Elder Scrolls Lore » Discussions

Daedra Dossier: Boethia

  • Member
    July 2, 2014

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.


    Welcome to our first installment of our new series, the Daedra Dossiers. I know we've been somewhat lax on Daedra in the past, and a single article detailing each and every single one is going to be a long and drawn out article, so instead we'll be looking at a new Daedric prince each week. First up is the Daedric Prince of Murder, the prince of Plots, Deciever of Nations, Queen of Shadows, Goddess of Destruction, the Precocious Youth, The Frame Maker, the Scarab: Boethiah.


    Yep, that's the Manifestation of Bothiah in Daggerfall


    Who exactly is Boethiah? What is that particular Daedric prince like? It's a common question, and in fact a difficult one as it depends on who you ask. However, there are a few generalities about Boethiah that we can note occur in every people and myth about 'The Dark Warrior' (Invocations of Azura). Boethiah is described as being “arrayed in ebony darker than a moonless night, wielding a blade burning hotter than the surface of the sun.” (Boethiah's Proving).


    Boethiah's personality is one of the Daedra that doesn't change all that much between legends (On Oblivion). Likewise, Boethiah generally takes on the appearance of a male warrior clad in thick black armor (The Anticipations) however in northern cultures such as High Rock and Skyrim Boethiah appears as a female with the same warrior traits. For the sake of this article, we'll stick with the more popular 'he' designation, though Daedra have no set genders and may appear however they like.


    Much like the warrior visage, another constant of Boethiah is his 'sphere', that is to say, what traits he embodies: cruelty, deceit, conspiracy, murder, treason, and the unlawful overthrow of rightful authority (Book of Daedra). Whenever someone commits cruel deeds, it's an homage to Boethiah, every act born of cruelty and malice is said to feed him and give him power (The Old Ways). It should be no surprise that if there's one thing Boethiah isn't, it's merciful (Boethiah's Proving).



    Why is Boethiah Important?


    Boethiah doesn't often come up in the usual Daedra that count as powerful, but there's some very important clues about the power that Boethiah wields. Boethiah, of course, having the sphere of malice is incredibly common and is considered one of the patrons of tyrants as a result. The more cruelty Is exercised, and it has been traditionally for a very long time, the stronger Boethiah gets (The Old Ways).


    Beyond that, the Nords have recognized Boethiah by nature as being one of the strongest of the 'Padomaic/Sithian' gods and consider him a major threat (Five Songs of King Wulfharth). Given the relation to Sithis who embodies change, it's not a surprise that Boethiah's power comes from the change of static elements. By that nature he is considered a consistently Demonic Daedra because change comes through destruction (On Oblivion).


    The Dark Warrior himself is a very overt force in the world of men and named, officially by the Cyrodiilic religion 'The Fount of Inspiration' (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). This is principally because he is said to inspire revolution and wars by mortals rather than simply interfering in a physical way. In fact, while Boethiah's ways tend to be overt, he himself is often unconcerned with the affairs of either his worshipers or mortal events. It's the action rather than the result which most interests Boethiah (Boethiah's Proving).



    Legacy of Boethiah


    All this inevitably leads to the question 'so what exactly does Boethiah do?'. Well, we have several tales about him. The most prominent is the tale of Trinimac. He-who destroys, she who erases,



    The Transformation of Trinimac and the Changed Ones.


    Trinimac was one of the et'Ada, the champion of Auri-El the progenitor of the Aldmer race. He was praised for his courage, his fighting spirit, and his tennacity, having personally vanquished Lorkhan called Shor in the field of battle in a dual before their respective armies. It seems odd that Trinimac, the greatest elven warrior, defender of the elves from threats within and from without, could be bested. And yet, the transofmration of Trinimac by Boethiah is central to Beothiah's legacy.


