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Tiber Septim

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Talos Shrine

Concept Art of Tiber Septim from the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launch.

For the deity apotheosized from Tiber Septim, see Talos.

Tiber Septim was a Dragonborn and the first Emperor of the Septim Empire. He is regarded as one of Tamriel's most famous figures. Starting with his service under the Cyrodilic king Cuhlecain, Tiber Septim fought as general Talos to unify Cyrodiil and finally all of Tamriel, an effort that culminated in the birth of the Third Empire. Tiber Septim gave his name to the lineage of Cyrodiil Emperors, the Septims. Upon his death he, arguably, became the god Talos and took his place in the pantheon of the Nine Divines.

Biography

Early life

Tiber Septim was born on the island kingdom Alcaire, as Hjalti Early-Beard, in 2E 827. He was brought up in Skyrim, where he learned the ways of the warrior and the strategies of war from the chieftains there.[1]

General Talos

Nords and Bretons had been fighting for centuries at the northern border of Falkreath, a kingdom in the Colovian Estates. At the age of twenty, Hjalti lead the forces of Skyrim against the Reachmen of High Rock. During those days he met Cuhlecain,[1][2] the king of Falkreath, who came to secure his northern border. They became allies and Hjalti was named general of the joined forces. Hjalti was a shrewd tactician, and his small band of Colovian troops and Nord berserkers broke the Reachmen's line, forcing them back beyond the gates of Old Hrol'dan.[1][3] A siege seemed impossible, as Hjalti could expect no reinforcements from Falkreath. That night a storm came and visited Hjalti's camp. Hidden in the storm was Wulfharth, a long-dead Nordic king, who spoke with him in his tent and taught him the Way of the Voice. At dawn, Hjalti went up to the gates, and the storm followed just above his head. He shouted down the walls of Old Hrol'dan, and his men poured in. After their victory, the Nords called Hjalti "Talos", meaning "Stormcrown".[1]

Prophecy

Soon after this, it became known from the arriving storm that the ancient Greybeards were about to speak. As the nearby villages were being evacuated, Talos, instead, made his way to the Throat of the World where the Greybeards lived. When he arrived, the gags of the Greybeards were removed, and they spoke his name. The world shook in response.[4] The Greybeards told Talos that he would become the chosen one who would defeat the Elves and become Emperor of a united Tamriel.[1]

Battle of Sancre Tor

Statue of talos

A Shrine of Talos in Skyrim.

Talos traveled with Cuhlecain as his general back to Cyrodiil. It was Cuhlecain's ambition to secure the Colovian Estates and he saw his opportunity in the invincible warrior. But before he could act, allied Nord and Breton forces crossed the borders into Cyrodiil and occupied the major passes and settlements in the Jerall Mountains in 2E 852. Making their headquarters for the winter at the citadel of Sancre Tor, the Nord-Breton allies dared King Cuhlecain's new general to assault them. In response, Talos amassed an army and marched to Sancre Tor. The Cyrodilic army was small, poorly trained and outfitted, short on rations, and unprepared for winter campaigning. Sancre Tor was protected by an unscalable cliff in front and unscalable heights in the rear, but the entrance to the citadel was also magically concealed under the appearance of a large mountain lake in the basin beneath the heights. Faced with an impossible task, Talos received a divine vision of the Amulet of Kings in the Tomb of Reman III. The young general was inspired by his belief that he was fated to recover this ancient sacred symbol of the Covenant.[5]

The Nord-Breton allies left on a small force to defend the citadel, descending through lower passages to attack and overwhelm the cold, hungry Cyrodilic forces before them. However, Talos was approached by a treacherous Breton sorcerer who revealed the existence of a mountain trail down the heights behind the citadel. Talos left a weak force in the lowlands to draw out the defenders, while he and the rest of the army approached the citadel of Sancre Tor from the rear, descending the un-scalable heights behind the citadel. There the Breton traitor told the secret of the hidden citadel entrance. While the Cyrodilic army in the lowlands fought a desperate defense against the invasion force, Talos and his men entered the citadel, swept aside the small defense and captured the Nord-Breton nobles and generals. Thus he compelled them to surrender the citadel and their armies. The Skyrim army quickly deserted the alliance and swore loyalty to Talos when they saw him use the thu'um and knew him to be the son of Skyrim and heir to the Empires of Men. The leaders of the Bretons were executed and the captive soldiers imprisoned or sold into slavery. During the Sack of Sancre Tor, general Talos recovered the Amulet of Kings from the tomb of Reman III.[5][2]

Cyrodiilic Empire

TES4 Uriel Septim

A statue of Tiber Septim in the Imperial City.

