Paulus Atreides aka The Old Duke Atreides, head of House Atreides, was the nineteenth Atreides Duke of Caladan, father to Leto Atreides I, grandfather to Paul Atreides (Duke of Arrakis and Emperor of the Known Universe), and great-grandfather to Leto Atreides II (the God-Emperor).
Around age 15, he survived for months on the battlefield with only the few possessions in a pack on his back.
He married Helena Richese and her house regained some of its lost prestige. Initially he admitted he was in love with her but subsequently this changed, and had other mistresses and perhaps even illegitimate children.
The Duke was an honorable man, well respected by the Landsraad and beloved by his people; he was not very formal and developed strong bonds with the common people of Caladan, quite unlike his wife who maintained contacts with other powerful Houses. He used to sleep during the yearly audition of the Agamemnon tragedy.
The Old Duke was known to be a great leader of his people, and a showman who had a flair for diplomacy, daring, and the dramatic. In a classic example of these qualities, the Old Duke announced a bullfighting spectacle in honor of the departure of his son for Ix, where he would fight himself.
Preparing for this spectacle, Thufir Hawat had suggested that the stablemaster Yresk slightly tranquilize the bull, but the Duke denied, wanting to face a real challenge. He also used only a half shield to guard his side. Although he hadn't perform for a year, he fought for an hour and killed the bull, to the admiration of the crowd.
Leto Atreides I named his second son, Paul Atreides, after him.
Although Paul Atreides was considered - and indeed considered himself - to be much like his father, it was said that Paul in actual fact more resembled the Old Duke in the manner in which he conducted himself. Duncan Idaho, Thufir Hawat, and Duke Leto I, had all observed how Paul's leadership style, certain movements he made, or phrases uttered by him were reminiscent of the Old Duke.
Thufir Hawat, the Mentat Master of Assassins, was brought into the employ of House Atreides by The Old Duke, where he remained a loyal servant for three sucessive generations. This could be seen as testament to The Old Duke's ability to inspire loyalty in his men, a classic Atreides trait.
Another testament to the Old Duke's compassion was his act of taking the young Duncan Idaho into his home; an act which the latter did not soon forget. After becoming a Sword Master of the Ginaz, Idaho would proudly wield the Old Duke's sword.
Behind the Scenes
There are scant references to the nineteenth Atreides Duke in Frank Herbert's Dune. These references involve mainly how he died, the bull's head, and essences of the man seen by others in Paul. In this book, he is only referred to as "The Old Duke". The name of Paulus Atreides and a history of the man were detailed in the Prelude to Dune prequel books.
The Dune Encyclopedia outlines that The Old Duke was named Minotauros Atreides and outlines a detailed account of his life, including his upbringing, schooling, how he ascended to the Duchy, and how he came to sire Leto.
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