- "He was warrior and mystic, ogre and saint, the fox and the innocent, chivalrous, truthless, less than a god, more than a man. There is no measuring Muad'Dib's motives by ordinary standards. In the moment of his triumph, he saw the death prepared for him, yet he accepted the treachery. Can you say he did this out of a sense of justice? Whose justice, then? Remember, we speak now of the Muad'Dib who ordered battle drums made from his enemies' skins, the Muad'Dib who denied the conventions of his ducal past with a wave of the hand, saying merely: "I am the Kwisatz Haderach. That is reason enough.""
- ―from "Arrakis Awakening" by the Princess Irulan[src]
Paul Atreides (10176 AG - 10219 AG), predominantely known as Muad'Dib, was the last Duke of the noble House Atreides. The only son of Duke Leto Atreides I and Lady Jessica Atreides (née Nerus), Paul's early years were overshadowed by suspicions of him being the Kwisatz Haderach ("one who can be in many places at once") prepared for by the breeding programme of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, achieved one generation early due to the disobedience of his mother in producing a son rather than a daughter.
When the Atreides were forced by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV into moving from their ancestral homeworld of Caladan to the desert planet of Arrakis when Paul was fifteen, he was tested with a gom jabbar by Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, his success in this test proving him human in the eyes of the Sisterhood. On Arrakis, Paul experienced a supposed attempted assassination attempt using a hunter-seeker, although this was in reality staged by the Harkonnens, the historic enemies of the Atreides, in order to turn attention away from the traitor planted in the Atreides household, Suk doctor Wellington Yueh.
Following the Siege of Arrakeen which killed his father and decimated the Atreides, Paul and his mother were taken in by the Fremen tribe of Sietch Tabr after escaping the Harkonnens and the Emperor's Sardaukar, where Paul killed for the first time in a duel with the Fremen Jamis. After this fight, Paul took the name Muad'Dib among the Fremen and found himself becoming a leader among them, and became a good friend to Tabr Naib Stilgar and the lover of his niece Chani Kynes.
Fuelled by the historic prophecies of the Lisan al-Gaib planted by the Missionaria Protectiva centuries ago, Paul found himself inching closer and closer to great power. The years he spent on Arrakis, also saw his mother Jessica drinking the Water of Life, an act which allowed her to become a Reverend Mother and one which Paul later went through with himself, and the birth of his preborn sister, Alia Atreides. Paul also trained the Fremen in the weirding way of the Bene Gesserit to make them into the guerilla warriors known as the Fedaykin, allowing them to deal serious blows against the Harkonnens and turn the tide in the ongoing Desert War against them. When the Emperor decided to come to Arrakis himself to crush Muad'Dib and get spice production back on track, Paul launched the Arrakis Revolt, which culminated in his use of forbidden atomics in the Battle of Arrakeen, a battle which also saw the death of his first son.
Finally meeting the Emperor personally, Paul revealed to Shaddam that he would destroy all of the spice melange on the planet in a chain reaction if he did not allow him to take the Imperial throne, leading to chaos across the Known Universe. After killing his cousin Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in a kanly duel, the Emperor and the Spacing Guild submitted to Paul's will and he was Emperor within three years. Despite his love and loyalty to his concubine Chani, Paul married Princess Irulan Corrino in his quest for the Emperor's seat in the Landsraad, but found navigating this relationship complex and difficult at times.
After ruling his new Atreides Empire for twelve years, during which the galaxy was at war in a jihad which the Fedaykin spread across the universe, Paul was blinded by a stone burner in a final conspiracy against the Atreides throne, but managed to see through his prescient abilites. This presceience-sight ended after the birth of his twin children Leto II and Ghanima, coinciding with Chani's death, and he walked into the desert according to Fremen Law, his sister Alia becoming Regent of the empire. In the ensuing times he became known as the Preacher, an identity he held for nine years before he was murdered while preaching his 'heresy', shortly after accepting the Golden Path planned by his son Leto II, who inherited the Imperium as God Emperor not long after his death and the suicide of his possessed sister Alia.
