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Arden Sul

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Lady N's picture
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I've cited this a dozen times before, it would be nice to have it somewhere permanent. Links and formating have been updated, otherwise its identical to the one posted at BSF. I'll see if theres any way to elegantly edit in Rhoark's comments. 


 

“Symbols are important. They carry weight in this Realm, and others.” -- Sheogorath

Sheogorath may be king of the Isles, but Arden-Sul is their God. It is to him they pray, over him they fight, and from him their rituals spring. For the Heretics, he is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the realm, and of how to make it right. For the Maniacs and the Demented, he is their lifestyle made flesh. Yet for such an important figure, we know surprisingly little about this mythic hero. This is because, like a true hero, Arden-Sul no longer exists apart from his role as Sheogorath and his antithesis, Jyggalag.

“They believe Arden-Sul... was the mortal aspect of Lord Sheogorath, and will come again to cleanse the Realm.” -- Zealotry of Sheogorath

Like the Champion of Cyrodiil, Arden-Sul was a hero, likely chosen in the same way and for the same reason, succeeding in his own time as the Champion did in his. Arden-Sul, the Rebel hero, rose to defeat Jyggalag, the Prince (King) of the realm. As such, he himself became the reigning King, that is Sheogorath. In the words of the Heretics, “Our Lord, Sheogorath, is but a man” (Heretical Thoughts). That man, that hero, grew into his role as the Prince of Madness until neither his subjects nor the mortals outside his realm could see the difference.

By becoming Sheogorath, he also became Jyggalag, his “same-twin on the other end of the aurbrilical cord” (Eat the Dreamer), the Akatosh to his Lorkhan. Though Arden-Sul-as-Sheogorath is now the King of the realm, Jyggalag will return as the Rebel to overtake the realm of his alter-ego, the King. This endless fight between the same person, Jyggalag and Sheogorath, Rebel and King, Lorkhan and Akatosh, is known as the Graymarch in the Isles.

“Arden-Sul, He Who Gave His Heart's Blood.” -- Heretical Thoughts

Imagery of “heart’s blood” is constant in the Isles. The Maniacs believe that Arden-Sul died after his heart burst from revelry; the Demented believe that he cut out his own heart while looking for a traitor in the midst of his companions (The Prophet Arden-Sul, v2). The similarities between Arden-Sul (and Sheogorath whom he was mantling in the process) and Lorkhan are readily apparent: Lorkhan was the King of the world, until his heart was ripped out by the Rebel, Akatosh, who is Lorkhan’s “same-twin”. As such, it was as if Lorkhan had killed himself (this becomes even stronger when one remembers that Lorkhan was once the Rebel).

Similarities to the life of Lorkhan are likewise present before the ritual self-sacrifice of Arden-Sul. Maniacs believe that the Sancellum, a tower, is the place Arden-Sul was “first afflicted with the Grand Enlightenment,” just like Lorkhan beheld the cosmic Tower and was struck with the idea of Mundus. The Demented, on the other hand, believe that it is the place where Arden-Sul suffered a “hundred day torture,” reflecting the torture of Lorkhan at the hands of his fellow gods.

At this point, one might be wondering what Lorkhan has to do with Sheogorath. The answer, quite simply, is everything. Sheogorath is said to have originated when Lorkhan’s divine spark was removed (Varieties of Faith). Lorkhan’s body became the moons, his heart was shot to Red Mountain, and his creativity -- what his fellow gods called his madness -- became Sheogorath. Jyggalag is the part of Lorkhan’s spark that belonged also to Akatosh, the part of Chaos which is Stasis, Madness which is Order. One cannot exist without the other, and, as such, Jyggalag and Sheogorath are locked in the same struggles as their progenitors, constantly overtaking a shared realm. While Jyggalag might have been a separate prince before the creation of Mundus, the death of Lorkhan eternally locked him to his other half.

