The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released by Bethesda Game Studios in 2011, and by 2016, Skyrim sold more than 30 million copies, according to Bethesda Director and Executive Producer Todd Howard.1 The game has been officially re-released six times, won countless awards, and is widely considered one of the greatest video games ever made.
The game makes extensive use of the symbolism of the Logos, dragons, and the Book of Revelation, throughout its main quest. Skyrim is the fifth game in The Elder Scrolls series, a fantasy series set in the Tolkien-inspired continent of Tamriel.
The Imperials are humans who are loyal to the Empire of Tamriel. Their rivals, the Nords, are culturally distinct from the Imperials and do not want Imperial interference in Nordic governance. They generally want Skyrim, the northernmost province of Tamriel, to be an independent state.
Skyrim begins with the player in the back of a horse carriage on the way to his or her execution. It is revealed to the player that he or she was captured while seeming to be illegally crossing the border into Skyrim. There are three men with the player, who are also to be executed once the carriage arrives at its destination, the town of Helgen.
The most important character to be executed, aside from the player, is Ulfric Stormcloak. He is the leader of the Stormcloak rebellion, the group which rejects the rule of the Empire over the province of Skyrim and seeks to establish Skyrim as an independent state. One of the main reasons for this rebellion is the ban of Talos worship.
Talos is the Man-God and the One Divine among the Eight Divines. These Nine Divines make up the Imperial pantheon of gods, who are venerated throughout Tamriel. The Divines are essentially a Pagan pantheon with different gods representing different aspects of Being. And the turn toward including Talos, the Man-God, is symbolically the introduction of Christianity into Pagan Rome.
Talos was a mortal man who united all of Tamriel. Upon his death, he ascended to Godhood and became the Ninth Divine, the God of Man, specifically. And the name Talos is close to the Greek word telos, meaning purpose.
Symbolically, the purpose of humans in Tamriel is to become God-like; to ascend to union with Godhood. This is similar to theosis, another Greek word, used in Christianity, which means union with the divine. In Orthodox Christianity, theosis is considered the telos of humans.
Now Talos and the character the player is during Skyrim, are both Dragonborn. And Dragonborn are humans born with the soul and blood of a dragon. This allows them to speak Dragon-tongue. (“Dragonborn” can be singular or plural, depending on whether it refers to the group of historical humans who are Dragonborn, or the player: the Dragonborn.) In Skyrim, when a dragon breathes fire, he is actually speaking magic words which cause the fire to exist.
Dragon-tongue extends beyond fire, allowing dragons to speak ice, wind, and many other reality-altering words. In the game, it is said when two dragons fight they are actually having an intense verbal debate. The Dragonborn has a natural ability to learn this language, and it is his destiny to defeat the World Eater: Alduin.
The Dragonborn can speak the magic words which affect reality. This is where the symbolism of the Logos starts to enter the world of Skyrim. Here is a definition of the Logos:
[In] ancient Greek philosophy and early Christian theology, [the Logos is] the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering [the cosmos] and giving it form and meaning … it became particularly significant in Christian writings and doctrines as a vehicle for conceiving the role of Jesus Christ as the principle of God active in the creation and continuous structuring of the cosmos and in revealing the divine plan of salvation to human beings.2
The word logos is Greek and means word.3 At the start of the Gospel of Saint John, we hear: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”4 This identifies Christ as the Word made flesh, the Logos incarnated, something which a Gentile (Greek) audience would understand, because of the use of logos in Greek philosophy.5
This made Christ become “regarded as the personified source of life and illumination of humankind.”6 Philo of Alexandria, a 1st century AD Jewish philosopher, maintained that “[The Logos] was the intermediary between God and the cosmos, being both the agent of creation and the agent through which the human mind can apprehend and comprehend God.”7
The Logos is “the mechanism by which chaotic potential is transformed into habitable order, and also the mechanism by which order that has become too rigid is dissolved and reconstituted. That’s the basic element of the hero myth … it’s implicit in hero mythology … if you aggregate enough hero myths and extract out the central theme, you end up with [the Logos].”8
The Logos is primarily concerned with proper speech.9 And “is symbolically represented in the figure of Christ, who’s the [Word] that was there at the beginning of time … the West has formulated a symbolic representation of the ideal human being, and that ideal human being is the person who speaks the truth to change the world.”10
In Skyrim, the Dragonborn’s destiny is to embody the Logos and use proper speech — magical words, Dragon-tongue — to save Tamriel from Alduin the dragon. The use of a dragon-word is known as a Thu’um (Logos speech).