House Atreides was an old and wealthy House Major in the Landsraad, tracing their lineage back thousands of years to King Agamemnon, a son of Atreus in Greece on Old Earth. The Atreides had a long-standing feud with House Harkonnen dating back ten thousand years to the Battle of Corrin. The family kept their ancestral world of Caladan a lush, prosperous paradise with relatively low industrial levels, in stark contrast to the Harkonnen capital of Giedi Prime. However, the Atreides were also proficient in war; they maintained Swordmasters, Warmasters and Mentats to train and lead their army, and had even developed their own Battle Language.
The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood brought Paul's parents, Duke Leto Atreides and Jessica Nerus, who was secretly the natural daughter of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, together in 10175 AG, with the intention of producing an Atreides daughter who could then mate with Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen to produce the Kwisatz Hadarach the Sisterhood had long prepared for. However, the Bene Gesserit plans were thrown into disarray when Jessica, due to her deep love of the Duke Leto, bore a male heir, Paul, to his House rather than a girl.
Early life (10176-10191)
Paul grew up with a privileged background on the water-rich planet of Caladan, the ancestral Atreides home. Though he lacked companions his own age, he received tutelage from his teachers, men like Thufir Hawat, Duncan Idaho, Gurney Halleck and Doctor Yueh, as well as deep education in Bene Gesserit methods and techniques from his mother. Shortly after his fifteenth birthday in the year 10191 AG, Paul's father revealed to him that his training, through his teachers, had been geared toward turning Paul into a mentat. The theory was that when Paul succeeded his father as Duke of House Atreides, one of the most respected and moral Great Houses of the Imperium, a mentat-duke would truly be a formidable force in the Landsraad. Paul's latent talents also earned him the attention of the Bene Gesserit, who tested him with the Gom Jabbar, as they hoped to salvage their breeding program through him.
Desert War (10191-10193)
Move to Arrakis
- "On that first day when Muad‘Dib rode through the streets of Arrakeen with his family, some of the people along the way recalled the legends and the prophecy and they ventured to shout: “Mahdi!” But their shout was more a question than a statement, for as yet they could only hope he was the one foretold as the Lisan al-Gaib, the Voice from the Outer World. Their attention was focused, too, on the mother, because they had heard she was a Bene Gesserit and it was obvious to them that she was like the other Lisan al-Gaib."
- ―from Manual of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan[src]
Paul accompanied his parents when House Atreides relocated to the desert world of Arrakis to manage mining operations of the spice melange. Before their departure, Gaius Helen Mohiam, Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother and the Emperor's Truthsayer, tested him with the gom jabbar. The test was to discover whether Paul was "truly human" by trial of pain, using a small box that Paul placed his hand inside. The pain inflicted on Paul was caused by nerve induction and clearly drained an incredible amount of energy from the Reverend Mother, since no male or female child had ever withstood that much physical pain before.
After a supposed assassination on Paul using a hunter-seeker, Dr Yueh lowered the defensive house shields and used sedative drugs to disable Leto, Paul, and Jessica, leaving the Atreides leaderless and disorganized under the Harkonnen and Sardaukar military onslaught in the Siege of Arrakeen. The Atreides army was crushed, with only a few remnants managing to escape. This attack marked the beginning of the War. Paul and Jessica were sent into the desert to die. Because of the use of truthsayers in the Empire, the Baron Harkonnen needed to be able to say truthfully that he was not (directly) responsible for their deaths. However, this plan was foiled by arrangements made by Yueh (he hated the Baron and wished to at least save Paul and Jessica) and Paul and Jessica managed to kill their captors and escape into the desert.
With Kynes and Idaho
Paul and Jessica initially met up with Planetologist Liet Kynes and Swordmaster Duncan Idaho, hiding in a botanical testing station abandonded long ago. However, they were not there long before the station was attacked by Sardaukar, who kill Duncan. Paul and Jessica flde to the deep desert in an ornithopter, parting ways with Dr Kynes. They let the Harkonnens think they had died from a coriolis storm.
