16 Times "The Witcher" Borrowed from Real-World Mythology

“Rabbi Loew and Golem” by Mikoláš Aleš (c. 1899). Wikimedia Commons.

15. Serving as a subtle allegory to the oft-overlooked Jewish history of Central Europe, the golems of The Witcher originate from Hebrew folklore, including even a faithful reproduction of the famous “Golem of Prague” narrative

A minor story housed within The Witcher 3, the tale of “Man’s Most Faithful Servant” strongly mirrors real-world mythological parallels concerning golems. Detailing how nonhumans suffered persecution at the hands of humans, including a night of mass violence reminiscent of “Kristallnacht” in 1938 Germany, a dwarf – Bonaventura – responds by sculpting a ten-foot-tall humanoid from clay in his workshop. Taking his own life to grant the creation sentience, his golem wreaked vengeance upon those slaughtering his brethren. Bearing noticeable similarities to various stories in European folklore, the depiction of golems by the franchise strongly mirrors the most famous such narrative: “The Golem of Prague”.

Centering around Judah Loew ben Bezalel, a prominent rabbi from Prague during the late-16th century, facing expulsion or death under the rule of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor, Rabbi Loew allegedly “created a [g]olem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava River and brought it to life through rituals and Hebrew incantations to defend the Prague ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks”. Offering a subtle reinforcement to the association between Jewry in Medieval Europe and the treatment of dwarfs in the world of The Witcher, the chief moneylenders, notably Vivaldi, are commonly dwarfs.