Thanks very much!
I think Griffith’s upcoming meeting with Rickert could shed a lot more light on this, but I definitely still stand by those comments and agree that his fixation with images of purity and heroism, and his desire to control how others perceive him are still intact in some form (and could arguably be greater now than they were during the Golden Age because there was a lot more truth and potential to Griffith’s noble and heroic image back then), even after having cast away his own humanity. But when Griffith was human, he had human motives and human longings, and so there was care, need, fear and altruism mixed in with his egotism and emotional domination regarding the Hawks and how he always wanted them to view him. And to be fair, it was something he questioned, struggled with, and felt genuinely bad about at times - that someone else had to get their hands dirty so that Griffith’s could stay clean (just think of how princely and pure he looks while courting Charlotte by the fountain, while Guts is filthy, bloody and wounded from having just carried out an assassination for him). And what the Godhand used so effectively in their persuasion was this crushing argument that no, his hands were never clean, no matter whose were actually holding the sword, and that if it served his dream then all his men’s deeds were his own, and that it made him the dirtiest and guiltiest one of all. During the Golden Age, there were a lot of strong contradictory feelings (both good and bad ones) that complicated his need to maintain a clean and beautiful image - but that all seems to be gone now.
So what I feel we’re left with is all the deceptive and egotistic parts of his control, and none of the vulnerability. And he seems to view it as a good thing, because it’s completely cleared his focus on what he wants above all else.
Griffith’s current presentation is still complex, but in a different way, and it adds more onto the idealised image of himself he was already creating (and was allowing to be created through others) during the Golden Age. He’s a hero, a saviour, a fairytale prince, and a religious icon, and everything about those combined images screams perfection. And whether or not Griffith deliberately chose this image, and to rule through love rather than fear (though fear is a big part of it - but of the enemy outside rather than of him, and it creates an atmosphere of absolute dependence), or was always destined for it, I think it’s the image he would have chosen anyway. And as you said, things are far darker and more sinister now because the secrets he’s keeping are far bigger. No-one knows what Griffith’s dream has been built on, and everyone is so desperate and thankful at this point that most probably wouldn’t care. And Griffith may not be responsible for all the world’s problems, but we’ve seen that he exacerbated the worst of them, that he lengthened the Kushan War when he could have ended it any time he chose to, and that he pretty much instigated an apocalypse (of “the world of reason” anyway) in order to bring Falconia into existence. Even the revelation of what the apostles actually are was stalled until the last possible second, with the masses only finding out the truth when an even bigger and more terrifying threat was right in front of them, and there wasn’t much choice except to have faith, accept the miracle, and put all doubts aside to fight for their lives. And now the apostles all seem to live in their own domain, separate from ordinary humans…so, out of sight, out of mind?
I think there’s definitely some social commentary going on here about first-world societies and organised religion too. Both tend to offer ideal images of perfection and order, while cherry-picking details, hiding the dirty reality, and covering up the bloodshed and cruelties in their past.