, back in 1996, and you’d get a different year: 1020 B.C. Not a huge difference, but there still might be some drift due to the leap years (of a few days).
You could also base the calculation off 3,000 years from when Sugoroku found the puzzle… except there’s some disagreement on that. In the original Japanese Battle 279 (the first chapter in Volume 32, known as Millennium World vol. 1 as published by Viz in English), it says it’s “the 1960s” but The Millennium Book specifically says Sugoroku is 43 when he finds the Puzzle. However, the official Viz translation says it’s the year 1960, rather than sometime in the decade beginning with 1960, which makes things tricky; The Millennium Book also says Sugoroku is 72 at the start of the manga (which, going by publication date, is 1996).
Which date would we follow? If we go with the official Viz translation of the first chapter of Millennium World (1960), and then use Sugoroku’s age from The Millennium Book (43), he would have been born in 1917. Add 72 years to that to get the year of Duelist Kingdom, and it’s 1989, which definitely doesn’t seem right, considering: computers, manner of dress, and other clues seen throughout the manga.
If we assume it’s “some time” in the 1960s, and we work backwards from 1996 (the date of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s first publication), then Sugoroku was born in 1924 (1996 – 72 = 1924). Then, using Sugoroku’s age in The Millennium Book when he found the puzzle, 43, we add that to his birth year, making the date he found the puzzle 1967. That’s a lot more reasonable. If we take this date and subtract 3,000 years, we get 1049 B.C. as Atem’s birth year.
In summary, we have a few different possible years when Atem could have been born, in order from most recent to least recent:
- 1013 B.C. – based on the publication date of the first Ancient Egypt chapter
- 1020 B.C. – based on the publication date of the first Yu-Gi-Oh! chapter
- 1049 B.C. – based on the calculated date of Sugoroku finding the puzzle
For the most part, the actual Pharaoh during this time was Aakheperre Pasebakhenniut I, also known as Psusennes I, except for the latter birth year; in 1049 B.C. the Pharaoh was likely an obscure ruler named Neferkare Heqawaset Amenemnisu who only ruled for four years.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to stick with the year 1013 B.C. as Atem’s birth year, and therefore calculate all other Ancient Egyptian characters’ birthdays assuming that the Ancient Egypt events that are not shown in flashbacks take place in 997 B.C.
Why calculate Atem and other Ancient Egyptian characters using the date of the Ancient Egypt chapter’s first publication date, and not the manga in general? Simply put: Kazuki Takahashi didn’t plan for the story to take the turn that it did. It was originally going to be a story involving many different kinds of games, not just Duel Monsters. Villains like Kaiba would have been arc-long rivals that disappeared, not a story-long character with a destiny as deeply intertwined with the Pharaoh’s as Kaiba’s is (loathe as he might be to admit it). It makes sense to calculate Sugoroku’s age on his first appearance in the very first chapter of the manga, but not so for the Pharaoh –who wasn’t even known to be a Pharaoh until much later in the story!
Moving on; what about the month and day of Atem’s birth?
The closest approximate date to this time, 1000 BC, had Sirius rising at Heliopolis around what we would now call July 8 (III Akhet 19), and the third month of the calendar overall– instead of the first month (New Year’s normally coincided with Sirius rising, but if the Nile rose sooner, New Year’s would come sooner, too. This dating means that the Egyptian New Year fell on April 19 or 20). So it wouldn’t make sense for Atem’s birthday to be only a few weeks later (July 26), which is the conversion based off the Coptic Synaxarium of the month of Epip. After all, III Akhet 19 (July 8) is 243 days before III Shemu 19, which is Atem’s given birthday.
In other words, the various Wikipedia articles with all their sources are contradicting one another. The drift caused by some years not having a sixth epagomenal day to account for the “missing” quarter of a day every four years means it’s extremely difficult to say with any certainty that III Shemu 19 was definitely on July 26, 1013 B.C. Bearing that in mind, I used a spreadsheet calculator to determine the proper date:
- Given an Egyptian birthdate in the following format (month | season | day)…
- Subtract the number of days between that date and a given reference date that ties a specific Egyptian date noted as the day Sirius rose at Heliopolis, and the equivalent Julian and Gregorian dates (the ones from here)
- Add one day for every four years between the reference date and the character’s birth year (which is based off their age and the publication date of the first Ancient Egyptian chapter –2003). This accounts for the leap year drift.
