Alduin, or the World-Eater, as he is known to the residents of Skyrim, is an immensely powerful dragon. He is depicted as a malevolent force who destroys the world periodically, and the Nords believe that his reappearance heralds the end of time. He is the self-proclaimed First-Born of Akatosh and aspect of Akatosh ("Do not forget that it was Heaven itself that shed you from me.").[OOG 1] His name can be separated into "Al Du In", which means "Destroyer Devour Master".
According to Paarthurnax, Alduin's younger sibling and chief lieutenant for much of the ancient Dragon War, Alduin was once considered the greatest of Akatosh's creations. According to the writings of Archmage Shalidor, dragons had existed since the advent of time, but were initially as wild as anything else. It was Alduin who created their civilization. One legend says that Alduin can "eat" away the age of his victims, and that his ghost once ate the entire Nord population down to age six after being summoned by Orkey. This legend is somewhat grounded in reality, as Alduin feeds on the souls of the dead in Sovngarde, a privilege he guards jealously.
Imperial scholars concluded that Alduin is not the chief of the Nordic pantheon (in fact, that pantheon has no chief; see Shor), but thought he was its wellspring, albeit a grim and frightening one. Many Nords insisted that the belief he is some sort of Nordic version of the God of Time is a false one perpetuated by foreigners who misunderstood, or underestimated, Nordic oral traditions.
Alduin grew proud and chose to forsake his proper role as World-Eater in favor of conquering Mundus for himself and his fellow dragons. It was Alduin's claims of godhood that convinced Paarthurnax to lead some other dragons in rebellion, and he turned to the ancient Nords for allies. Paarthurnax instructed several of them on how to use the thu'um, which they used to bring about Alduin's defeat by flinging him forward in time. Groups such as the Dragonguard and Greybeards made sure to preserve his legend so the people of the future would remain wary.
In 4E 201, Alduin reappeared near the Throat of the World, from where he had been banished thousands of years before, and decimated the town of Helgen. The resulting escape of Ulfric Stormcloak prolonged the civil war in Skyrim and secured for Alduin a steady flow of souls to be consumed in Sovngarde. As the World Eater set about resurrecting dragons loyal to him, the Last Dragonborn was revealed and sought to stop him. Though this Dovahkiin took the souls of many of Alduin's soldiers, their leader proved impervious to death in the Mundus. Eventually, the Dovahkiin gained access to Sovngarde and finally vanquished the wyrm. However, it is suspected that Alduin will be allowed to return to Nirn at the true end of time so he may fulfill his proper role as World-Eater.
- For game-specific information, see the Skyrim article.
- The Alduin/Akatosh Dichotomy by Alexandre Simon, High Priest of the Akatosh Chantry, Wayrest — A priest's deductions on the relation between Akatosh and Alduin
- Alduin is Real by Thromgar Iron-Head — A poorly spelled essay from a "prowd Nord" on the difference between Alduin and Akatosh
- ^ a b Alduin is Real, and He Ent Akatosh — Thromgar Iron-Head
- ^ a b c d e Paarthurnax's dialogue with the Dragonborn.
- ^ Dragon Language
- ^ Atlas of Dragons, 2E 373 — Brother Mathnan
- ^ Shalidor's Insights — Shalidor
- ^ The Five Songs of King Wulfharth
- ^ a b c d e f g h Events of Skyrim.
- ^ Varieties of Faith in the Empire — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor
- ^ Akatosh Dichotomy — Alexandre Simon, High Priest of the Akatosh Chantry, Wayrest
- ^ The Tale of Dro'Zira - Transcription and Commentary — Sonia Vette
- ^ The Dragon War — Torhal Bjorik
- ^ Annals of the Dragonguard — Brother Annulus
Note: the following references are not found in game. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.