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Forum Scholars Report: Demons
      #1513992 - 06/18/03 07:24 AM

Demons in Tamrielic Lore

What can be made of the references to demons in the lore of Tamriel? Can it be solely attributed to the daedra, or is the term sometimes used as a descriptive of other creatures? Further, how do the demons of Akavir fit into the evidence?

I begin with a quote from the ‘Aedra and Daedra’

“The designations of Gods, Demons, Aedra, and Daedra, are universally confusing to the layman. They are often used interchangeably” [1].

The Daedra as Demons

It is clear that many of the references to demons in Tamrielic lore are in fact alluding to the Daedra, residents of the void known as Oblivion. In the study of the Daedra known as ‘On Oblivion’, the author makes it clear that the term is commonly used improperly in reference to the Daedra, and gives its origin as the Alessian prophet Marukh, who banned communion with such ‘daimons’. The term itself he believed to be a corruption of the Aldmeri word ‘Daedra’ [2].

Other sources also make the same association, an extract from ‘The Light and The Darkness’ for example, follows –

"Do demons and trolls come from the Dark, Grandpa?"

"Not exactly, son. The undead evils we know, and the demons that live on Oblivion tend to align with the Dark. Their natures are more akin to it.” [3].

Even the creation tale ‘The Monomyth’ makes this connection –

“To humans these et'Ada are the Gods and Demons; to the Aldmer, the Aedra/Daedra, or the 'Ancestors'.” [4].

It is clear that individual Daedra Princes are also referred to as demons, as Mephala is known as the “demon of murder, sex and secrets” [5].

Also, objects that are used to summon Daedra and Daedric weapons and armour are known as ‘Demon Objects’, so when the retainers of House Telvanni on Morrowind use an artefact that summons a Daedric helm, it is known as a ‘Demon Helm’. This usage is a clear indicator that for many of the residents of Tamriel at least, the term ‘Demon’ is synonymous with the term ‘Daedra’.

In the story ‘King Edward’ the characters are discussing a person’s inner demon, that which feeds on the suffering of others. Here too it is known as a daedra, and although this is used in a metaphorical sense, it supplies another example of the link between the two terms [6].

I will conclude this section with a quote from an interview with a Breton scholar from the province of Morrowind –

“I'll grant that, to strangers, it may seem odd that the Dunmer hold the darker powers in esteem; rest assured, though, the Morrowind is not a heathen den of demon worshippers.” [7].

The Gods as Demons

Several times in the literature that I have come across are certain gods referred to as demons. It is unclear why this association is made, as it is generally the Daedra that are considered demons. I believe the explanation for this lies with the large number of different pantheons of gods found around the provinces of Tamriel. For example, the Elves consider Lorkhan to be a demon [8], because he severed them from the spirit world and trapped them on the mortal plane. Similarly, the Bretons fear Shoer, a demonised version of Shor, who is equivalent to Lorkhan [9]. In 'Sithis', it is one of the Aedra, Anui-El, otherwise known as Akatosh, who is named as a demon, as a result of his imposing time upon the Mundus [10]. It seems to me that depending on which creation myth and pantheon of gods you ascribe to, the worship of others must be discounted and damned as being demons. A further example of this is Herma-Mora, described as an Atmoran demon of knowledge, who nearly seduced the Nords into becoming Altmer [9].

Undead as Demons

It would also appear that undead creatures are occasionally referred to collectively as demons. In ‘Blasphemous Revenants’, vampires in particular are described as demons, although it seems this is more a general term than a particular depiction [11].

Demons of Lore

The poem ‘The Third Door’ contains a reference to a fierce ‘demon of lore’, but it is unclear whether this creature (which in the poem is used as a threat rather than being an actual organism) is a summoned Daedra or some other type of beast. Could there then be a creature known as a demon that is not related to the Daedra? In ‘The Wolf Queen’ there is mention of a ‘great demon werewolf’ that had been soultrapped, and provided a powerful enchantment. However, it remains speculation as to whether this is truly a demon werewolf, or just a particularly strong and fierce lycanthrope, although my personal feelings favour the latter as I have not come across another mention of such a beast in my studies [12]. In ‘The Art of War Magic’ the mage Marandro Ur describes the summoning by a Chimer summoner of an ‘ice demon’. This is used to scare his troops into action, and as such the creature was clearly very much alive. I can only speculate on its classification because no more information is given, but it seems most likely to be a true creature, although not one that I have heard mentioned elsewhere [13]. In the story ‘King Edward’, an accident leads to the cover-up of actual events, and the excuse given is that a demon was fought. Although the reception to this is incredulous, it is none-the-less given merit, and suggests that attack by a demon is not unheard of. Unfortunately, the identification of such a demon is not clear; it could refer to a Daedra, or to a type of creature known as a demon [6].

Akaviri Demons

On the continent of Akavir there appears to exist a group of creatures known as demons. I quote directly from ‘Mysterious Akavir’

“Kamal is "Snow Hell". Demons live there, armies of them. Every summer they thaw out and invade Tang Mo, but the brave monkey-folk always drive them away. Once Ada'Soom Dir-Kamal, a king among demons, attempted to conquer Morrowind, but Almalexia and the Underking destroyed him at Red Mountain.” [14].

