PersonaMost, if not all of the Persona in Persona 3 are based on folklore and mythology. Mitsuru's two Persona are no exception. The rest of this section will explore the stories behind Penthesilea and Artemisia and how they relate to Mitsuru's character.
PenthesileaIn Greek mythology, Penthesilea is the daughter of Ares and Otrere. She is also queen of the Amazons. Penthesilea accidentally kills her sister, Hippolyte, while they were hunting and feels tremendous grief over the accident. So much so, she wishes to kill herself. To die outside the honorable context of battle was unthinkable, however, so she agrees to join the Trojan War in order to seek redemption for killing her sister. Some other sources say she entered the war for glory or for the right to get married. Regardless, Penthesilea fought very bravely and defeated a number of strong opponents. Due to her success, Achilles became interested in being her opponent. The two face off and Penthesilea is unfortunately killed in their battle. It is said that once he removed her helmet, he immediately was enraptured by her beauty and fell in love with her. Generally speaking, Penthesilea was revered as a strong and beautiful woman during a time when men were completely dominant.
In the Persona 3: Official Design Works book, the character designer states Penthesilea is indeed based on the Amazon Queen who battled and died at the hand of Achilles during the Trojan War. He comments that she is ferocious and elegantly beautiful. While Mitsuru's Penthesilea looks nothing like an Amazon, I think she certainly does retain elegance while clearly ready for battle.
I personally feel the major connection between Penthesilea and Mitsuru is the theme beautiful women can also be incredibly strong, too. Mitsuru doesn't necessarily look like someone who could walk into battle and be taken seriously with her thin and short stature, heels and manicured nails. Many do admire her for her beauty, but she is a force to be reckoned with both in and out of battle. Mitsuru is able to display leadership and fierce courage while fighting Shadows. Much like the Amazon Queen, however, she does temporarily lose her will to fight after her father is killed by Ikutsuki. She claims there is no longer meaning to her existence and doesn't see the point in continuing forward. Fortunately for Mitsuru, she is able to come to a resolution rather than seeking death and Penthesilea gives rise to Artemisia.
ArtemisiaArtemisia's name is actually deceiving in terms of her design origins, as she is actually modeled after the Greek goddess Artemis herself. In Persona 3: Official Design Works, the designer states she is the goddess of the moon, the hunt and purity/chastity. Further, he comments on her wild life and temperament as well as how she changes people who have sins into wild beasts. He does not directly mention Artemis. However, his description matches the stories of Artemis exactly. Artemis is the goddess of wilderness, the hunt and has become associated with the moon as well. Due to her lunar association, Artemis is known as the "Goddess of Light." She has the duty of illuminating the way for others in darkness. Artemis is also very protective of chastity and is known for looking after the appeals of women, the child birthing process and being the protector of children. Therefore, though sometimes violent in temper, Artemis is also very nurturing, healing, compassionate and protecting. She is the leader of 80 hunting nymphs and is thus capable in regards to leadership skills as well. Lastly, Artemis is considered the most self-sufficient of the Gods, as she was fine being alone, lived independently and was an untamed spirit who wasn't tied down by anything.
When I first read Artemisia was actually based on Artemis, I was at a loss for what possible connection the designers made to Mitsuru's character. After some thought and research, however, I am able to see some possible reasons why they may have chosen Artemis as a model. I feel that Artemis being known as an untamed spirit represents Mitsuru's character development after Penthesilea gives rise to Artemisia. Once she gains the resolution to continue fighting until the end, Mitsuru is no longer tied down by the past. It's almost as if a heavy weight is lifted from her shoulders and she is able to move about freely and independently. Artemis being the goddess who watches over children and childbirth is very representative of the Empress arcana itself as well. Being nurturing, compassionate and protecting are all motherly traits. Mitsuru may not always display it well, but I would certainly argue she is compassionate, caring and protective of those important to her. She also has strong leadership skills. Lastly, Mitsuru is very calm and collected, unlike Artemis' violent temperament. She does, however, have the capability to lash out "violently" if necessary and will not hesitate to "execute" others who have done wrong!