    According to Dunmeri and Aldmeri dogma, Boethiah had one very important follower, an Aldmer named Veloth. Boethiah inspired in him notions of revolution, of secession, parting ways with the Aldmer and starting some other sect. But he needed a spark, proof of sorts to justify the many claims that he had told Veloth. The chance came when Boethiah was confronted by Trinimac who attempted to stop Veloth (The True Nature of Orcs). Through means of deception and deviation often attributed to Mephala's machinations, Trinimac was tricked into Boethiah's mouth (Mephala and Vivec). There, Boethiah used Trinimac's voice, imitating it, and calling a great crowd to him and many congregated to hear Trinimac. Instead, Boethiah spoke about how the Aedric Ancestors were a false pantheon, how the other et'Ada were a pack of liars and the worst of which was Trinimac. In almost any way you look at it, this is the truth, given Trinimac was Boethiah at the time, and Boethiah's sphere was deceit,yet it was true in a sense that the current form and voice of Trinimac was the greatest liar, and thus it becomes a paradox. So he spoke of a new order, one founded on Daedric principals of change, a Sithian world, and said the power resided in the Daedra, three in particular that he called 'the Tri-angled' truth. He told those Aldmer that listened, about how they should throw out the Aldmeri soceity, and form themselves into combative great houses, laying the cornerstone for the gods that they were to worship and which were going to cause them grief.


    To prove everything he said was true, he swallowed and voided Trinimac, turning him into dung or soil that his followers rubbed on themselves. It's very likely for this reason why Boethiah is called the Scarab, a type of dung beetle, by the Tribunal. The Dunmer, according to separate tales, either did the same in rubbing this soil over themselves (The Anticipations, 36 Sermons of Vivec), or Trinimac in particular told them how to properly change their skin to appear bruised to imitate the pain of the transition to their new way of life (True Nature of the Orc). He called these people the Chimer, meaning 'Changed Ones' and led them on an exodus which was named the Psijic Endeavor (The Changed Ones).



    The Dunmeri 'Sacred Flame'


    Because of the Importance of Boethiah in transforming Veloth, Boethiah has an extremely important part in the Dunmeri tradition. He is considered one of the 'Three Good' Daedra along with Mephala and Azura; each of whose spheres the Dunmer base tradition off of (The Anticipations). Boethiah is responsible for a much of what made the Dunmer a different people, and as such he is called 'the Sacred Flame' (36 Lessons of Vivec). While Mephala is given the credit for the deception of Trinimac and the mechanisms of actually turning the Dunmer, Boethiah was the revolutionary one that managed to pry the sect that was known as the Chimer away from them (Mephala and Vivec).


    Boethiah taught the Dunmer many of their most sacred institutions: the creation of the great houses of Morrowind which were created to ward off lazy slaves and stasis; which three Daedra were the right patrons of the Dunmer; the existence of the Four Corners of trouble (Sheogorath, Mehrunz Dagon, Molag bal, and Malacath); and how to create a culture radiating outward that is always changing yet never being loose enough to break apart entirely (36 Sermons of Vivec) For these actions, Boethiah is called 'the Enlightener' (The Anticipations)


    However, Dunmeri tradition goes one step further and says that Boethiah is only the ancestral power of their true gods, the Tribunal. Boethiah in particular was the patron and early incarnation of Almalexia, and thus with Almalexia becoming a god through his own personal ascendance (called Apotheosis) Boethiah and the other two Daedric Princes recognized the sovereignty and divinity of the Tribunal. Thus Daedric worship of the three Good Daedra is something ancestral and not as direct as they became subordinate to the Tribunal (Darkest Darkness). This lasted until the disintegration of the Tribunal and the eruption of Red Mountain in the early 4th era and now there is a resurgence of Daedric worship in Dunmer.



    Amongst the Realms


    Of course the reverence the Dunmer show Boethiah isn't normal compared to many other cultures, and Boethiah has made enemies not only amongst mortal races but also other Daedra and et'Ada. Given the Dark Warrior's sphere is that of unlawful overthrow of authority, as well as murder, he is particularly hated by the god Ebonarm the warrior god who is something of a mirror of Boethiah, granting mercy and reprieve to good warriors (Ebonarm). We also know that Boethiah is mortal enemies with Molag Bal, the prince of Domination (Skyrim), as well as Vaermina the Prince of Hatred and terror which Is strange as both are patrons of tyrants as well (Morrowind, the Old Ways).


