The Morality of the Daedric Lords
The Origin of the Daedric Princes
At the beginning of the universe, there were two force-beings. Anu, which represented constancy and stasis, and Padomay, who was the force of change. Eventually, Anu birthed his own soul, known as Anui-El. Padomay responded in kind, birthing his soul, named Sithis. The interplay of these two force-beings gave birth to metaphysical concepts, some of which came and went. Others however, did not want to die. Stubbornly, they stuck. That led to physical manifestations of those aspects. The essence of Anui-El alone created the spirits known as the Aedra, who were beings of stability and stasis. Those that were formed out of the combined essence of Anui-El and Sithis became the Daedra, who were beings of change, of influence.
The Creation of the Physical Mortal Plane
Sithis created a spirit known as Shor, or Lorkhan, depending on which group of mortals are referring to him. Shor was tasked to destroy these et'Ada that Sithis did not want. Shor ended up being vanquished by the god known as Trinimac, a creation of Anui-El. Before this could be done, Shor tricked some of the Aedra into creating the physical mortal plane known as Mundus. This included the planet Nirn, it's suns, and moons. In doing so, the Aedra lost a lot of their power, and do not have the ability to interact directly to a large extent with the mortal plane. The Daedric Princes, on the other hand, did not participate in the creation of Mundus, and they can physically interact, and employ mortal followers to do their bidding on Nirn. They can, to a degree, physically manifest in the form of an aspect on the mortal plane. However, they are not anywhere near their full power, thus they need the help of mortals to work their will on Nirn.
The Daedric Princes each created a realm of their own, on each of their respective levels of a plane known as Oblivion. It is there that they are in their full power, each attempting to change, craft, and influence the mortal plane more in tune with their liking.
The Daedric Princes
There are seventeen Daedric Princes, each of them with a particular sphere of influence.
- Azura - Prince of twilight; dusk and dawn.
- Boethiah - Prince of plots, deceit, and illegal overthrow of political authority.
- Clavicus Vile - Prince of deals and pacts.
- Hermaeus Mora - Guardian of unknown and forbidden knowledge, memory, and the scrying of the tides of fate.
- Hircine - Spirit of the hunt, and father of werebeasts.
- Jyggalag - Prince of logical order.
- Malacath - Keeper of oaths, patron of the spurned.
- Mehrunes Dagon - Lord of change through destructive forces such as natural disasters and revolutions.
- Mephala - Prince of sex, murder, and mortal emotional connections.
- Meridia - Lady of life energies.
- Molag Bal - Lord of domination and forced servitude.
- Namira - Patron of the rejected and revulsed members of society. Also known as the Lady of Decay.
- Nocturnal - Prince of the shadows, darkness, and luck.
- Peryite - Prince of natural order and pestilence.
- Sanguine - Prince of both light and dark pleasures.
- Sheogorath - Prince of madness.
- Vaermina - Prince of dreams.
Are There Good and Evil Princes?
In the mortal realm, the acts of Daedric Princes have motivated some mortals to revere and worship them. It has also caused others to revile them to the point of persecuting, and sometimes even murdering, those who worship Daedra. For instance, the Vigilants of Stendarr have claimed that their patron's mercy does not extend to Daedra worshippers, and they have been known to militantly roam the province of Skyrim in search of lesser Daedra and their followers.
Some of the acts of the Daedric Princes make it easy to understand the emotion they illicit from mortals. Molag Bal raped a Nedic woman, leaving a drop of his Daedric blood on her body. She later died from her injuries. When her rescuing villagers attempted to cremate her, she awoke, but not as she was in life; rather, a vampire. She devoured the entire village, sparing not even the children. Boethiah is indifferent to the suffering of her followers, and in fact often takes delight on spreading strife among the world at large. Mehrunes Dagon attempted to invade the mortal plane and claim it as part of his realm, the Deadlands, sending an army of lesser Daedra through Oblivion gates into Nirn.
On the other hand, there are Daedric Princes such as Meridia who seek to put the undead to rest, and to vanquish the necromancers that bring them about. Azura and Malacath are loyal to and fiercely protective of their followers.
Despite the fact that many Daedric Princes have done things on large scales that have caused the suffering of mortals, many outside observers still argue that they are not evil. But, how can this be? We agree that things like murder and rape are wrong. Those, like Hitler, and Stalin, who commit them on large scales are considered evil. So why not any Daedra who introduces this kind of strife?
The answer, and the dispute, lies in what you believe is the characteristic criteria for being good or evil. Some believe in good and evil natures. If your are capable of mainly destruction and suffering, you are evil. If you are capable of mainly helpfulness and positivity, you are good.
Here is the other perspective. Good and evil are choices, not natures. Sure, nature gives mortals personality traits, but how you manifest and utilize them is what makes you good or evil. Mortal men and elves are sentient, with free will to choose whether to be merciful or ruthless. To be benevolent or unkind. To be caring or indifferent. Mortals have the power, in this universe, and in the universe of the Elder Scrolls to move their moral compass, or to change their character. It can be argued that the Daedric Princes, on the other hand, cannot. Recall and consider, that it is believed in the theology that the Daedra became physical manifestations of concepts and ideas. Therefore, it can be argued that a Daedric Prince such as Molag Bal cannot be anything but, or advocate for, anything other than domination and enslavement, since his essence and being was congealed and forged out of that conceptual attribute. Ascribers to this philosophy claim that the Daedric Princes have very little, if any, power to choose between respect or contempt. Between nice and malevolence. They are indeed sentient beings, having power beyond the comprehension of any mortal. But because their creation is believed to be physical forms of either a singular or blend of concepts, they do not have the power to shift their moral compass. And if a being cannot choose to be anything other than what they are and always have been, can they really be considered evil if they cause destruction.
Can you be evil, no matter how destructive you are, if you cannot make the choice to be good, or vice versa? Or if you are the manifestation of an evil concept, are you still evil, regardless of your capability to change? What do you believe?