Alliance with the Fremen
In the deep desert, under the pressure of extreme circumstances and the increased doses of Spice that he has been ingesting simply by living on Arrakis, some of Paul's powers came into fruition, and his ability to see possible futures exploded into awareness. He saw many things, a way out of his situation, and the restoration of the Atreides, if only he could make contact with the native Fremen and survive. After a dangerous crossing of the desert, Paul and Jessica managed to meet up with a troop of Fremen. Paul and Jessica proved their worth by disarming Fremen in unarmed combat, aided by Bene Gesserit prana-bindu training – the "Weirding Way" – and the Fremen leader Stilgar gladly accepted them into his troop because he would like to add that skill to the Fremen people. Paul also met a young woman, Chani, daughter of Liet Kynes, whom he had long seen in his dreams. During this scuffle, Paul disarmed a proud Fremen, Jamis, who took offence at this "presumptuous" youth, and challenged Paul to a fight to the death. Although at first unwilling to kill, he triumphed easily, making his name in the tribe, and also succeeding to the position of head of the household of the dead man. Stilgar gave Paul the name Usul – meaning "the strong base of a pillar" – as his private name within the troop; Paul gave himself the name "Paul Muad'dib" as his public Fremen name.
When they returned to the troop's sietch, they discovered the Fremen Reverend Mother was near death, and with the fortuitous arrival of Jessica, a Bene Gesserit, they made Jessica their Sayyadina. Jessica, not realizing the consequences of what the Fremen were about to do, accepted to cement her place in the tribe. Halfway through the process she realized she has made a mistake, that she was involved in a similar process to how the Bene Gesserit make their own Reverend Mothers who could see genetic memories, and realized that the baby in her womb, fathered by Leto before his death, would also go through the process. This had truly unfortunate consequences, because it was a Bene Gesserit teaching that any such baby would not have the strength to withstand the memories of its ancestors.
By 10193 AG, two years later, Paul had become something of a religious leader among the Fremen. Chani became his lover and bore him a son, whom he called Leto. He and his mother trained the Fremen of Sietch Tabr and other Fremen who sought out Paul in his religious guise, in the Weirding Way, the Bene Gesserit's prana-bindu fighting techniques. Under his leadership his "Fedaykin" experienced victory after victory against the Harkonnens, and Paul's prestige and aura among the Fremen grew. However, in order to be truly accepted by the Fremen he had to become a sandrider. Paul attempted it and succeeded, becoming a full member of the sietch.
The same day, a band of smugglers sought melange too deep in the desert, and the Fremen of Sietch Tabr sprung a trap. In the middle of the battle Paul recognised his weapons teacher, Gurney Halleck, and called on him and his men to surrender. Gurney was overjoyed and overwhelmed in equal measure. He surrendered his men, and joined Paul's service. Among Gurney's men, however, were some Imperial spies who attempted to kill Paul. They were unsuccessful, and they were captured by the Fedaykin. Paul gave secret orders for the spies to be allowed to escape, so that they would reveal that Paul Atreides still lived on Arrakis. Taking advantage of recruiting Gurney Halleck, Paul used the moment to solve his leadership problem. Since he had become a wormrider many of his followers had expected him to challenge Stilgar, his greatest friend among the Fremen, in order to take control of Sietch Tabr. But Paul broke tradition and in doing so forced Stilgar to do the same, managing to sidestep this issue by proclaiming himself the ruling Duke of Arrakis, and thus took power without killing his friend. They returned to Sietch Tabr. Gurney was shocked to discover Jessica is still alive, because he believed she was the one who betrayed the Atreides and that Paul did not know. Gurney was about to kill her when Paul walked in, managed to stop him, and explained that Yueh was the traitor. Gurney was almost broken by his nearly fatal and tragic error, but Jessica forgave him and he was bound even further into Atreides and Jessica's service.
