Are great deeds a thing to be worshiped? Great deeds, good or bad, shape the world in many ways, and isn’t the mere act of “shaping the world” the very definition of godhood? What is a god anyway?
A god is usually called a god because he brings order to the world, and inspires hope for a more peaceful tomorrow. A just god doesn’t discriminate because of race, or upbringing. He rewards his children when they have been good, and punishes them when they disobey. A god brings balance to the world. He brings order.
Before Talos, Tamriel was the very definition of disorder. Chaos reigned in every corner of the continent. From the warms sands of Elsweyr, to the snow kissed peaks of Skyrim- the mortal races bled one another without mercy, without remorse. It was the poet, Tracizis, that called this period of continuous unrest, “days and nights of blood and venom”.
Many say Tamriel needed a man like Talos, a man who would bring peace forcibly to Tamriel. Crusading under the name Tiber Septim, Talos did just that. He brought the children of Tamriel into his Third Empire, whether they agreed to it or not. Looking back at his conquests of the Nine Provinces, one could easily call Talos a warmonger. It is one thing to want peace, but if you have to burn people alive to achieve that peace, aren’t you just another tyrant looking for the next civilization to conquer and oppress?
Call Talos what you will, but no one can argue the man’s accomplishments. To deny that Talos was a great man who did great things, is to deny reason itself. Because of his actions Tamriel stands united for the first time in History, and as a result, its citizens enjoy an age of peace and prosperity- the likes of which have never been known. An age in where the sword is cast aside for the quill, and man is free to forge his own destiny without fear of unjust treatment.
Emperor Tiber Septim’s reign is the longest in human memory. For 81 years he sits on the Ruby Throne, ruling the Nine Provinces as a just and kind ruler- but Tamriel demands that all good things must end, and at the age of 108 Talos Stormcrown dies the oldest human man in recorded history, with his body put to rest in the catacombs- of Sancre Tor- among the Dragonblood of the Reman Dynasty.
At his passing Tiber Septim’s grandson, Pelagius Septim ascends to the Ruby Throne, and with the Amulet of Kings dangling from his neck, the Dragonblood Emperors continue to reign over Tamriel for the centuries that follow.
A man like Talos comes along maybe once every Age, and his actions make him immortal- at least in the minds of Men. For as long as the races of Men have voices to sing, the name Talos Stormcrown will echo for generations, from Father to son. Talos the man might be dead, but according to the Imperials- he was reborn as a god.
It was Akatosh- Dragon god of time- who at birth, blessed Talos with the blood of Dragons. Talos’s ability to wear the Amulet of Kings was evidence of this. After a lifetime of conquest, Akatosh calls Talos to divinity, and the Eight Divines become the Nine. Or, so the Empire teaches us.
Talos’s ascension to godhood is a matter of great controversy and debate. The High Elves of Summerset, whom suffered the worst at the hands of Tiber Septim, were believed to be the first to oppose the concept of Talos’s divinity.
The Elves generally believe that while Talos was a great hero of man who achieved CHIM, he did not ascend to godhood. CHIM is a very hard concept to explain, but the Elves believe that those that achieve CHIM have a deep understanding of the universe that transcends mortal understanding. Few ever achieve it, but those who do, can bend the universe to their will, just as Talos bent the Nine Provinces to his.
The religious differences between Man and Elf would finally boil over once the Dynasty of Septims ended at the closing days of the 3rd Era. It was the Thalmor who orchestrated the events leading up to the Great War, a war that would seek to undo what they considered to be blasphemous worship.
The Thalmor sought to eradicate Talos worship because they believe a mere mortal man should never be allowed to achieve godhood. In the treaty to end the Great War with the Empire, why demanded the end of Talos worship, because if nobody believes in a deity they cease to exist.
The real question that should be gnawing at the minds of every Man is this- why would the Thalmor go through all this trouble to stop Talos worship? Surely, the high and haughty Elves would be better off living out their days worshipping the gods they believe to be real, while the Empire does the same. To best understand why the worship of Talos is so hotly debated by the Elves, one has to think like an Elf.
As highborn descendants of the god-like Aedra, who created Nirn and Tamriel as we know it, the High Elves believe they were once all gods. It was Lorkhan, the liar, who tricked the Aedra into creating the mortal plane, and thus the concept of death. In the minds of the Elves, this mortal plane of existence is a trap. A trap in where their godhood is lost, and in its place, death and chaos rule.