In this cosmic struggle, Arden-Sul and the Champion of Cyrodiil are just parts, as Tiber Septim and Zurin Arctus were parts in the divine Enantiomorph of Akatosh/Lorkhan. Dyus, chamberlain to Jyggalag, is certainly not surprised by the Champion’s attempt to reforge the staff: “no mortal may sit upon the throne without the staff,” he says, not in the least bit surprised by the Champion’s query. Likewise, Haskill knows exactly what to do. Since Arden-Sul left a lasting impression on the Isle’s mythology, it may that he is the only one to have completed the mantling process. Alternatively, the myth of Arden-Sul is itself a subgradient of the mythos of Sheogorath, with both the Demented and Maniac versions being enacted by different heroes mantling Arden-Sul to mantle Sheogorath.

Here, however, comes what some may see as a contradiction. Dyus is surprised that the Champion managed to successfully make the staff, and still does not trust him to defeat Jyggalag. The Champion chose to walk a different path than Arden-Sul, he mantled the physycal persona of the Mad God through his cane instead of the metaphysical presense of Lorkhan through sacrifice. When Jyggalag declares that “your staff does not make you a Daedra” he is correct, for the Champion has not yet finished the mantling process. The final step is the murder of the alter-ego King, and when that is complete Jyggalag acknowledges that the Champion, while not yet fully a Daedric Prince of Madness, is Sheogorath, the King of the Shivering Isles.

“Speak not of the Duelists / Speak only of the duel” -- Liturgy of the Duelists

The Graymarch is an eternal struggle between duelists, one winning only to loose to his opponent in the subsequent cycle. Their names and identities as individuals do not matter, and are eventually lost to time, replaced by Sheogorath and Jyggalag in the common memory. Arden-Sul, the first of the mantlers, stands out however, and it is through him that we can see the future fate of the Champion of Cyrodiil as Sheogorath.

Yngvar the Wanderer dates the ruins dotting the Shivering Isles at one thousand years apart, establishing a precise timing for the Graymarch. Only Cylarne breaks the cycle, being “many thousands of years older than the next extant ruin” (The Predecessors). Yngvar blames this on a hole in the archeological record, but I see it as the date of the rise of Arden-Sul. Cylarn is not an arbitrary location: it houses the Flame of Agnon, used to light the Great Torch above the Sacellum, which ties it firmly to the Arden-Sul mythos.

Like the Champion of modern times, Arden-Sul was successful at mantling Sheogorath and managed to stop the Graymarch for “many thousands of years.” He could however not escape the dual identity of Sheogorath and Jyggalag, and as he grew into the role and truly became a Daedric Prince (as opposed to a mortal mantle), he came to embody Order as well as Chaos. This is inescapable, as every enantiomorphic King must be overthrown by his Rebel. While peace might last for a while in the Isles, it is inevitable that the Champion, too, will become his antithesis.

 

Respectfully submitted,
Lady N

 

Works Cited:

et'Ada, Eight Aedra, Eat the Dreamer

Heretical Thoughts

Liturgy of Duelists

The Predecessors

Shivering Isles storyline

Varieties of Faith in the Empire

Zealotry of Sheogorath

 

Further Reading:

The Rebel's Return

Lady N's picture
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Updated with works cited. 

Blankenmarch's picture
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 Lady N, have I told you that I love you?

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I don't know if I missed this the first time around or if I was half asleep while reading it, but in either case, it is a fascinating read.  Nicely done, Lady N.

Lady N's picture
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Parchment wrote:

 Lady N, have I told you that I love you?

No, and thanks. 

Bibliophael's picture
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You draw an intriguing and compelling connection between Arden Sul and the Champion of Cyrodiil, but I don't entirely agree with your connection of Sheogorath with Lorkhan.