Cuhlecain and Talos conquered West Cyrodiil in one year. No one could stand before Talos' storms. They marched east and the enemy's battlemages surrendered before their armies. In 2E 854 they conquered the Imperial City and thus gained the full control over Cyrodiil.[1]

Cuhlecain's intent was to crown himself emperor. But Talos was still haunted by the prophecy given him by the Greybeards. Before Cuhlecain could be crowned, Talos secretly murdered him and his loyalist contingent with the help of a High Rock nightblade. The Imperial Palace was burned to the ground in the action, (probably to destroy evidence), and Talos slit his own throat to take the suspicion off of him. Though he lived, his Voice failed him. The assassination was blamed on the Shaw, which, for political reasons, are still the Western Reach. To prevent Cyrodiil from falling apart again, Zurin Arctus, the Grand Battlemage, crowned Talos as Tiber Septim, new Emperor of Cyrodiil. In order to hide his involvement in the assassination, a lie was made that Tiber's own throat was cut.[1]

Emperor Tiber Septim

After capturing the Imperial Throne, Septim found the initial administration of a fully united Cyrodiil a time-consuming task. He sent his old ally Ysmir to deal with Imperial expansion into Skyrim and High Rock. Ysmir, mindful that it might seem as if Tiber Septim is in two places at once, worked behind the scenes.[1]

The human kingdoms were conquered, even Hammerfell, which was predicted to be an arduous task. Ysmir had wanted a complete invasion of Hammerfell, allowing a chance to battle their foreign wind spirits himself, but Septim refused. The Emperor had already made a better plan, one that would seem to legitimize his rule. Cyrodiil supported the losing side of a raging civil war and were invited in to the rule of Hammerfell. Finally, the Empire could turn its eyes towards the Elves.[1]

Ysmir continued to impress upon Tiber Septim the need to conquer Morrowind. The Emperor was unsure that it was a wise idea, hearing word of the Tribunal's power. Ysmir, seeking his vengeance, reminded Tiber Septim that he was fated to conquer the Elves, including the mighty Tribunal. Septim's battlemage Arctus advised against the move but the emperor wanted the ebony in Morrowind, as he needed a source of capital to rebuild Cyrodiil after 400 years of war. Ysmir came up with the idea that, with the Tribunal dead, Septim might steal the Tribunal's power and use it against the High Elves, (the oldest enemies of Lorkhan, predating the Tribunal).[1]

Summerset Isle was, however, the furthest thing from Septim's mind. Even then, he was planning to send Arctus to the King of Alinor to make peace. In the end, the need for the ebony was the determining factor. The Empire invaded Morrowind, resulting in the Tribunal's surrender. When certain conditions of the Armistice included not only a policy of noninterference with the Tribunal, but by extension a validation of their religious beliefs, Ysmir was furious and abandoned the Empire completely. With Ysmir's leaving, all Septim's ideas of conquering Tamriel vanished and he decided to turn his focus to Cyrodiil and the human nations who were now under his rule.[1]

In that time, the great Dunmer general Symmachus, a friend of Tiber Septim's, brought Barenziah to the Imperial City where she met the Emperor and they fell in love. The Emperor and Barenziah engaged in an affair but it was soon discovered that Barenziah was pregnant. Septim determined that he could not allow such a threat to his son's dominion and so ordered a healer to force Barenziah to miscarry. Barenziah was dispatched from the Imperial City very soon after this.[6]

The Numidium

Partially quoted from the book, "The Arcturian Heresy", written by The Underking, Ysmir Kingmaker:

Tiber Septim was always fascinated by the Dwarves. After their victory in Morrowind he ordered Zurin Arctus to research the Numidium, the grand artifact of the Dwarves Tiber received from Morrowind. In doing so, Arctus stumbled upon some of the stories of the war at Red Mountain. He discovered the reason the Numidium was made and some of its potential. Most importantly, he learned Ysmir's place in that war of long ago. Arctus believed he could activate the artifact but was working from incomplete plans, thinking that the heart of Lorkhan's body was needed to power the Numidium.[1]

While Arctus reported about his discovery, the prophecy from the Greybeards finally became clear to Tiber Septim. The Numidium was what he needed to conquer the world. It was his destiny to have it. The heart of Lorkhan was lost to their cause but there was another source who could make the Numidium work, Ysmir. The Emperor contacted Ysmir, saying he was right all along about Morrowind. They should kill the Tribunal for Septim realized the true danger of Dagoth-Ur while Ysmir was away. They needed to get together and make a plan as Septim was also in need of an army.[1]