- Then, move the same distance (number of days) between the Gregorian calendar reference date to find the equivalent Gregorian birthdate of the input Egyptian birthdate.
Thus we get March 8, 1013 B.C.
This is the date I’m going to use for Atem from here on out, despite all the above possibilities (and many others, mentioned in my Tumblr post here). I think based on the math, it’s the most correct, although it may not align with what Takahashi assumed the equivalent date was… it depends on what resources he was using in the first place to come up with those dates!
Sun Sign & Personality
Pisces, the sign of the Fish – “The book of birth of Iskandar”
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only license CC BY 4.0
Pharaoh Atem — (March 8th) Pisces — Atem’s sun sign is Pisces, the sign of the fish. As I mentioned in my Tumblr post about the subject, Pisces rules over the Sahara deserts, as well as the famous city of Alexandria (although it didn’t exist in 1013 B.C.). Despite all the talk above about Egyptian months having 30 days, for the purposes of calculating his decan, we’re using the normal Gregorian calendar –thus, February has 28 days, and March has 31. However, the three decans still divide up pretty evenly, with the first decan covering February 19th to the 28th, the second decan covering March 1st to March 10th, and the third decan covering March 11th to the 20th. That makes Atem’s decan Cancer, and positions him as someone who cares greatly for all mankind, not just himself or the people he surrounds himself with. Like Yuugi, Atem’s positioning in the second decan gives him a mental focus, but he’s in the eighth day of the 10-day cycle, which means he’s more attuned to endings than he is beginnings or new adventures.
Pisces are imaginative, which might explain not only Atem’s ability to manifest powerful ka with which to duel, but also his belief in the “Heart of the Cards.” This is usually a good thing, but can be negative if he lets his imagination take over, and he assumes the worst out of a situation (“catastrophizing”).Pisces can also tend towards escapism, which could explain his willingness to chase after Thief King Bakura himself, rather than send others to do it; it’s not that “if I want something done, I have to do it myself,” but “this is an opportunity to get away from the palace/routine/expectations!” This means that others might get frustrated with Atem’s unwillingness to see situations for what they really are: good or bad. Atem had an extremely difficult time owning up to what his father (and uncle) did to save the kingdom.
Unlike the other characters, where we can look up their exact birthdate and year and see the position of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter on that day, with Atem, we have to calculate it based on his birthdate and a proposed time, that is something that ends up affecting his Ascendant (see below).
The two Ascendants that made the most sense to me are Taurus (approx. 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.) and Scorpio (approx. 8 p.m. to 10 p.m). If we assume Scorpio is his rising sign, and use 8 p.m. as his birth time, then Venus would be in Aquarius, Mars would be in Sagittarius, and Jupiter would be in Aries. For the most part, these signs don’t change throughout the day (they’re the same at 12 a.m. as they are at 8 p.m., with a few degrees of difference at most, so his rising sign could be something different), but because some of these signs are close to the end of the degree cycle (Venus and Jupiter, particularly), it’s possible that shifting the time to a different point in the day would result in these planets being in different signs.
Atem’s Love Potential (Position of Venus)
Those with Venus in Aquarius don’t simply love one person –they love humanity, they love the universe. Atem would aim to make his court more equal, allowing women and men both to have a say, and would see justice done on a social scale, rather than a militaristic one (in contrast to his father, who decided to stop an invasion by having his brother use dark magic to create ka: Duel Monsters). In this way, Atem is not a conformist, and actually sets him up to be the kind of pharaoh that would really rile up the priesthood — the similarities between Atem and historical pharaoh Akhenaten (the Heretic King) might be more prominent than initially thought!
Setting aside the fact that he’s royalty (and would probably be betrothed to either a relative or a high-ranking noblewoman or priestess), Atem’s best romantic match would be someone who could allow him his independence and would be fine with receiving expressions of love in unusual ways. Atem needs to be fair when it comes to ruling his people, so he might come across as detached, emotionless, or objective on subjects he “ought” to have an opinion on, but that’s what makes him such a good collaborator (and perhaps diplomat). Rather than be the sort of king who hates it when his court throws parties/has celebrations or festivals, he’d actually want to plan them himself!