In Helgen, before the executions of the player and Ulfric Stormcloak can take place, Alduin attacks the village. Alduin is trying to devour the world, and burns the village to the ground, which allows the Dragonborn and Ulfric Stormcloak to escape.
Dragons are a “highly complex symbol, combining images of the serpent and the bird, two loaded images in isolation. Together, they form one of the most powerful monsters dating back to antiquity. The dragon is a symbol of evil, in both the chivalric and Christian traditions.”11 They are “the embodiment of chaos and untamed nature,” and usually guardians of a treasure.12
Ancient Nord legends spoke of dragons, but no one believed they were real until Alduin’s attack. In a different town, another dragon attacks. The Dragonborn is able to slay that dragon. Afterwards, the Dragonborn absorbs that dragon’s soul.
The Dragonborn earns a supernatural treasure from slaying the dragon — the dragon’s soul, which allows the player to upgrade their Thu’ums (Logos speech)— and is rewarded with the material wealth of the dragon bones and scales, expensive trading items, and a hoard of gold. Symbolically, dragons hoard treasure, whether material or immaterial.
The absorption of the dragon soul prompts a booming voice in the sky. It is revealed the voice came from the Greybeard monks, who live on the highest mountain in Tamriel. These monks have dedicated their life to learning the Thu’um (Logos speech) —The Way of the Voice.
The player can learn more Thu’ums (Logos speech) throughout Skyrim, by finding Words of Power, again harking back to The Logos. And the monks are summoning the Dragonborn to their monastery, because it was foretold a Dragonborn would appear when the dragons re-emerged. But it was also prophesied that the return of the dragons would bring the apocalypse, Armageddon.
Armageddon in the Biblical context, is a prophesied battle of armies during the end of the world. There is a Mount Armageddon in northern Israel, but given the symbolic language in the New Testament about the battle, some think that Mount Armageddon itself is an idealized location.13
The real, the great, the final Har Magedon coincides with the time of Satan’s little season. Then the world, under the leadership of Satan, anti-Christian government, and anti-Christian religion — the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet — is gathered against the Church for the final battle, and the need is greatest; when God’s children, oppressed on every side, cry for help; then suddenly, Christ will appear on the clouds of glory to deliver his people.14
This is the symbolic destiny of the Dragonborn, if he is able to embody the Logos and become Christ-like. He must fight evil itself, Satan, symbolically represented as the World Eater Alduin, during a time when Talos — who is an allusion to Christ more than the Dragonborn is — has been banned by the government. The Dragonborn must symbolically battle in Armageddon: “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.”15
The Dragonborn ascends the mountain, and meets with the Greybeards who teach him how to better use his Thu’ums (Logos speech). The leader of the monks, Arngeir, explains the Dragonborn’s destiny to defeat Alduin, as prophesied by the ancient Nords. Arngeir mentions the real leader of the monks is higher up on the mountain, but the path is currently inaccessible.
The highest point of the mountain is the Throat of the World, where the sage Paarthurnax lives in complete solitude. The title Throat of the World, being home of the greatest sage in Skyrim, speaks symbolically to the power of proper speech: the Logos. However, the path there is blocked by a never-ending storm. Symbolically, there is too much heaven—wind—around Paarthurnax. He is attuned to heaven, living in solitude, but does not join heaven to earth.