 

You suggest that Lorkhan's divine spark gave rise to Sheogorath. While Sheogorath certainly seems to share Lorkhan's Padomaic alignment, it seems illogical to attribute the existence of the dual being Jyggo-Rath to the purely chaotic Shezzar. From whence, then, would the Order of Jyggalag emerge? I find your claim that the "creativity" or "madness" of Lorkhan somehow contained the opposite, Akatosh's own essence, dubious. Akatosh and Lorkhan are antipodes, they share the same theosophical space in the myth-pattern of the Aurbis, but neither contains in significant magnitude the essentia of the other.

 

Jyggalag also proclaimed that he was the first of the two aspects to form. If this is the case, then creating the being Jyggo-Rath from the chaotic Lorkhan's spark acquires yet more implausibility. Even if we are to assume that the aforementioned divine spark somehow contained enough Anuic potential to counterbalance Lorkhan's (dominant) Padomaic spirit, the dominance of Padomay in this spark would necessarily congeal into a Madgod first. That is, in fact, the very basis of the Lorkhan-to-Sheogorath theory. It is likely that it was originally conceived without any knowledge of Jyggalag at all.

 

Perhaps it is not altogether false, however. Jyggalag recalls that at one time he was the mightiest of all the Daedra, who jealously cursed him with madness. It may be that this curse was the binding of the Chaos of Lorkhan to the Prince of Order. This, of course, necessitates a number of relatively baseless assumptions regarding the nature of a "divine spark:" its persistence, malleability, inertia etc.

 

But is it even necessary to force this association of Lorkhan with Jyggo-Rath? Could it be that Jyggalag was a Daedric Prince like any other, and that the curse laid upon him was entirely Daedric in nature? I believe so. The Arena, and even the Aurbis as a whole, is marked by ever-present struggles between antithetical forces. Anu and Padomay, Akatosh and Lorkhan, Aedra and Daedra, Man and Mer. It is, I think, possible that Jyggo-Rath is simply another, independent, manifestation of this principle.

Lady N's picture
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From  Varieties of Faith:

Quote:
Contemporary sources indicate that his roots are in Aldmeri creation stories; therein, he is 'born' when Lorkhan's divine spark is removed. One crucial myth calls him the 'Sithis-shaped hole' of the world.

And Rhoark in the original thread:

Quote:
The next step is seeing "order", "chaos", "stasis", or "change" all as imperfect approximations (often deliberately pejorative) for the real fundamental dichotomy of IS/IS NOT, or possibility and limit. Lorkhan is a spirit of limitation. His divine spark entered mundus through the unstar to imbue mundus with the limitation of exactness. That divine spark was the compensation that allowed mundus to continue to exist after the magna ge left through the "normal" stars. However, just as part of each individual magna ge's essence was trapped inside as the earthbones, part of Lorkhan was stuck outside as Sheogorath. Sheogorath is the complete absence of limit and exactness. Jyggalag is the concentrated limitation and exactness that was removed -that is, the heart of Lorkhan.

Either way, his creation from Lorkhan isn't a necesary component to the theory.

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 True, that's true. And before I continue, please let me apologise for what was a stupid and prententious post.

 

I still don't understand some crucial elements of the theory, though. Where would the records of Arden Sul's death come from? What is the 'Landfall' mentioned on the forum thread? Jyggalag speaks as though he was a complete being before he was cursed with madness, can he truly be considered an enantiomorphic entity then? What do you think happens to Jyggalag when the Champion or Arden Sul break the cycle? Does he fade back into the usurper as they change into Sheogorath, or does he simply cease to exist?

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I always figured "Arden-Sul" was a play on the phrase "heart and soul." that is, the heart and soul of the shivering isles The permanent and temporary.

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I had never thought of such a theory and I find it very interesting. I tend to think this may be true, maybe even along with the common belief that Jyggalag was a Daedra on his own, like two layers of two realities merged as a single reality. Until now I would describe Sheogorath as

Quote:
"the suffering expressed in all forms with no limits in the creativity of this expression, in opposition to Jyggalag being the suffering repressed in one unique form of order".

