Elder Scrolls Lore » Discussions

Legendary Figures: Morihaus

  • Member
    June 28, 2016

    That Morihaus was the son of Kyne was a solid truth... according to the Song of Pelinal, that is. Is that true? What does it even mean to be a Son of Kyne? The Song of Pelinal talks about Morihaus as being both a bull and a man-bull, rasing the question was Mor a literal bull, a man-bull or simply a man who has become a bull through legend and myth?

    This article aims to address those questions as it explores Morihaus' role in history and myth, giving this magnificent warrior, sensitive scholar and romantic character his turn in the limelight from which he is so often overshadowed by his more famous and "cooler" uncle, Pelinal Whitestrake.

    Minotaur by Zasalamell

    There are three primary sources on the subject of Morihaus, the most famous being The Song of Pelinal, written by Michael Kirkbride for the TES IV Oblivion DLC, Knights of the Nine. The Adabal-a is the next best source, followed by The Onus of Oghma.

    Although Morihaus was mentioned in sources prior to this, The Song of Pelinal and The Adabal-a gave us the first true insight we got into the life and legend of Morihaus-Breath-of-Kyne.

    Morihaus was a hero-god of the Nedes, the proto-Cyrods if you like. The setting is the Slave Rebellions of Alessia who led an uprising against the Ayleid Empire who had ruled Cyrodiil from the Merethic to the early First Era. The Nedes were made up of many different people, some indigenous and some were of Nordic stock. These tribes revered both elvish and manish gods and, according Morihaus, lived under unimaginable cruelty. They were slaves of the Ayleids, subject to the tortuous pleasures of their Elven overlords as Morihaus himself says in his memoirs, The Adabal-a:

    If we compare this Cyrodiilic myth with that of the Nords, we can see parallels in terms of thematic events with that of the Dragon War. Like the Nords in Skyrim, the Nedic peoples eventually rose up to overthrow the tyranny of their oppressors and this was accomplished by Alessia, Morihaus and Pelinal who led the slave armies, gained Nordic support and eventually claimed White Gold Tower as their own.

    The first introduction we get to Mor in The Song is in Volume II: On His Coming. Perrif, anon Saint Alessia, is praying to Kyne's handmaiden, Mara, and this is when she receives her famous "three visions."

    Art by Teccam

    It is a matter for interpretation as to why Perrif is praying to Mara rather than directly to Kyne, I like to think there is a little bit of Catholicism in there. More importantly, though, we get our first description of Mor which uses evocative words to portray him as an actual winged bull. This description is further enhanced in the next quote from the same volume:


    Interestingly, there is a passage cut from this section of The Song. In the Selectives Lorecast episode two Kirkbride talks about how Morihaus has an erection at the thought and excitement of battle. I don't know why this was edited out... Boners at 35:02.

    In terms of other out of game sources, we know from MK's posts on Reddit that both he and Kurt Kuhlmann intended for Morihaus to be bovine. Indeed, up until The Knights of the Nine, the only depiction we had of Mor was from his statue in the Imperial Arena. MK references this statue in one of his posts:

    It's fine. Kurt and I snickered that the statue's existence would have to be re-retconned after KotN, anyway.

    By now it should be clear that The Son of Kyne is a bull. Almost every reference we have to Mor in the Song calls him such. However, later in the Song in Vol V On His Love of Morihaus, there appears a new description of him, "Never did Pelinal counsel Morihaus in time of war, for the man-bull fought magnificently, and led men well, and never resorted to Madness..." This description of Morihaus being a man-bull is, I think, the most visually compelling of all his various descriptions. More importantly though, what do you like to think?

    Oblivion, Imperial City by Runolite

    Morihaus has been called a few different names, Breath-of-KyneThe Bull of Kyne, The Bull of Heaven, Son of Kyne, Bull of the South and First Breath of Man. Although he doesn't have as many names as Pelinal, that is still quite a lot and each has a meaning. Breath-of-Kyne, for instance, is a name also given to Wulfharth who too was considered "Kyne's Son."

    Kyne's Son

    The second song of King Wulfharth glorifies his deeds in the eyes of the Old Gods. He fights the eastern Orcs and shouts their chief into Hell. He rebuilds the 418th step of High Hrothgar, which had been damaged by a dragon. When he swallowed a thundercloud to keep his army from catching cold, the Nords called him the Breath of Kyne. (Five Songs of King Wulfharth)

    We can see from this Nordic legend that the appellation of "Kyne's Son" or "Breath of Kyne" is not strictly literal but rather couched in metaphor. Wulfharth was given the name for performing deeds associated with The Voice and, by extension, Kyne herself. Both the Five Songs of Wulfharth's legend and The Song of Pelinal of Mor's are simply stories told after the events, so whether you believe Mor and Wulfharth are sons of Kyne is down to your interpretation. Did Morihaus get called Breath-of-Kyne for the simply being associated with Kyne and The Voice? It gives a nice new meaning to Mor's bellowing we hear of during the song if true.