Arngeir explains that only if the Dragonborn is summoned by Paarthurnax, the Greybeard’s real leader, will the Greybeards then teach the Dragonborn the Thu’um (Logos speech) needed to get there. That would allow the Dragonborn to clear the excess of wind, and join heaven to earth—a big part of his role in comparison to Paarthurnax, who meditates on the Thu’um (Logos speech) in isolation.
Paarthurnax is an example of why Christian hermits are rare, and usually gather in monastic communities. If they didn’t, and were isolated, they would have too much heaven.
Later on, the Dragonborn is sent to a carving known as Alduin’s Wall. The Wall reveals that the ancient Nords defeated Alduin, and these icons show the ancient Nords did so using a special Thu’um (Logos speech), which prevented Alduin from flying.
Alduin’s Wall is symbolically the Book of Revelation. In particular, where Saint Michael the Archangel is prophesied to fight a dragon during the apocalypse. The Dragonborn is pictured on the wall defeating Alduin, and acts out the pattern of Saint Michael in war: “the symbol of the power of the forces of good against evil.”16 The Dragonborn, like Saint Michael, is “the head of the heavenly armies,” and “defeats Satan during the war of angels.”17
There is a figure in the Book of Revelation, “The Word of God,” who is followed by “the armies which are in heaven.”18 This refers to the Logos himself, Christ. And for the Dragonborn, it refers symbolically to his ability to embody the Logos in battle against Alduin — then in a way, the spirit of Talos, the Christ figure, “The Word of God,” will be with the Dragonborn in battle.
Archangel Michael is “the knight in armour … armed with a spear, sometimes with a flaming sword and a shield decorated with a cross … represented slaying a dragon, which symbolizes Satan and not a simple demon.”19 The Dragonborn can acquire similar weapons, and is battling the harbinger of the apocalypse, Alduin, the flying serpent and World Eater, not simple demons.
Alduin reigned in the ancient times, when dragons were revered as gods. However, the dragon-priests became corrupt toward the people, and when the people resisted the dragon-priests, the dragons retaliated against the populace. Symbolically, this is the legend of Saint George.
Saint George was a soldier in the Roman army, who was sentenced to death for his Christian faith. The player has the choice to join the Empire’s Imperial Legion, symbolically the Roman army, or to join the Stormcloak rebellion who are willing to die for their worship of the Man-God Talos—symbolically Christ.
Like Saint Michael, and the Dragonborn, Saint George is venerated as a military saint.
In a Gregorian source, the story of Saint George and the dragon can be traced to the 11th century.20 The legend reached Catholic Europe during the 12th century, and was crystalized as the Golden Legend in the 13th century, by Archbishop of Genoa Jacobus da Varagine, who puts Saint George’s execution in 287 AD.21 The Archbishop moved the story from Cappadocia, to Libya, yet it seems Saint George historically died in 303 AD.22
Essentially, there was a dragon outside of Saint George’s village who demanded sacrifices. And in the ancient times of Tamriel, the dragon-priests demanded that the populace worship the dragons. The people of Saint George’s village offered sacrifices as a form of worship, but at a certain point, they ran out of livestock and trinkets, the normal sacrifices.
Instead, they started offering human sacrifices, which appeased the dragon. This is similar to the people of Tamriel cooperating with the dragon-priests’ demands for a time. Unfortunately, in Saint George’s village, the princess was chosen to be the next sacrifice. This dragon poisoned the countryside, and could only be kept at bay by the human sacrifices. Much as the ancient Nords were willing to sacrifice their own lives to send Alduin to the future—more on that later.
The king of Saint George’s village was devastated, and offered all his gold in place of his daughter, but the people refused, so the princess was sent as a human sacrifice. Saint George went to the dragon’s pond, and wounded it with his lance. He was able to put it on a leash, and bring it back to the village, along with the unharmed princess.23 Saint George converted the village to Christianity, in exchange for executing the dragon.24
Symbolically, Saint George and the ancient Nords both rebelled against the tyranny of dragon worship; worship which starts out as tolerable but becomes corrupt. And while Saint George rebels against the dragon cult and brings Christianity to his land, the ancient Nords rebel against the dragon cult which paves the way for Talos worship centuries later in Skyrim.
