Love Thy Nerd
Love Nerds + Engage Culture + Build Community

Searching for Immortality in Rise of the Tomb Raider

Ovid’s Metamorphoses—the main source of our knowledge of Roman myths — ends with this:

“Wherever Rome’s influence extends, over the lands it has civilised, I will be spoken, on people’s lips: and, famous through all the ages, if there is truth in poets’ prophecies, vivam—I shall live.”

There’s a sense in which Ovid found immortality: we’re still influenced by Rome, and we are still speaking of Ovid. Likewise, Rise of the Tomb Raider reflects on this urge to seek after eternal life. Though, Lara is looking for immortality in a way that is more Indiana Jones than Old-Roman-Poet.

[Warning: spoilers]

The mythos of Rise initially mirrors that of Christianity: there is a prophet of God who overcomes the grave, a group of disciples, and the granting of eternal life. In Rise, this eternal life comes through an artifact called The Divine Source.

While Lara seeks this “Divine Source,” her stated endgame isn’t some divinely-granted eternity; she hopes to clear her father’s name. Her father had been disgraced throughout the world after having sought “a hoax,” (The Divine Source), before seemingly killing himself. Lara hopes to prove her father right—along with the existence of the Divine Source.

I’m going to spoil the ending of the game now. Final warning. Lara finds The Divine Source, an artifact that binds souls to this earth. She doesn’t fear it with holy reverence. Instead, she wrestles it away from the antagonist. And in a desperate moment to keep its immortality-granting power from evil clutches, she smashes it on the ground.

Regardless, Lara found a form of immortality. While she was seeking a way to clear her father’s name, she ends up finding a way to simply make a difference: she found a lasting way to keep immortality from those who would only use it for their own power — for generations. Lara’s proper end—clearing her father’s name—was never realized publicly. She found the truth, and that was enough. Like Ovid before her, much of the world’s history would be shaped by Lara’s actions. But she doesn’t share Ovid’s recognition: Croft’s adventures remain a secret.

Lara found a form of immortality. While she was seeking a way to clear her father’s name, she ends up finding a way to simply make a difference.

But that desire to make a difference, that desire to do something that is eternally significant? Well, it goes back at least as far as Rome. I’d argue it is as deep as our souls.

James Arnold is a writer interested in the way culture and philosophy interplay with religious beliefs. He has written on hip-hop, games, philosophy, television, movies, and even the Supreme Court. When not commuting, he can be found spending time with his wife and son. Follow him on Twitter @jamesfarnold

Reader Comments

Related Content