    On the subject of what a Son of Kyne actually is in terms of Ada spirits, here is an out of game text by MK which may shed light on this subject:

    Ray Lederer Art

    It is entirely possible, then, that Morihaus is a demigod as the legends say, an Ada spirit associated with Kyne. In terms of what MK is actually saying, all these spirits came from the first two energies and so are all linked - like a gradient ladder of split personalities you can follow right to the top to where Stasis and Chaos are.

    The term "Son of Kyne" is also used in the oog book, 911th Cow in which a Nordic farm girl summons the demiprince of all winds to help her defeat Dagon. This book is a lovely resource on Mor and we will discuss it more later. So what do you think? Was Mor a literal son or simply later associated with Kyne like Wulfharth?

    The name Bull of Kyne is given to Morihaus by the Prophet of Anvil in the KotN DLC. Fitting when we look back at the many assertions that he was a bull.

    The name, First Breath of Man comes from two sources, Varieties of faith and the newer The Onus of the Oghma. This book is one of the few to brazenly assert that he was a demigod, although the validity of the source is... questionable. It recounts a passage claimed to be from The Adabal-a (of the Adabal) which were Mor's personal memoirs.

    (The Onus of the Oghma)

    The book was written for ESO by Phrastus of Elinhir, one of Lawrence Schick's favoured characters. The book itself is a lecture on the importance of writing a journal and appears to be aimed at children. However, I like the idea that Mor is associated with scholarship along with such figures as Ysgramor and Xarxes. We really can see the Bull of Kyne's more sensitive side in both this book and The Adabal-a.

    First Breath of Man is quite a vivid title, evoking as it does the Nordic myth of Kyne breathing the Nords into existence upon the Throat of the World. It could be that as "Kyne's Son" the Nords see him as literally the first man. Varieties of Faith in the Empire declares:

    Morihaus (First Breath of Man): Ancient cultural hero god of the Cyro-Nordics. Legend portrays him as the Taker of the Citadel, an act of mythic times that established Human control over the Valley Heartland. He is often associated with the Nordic powers of thu'um, and therefore with Kynareth.

    Finally we have the title of Bull of Heaven as Mor is called in 911th Cow. This one is very much tied to our own real-world myths, the sacred bull. In Mesopotamian religion we have Gugalanna the Bull sent by the heavens to exact revenge on Gilgamesh. Gugalanna is also linked to Taurus who is, in turn, linked to many other myths and religions and forever associated with virility. masculinity, determination, strength of will and perseverance.

    Now that we have done a quick examination of the myth or Morihaus, it is time to turn our attention to the archaeological evidence we have on The Bull of Kyne. Although the myths firmly paint him as a demigod, there are compelling artefacts both extant or recorded in tomes which suggest he was not a bull at all but rather an ordinary man. Whether he was a man elevated to demigod status through time and belief is entirely up to the reader's interpretation.

    The most striking of all the evidence is the aforementioned Statue of Morihaus which can be found in the Arena District of the Imperial City. This statue stands opposite Saint Alessia and depicts Mor as a pit-fighter of the slave pens of the Ayleids. It is unknown when the statue was made

    The next piece of evidence that Mor may not have been a bull comes from a list of items added to ESO which has been compiled by the Imperial library in Items of the Second Era. One item stands out, Morihaus' Sled Horn described "An ancient Atmoran sled horn, rumored to have been blown by Morihaus-Breath-of-Kyne during his taking of the White-Gold Tower." I do not know what a sled horn is, but most sleds trail behind the team pulling it. If Mor is supposed to be the bull pulling this sled, then the horn would need to extent forward and vertically from the structure of the sled which is a really silly design. So until someone can explain to me what a sled horn is, I am using it as proof he was a man, able to ride a sled and blow a horn.

    Lastly, there is the Lord's Mail.  This piece of armour is clearly designed to be worn by humanoid, it is not the next piece of dlc, Cow Armour.

    Sometimes called the Armor of Morihaus or the gift of Kynareth, this is an ancient cuirass of unsurpassable quality. It grants the wearer power to absorb health, resist the effects of spells, and cure oneself of poison when used. It is said that whenever Kynareth deigns the wearer unworthy, the Lord's Mail will be taken away and hidden for the next chosen one. (Tamrielic Lore by Yaggy Baggy)

    The Lord's Mail may also help explain the connection between The Lord and Morihaus, as described in the quote below from Loremaster's Archive: Songs of the Stars:

    Taurus Constellation Painting by Shooting Star Logbook

    Ultimately though, whether Morihaus was The Bull of Kyne in fact or if his legend shaped his form, I think Abnur Tharn sums it up best of all in this quote from Loremaster's Archive The Slave Rebellion:


    Morihaus' legacy and the only real clues we have of his personality outside the Song comes from the Adabal-a. This book is said to be Mor's memoirs and it addresses many subjecsts, from Pelinal's death and  life under Ayleid rule, but my favourite passage comes from his explanation of Alessia's names. 