Eventually, the Greybeard monks help the Dragonborn reach their real leader: the sage Paarthurnax, at the Throat of the World, by teaching the Dragonborn a new Thu’um (Logos speech).
Now, there are many dragons which the player fights throughout the game who are loyal to Alduin. These are lesser demons, representations of evil, while Alduin is the prince of darkness, Satan. The Dragonborn reaches the Throat of the World, and a dragon descends. But this dragon is not an enemy—it turns out the master of the Greybeards, Paarthurnax, is a dragon himself.
Paarthurnax is the younger brother of Alduin, and was Alduin’s chief lieutenant in the ancient war when humans rebelled against the dragons and dragon-priests. Paarthurnax committed atrocities against humankind. But he betrayed his brother, by teaching humans how to use the Thu’um, like Prometheus bringing fire from the gods to humans. He tells the Dragonborn no one knows the Thu’um (Logos speech) used by the ancient Nords to defeat Alduin.
Symbolically, there are two inversions represented by Paarthurnax. First, he is acting out the inversion of Lucifer. Second, he is acting out the inversion of Cain and Abel. To understand these, one has to note that Akatosh is the Chief of the Nine Divines, and represented as a dragon.
The Nine Divines include Talos, the Christ figure. However, Talos worship is still young in Tamriel, so Talos is not the Chief Divine, and is outlawed—as Christianity was once persecuted in Rome, and Christ was not Rome’s official deity for some time.
Additionally, Akatosh is the God of Time and made a covenant to protect the early Empire. So he may be viewed as Yahweh. And Talos can be seen as the fulfillment of that covenant, in a way which wasn’t expected, being a Dragonborn, who united all of Tamriel. Talos is the Man-God, symbolically Christ.
The religion of Tamriel is like the Roman pantheon of gods, but with Yahweh at the top of the hierarchy. And the introduction of Christianity into the Empire, with Talos, is the fulfillment of Akatosh’s covenant to protect Tamriel, but is illegal in the time of Skyrim. In a sense, Talos is the only begotten son of Akatosh; rejected by Rome, and rejected by the Empire’s followers of Akatosh. So the rejection of Talos is also a Pharisianism.
Now Alduin is Akatosh’s First Dragon. But Alduin claimed he himself was a god. This is Luciferian, in Alduin’s attempt to make himself Akatosh, to make himself God. (Here, Alduin is also like Adam in the Garden of Eden, being the “First Man” who causes Tamriel to fall due to sin.) And all dragons carry fragments of Akatosh in their souls.
Dragonborn, such as the player and Talos, are men with the soul of a dragon. So they also carry a fragment of Akatosh. In terms of symbolism, the Dragonborn is not so much Christ — as Talos is — but instead the Dragonborn is an archangel, not fully human, nor divine.
Paarthurnax turns away from the evil “god” Alduin, “falling” into good. An inversion of the fall of Lucifer: away from God, toward evil. Paarthurnax does not fall and teach humans to sin in Eden. Rather, this flying serpent “falls” from Alduin and teaches humans the Logos, the Thu’um, for the betterment of Being, to defeat Alduin.
Plus, Paarthurnax does betray his brother Alduin, with the intent of killing him. So Paarthurnax is like Cain, but Paarthurnax is aiming to kill his brother for the betterment of Being, not as retaliation against Being.
Arngeir warns the Dragonborn that past Dragonborns became too arrogant with their use of the Thu’um, leading to their fall. This was the Luciferian path of Alduin. Yet the Greybeards tolerate the Dragonborns doing things against the Greybeards’ creed, because only the gods can judge the Dragonborns.
