“Two millenniums [sic] ago, there was a war. Between the human world and the other... the Underworld. But somebody from the Underworld woke up to justice, and stood up against this legion, alone. His name was Sparda. Later, he quietly reigned the human world, and continued to preserve harmony, until his death. He became a legend, The Legendary Dark Knight, Sparda.”
Welcome to Praise to my Father, a tiny tribute to Sparda from the original video game series Devil May Cry.
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The series revolves around Dante, one of the sons of Eva, a human, and Sparda, a devil, twarthing the plans of devils trying to invade the human world to presumably kill as many humans as possible and have fun while doing it. Sparda himself does not appear in the series outside bonus outfits and game conception material. He still plays a vital role in the series, as he is the father of both the protagonist Dante and the antagonist Vergil.
As a human, Sparda is represented in concept art as a tall man with white hair, which he wears brushed back, red eyes, and caucasian skin. He wears a purple and burgundy suit over a white shirt on the lacy collar of which he wears his amulet. He also wears a monocle, though vision problems on a demon seem unlikely. It does give him a classy, noble appearance, however, fitting for a “Legendary Dark Knight”.
As a demon, Sparda resembles the Western idea of a demon, with cloven feet and wings on a humanoid figure, although his wings fold much like that of an insect and he has four of them, and his body appears covered in rough scales. Additionally, unlike a Western demon, he has no tail.
The most significant clue to Sparda’s personality comes from Dante in Devil May Cry 1. Having apparently only known his father through his mother’s words, he tells Trish that “[his] mother always said that [his] father was a righteous man, who fought for the weak.” From this, we can safely assume that Sparda was a being who cared about others and could empathize with their plight. What caused him to “[wake] up to justice” is never explicitely mentionned in the game, but the fact that he was capable of empathy toward humanity most likely played a big part. It’s much less easy to kill beings for shits and giggles if you can feel said beings’ suffering.
His untimely death, before his sons were old enough to know and remember him, unfortunately makes getting a good idea of his personality beyond these words of Eva quite difficult. Presumably, if she loved him for this compassion and this sense of justice he exuded, he must have been a good man. In the world of Devil May Cry, I don't think having children with a devil is something you do lightly, so both Sparda and Eva must have been exceptional to take this decision; Eva because Sparda deemed her worth the risk it must have represented, and Sparda because Eva deemed the inherent risks worthy as well to embark on a pregnancy that must not have been quite what the medical textbooks describe. It's a good thing neither twins were born with horns. As far as we know, anyway.
The sword mostly recognized by the series as being Sparda’s is the Force Edge, a regular blade with two sharp edges. He does seem, however, to have owned others.
The Force Edge, as seen in Devil May Cry 1, can be powered up to become the Sparda, a huge, semi-organic saber which can turn into a spear or a scythe depending on the wielder's moves.
In Devil May Cry 3, there are two more blades that are said to have belonged to Sparda: the sword Rebellion, wielded by his son Dante, and the katana Yamato, wielded by his son Vergil. The two very different fighting styles required to wield these blades can be explained by the fact that Sparda had a more than long life by human standards and more than enough time to learn to use different weapons efficiently.
There is no definite information on where the name Sparda comes from. One theory is that it comes from the Latin word spatha, used to designate a broad straight sword between 0.75 and 1 meter in length in use in Europe throughout the first millenium AD, including in Rome. Naming a demon after a sword makes sense, especially when one looks at the Force Edge, which would fit the description.
How could I build a shrine to Sparda without talking about his relationship with Eva? Impossible, I tell you.
Surprisingly little is known about Eva in canon. We know she is the mother of Dante and Vergil. We also know she thought of Sparda as a righteous man who fought for the weak. We know she was “lost to evil” 20 years ago when Devil May Cry 1 starts. A photo of her in Dante’s office shows her as a kind-looking woman with long blond hair, dressed in a black dress and red shawl. And that’s about it. We don’t know if she was a devil hunter, a widely accepted fanon of her. We don’t know if Sparda and her were married. We don’t know where she came from, who she was, how she met Sparda, how long they were together, if Sparda’s chidren with her were his first. We don’t even know which one of them was the literature geek who named the boys Dante and Vergil.
Although the canon is limited, things can be inferred about Eva and her relationship with Sparda. Sparda was still fighting evil in the human world, so he must have known full well what kind of danger Eva exposed herself to just by being with him. Yet he had twin sons with her. Either Sparda did not care about Eva, which would contradict Eva’s opinion of him and his own backstory, or he thought her strong enough to bear and raise his half-devil children. Furthermore, he gave Eva his amulet, which we learn in the following games that not only is it the key to unlocking Force Edge’s true power, the Sparda sword, but also the key to opening the passage to the Underworld in the Temen-Ni-Gru tower, sealed by Sparda’s blood and the blood of a human priestess. He wouldn’t have given this to Eva if he hadn’t thought her able to protect it.
Speaking of that priestess who helped Sparda seal the Temen-Ni-Gru’s passage, there seems to be confusion in the fandom over her identity. That priestess was not Eva. She was, however, the ancestor of Kalina Ann, Lady's mother, whom Arkham tracked down, married and had a child with for the purpose of sacrificing her to open the Underworld. Devil May Cry is all about tragic, fucked-up families.
Sparda seems to have died not too long after the twins’ birth, given that Dante’s memories of him seem to be through his mother talking about him, and for all of Vergil’s idealisation of him, it's doubtful he remembers the man that Sparda was. Still, Eva continued to raise his children lovingly, until she, too, was “lost to evil”. In her case, sadly, it most probably means she is dead. Hopefully, in the afterlife, she has been reunited with her kind devil.
Dante has a lot of respect for his father, but that wasn't always the case. In Devil May Cry 3, he seems to resent his origins, calling the Temen-Ni-Gru his “old man's mess” and showing little interest in cleaning it, being more focused on chasing his older twin brother. As he learns the story of the tower, however, he seems to come around slowly to respecting Sparda more, up to calling him his father when he tells a transformed Arkham that his father was never that ugly. This understanding of the good his father has done allows Dante to make peace with him, even swearing, in Devil May Cry 1, to kill Mundus in the name of his father.
Vergil adores Sparda, or rather, he idolizes the might of his father. He does not actually care about the devil who woke up to justice and spent his life in the human world defending the weak. He only cares about the mighty devil who defeated the armies of the Underworld alone. He dreams of being the same devil and forgets to be the same man.
I admit it. I'm a big romantic. Sparda appeals to me because I love tales of redemption and rebellion against the world, but also because I like to imagine him in a loving relationship with Eva. Furthermore, Sparda is the link holding the chains of the series together. In a series where everyone is at least a bit touched in the head and Not Well™, the legendary devil Sparda is refreshingly human.
Thanks go to Amassment for enabling me into making these tributes! I reworked this shrine for the Dynamic Duo challenge. Its partner shrine is my shrine to Eva.
Link back to http://nyx.nightbringer.net/sparda/
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Site opened on October 25th, 2014. Last updated on February 23rd, 2016. Reopened on September 11th, 2017.