Bungie are well known for putting a lot of meaning into their games - from their complex ARGs to the use of the number 7 in names and numbers.

I know that the Covenant battlecruiser Truth and Reconciliation is likely named for the South African post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission - which is a possible allusion to the uneasy truce between the Sangheili and San 'Shyuum.

Is anyone aware of a find a similar meaning behind the name of the UNSC Pillar of Autumn?

enter image description here

  • 1
    I always thought the the ship was described as an out-of-date hulk that, whilst reliable, was beginning to show its age. Therefore 'Entering the Autumnal/Twilight years of it's life in service'. Similar to "Not going to survive another winter"
    – Robotnik
    Feb 19, 2014 at 4:29
  • @Robotnik Interesting theory and it sounds right. Do you know of any similar prior reference of things like the "Pillar of Autumn" or similar idioms?
    – user20155
    Feb 19, 2014 at 4:31
  • Not off the top of my head, but the idea of Spring=Morning/Beginning/New Summer=Day/Normal/Busy, Autumn=Twilight/Aging and Winter=Night/Old/End is a general trope played with in a lot of works.
    – Robotnik
    Feb 19, 2014 at 4:41
  • That might make sense, except that ships (if we can use our own history as a guide) are generally named at construction and not renamed. Civilian vessels will sometimes be renamed when they change captains or undergo significant overhaul, but especially military vessels don't have their names changed. That being said, it seems reasonable that autumn refers to the peace being found in the twilight of the rebellion, and that it was hoped to be a support (pillar) of that peace as the rebellion wound-down. Pure speculation, though ;-)
    – Matt
    Feb 19, 2014 at 17:25
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    yes- the pillar of Heliopolis still stands today- standing, as does the ship, the test time. also it is massive- 120,000 lbs- as is the autumn in halo.
    – user31658
    Aug 14, 2014 at 6:19

3 Answers 3


I've seen a considerable number of theories around the name but the one that seems most convincing to me is that it's a corruption of the "Pillar of Atum", a structure that was originally found in the city of Heliopolis in Ancient Egypt.

Pillar of Atum

Lending credence, the writers of the game certainly seem well-versed in Egyptian mythology and apparently based the physical form of the AI Cortana on statues and images of Queen Nefertiti;

Cortana Nefertiti

  • This seems to be a pretty good explanation.
    – user20155
    Mar 16, 2014 at 10:12
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    @LegoStormtroopr - I'd be happier if I could find a canon quote. Alas, the developers don't seem to care about talking about the plot + writing, just the gameplay.
    – Valorum
    Mar 16, 2014 at 12:12

I wonder if the name may be a subtle nod to "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant", by Stephen R Donaldson. This idea is based on the similarity between the backstory of the Forerunners igniting the Halo rings to try to destroy an unstoppable foe (and themselves with it) and the similar backstory in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

In these "Covenant" books, the ancient Lords of the Land were wise and powerful beyond the measure of the current lords (like Forerunner vs modern humans). Yet, in the end they were unable to stop their ultimate foe. Rather than be defeated, they enacted the Ritual of Desecration and basically scorched the Land in the hope of killing both their foe and themselves in the process. Before doing so, they sent the people they could out of the land and set up 7 Wards to reteach people when they eventually Reclaimed the Land, so that their knowledge wouldn't be lost. There are other similarities in the backstory and the fact that in each case the foe still exists and now has to be defeated for good in the present time.

My thought is that someone at Bungie may have been a "Covenant" fan. They loved the idea of having an enemy so unstoppable that even an ancient society that seemed immensely powerful had chosen to destroy everything they loved, themselves included, just to give life a chance later on.

If that was the case, then the name "Pillar of Autumn" could be a nod to the "Colossus of the Fall" in the "Covenant" books. In the books, the Colossus was a "high, monolithic fist of stone", "an obsidian column" that was empowered to defend the Land against its enemies. An obsidian column is pretty much a pillar. If you change out the Fall for Autumn, then "Colossus of the Fall" could become "Pillar of Autumn" as a nod to the "Covenant" books for inspiring, in part, the Forerunner/Flood backstory.


enter image description here

In Spring, Man built a pillar
In Summer, another.
Throughout Autumn they held.
But in Winter, one fell.

Poem regarding a possible origin though the ship name shares the common autumnal archetype thus it is probably a coincidence.

That said, there may be more to the poem. Both the Chief and the ship are pillars of autumn and, in the winter following the fall of Reach, the ship is destroyed to annihilate the first Halo.

  • 1
    I really hate to say this, but... that's Loss.
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 4, 2018 at 12:38

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