When Ysmir arrived, he was ambushed by Imperial guards. As he took them on, Zurin Arctus used a soul gem on him. With his last breath, Ysmir's Heart roared a hole through the Battlemage's chest. With everyone dead, Ysmir gone to ash, Tiber Septim took the soul gem. When the Elder Council arrived, he told them about the second attempt on his life, this time by his trusted battle mage, Zurin Arctus, who was attempting a coup. He had the dead guards celebrated as heroes, even the one who was blasted to ash. Following this event, Tiber warned Cyrodiil about the dangers within, but said he had a solution to the dangers without, The Mantella.[1]

The Numidium, while not the god Tiber Septim and the Dwarves hoped for, served it's purpose, (Ysmir's soul was not like Lorkhan after all), helping Tiber conquer Tamriel. After the defeat of the rulers of the Summerset Isles, a new threat appeared. A rotting undead wizard who controlled the skies. He blew the Numidium apart. But it pounded him into the ground with its last spasms, leaving only a black splotch. The Mantella fell into the sea, seemingly forever.[1]

The text of The Acturian Heresy ends here.

Tamrielic Empire

The Third Era was announced by Tiber himself in 2E 897 after uniting the entire continent of Tamriel under his banner. Tiber Septim crowned himself the First Emperor of Tamriel.[7]

Death of Tiber Septim

On his deathbed, Tiber Septim bequeathed his throne to his grandson, Pelagius Septim, and he died in 3E 38. Tiber died at the age of 108, the oldest human man in history.[7] He was buried in the catacombs of Sancre Tor among the members of the Reman Dynasty.[8]

Godhood

After his death Septim ascended to godhood. He became Talos again, the God of War and Governance, for after a lifetime of war, he had united Tamriel for the first time in history. Upon his ascension the Eight Divines became the Nine.[9]

During the Great War between the Empire and the elves of the Aldmeri Dominion however, peace was agreed upon with one of the conditions being that the Empire cease to recognize Talos as one of the Divines, and as such all shrines to him were removed from the temples in towns loyal to the Empire and their new Elven masters. The Stormcloaks in the province of Skyrim reject the White-Gold Concordat that instates this law.[10]

It is important to note that the matter of Talos' godhood is still a point of contention, both in how and whether it happened, and it is possible that Septim didn't ascend at all. If he did ascend, it is possible he did so by mantling Lorkhan.[OOG 1] However, the Eight have never contradicted Talos' divinity. Also, when the Eight Divines speak on behalf of themselves always speak of not Eight, but Nine.

Legacy

Tiber Septim was the founder of the Septim Dynasty who ruled Tamriel for the entire Third Era until the line died out with Martin Septim.[8]

Tiber appeared again in Morrowind as a retired Imperial Legionnaire named Wulf. He aids the Nerevarine by asking him to take his lucky coin to Red Mountain. While the Hero of Morrowind has this coin, he gains a power called the 'Luck of the Emperor'. Later, an Imperial priest in Ebonheart tells the Hero that Wulf may have actually been a divine manifestation of Tiber Septim and that this visitation may be "a sign of great doom" for the Hero.[11]

Unanswered mysteries

There are still conflicting reports about Tiber's life due to many aspects of his early reign being rewritten, and this is why there is such confusion over questions as. Brought up by Ysmir in The Arcturian Heresy:

  • Why does Alcaire claim to be the birthplace of Talos, while other sources say he came from Atmora?
  • Why does Tiber Septim seem to be a different person after his first roaring conquests?
  • Why does Tiber Septim betray his battlemage?
  • Is the Mantella the heart of the battlemage, the heart of Ysmir, or is it the heart of Tiber Septim?

Armor

See also

Trivia

  • Tiber Septim's name was based on the first names of the Roman Emperors Tiberius Caesar and Septimius Severus, thus creating the name Tiber Septim.
  • The currency of the Empire, the Septim, is derived from Tiber's name.
  • The surname of the family could be a reference to a Septum, a thing that partitions or divides. It could be a reference to the ability of the Septims to form a "partition" between the Oblivion Planes of the Daedra and the mortal plane of Nirn.
  • In Greek Mythology, "Talos" refers to an automaton made by the Greek god Hephaestus. This may have been the influence of Numidium.
  • Tiber Septim's life and role may mirror the life of King David from the Bible. Both men have done similar things and have been in similar circumstances. Both were destined to become the rulers of their kingdoms; both inherited their thrones when the respective rulers at that time were killed (Cuhlecain/King Saul); both had an affair with a woman (Bath-Sheeba/Barenziah); and both united their nation/continent under their rule.


Emperor of the Septim Empire
None 2E 854 - 3E 38 Pelagius Septim


References

Note: The following are out-of-game references. They are not found in any in-game books, but can still be considered part of The Elder Scrolls lore and are included for completeness.
  1. Nu-Hatta of the Squinxmoth

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