As we know, Lorkhan was punished by the other Aedra for his deceit, and since that time we refer to Lorkhan as “the missing god”. The damage was done though, and ever since creation the Elves have been looking for a way to escape this mortal plane. Where Man sees creation as a gift to be enjoyed, the Elves see it as a curse to overcome.
The Thalmor believe that Talos took the place of Lorkhan when he allegedly became the Ninth Divine. Lorkhan is believed to have created the race of Man after all, so Talos could easily be seen as his offspring or even avatar- if you were so inclined to believe so.
To have Lorkhan seen as a Divine is the ultimate insult to every High Elf. Not only is Lorkhan the reason for their fall from godhood, but as long as he is worshipped the Elves have no hope of leaving their mortal constraints.
Some argue that the Thalmor’s struggle to stop the worship of Talos is in itself an indication that Talos did become a god. Whether or not that argument holds any weight though, there are many arguments that do support Talos’s divinity.
The first, and greatest argument for Talos’s divinity is the indication that the Daedra themselves acknowledge Tiber Septim as a Divine. During the Oblivion crisis of the 3rd Era, Martin Septim came into the possession of a demonic tome called the Mysterium Xarxes. Supposedly written by the Daedric Prince, Mehrunes Dagon, the Mysterium Xarxes contained information on how to create a portal to another world.
By deciphering this Daedric tome, Martin Septim discovered that one of the ingredients required to create such a portal was, “the blood of a Divine”. In an effort to obtain the blood of a Divine, a brave hero descended into the ancient catacombs of Sancre Tor, where Talos was laid to rest.
After returning with the Armor of Tiber Septim, the ritual to open the Daedric portal was completed using the Divine blood of Talos, thus bringing weight to the claim that Talos truly did reach divinity.
Later on, the very hero that delivered the armor of Tiber Septim was faced with the task of ending an ancient evil. A man known only as “the Prophet” bestowed upon this hero the Blessing of Talos, allowing the hero to safely travel to the Daedric Realm of Oblivion where he and his Knightly order vanquished their enemy.
The Blessing of Talos isn’t only bestowed to questing heroes either. Any chapel of the Nine Divines dedicates a shrine to mighty Talos, where pilgrims can pray to heal their ailments. The simple fact that a Shrine of Talos offers Blessings to weary travelers in itself could indicate Talos’s divinity. Of course, this sort of healing magic could easily be attributed to the priests who dedicate these shrines, who themselves possess a certain degree of magic.
The last argument for Talos’s divinity that will be mentioned here is brought to us by none other than the Dragonborn of the 4th Era. By being born with the soul of a Dragon, this 4th Era hero followed in Talos’s footsteps and in many ways, their stories parallel one another.
The Greybeards summoned the hero to High Hrothgar, and just like a young Talos, this hero- destined for greatness- met the Greybeards at the Throat of the World. And again, they removed their gags, and spoke his name, his true name. Dragonborn.
This particular Dragonborn fulfilled his destiny, but not before traveling to Sovngarde, the afterlife of the Nords. Legend holds that the great Nord heroes of old pass to Sovngarde after death, and once there, the mightiest among them enter Shor’s hall.
The Dragonborn of the 4th Era is the only recorded incident where a living mortal passed through Shor’s hall and returned to the mortal realm. A Nord hero like Talos would no doubt be found in Shor’s hall after death, only he wasn’t. Is this further implication that Talos, son of Atmora, did in fact reach out to grasp divinity?
Some would still say no, because there are sources that say Talos wasn’t a Nord at all, but a Breton who spent his early years in Skyrim.
Needless to say, the debate for Talos continues, but the truly interesting thing is, even in death, the citizens of Tamriel spill each others blood over a man who mounted the world over four centuries ago. If the path to godhood means shaping the world through your influence, then Talos is the greatest god that ever lived.
They say a man’s life can be measured by his deeds, then let it be known that Talos Stormcrown was more than a man- that much is certain. The rest, that is for you to decide.
Godhood is a matter of much debate, but not in certain circles. Three remarkable individuals once harnessed the power of gods, and their might was so great, even the indomitable Tiber Septim avoided confrontation with them. But that- is a story for another day…