    Amongst the mortals the Cyrodiilic Pantheon considers him an acceptable blasphemy but is not openly supported (Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st edition). Those that follow Boethiah in High Rock Boethiah female and liken her to a far too overt, unlikable, and generally impersonal god of death (Invocations of Azura). The Nords consider Boethiah, like the Bretons, a strong female warrior entity and the patron of their enemies (Five Songs of King Wulfharth). But perhaps the most interesting of all is what the Altmer Aedric worshipers believe. The High Elf traditionalists see the entire tale as a cautionary tale inspired by the fall of all et'Ada; in order to survive Boethiah allowed himself to be corrupted and tainted, thriving on deception and revenge in order to avoid the fate of the other et'Ada when they fell into Lorkhan's great trap that would have destroyed them (Feyfolken, The Monomyth). As such, the tale illustrates not to follow in the path of Veloth.



    Rituals and Riches of the Dark Warrior:


    So why would anyone follow Boethiah? Well, there are always rewards for proving to be devoted to a Daedra and their power is immediately obvious. But lets look at the rituals and the tales of some of Boethiah's followers as well as the artifacts that are ascribed to Boethiah as well. But first, lets look at their cults.


    Cults and Religious Rites:


    In general, Boethiah's cults are organized into smaller more dedicated groups looking towards the strength of their god. Worshipers can come from all walks of life, but in general we know of individual cults consisting of Warlocks. Generally the term is male, but this also seems to be just a religious designation used at least in High Rock as well as in Morrowind.


    Boethiah's particular summoning day is the 2nd of Sun's Dusk and on this day is performed a ritual called the Gauntlet. These are games, competitions, and duals all crafted to inflict pain and reflect the malice of their patron while he watches the events with evident satisfaction. The Gauntlet itself typically consists of cabals of ten worshipers who will fight to the death in competitions until only one is left, the single individual left will become the Champion of Boethiah. Familial bonds, mistakes, anything that can cause as much misery to his cultists is just as enjoyable if not more so for Boethiah to watch (Invocation of Azura). Boethiah doesn't grant mercy, likewise, notions of fairness, honor, or anything in that vein is despised as well (Skyrim).

    While most of these tournaments seem to occur merely in Boethiah's presence, every now and then is held the Tournament of Ten Bloods. Ten separate chosen are pitted to fight each other on Boethiah's realm known as Attribution's Share, but during Oblivion, Boethiah says that Attributation's Share is merely one of a number of realms of Oblivion under his control.


    To his Servants, he will grant his minions. Boethiah's Daedra are the Hungars “a sinuous, long-limbed, long-tailed creature with a beast-skulled head, noted for its paralyzing touch and its ability to disintegrate weapons and armor.” (Darkest Darkness).


    In general though, as has been noted before, Boethiah is an impersonal God. He has very little interest in his followers, he doesn't care about their well-being, all he cares about it that they have their purpose and it fulfills his goals. There is very little attachment, and a worshiper that can't prove total devotion to Boethiah, often through violent bloody means, can be just as casually killed for being unfaithful as a worshiper of another Daedra. The key concept of Boethiah's worshipers, and one of their best traits, is malleability and a strong willpower coupled with action rather than prayer (Boethiah's proving). Whether rulers or commoners, Boethiah seeks action on their part, something to prove before any favors are ever granted, but to those that do Boethiah can preserve their life or grant them the means for the death of others (Story of Lyrisius). Likewise, the names of his faithful are written on the tablet of Absolute Darkness (Skyrim).




    There are several notable artifacts of Boethiah, all are the tools of warriors.


    Starting with the most famous we have the infamous Ebony Mail. Contained in Skyrim itself, the armor reflects Boethiah's own and is an ancient artifact forged before recorded time. It is resistant to fire, magic, and overall grants protection for the bearer with Boethiah's blessing. However, the Ebony Mail is a very fickle artifact as Boethiah doesn't merely choose who is to receive the Ebony Mail, but also how long that champion can keep it. Given Boethiah's nature it shouldn't be surprising that many of hisr former champions have been killed by his orders when she decided their time was up (Tamrielic Lore).