Atem’s Drive & Ambition (Position of Mars)
Atem is energetic and imaginative (fits with his Sun Sign of Pisces), along with persuasive/convincing. This combination makes for a charismatic leader of people, one who not only gathers a lot of wealth, but also learns a great deal about the world, its peoples, and various philosophies. He can “see into the future,” not using any Millennium Item, but simply by understanding how people tick and what makes them behave in a given way. In other words, Atem can see the bigger picture, which could explain why his method of saving his kingdom/Egypt/the world from Zork Necrophades was to seal himself in the Millennium Pendant (later the Puzzle), even if it would result in him losing his memories as Pharaoh. He could have kept trying to destroy Zork, or seal it away some other way, but instead he sacrificed himself (appropriate for people with a Cancer decan).
Atem was too restless to not take action in the moment, just as he would have been the sort to start many things, but not always finish them –even if the position of his decan in the overall cycle is closer to endings. He can have the end goal in mind, but not necessarily the journey that will get him there, or how meandering it can be.
Atem’s Luck Magnetism (Position of Jupiter)
When Atem “lives in the moment,” and has faith, the “Heart of the Cards” is with him. That is, whenever he focuses on the present, he makes his own luck. This is in contrast to when he’s being imaginative or trying to see a bigger picture (traits of Pisces and Mars in Sagittarius). Atem is daring, confident, and optimistic, all traits that help pull people toward him and enhance his overall luck –it’s not hard to be in the right place, at the right time, or know the right people, if you always attract people with resources and good attitudes.
Atem also sees even bad “luck” events as opportunities for learning, and this gives him the faith he needs to succeed further on down the line. In other words, he might get temporarily defeated by an unexpected card combo, but knowing his opponent’s strategy/tactics ultimately helps him plan the best response, even if he has no idea what cards he will draw from his own deck (or rather, what order his carefully chosen cards will appear in).
Without knowing the exact time Atem was born, we don’t know what his Ascendant is, but we can guess based off traits common to the rising sign (another name for the Ascendant). For example, at 12 a.m., Atem’s ascendant would have been Sagittarius, indicating a need for adventure, good fortune, and a desire to constantly learn. I don’t feel that this fits Atem so much as other Ascendants, so let’s consider some other possibilities:
- Aries (ideas to action, always starting new journeys/adventures, lots of internal energy) approx. 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.
- Taurus (appreciates luxury, aggressive when provoked, stubborn) approx. 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
- Leo (sign of royalty/rulership, generous, witty, charms people) approx 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Virgo (strategic, quiet, refined, detailed) approx. 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Scorpio (charismatic, stands tall against hostility/opposition, diligent, secret inside story/personal life) approx. 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Capricorn (workaholic, complex, ambitious, successful) approx. 12 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Interestingly enough, Atem and Yuugi’s blood types are not the same! Atem’s blood type is listed as A, like Hiroto Honda and Seto Kaiba. You’ve probably heard the expression “I’ve got a Type A personality,” or “S/he’s so Type A!” These are people who are typically considered perfectionists, with extremely high standards. They’re very creative, but are otherwise conscientious, trustworthy, and sensitive (three traits that also mesh well with Atem’s Sun Sign of Pisces).
A is most compatible (in the relationship sense, not in the blood transfusion-sense!) with other Type As (as previously mentioned) and ABs, of which there is only one in the main cast: Ryou Bakura.
Among the Ancient Egypt cast, other Type As are: Kalim and Seto, while Thief King Bakura is AB.
Atem’s Mystical Card is the 2 of Spades, the card of unions and stable relationships. If work (ruling a kingdom) and love (hobbies, people… possibly playing games or creating incredible spirits from within your soul’s imagination) are intimately connected, Atem thrives. This means the more that someone shares those traits, the more likely Atem is to be enthusiastic about that person, while when others fail to show that same level of care or consideration, Atem is very disappointed– he expects too much of others. Making decisions for others might be part and parcel of being king, but it’s not always the best thing to do for everyone.
The Tarot equivalent to this card is the Two of Swords, the card of choices, split decisions, or a stalemate. When the card is illustrated in the Rider-Waite-Smith style, the person shown is usually blindfolded: that is, they’re missing some crucial piece of information that would help them decide.