I can't believe I didn't compare this to Lorkhan/Akatosh, Change/Stasis, Chaos/Order... But I guess the reason is that I stuck to the idea that Jyggalag was a Daedra, an answer to suffering:
Quote:
"Daedric suffering is beyond reason for this suffering is the concept embodied by the Prince. If they overcame their suffering it would mean mutating into something different."

...Like Jyggalag was forced to mutate into Sheogorath.

Actually, it is true that Jyggalag and Lorkhan have a similar mission: returning the Creation to Sithis so it can be born anew, destroyed and reborn over and over again. An other divinity with a similar purpose is of course Alduin. Though he is supposed to be the first born of Akatosh, Alduin is much more Padomaic in his concept and appearance. Jyggalag could be considered as born from Lorkhan in an attempt to create a servant to fulfill his mission beyond "death".

I suppose it is also interesting to note that the Daedric cult of Sheogorath is the most widespread one: just as anyone knows who is Lorkhan, anyone knows who is Sheogorath though they aren't associated.

A comparative mystic examination of the energies contained in Daedric artifacts of Sheogorath and artifacts containing energy of Lorkhan would surely be most interesting to provide further information on their possible connection. (Now this would be something interesting to do with Keening and Wabbajack!)

NB: The quotes in italic aren't sourced from any book of the series but from Another Book of Daedra

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It is also interesting to note that our favorite shezzarine, Pelinial, was also known as Pelinial the mad.  Showing a further connection between Lorkhan and Sheogorath

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Although I do find some aspects of Lady N's theory I do find quite interesting, I would have to disagree with the subject of Arden Sul himself. I still find it hard to believe that Arden Sul was a mortal, same as our Champion, who has tried to mantle Sheogorath's godhood. It's stated by Sheo himself also that "-this is all new! A fresh idea! Something (he) hadn't thought of". If he had used another mortal to try and mantle his godhood, wouldn't he or any of the other characters make mention of it? Or at least hint at it?

It's also stated by the priests of Arden-Sul that their prophet was no ordinary human. To the Maniacs, he was a artistic genius, the Artificer Superior as Dervenin puts it and to the demented side, he was the Dark Deceiver, and that 'his soul encircles us... Always watching' according to Arctus' dialogue, both hinting that this man had powers beyond that of a mortal. Who else could have that kind of power, even our Champion after all the trouble he/she went through to become the new god didn't have that kind of power to be the grand master artist or 'encircle' everyone in his gaze, at least in the time span that she had to rise to godhood. I don't think that Arden Sul was so much as a person as he was a foreshadow of what was to come in the Shivering Isles story, a 'symbol' of mantling of madness rather than an actual person.

Let me try to explain. I have a theory that I wanted to share with everyone that perhaps Arden Sul was not a separate person, but perhaps was Sheogorath himself impersonating as a mortal aspect. Kinda like how Jesus Christ was the son of God while also being an embodiment of god himself in some biblical studies. I think perhaps in one of his ideas to stop the Greymarch, Sheogorath may have tried to make himself mortal or at least weak enough to die by gathering all his followers, poisoning them to death so their faith in him would die all at once and he himself would die with them. The versions and methods of his mass suicide/murder differ for the Maniac and Demented but some elements remain such as the drinking of the lethal drug and the heart's being violently effected by it, either exploding or being cut out. This may help explain how the Heretics and the Zealots may have gotten their controversial viewpoints on Sheogorath and why they would think he was mortal or a living god. He may have tried killing himself, yes, but still ultimately became Jyggalag and wiped out his Realm once again.