The Dragonborn uses an Elder Scroll, an ancient artifact which can see past, present, and future all at once, to learn the Thu’um (Logos speech), which the ancient Nords used to defeat Alduin. It is revealed the ancient Nords cast Alduin into the time of the Dragonborn; the player. And this ancient Thu’um (Logos speech) is not approved by the Greybeards. An archangel, like Saint Michael, is an angel who acts on God’s behalf, and is judged by God—this is symbolically the role of the Dragonborn.
The Dragonborn reads the Elder Scroll at the Throat of the World, and Alduin appears. The Dragonborn and Paarthurnax fight Alduin, using the ancient Thu’um, until he flees.
The Dragonborn is told by Paarthurnax, to learn from a dragon where Alduin is hiding. The Dragonborn needs to negotiate a truce in the Skyrim Civil War, so that it will be safe to capture a dragon in a town. He is able to do so, through his use of the Logos at a peace conference.
Then the Dragonborn uses a Thu’um (Logos speech) to capture a dragon, who bargains for his freedom in exchange for betraying Alduin. Again, the Paarthurnax inversion of “falling” from the evil “god” Alduin. The Dragonborn’s actions here are also reminiscent of Saint George, capturing the dragon and bargaining for the conversion of the village to Christianity.
This dragon reveals Alduin is in the Nordic afterlife Sovngarde, feasting on the souls of the dead to recover (quite Satanic). The portal to Sovngarde cannot be reached on foot, so in exchange for his freedom, the dragon flies the Dragonborn to the portal. In Sovngarde, the Dragonborn meets with the three ancient Nord heroes who originally defeated Alduin.
The 1498 woodcut “Saint Michael Fighting the Dragon” by Albrecht Dürer, (higher above) shows Saint Michael the Archangel fighting the dragon — with the help of three angels. There are also mountains, and a church with a spire in the woodcut, reminiscent of Sovngarde and the Hall of Valor: the hall with a spire where the ancient Nord heroes rest, inside Sovngarde.
The question is, ‘what happens to the world around you, as you increasingly embody [the Logos]?’ The answer to that is, ‘we don’t know.’ We don’t know the ultimate level of this … The hypothesis is that there has been one or two individuals who managed that, and that in their management of that, they transcended death itself.25
The Dragonborn transcends death and enters Sovngarde alive because of his use of the Logos. He acts out the pattern of Saint Michael in the Book of Revelation, battling Satan in the afterlife with the help of angels:
And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him … they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.26
Dragonborns like the player and the Man-God Talos, who embody the Logos, carry the blood of a dragon in their veins. The Dragonborn spills his own dragon blood on pedestals, both to gain access to Alduin’s Wall and Sovngarde.
Together, the Dragonborn and the ancient Nord heroes kill Alduin, by combining their Thu’ums — all embodying the Logos — using proper speech to turn chaos into order, and slay the dragon. Here, the Dragonborn and the ancient Nord heroes represent the Church. Because they are the body of Talos, fighting against Satan, to save the world from its fallen condition.
After, many of Alduin’s followers turn their back on him, and join Paarthurnax, as Lucifer’s fallen angels are “thrown down,” in the Book of Revelation.
The Hall of Valor in Sovngarde is a large building with a throne, harp music, and a feast, where Nord heroes eternally sing songs of praise, reminiscent of more Revelation verses:
“The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they sing a new song before the throne … After this I looked, and the temple of the tent of witness in heaven was opened.”27
The Dragonborn is sent back to Skyrim, having fulfilled his destiny as the Dragonborn. The “temple of the tent of witnesses,” the Hall of Valor, remains open to the Dragonborn in the sense that he can call the three Nord heroes to help him in battle, back in Skyrim.28
The Dragonborn has acted out the pattern of Saint Michael, leading the armies of God in Heaven, in the fight against the dragon. He fulfills the prophecy of Alduin’s Wall, slaying Alduin through the power of the Thu’um — the Logos — and symbolically fulfills the Book of Revelation.