    That Mor loved Al-Esh is clear from the Song but here we see a different side to this love, for even after her death it is clear he remained as enamoured with her as he was during her life. 

    The final piece of his legacy left to examine is the origin of the minotaur and the evidence that they are the result of Paravania and Morihaus' relationship. The first clue comes from The Song itself:

    ...the Whitestrake did warn against the growing love with Perrif. "We are ada, Mor, and change things through love. We must take care lest we beget more monsters on this earth. If you do not desist, she will take to you, and you will transform all Cyrod if you do this."

    The implications of this led to a question posed to MK on the subject, to which he replied, "Minotaurs are the issue of Alessia and Mor Breath-of-Kyne." Nowadays the idea minotaurs were begotten by this duo is so ingrained in our imaginations that it has now become fact despite there being no direct in-game source to prove it. There is, however, a couple of pieces of circumstantial evidnce worth considering. Firstly there is Alessia's son and heir, Belharza.

    In oog sources, like the Nu-Mantia intercept, Belharza  is referred to as "the Man-Bull". We don't get an in-game source calling him that until ESO released The Library of Dusk's Catalogue of Rare Books. One of these books is called "The Letters of Alessia and Belharza" and described as "Intimate correspondence between the First Empress and the Man-Bull."

    The connection also prompted a Loremaster's Archive Question on the subject of minotaurs and, although the subject wasn't confirmed, it wasn't actually refuted either. So there again is TES Lore at it's best. Minotaurs begotten by Al-Esh and Mor? You decide.

    Poem: Lament for Pelinal.

    Art: Here

    TLDR: Morihaus. First era hero, helped Alessia and Pelinal establish the First Cyrodiilic Empire by overthrowing some nasty elves. He may have been a bull, or he may have been a man, or even something in between He may even have been a demigod associated with his supposed mother, Kyne. Morihaus and Alessia may even be responsible for the race of Minotaurs. We do not know for certain.

    What we do know, almost irrefutably, is that he was a warrior, a scholar and a romantic. His legacy and the legacy of his Paravania live on to this day in the empire they built and the people they inspired. When you next see The Thief in the night sky, say a prayer to Al-Esh, First Empress, Lady of Heaven and beloved of Morihaus Bull of Kyne.

    Thank you to all my friends for supporting me, teaching me new things and for your inspiration.

    And thank you for reading.

  • Tom
    June 28, 2016

    Look at these faces and tell me Mor wasn't a bull or  bull-man. From MK's tumblr

  • Member
    June 28, 2016

  • Member
    June 28, 2016

    Morhaus wasn't Eidar Cheese :P

  • Member
    June 28, 2016

    After reading this, I would like to think that Mor's form was fluid, with him being a man on the battlefield and a bull in the bedroom (or if you're boring the other way around :P). Or he may have simply been bull-headed/ stubborn in his love of Alessia, despite Pelinal's warning against it. 

  • Member
    June 28, 2016

    But if enough people started believing it, what then? A legendary hero and consort of blessed Saint Perrif becomes the primary ingredient of Elsweyr Fondue.

    What a legacy to leave behind :p

  • Member
    June 28, 2016

    That does it. I'm going to write that into a short story about Cyre, in which he explains to people that Mor was in fact a wheel of Eidar Cheese.

  • Member
    June 28, 2016


    Maybe the three heroes were an oversoul? Al-Esh AE Mori AE Peli...? That way when things got too boring Esha could be the bull.

  • Member
    June 28, 2016

    I like my idea of his form being fluid, since it would allow for the myth to state that he was a man/bull/man-bull. Then there's also the Lord's Mail which fits with him being a man on the battlefield and a bull elsewhere.

    Of course I'm also partial to the idea of him originally being simply a man and his "Bullness" being the result of people exaggerating one of his traits, such as his Stubbornness. With people the original tales telling of his Bullheadedness (in either a positive or negative light, most likely positive in this case) and with each retelling it eventually transforms him into the Man-Bull.

    My preferences aside, what shall we call this Oversoul?

  • Member
    June 28, 2016

    :) I like it. The best thing to me is that each source is a valid as the one before it and the one after it. I like t take the Song of Pelinal as my literal truth but realise too that it is equally fun to reject it entirely as legend, much like any King Arthur story.

    So are you advocating shape-shifting at the time as well as shape shifting via myth-making? I also like how you explain the transformation of the latter, through association with bull references and over time they are conflated.

    Haa! The Oversoul. I would dearly love the three to be an enantiomorph, with Alessia as Rebel, Pelinal as Witness and Mor as King. All the stuff is there, except only Alessia ascends. That said, seeing as one was an ada spirit of air and the other a Shezarrine, perhaps they had no need to. I dearly hope Mor saw his girl again, that they will eat each other's faces at the end.

    Madness like that aside, this soul's name needs careful thought :p