In the case of Atem. this missing piece of information could be his name. It could equally be the knowledge of what his father/uncle did to save Egypt, and how he can atone for their sins.
Chinese and Egyptian Zodiac
The Chinese Zodiac didn’t exist back in 1013 B.C., having been officially identified during the Han Dynasty some 2,000 years ago (about 205 B.C. to 5 B.C.). However, since the signs repeat every 12 years, we could theoretically do some math for his birth year and calculate that his Chinese Zodiac element and animal are that of a Water Ox.
The Water correspondence fits with Atem’s sign as a Pisces while the Ox suits his temperament (and possibly a Taurus rising sign). Water Oxen are realists, hard workers, flexible, and capable of attracting many new friends.
One website I found suggests that there were actually Egyptian Zodiac signs, but they didn’t come into use until the Ptolemaic period (far beyond the years we’re using here). If we were to use those signs though, Atem would fall under the sign of Isis or Osiris. Unlike the Chinese signs which were delineated according to year, these are similar to the Western Zodiac that separates the signs by periods of about a month or ten days, depending on which system you used (hence why Atem would be Isis for the Pharaonic, inspired-by-the-Greeks calendar and Osiris for the traditional, 10-days-per-sign calendar).
Those with the Isis sign are considered ambitious, dedicated, honorable, proud, idealistic, intuitive, self-reliant, active, communicative, and many other traits typically associated with this clever goddess-queen. Supposedly their weakness lies in withdrawing when things are going against them, which I feel is best exemplified by Yami no Yuugi’s attitude when dueling with Kaiba atop Duelist Kingdom castle, or during the anime-only Orichalcos arc, when he lost in his duel with Rafael. Additionally, obsession is also a weakness of Isis signs. The astronomical bodies associated with this sign are the Moon (Cancer/the Crab), Earth (not ruled by a sign in the Western Zodiac), and Uranus (Aquarius/the Water Bearer). Colors associated with Isis include Red, Gold, Orange, Blue, and Black — red, gold, and black appearing in Atem’s hair (or is it a headdress?!). Finally, the sign is considered compatible with the other sign of wisdom and knowledge, Thoth, and the sign of Isis’s husband, Osiris.
Those with the Osiris sign are considered dynamic, direct, independent, enthusiastic, helpful, intelligent, adventurous, confident, and misunderstood. Supposedly these signs try to avoid responsibility, which is a trait I don’t see in Atem, but they’re also supposed to be good at teaching and selling (two other traits I also don’t think are particularly Atem-like). However, they are also optimistic, positive, passionate, and natural-born leaders. This definitely sounds like Atem. The astronomical bodies associated with this sign are Pluto (Scorpio/the Scorpion) and the Sun (Leo/the Lion). The animal associated with Osiris is the Bull (associated with the sign of Taurus). Colors associated with Osiris include Green, Black, and Yellow (as Yami no Yuugi, he has sometimes been illustrated with green eyes; he often wears black clothing, and of course, his hair is yellow/gold in places). Finally, the sign is considered compatible with Thoth and Isis (see above).
If you check out Pantone’s Colorstrology calculator (Note: This is an old page optimized for iPhone; visiting the current Colorstrology page on Pantone.com doesn’t let you look for other dates, only see the current date), you can see what birthdays (note: years have no effect) are associated with which Pantone color. March 8th is associated with 15-3207, also known as “Mauve Mist.” The closest hexadecimal match is #C49FBA, which looks like this:
Colorstrology has this to say about Atem’s birthdate: You have a strong spiritual side that can be a great source of strength when channeled properly (Uh, summoning ka much?). You were meant to do something that has meaning and value (possibly along the lines of saving the world maybe?!). Try not to let material concerns bog you down. Focus your sense of responsibility toward high ideals and aspirations. Cultivate discipline and self-effort early on to avoid losing your footing later on in life.
Note about colorstrology: these aren’t the colors that might be Atem’s favorite, or even that look good on him (but with violet eyes, I actually think this color would work really well! Plus it’s sort of like a faded violet, often considered the color of royalty!). But taking advantage of his “personal color” will help Atem, as it would any other individual with his or her personal color, take better care of him or herself (in whatever way suits him or her best; for Atem, this is spiritual integrity and sustaining a positive, healthy outlook).