Now what I meant by the mantling of madness and how it hinted at the Shivering Isles plot was that, similar to how the Gods turned on Lorkhan and took out his heart, the Champion and his faithful armies had to band together to take out the heart of Order, Jyggalag himself. And it's also similar to how the Daedra defeated Jyggalag in the first place, they also banded together and changed his very being until he became the Prince of Madness. Once the Champion took on the curse himself, became the new Prince of Madness and 'cutted out' the heart of Order, he ended the cycle and allowed a new beginning in the Shivering Isles, one that no longer was bound to a cycle that ended with a Greymarch. Our Champion doesn't have to be Daedric or eventually become Jyggalag in order be a true Prince of Madness, because as Ravate said in the Myths of Sheogorath 'Sheogorath is already inside each of us'. Madness has always been with us, it was with the Champion when he/she went to take on the Daedric Prince of Order and perhaps it was even with the other Daedric Princes in their fight against Jyggalag, all given a spark on inspiration, a swoop of creativity of sadistic intent, to curse the Prince of Order, something he may never have seen coming despite knowing everything.

Alright, that's my two cents for this discussion. I hope this thread is still active, since I would very much like to hear everyone's thoughts on mine about this.

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It's been a while since there's been any discussion about this; Lady N's Arden-Sul theory is generally accepted. 

Caista,

    Think of the line you quoted, "his soul encircles us." In the Shivering Isles (and the rest of the Madhouse), there is one soul that encircles everything; the soul that IS everything. This in fact supports the idea that Arden-Sul mantled Sheogorath. As to your idea that Arden Sul was simply Sheo impersonating a mortal — is that not what a mortal on the verge of mantling a divine would be? If they are in the process of unifying into one being, the mortal component would become an extension of the divine just as the divine became a part of the mortal. The Heretic and Zealot views that Sheo is a mortal or Sheo is Arden-Sul could easily come from the memories of those who remember the mantling. 

   As a final note, I find it highly doubtful that the CoC truly ended the cycle of Greymarch. It has been suggested since Arena that time passes differently in Daedric realms, and this seems to reflect the limits of Aka's sphere of influence. I doubt that time in Sheo's Madhouse is linear at all, or perhaps it has linear sections before being thrown out of wack — it is the land of insanity and nonsense after all. I have suggested before, although not very articulately, that due to this quality of time not only is Arden-Sul the Sheo that we meet in SI, but that he was also the Champion of Cyrodiil. There are two myths as to which half of the SI Arden-Sul mantled simply because sometimes the CoC goes one way, and sometimes he goes the other. 

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But there’s always room for more debate, no matter what subject, the sun didn’t circle around the earth just because everyone else just accepted it and I still find flaws in this argument. I’m going to break down your reply into segments in order to try and get my point across.

 

 ‘Think of the line you quoted, "his soul encircles us." In the Shivering Isles (and the rest of the Madhouse), there is one soul that encircles everything; the soul that IS everything.’

 

Wait so you are saying that Arden Sul is ‘everything’? To what extent do you mean by that? Everything in the Isles? Oblivion? The TES Universe? Are you suggesting that this ‘everything’ is a singular entity that embodies/personifies the universe? including the conflict between chaos and order? Because if that is the case, I wouldn’t say that that isn’t really a singular entity but just an ongoing theme in the entire TES universe. When conflicts arise between the two forces of order and chaos, (Anu/Padomay, Aedra/Daedra, etc) they fight and the conflicts end when they are resolved, when one side is unable to fight any longer or both are changed into something else, they don’t continue one for eons like the Greymarches have. The end is the change and permanency that chaos and the Daedric Princes (Who embody change and permanency) bring about. With Jyggalag’s curse of madness, the Prince of Order himself became and a sort of sickness in the Shivering Isles, a Realm of Oblivion where the forces of change thrive. A broken record that what doomed to repeat the same Greymarch era after era no matter what, trapped in eternal stagnation until Sheogorath (change) was mantled by CoC and able to remove the sickness in the Shivering Isles, a realm that embodies change. If a previous Sheogorath did hire another champion (something he had thought of before but the developers just neglected to mention it in the game) then he obviously did not fully mantle what it means to be a Daedric Prince (basically a god of change) and failed his task, and therefore could not complete his ascension into godhood.