This invasion of the Akaviri demons is also confirmed elsewhere [15]. I am unsure as to the exact nature of the Akaviri demons, as no other description of them and their culture seems to exist. I do not know if they would equate to legendary demons (not Daedra) as they appear in Tamriel, but it seems unlikely that this is the case.


It seems likely that most of the references to demons appearing on Tamriel refer to the presence of the Daedra Princes and their lesser minions, who from time to time find their way to the Mundus. The accordance of certain gods with demons can, I believe, be put down to simple racial and ideological hatred. The bulk of writings referring to demons appear to be talking about the Daedra, although there is sufficient evidence to suggest that other creatures known as ‘demons’ may be present in some areas of Tamriel, although any precise forms are hard to pin down with more than a single reference. The Akaviri demons seem to be restricted to Akavir, excepting their unsuccessful invasion of Tamriel, and I do not believe they equate with any Tamrielic descriptions of demons.


[1] Aedra and Daedra
[2] On Oblivion
[3] The Light and The Darkness
[4] The Monomyth
[5] Vivec and Mephala
[6] King Edward, Book 6
[7] Skeleton Man Interview
[8] Spirit of Nirn
[9] Varieties of Faith in the Empire
[10] Sithis
[11] Blasphemous Revenants
[12] The Wolf Queen, Books 1 & 8
[13] The Art of War Magic
[14] Mysterious Akavir
[15] The Arcturian Heresy

Any comments or suggestions anyone has to make would be greatly appreciated. This is the first time i have attempted a report like this, so feedback on the style of the writing, quotes, etc would also be great, thanks

*Fellow of The Theoretical Whirling School Of Vivec*
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Alastor Grimwald

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Re: Forum Scholars Report: Demons
      #1514412 - 06/18/03 09:01 AM

Excellent report. Even though I do not carry the tags of a scholar anymore, I can say from my research on the Daedra and Demons, that you have a thorough knowledge of what that implies. Really, to me, the terminology used by writers here on Tamriel are interchangable, and one word could connotate many different meanings. This is an excellent report to read if such connotations confuse.

One point I wish to add about the word Daedra. In Aldmeris it means 'not our ancestor', but can also mean 'spirit'. I have no idea why the Monomyth translates Daedra to 'Ancestor'.

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Re: Forum Scholars Report: Demons
      #1515705 - 06/18/03 02:55 PM

well done.

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Re: Forum Scholars Report: Demons
      #1516057 - 06/18/03 04:38 PM

Preety nice report. i am preparing one by myself about all the gods of Tamriel, and another one about the Daedra and their Artifacts.

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Re: Forum Scholars Report: Demons
      #1516972 - 06/19/03 01:01 AM

This is a very good study phil_t, you have covered a wide range of sources and I particularly like your presentation. I will add some of my own views on perceptions of 'demons' and the Daedra.

Generally, Humans see the Mundus as the product of the labour of a specific group of immortals, 'the gods', and refer seperately to a group of immortals that they do not associate with creation as 'demons';

'To humans these et'Ada are the Gods and Demons' (ref. The Monomyth)

Mer regard the same groups mentioned above as the Aedra and Daedra, literally "ancestors" and (best translation) "not-ancestors".

'"Aedra" and "Daedra" are not relative terms. They are Elvish and exact.' (ref. Aedra and Daedra)

So for Mer the distinction between the two groups is defined differently, since they generally hold that they are direct descendants of the Aedra. Moreover, this view creates a much stronger awareness among Mer of their own relationship to the divine than exists for humans, who do not regard any immortals as their 'ancestors' in the way that Mer do.

'Simply put, the schism in the Human/ Aldmeri worldview is the mortal's relationship to the divine. Humans take the humble path that they were created by the immortal forces, while the Aldmer claim descent from them.' (ref. The Monomyth)

Moreover, their more equitable view of the divine Aedra seems to give Mer a balanced perception of all immortals; educated Mer do not generally regard the Daedra as inherently 'evil' in the commonest sense, but rather as essentially allied to the divine pole of Padhome.

'Aedra are associated with stasis (Anu). Daedra represent change (Padhome).' (ref. Aedra and Daedra, words in red added)

(I am leaving aside the traditions of the Dunmer which only serve to further complicate this issue.)

Human traditons, however, tend to concentrate only on the role of the 'gods', from whom Humans perceive themselves as quite removed in any case, and leaves little room for studing the 'demons'. This has widely brought about an uneducated Human perception of 'demons' as shadowy and unkown, even inherently evil.

A more comprehending Human view sees them as the Mer do, that is allied in essence to the divine pole of Padhome. Both of these Human views are evident in your quote, phil_t, from "The Light and The Darkness";

'"Do demons and trolls come from the Dark, Grandpa?"

"Not exactly, son. The undead evils we know, and the demons that live on Oblivion tend to align with the Dark. Their natures are more akin to it."'

I conclude that, in direct reference to a class of immortal, the term 'demon' is predominantly a Human one that has negative connotations among the uneducated. This uninformed and superstitious view holds 'demon' to be synonymous with evil influence and uses the term to describe the unknown cause of any negative event. 'Demon' is used by other races such as the Dunmer to refer interchangably to the Daedra without necessarily intending negative connotations.

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Re: Forum Scholars Report: Demons [Re: Nigedo]
      #1517178 - 06/20/03 05:14 AM

Excellent point! I cant say id considered it being a human view rather than that of the Elves, but it makes sense i guess. They never did understand things in quite the same way

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