    The second is quite well known but genuinely the 'odd' one of the three major artifacts: Goldbrand. What is surpising and unique about Goldbrand is that, like Volendrung, it was not made by the patron it's usually associated with. Goldbrand was actually created by the Dragons of the North made of actual gold forged to protect a knight chosen as the Dragon's Champion and has the heat of the great dragon's fiery breath (Tamrielic Lore). Through whatever means, it fell into Boethiah's possession and is now one of the artifacts most closely ascribed to him. The latest reports of Goldbrand's whereabouts are surprisingly recent, it seems the sword fell into possession of none other than Emperor Titus Mede II (The Great War).


    Our third and final artifact is unfortunately no longer suspected to exist, but shows further evidence for the warrior mentality of Boethiah. The shield Fearstruck was a Boethiah given artifact to King Lyrisius, presumably of High Rock. He was said to have confronted a dragon and the creature's fiery breath was hot enough to physical turn the shield to slag. The shield is referred to once and never again, though it seems that Lyrisius himself was still one of Boethiah's champions (The Story of Lyrisius)



    Conclusion and Questions:


    So that's what's known of Boethiah, a god of many negative traits and many devoted followers making him one of the strongest Daedra.

    • Can Boethiah's Tri-Angled truth that there are three great gods and none are Aedra be true?
    • Can we trust the story of Trinimac?
    • What can we gather about the people and societieswho chose to follow Boethiah?
    • What do you think of Boethiah?
    • What do you make of the differences in appearing as different genders for various peoples?

    Finally I'll leave you with a final prayer from Boethiah's Glory:

    Look upon the face of Boethah and wonder. Raise your arms that Boethiah may look on them and bestow a blessing. Know that battle is a blessing. Know that death is an eventuality. Know that you are dust in the eyes of Boethiah.


    Long is the arm of Boethiah, and swift is the blade.

    Deep is the cut, and subtle is the poison.

    Worship, o faithful. Pray your death is short.

    Worship, o faithful. Pray your death is quiet.

    Worship, o faithful. Worship the glory that is Boethiah.

    Into battle strides the Daedric Prince, blade at the ready to cleave the unworthy.

    *As a final note of well deserved and proper recognition, thanks to UESP for the archived Morrowind Images for Velothi and Boethiah's glory, the Shivering Isles Hungars, and the Skyrim Shrine. It saved me some work.

  • August 5, 2015

    We need more of these!

    I can't believe nobody has even commented on all the work here. No wonder you lore chaps are always a little bitter...

  • August 5, 2015

    I always liked to speculate that Goldbrand was actually Trinimac's weapon and the dragon mentioned is really a reference to Auri-El and Boethia took it when he b/eat him. 

  • August 5, 2015

    Mason, now you know why we listen to stuff like thisthis, and this.

  • Member
    August 6, 2015

    In fairness this is a repost after his stuff got deleted. There was more discussion on the original post. Vaz, Rune Red and Ben salvaged everything they could, but as it was all done in one go I don't think newcomers had time to digest it all.

    That aside, have a look at the format Vix has laid out here. It's nice and elegant, easy on the eye. There is no reason why anybody should be afraid of tackling a project like this. Got a favourite Prince that nobody else seems to care as much about? Write about him and show us how right you are!

  • August 6, 2015

    I didn't even know it was Vix that originally wrote this, I thought it was Vaz's post...

    When I load the page I get this...

    All this info was just sitting with 0 comments and 1 like which I thought was a shame...

  • August 6, 2015

    There is a whole bunch of really good lore articles sitting up the back of the section, there bust be a way to bring them to the fore and get people reading them.

  • Member
    August 6, 2015

    No idea what is happening there. The top part that shows blank for you is a disclaimer I wrote on all reposted articles. Its in a quote, so maybe that's the issue, don't know...

    Disclaimer: This is an article of our former member, renown Loremaster Vix, acknowledged by Bethesda themselves. It ended up being deleted and I'm merely reposting it.

  • August 6, 2015

    It's actually showing blank for me now as well.

  • Member
    August 6, 2015

    How about now?