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The Elder Scrolls video game series is notorious for its in-depth and sprawling lore, especially that of the various groups of Aedra and Daedra, the god figures of the Elder Scrolls world. The myths and themes surrounding these gods share many similarities to those of our own world. However while Aedra take on a role more similar to classical characters from greek or early Christian mythology, Daedra are much more complex. Daedra, also known as the Daedric Princes, are generally considered to be foul and destructive deities, who are rarely worshipped by humans.
Hircine is the Daedric Prince of the wilderness, the hunt, and all beasts. He is a wild and savage god who embodies the uncontrollable and unknowable nature of the wilderness. Many cultures in the Elder Scrolls series fear the untamed wilds, preferring to stay within the walls of their cities and near the hearths of their homes. Hircine is a representation of their fear. He also acts as a warning to those who step outside the bounds of civilized life.
One of Hircine’s most interesting associations is with werewolves. Not only in the physical sense of actual werewolves but also in the metaphorical sense that there is a bit of wildness and savagery within all people. This theme of the beast within is also evident in Hircine’s appearance as a goat-headed man, as he is quite literally both man and beast, both prey and predator. This theme is even further explored in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where the Hero encounters the werewolf Sinding.
Sinding has been cursed by Hircine to lose control of his powers, transforming into a beast at random. He flees to a cavern known as the Bloated Man, into which the Hero must delve and choose to either kill Sinding or save him from Hircine’s loyal hunters. The Hero literally travels inward, to either destroy or accept the beast within themselves, becoming either the hunter or the beast in the process. Either way, Hircine is pleased.
Unlike Hircine, the Daedric Prince Sanguine represents societal taboos rather than societal fears. He is the Daedric Prince of debauchery, hedonism, and indulgence. A god of temptation and classical sin, often depicted with a glass of mead in hand. Though Sanguine is usually thought of as a carefree and jovial deity similar to Dionysus, Sanguine is no less sinister than any other Daedric Prince. He is a god of subtle corruption. He finds joy in nudging humans toward a wasted life, one tiny piece push at a time. Productive members of society do not suddenly find themselves wasted away on the floor of the local tavern, but rather slip into that lifestyle slowly. Sanguine is that force. He is the voice telling you to take another sip.
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