Paul's power among the Fremen grew, but he was still frustrated. He was not all he could be: he could not control his journeys into the future, and much of it was still blank to him. So he took a truly risky step and consumed a tiny amount of spice essence, and so attempted to perform the male equivalent of the Reverend Mother ceremony. Previously to this no man hd survived this experience, and it seemed that he failed also, because he sank into a coma. Paul neglected to tell anyone what he is doing; many people thought he is dead, although others, primarily the Fedaykin, believed he is in a religious trance. His mother, Jessica, did all she can to wake him but failed, so out of desperation she called Chani from the deep desert to help. Chani, through her more personal knowledge of Paul's dreams and desires, realised what a mad thing Paul has done, and used spice essence converted by Jessica using her powers as a Reverend Mother to bring him out of his trance. For Paul no time had passed, and he gloried in his new memories and powers — he told his mother and Chani immediately that the Emperor himself was currently orbiting the planet with many Sardaukar, ready to attack. He had proven the Bene Gesserit wrong: he was the Kwisatz Haderach, appearing one generation ahead of the prediction. He declared that it was now time to destroy the Harkonnens.
Fremen attacks on the Harkonnens had already managed to almost entirely stop the flow of the spice from Arrakis. This forced the Emperor to act, and he came to Arrakis with all his Sardaukar, and also levied of all the other noble houses, to annihilate the Fremen if necessary in order to get the spice flowing again. By now the Emperor was aware of who Muad'Dib was. In advance of his arrival, he sent a large Sardaukar force into the deep desert for information. Attacking a sietch, they managed to kill Paul's son, and capture Alia – Paul's sister – but were driven off by Fremen children, old people and women.
Battle of Arrakeen
After the Emperor himself had landed, Paul launched the final attack. Using the House Atriedes' family atomics (nuclear weapons) that his men managed to retrieve after the Harkonnen attack, he blew a hole in the Shield Wall that protected the capital of Arrakeen from the surrounding desert and its fierce storms. By using the weapons this way, he narrowly avoided contravening the universal ban against using atomics on people, which would have required the other noble houses to retaliate with "planetary annihilation". The Fremen attacked under cover of a huge desert storm, riding sandworms from the desert through the hole in the Shield Wall. The great static force of the sandstorm then shorted out all of the Sarduakar's defensive shields. The Sardaukar were unable to withstand the full force of the Fremen, caught as they were in total surprise, and the Emperor was forced to surrender. The combined forces of the Landsraad still loomed in orbit around the planet, but Paul threatened to destroy the Spice if any of them try to land, and they backed off. In the surprise of Muad'Dib's attack, Alia managed to escape, and in the process killed the Baron Harkonnen.
Realizing that Muad'dib was not some mad Fremen religious leader changed the situation dramatically for the Emperor. Feyd-Rautha, the Baron's nephew, an acclaimed gladiator, challenged Paul to single combat; claiming rights of kanly as had been declared by Paul's father Leto. Paul agreed even knowing that it is possible he would die, but after a difficult fight during which Feyd-Rautha attempted treachery in the form of a poisoned knife and needle, Paul eventually triumphed.
As Emperor (10196-10210)
Paul refused to take any more nonsense. He forced the Emperor from the throne by the simple expedience of taking power from the real rulers of the Empire – the Spacing Guild – who controlled space travel. He again threatened to destroy the spice if they did not ship all the troops home. The Spacing Guild had no choice – their limited powers of prophecy showed Paul is capable of it – and they sent everyone home. The Emperor abdicated and retired to Salusa Secundus in 10196 AG. Paul married the Emperor's eldest daughter, Irulan, and assumed control of the Empire. Irulan later wrote extensively on the subject of Muad'Dib, having nothing of him but knowledge of his lifestyle and patterns of thought. Paul then sent a Fremen jihad across the known universe.
