Forum Scholar’s Guild: Arden Sul

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This article is part of the Forum Scholar’s Guild: a collection of peer-reviewed original research written by fans about Elder Scrolls lore.

Examination of mantling and the enantiomorph as it applies to the duality of Sheogorath and Jyggylag
Lady Nerevar

“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

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