Arkay or Ark'ay, colloquially known as the God of the Cycle of Birth and Death, was a major divinity of the Nine Divines, the official religion of the Cyrodilic Empires, and represented the qualities of birth and death. Arkay was not only a member of the Nine Divines, but was a popular divinity across Tamriel and could be found in many diverse pantheons. Arkay was often more important in those cultures where his father, Akatosh, was either less related to time or where his time aspects were difficult to comprehend by the layman. He was the god of burials and funeral rites, and was sometimes associated with the seasons. Some sources state that Arkay's life began as a mortal, who joined the ranks of the gods.
His priests were staunch opponents of Necromancy and all forms of the undead. Sometimes called The Mortals' God, Arkay was the great spirit who brought every man and woman, Nede, Mer, Khajiit, and Argonian into the world, and when he deemed the time right he ended their circle of life and death. Arkay was fertility and blight, joy and sorrow. Arkay stood for blessed neutrality and his chapels did not offer blessings to pilgrims as giving either favor or curse would be to upset the eternal balance.
"Come to me, Arkay, for without you, there is neither breath nor beginning, nor can any man live, love, or learn without the spark of your spirit."
His main chapel was located in the Cyrodilic city of Cheydinhal, and he was one of the more prominent of the gods represented at the Temple of the One in the Imperial City. At his chapels, Arkay saw fit to bless parishioners with increased health. Arkay was honored in the form of statues that could be found in the Arboretum in the Imperial City. The priests of Arkay, along with his temples, were protected by a knightly order known as the Knights of the Circle. Along with his chapels and statues, the God of the Cycle of Birth and Death also had various wayshrines devoted to him scattered across Cyrodiil. In Skyrim, every city has a hall of the dead dedicated to Arkay.
Genealogy, apotheosis, and godhood
Arkay is the son of Akatosh. Since Mara may have been the wife of Akatosh, it is believed she may be his mother. However, it is unclear whether Mara was, in fact, the wife of Akatosh, the wife of Lorkhan, or a concubine of both. One scholar wrote that Arkay was a mortal man whose apotheosis was granted by Mara. This source suggests that Arkay was a demi-god—born of Akatosh and a mortal woman. Another source suggests that Arkay was one of the original spirits that crystallized after time began, meaning he was always a deity. It was said that Arkay did not exist before the world of Nirn was created by the Nine Divines under Lorkhan's supervision. Therefore, he was sometimes called the Mortals' God.
Relation to other deities
Although Alduin and Paarthurnax are not always labeled as deities in the Nordic pantheon, Akatosh is credited as being the creator or metaphorical "father" of all dragons. Because of this, Alduin stylizes himself as the "First Born of Akatosh" This does not necessarily mean Arkay, Alduin, or any of the other dragons are siblings.
- Southwest of Skingrad and south of Silorn, near Cyrodiil's border with Elsweyr.
- North of Anvil, north of the Brina Cross Inn on the Gold Road, and just southeast of Bleak Mine.
- Southwest of Skingrad to the southeast of Fat Rat Camp.
"Praying at any one of these will earn the Breath of Arkay Spell."
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Mentioned only)