Upon crowning himself Emperor in 10196, Paul enacted a strategy that had been revealed to him through his prescient abilities. This decision saw the theology (and many customs) of the Fremen thrust into the whole of the Empire. A result of this action was that Paul Atreides himself became a revered god-head on many worlds in the Known Universe. There was resistance, and Paul found himself increasingly isolated from his family and friends as he decided that the Jihad to implement his vision of mankind's future must be bloodthirsty and relentless. Whole planets were sterilized as some of the Great Houses put up a struggle against Paul's relentless Fremen armies.
After the bloody jihad ended, Emperor Paul-Muad'Dib Atreides eventually subdued all outright rebellion. The order of the Known Universe was maintained through the replacement of Corrino imperial power, which was supported by Sardaukar military strength; with Atreides imperial power, supported by Fremen military strength.
Paul's interpretation of his prescient visions also necessitated that Arrakis be transformed from a barren desert planet into a lush and fertile world, with the exception of a small desert for the sandworm to remain alive and keep producing spice. By the end of his rule this plan was well on its way to succeeding. This program had begun under Pardot Kynes as an attempt to harness a planet; however, under Paul, it became part of a plan to save humanity.
Despite his strong leadership and formidable prescient abilities, Emperor Paul Atreides began to feel building pressure from discordant groups within the Empire: notably the Bene Gesserit, Bene Tleilax, fringe groups within the Fremen, and the dethroned but still powerful House Corrino. Among the schemes of his enemies were the detonation of a stone burner near where Paul and his forces stood in Arrakeen, which resulted in his physical blindness. Upon Paul's recovery from this incident, he shocked all by his ability to 'see' despite not having eyes. His perfect prescient abilities allowed him to perceive the world around him.
Death of Chani
Despite being able to 'see' through prescience, doubts began to surface in Paul's mind regarding his interpretation of the future. Feeling increasingly frustrated and out of control, he began to seek a way out. That escape route emerged through the combined treachery of his enemies, a plot conceived in the presence of a powerful Guild Navigator. The Bene Tleilax gave him a ghola of Duncan Idaho, who contained a secret trigger. Concurrently, and part of the plan, Irulan slowly poisoned Chani. As the Princesses' toxins slowly worked their way through Chani's body, the Emperor's Consort died during childbirth. Immediately, the Face Dancer Scytale, who had been posing as Chani's hand-maid, sprung into action and caused the Idaho ghola to remember his Tleilaxu mission, to kill Muad'Dib. As this caused a great mental conflict within Duncan, he remembered his past with House Atreides. Immediately, Scytale realized the great scope of change that had occurred; a ghola had recovered memories of its' former life. Scytale bargained with Paul that the Tleilaxu could bring back a ghola of Chani, complete with her life experiences, for Paul to enjoy in relative obscurity—if the Atreides would abdicate. Instead, Paul killed Scytale.
Walk into the Desert
After the birth of his children, Ghanima and Leto, Paul became convinced he had lost his prescient abilities; he did not foresee the birth of his son, only his daughter. Therefore, as no more than a blind Fremen, Paul disappeared into the desert, offering himself up to Shai-Hulud, as was the Fremen custom for the blind. This action made a powerful statement: it signified to the Fremen that Paul's interest was for the tribe, and that even he, Usul, Paul who was Muad'Dib, was not above Fremen law.
As The Preacher (10210-10219)
Many years after his apparent death alone in the desert, and while the Atreides Empire was under the regency of his younger sister Alia Atreides, a new figure, The Preacher, appeared from the deep desert. By urging civil disobedience against the Atreides Empire, and warning of the consequences of a green Arrakis, The Preacher attracted an ever increasing number of followers. Many believed this thundering blind stranger to be Paul Atreides, as he was blind and led by a boy.
The Preacher eventually revealed himself to his son Leto, and the two of them travelled throughout Arrakis, breaching the water storage of every sietch so that it would spill out onto the sand. Eventually Leto and the Preacher returned to Arrakeen to confront Alia, who had clearly shown herself to be Abomination by this time. Eventually rising tensions saw Alia commit suicide in front of her mother and Leto. During the ensuing chaos, The Preacher was assassinated in Arrakeen, but not before he had revealed beyond a doubt to Gurney Halleck and Jessica that he was indeed Paul Atreides.