 

‘This in fact supports the idea that Arden-Sul mantled Sheogorath. As to your idea that Arden Sul was simply Sheo impersonating a mortal — is that not what a mortal on the verge of mantling a divine would be?’ If they are in the process of unifying into one being, the mortal component would become an extension of the divine just as the divine became a part of the mortal. The Heretic and Zealot views that Sheo is a mortal or Sheo is Arden-Sul could easily come from the memories of those who remember the mantling.'

But if he was trying to become the new god why did he choose to die? As it was suggested that in both versions of the Bliss’s and Crucible’s version of his story that he took it upon himself to commit suicide, either overdose or self-mutilation. And if that was his plan to become a god and then die then how does that in turn help him become a god? If he dies he would just die, just like all previous ‘Sheogorath’s’, he does not ascend to godhood and Jyggalag would destroy all madness in the Realm with the Greymarch like he always did with no one to stand up against him. He would just simply be part of the cycle, he’d crumble and fade and the realm dies with him. There is no change until CoC learns to become a Prince of Madness and halts the March.

It was explained in game that at the very beginning, when Sheogorath was first realized, that it was the ‘Daedric’ Prince Jyggalag that was cursed and changed into Sheogorath, and at the end of each cycle, the curse fades away and ‘dies’ and he returns to his former self until the curse is renewed. If there has always been a mortal champion like CoC and Arden Sul to mantle Sheogorath then where does Jyggalag go? Do they just simply merge their spirits into one being? Merge bodies or does Jyggalag take possession of the mortal when the Greymarch comes? Because that does not make much sense to me since in Oblivion, the Princes are at their full power and have no need to merge with a mortal, unless Jyggalag is forcibly merged with the mortal champion which is very doubtful since it has never been specified. Jyggalag has always had his own form/body, underneath the guise of the curse that was Sheogorath, he remerges as himself, not through another individual who mantles godhood.

Also it would be strange that Jyggalag would have merged with all of the previous mortal champions without any recollection of them or even having been changed by them in anyway. He still is his core self, a Daedric prince of Order, you would think that having merged with all of those spirits of mortals-mantling-godhood would have some effect on him. And also, it’s also recorded that at the end of every era the Greymarch destroys everything, with only a handful of survivors, the last Greymarch happened a thousand years ago and little survived. Arden Sul did not become Sheogorath because if he did there would have been evidence he was at least successful in defending his realm and preserving the madness that thrived there, the recorded times between each March would have been longer.

   'As a final note, I find it highly doubtful that the CoC truly ended the cycle of Greymarch. It has been suggested since Arena that time passes differently in Daedric realms, and this seems to reflect the limits of Aka's sphere of influence. I doubt that time in Sheo's Madhouse is linear at all, or perhaps it has linear sections before being thrown out of wack — it is the land of insanity and nonsense after all. I have suggested before, although not very articulately, that due to this quality of time not only is Arden-Sul the Sheo that we meet in SI, but that he was also the Champion of Cyrodiil. There are two myths as to which half of the SI Arden-Sul mantled simply because sometimes the CoC goes one way, and sometimes he goes the other. '

 

Time works very differently in Oblivion, obviously, but how does it factor into the Arden Sul argument? The only time time seems to have any relation is when it indicates when the Greymarch will start. It does not mean that one person becomes another, change is the factor in that.

The point I’m trying to get at it that what if Arden Sul wasn’t a mortal champion that came into the Isles to become a god, but what if Sheogorath, The Daedric Prince, tried to mantle mortality, taking on the name Arden Sul for the process, and tried to have himself die as a mortal so hopefully he would take Jyggalag with him. But because of his nature, he failed this but the zealots and heretics, after ‘seeing’ Sheogorath die, presumed him mortal and that is how their beliefs started. It would make much more sense than having another champion, that is never mentioned, repeat the same process of mantling process done in game, even though it is repeatedly said that it has never been done before, and become Arden Sul who is never clarified who he really is. Not to mention that the theory would also make Dyus and Jyggalag, servant and Prince of Order, hypocrites which is highly illogical.