Skyrim shows that “magical things happen as [the Logos] manifests itself.”29
For the Logos shines as a light and the darkness has not overcome it.30 Saint Maximus the Confessor explains that all things have a logos: a reason, purpose, origin, all at once.31 “It’s really a Map of Meaning, to use [Jordan Peterson’s] words.”32 Human beings participate in Creation by being made in the image of God, embodying the Logos.33
And the Dragonborn embodies the Logos to act out the pattern of the Archangel Michael, fighting the dragon at the end of time. In doing so, he embodies the spirit of Talos — an earlier Dragonborn — moving closer to union with the divine, but in the sense of being an archangel and not Christ.
Now this article assumes the Dragonborn focuses on the main quest and not the Skyrim Civil War, and does not kill Paarthurnax.
In doing so, he fulfills his purpose, but not his potential, again much like Saint Michael , who is an archangel and acts on God’s behalf (nearly infinite potential), but sticks to his God-given purpose — defeating the dragon at the end of the world.
However, through that process, the Dragonborn does become Christ-like:
He never reached his potential. When he died up on the cross he said three words, he said ‘It is finished.’ What was finished? Not his potential. Because he had the potential to overthrow Caesar, he had the potential to be a Roman guard, he had the potential to do all kinds of stuff. The thing that was finished was his purpose.34
In the main quest alone, the Dragonborn does not overthrow Caesar by joining the Stormcloak rebellion — nor become a Roman guard, by becoming a member of the Empire’s Imperial Legion. Rather than fulfill his potential, in the main quest, the Dragonborn fulfills his purpose of embodying the Logos: to defeat the dragon of the apocalypse and act out the pattern of Saint Michael, becoming Talos-like, Christ-like.
“The only way we get ‘Well-done, good and faithful servant,’ is not if we did everything we could do, it’s if we did the thing that God called us to do.”35
Dan Sherven is the author of three books: Light and Dark, Classified: Off the Beat ‘N Path, and Live to the Point of Tears. Here you can find his books, articles, podcasts, and music.
- Suellentrop, Chris. “‘Skyrim’ Creator on Why We’ll Have to Wait for Another ‘Elder Scrolls’,” Rolling Stone. November 2016.
- The Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Duignan, Brian. “Logos,” Encyclopaedia Britannica. May 2020.
- John 1:1
- Duignan, Brian. “Logos,”
- Ibid .
- Ibid .
- Peterson, Jordan. “Ideology, Logos & Belief with Transliminal Media Transcript,” JordanBPeterson.com. May 2017.
- Ibid .
- Ibid .
- Protas, Allison. Brown, Geoff. Smith, Jamie. Jaffe, Eric. “Dragons,” Dictionary of Symbolism, 2001.
- Ibid .
- Jordan, James B. “№ 85: Some Observations,” Biblical Horizons Newsletter. May 1996.
- Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Baker Books, 1998. 163.
- Rev. 16:14
- “Story of a myth: Saint Michael ,” Art Story Walks.
- Ibid .
- Rev. 19:13–14
- “Story of a myth,” Art Story Walks.
- Upchurch, Robert K. Thompson, Anne B. Whatley, Gordon E. “St. George and the Dragon: Introduction,” in Saints’ Lives in Middle English Collections. Robbins Library Digital Projects. 2004.
- Caxton, William. “Life of Saint George,” in Golden Legend. 1483. Translation by Ellis, Frederick Startridge. 1900.
- Upchurch, Robert K. “St. George and the Dragon,”
- See Caxton, William. de Voragine, Jacobus. “Here followeth the Life of S. George Martyr,” in The Golden Legend: Or, Lives of the Saints. 1483.
- Peterson, Jordan. “Ideology, Logos & Belief,”
- Rev. 12:7–11
- Rev. 14:2-15:5
- Peterson, Jordan. “Ideology, Logos & Belief, ”
- See Pageau, Jonathan. “Resurrection of Logos,” at 9:30. Spotify, May 2018.
- Todd, Mike. “Watch this don’t die not fulfilling your purpose,” YouTube, March 2022.