Thus, the great Paul Atreides, son of Leto the Just and the first Atreides to ascend to the Golden Lion Throne since its inception more than ten thousand years prior, was dead, passing into legend for eons to come, laying the way forward for his son to take the Golden Path to its logical conclusion. While Paul envisioned the Golden Path, the ultimate transformation that would see his humanity dissolve into a sandworm frightened him. Upon revealing himself to his son, Paul confessed that his desire to maintain his humanity, and the fear of abject loneliness that the Golden Path would bring, were too much for him. He related that he walked away from what he knew he had to do, and admired but lamented for his son who had taken on the mantle that would see humanity restored, but at the cost of his own.
In his youth, Paul was a small boy with an oval face, with tousled coal-colored hair and green eyes. After his time among the Fremen, he grew to a a stringy whipcord of a youth, not as desiccated as the Arrakeen natives, but with ribs there to count, and sunken in the flanks so that the ripple and gather of muscles could be followed under the leathery skin. His oval face was like his mother Jessica’s, but he had stronger bones and a browline reminiscent of his maternal grandfather. He had a thin, disdainful nose, long lashes concealing lime-toned, directly staring green eyes, and a hardness in the expression like the old Duke, his paternal grandfather.
Abilities and skills
- Prescience: As the Kwisatz Haderach long sought out for by the breeding programme of the Bene Gesserit Order, Paul possessed a powerful ability to bridge space and time with prescient ability. From an early age, he experienced visions in his dreams which were reported to the Sisterhood by his mother Jessica and was known to have had visions that were accurate, penetrating, and defied four-dimensional explanation. This was one of the key attributes that made them first suspect him being their long-awaited Kwisatz Haderach achieved early. Upon the arrival of House Atreides on Arrakis, Paul's prescient ability was strengthened by the spice melange he constantly inhaled, and it grew greatest during his alliance with the Fremen people, when he first forsaw the jihad that would be waged across the Known Universe in his name, and began to try and avert it. By the end of his reign, Paul's prescience was so powerful that when he lost his eyesight due to a Tleilaxu stone burner, he could interact with the world around him without aid. This was because he was able to remember all the details of his vision of the future. Essentially, Paul knew where everyone would be and what they would say and do. While this helped him in many situations, it was also ultimately his downfall as he was helpless to prevent his future.
- Weirding Way: Paul was trained by his mother in the Weirding Way of the Bene Gesserit, allowing him to maneuver around and strike an opponent at unimaginable speeds. When first encountering Sietch Tabr this saved his life, as he was able to overcome the Fremen who saught to kill him and Jessica for their water by means of the Weirding Way. He later taught the Way to many of the Fremen across Arrakis, making them into skilled and deadly Fedaykin by these means, and this was a key factor in his victory in the Battle of Arrakeen.
- Voice: At the time the Atreides landed on Arrakis, Paul was also developing the audio-neuro control mechanism of Voice used by the Sisterhood to achieve complete control over a reciever. He demonstrated his emerging talent in this field when, after the decimation of the Atreides and the capture of him and his mother into an ornithopter, he used the Voice to order a Harkonnen agent to remove Jessica's gag so that she could use it even more effectively against him, and thus saving both their lives.
- Prana-bindu control: Paul was taught by the supreme control of nerve and muscles known to the Bene Gesserit as prana-bindu by Jessica, which laid the foundations for his use of the Weirding Way and allowed him to gain a higher control over his body which would come to his advantage at many points in his life.
- Swordfighting: In addition to the Bene Gesserit techniques taught to him by his mother for his survival, Paul became a skilled swordfighter after years of training by his chief Atreides teachers, the renowned Swordmaster Duncan Idaho and Gurney Halleck, who he nearly bested shortly before the move to Arrakis. This proved to be a vital skill, as he employed it not only to best Jamis after he declared amtal during his early years in Sietch Tabr, but later to kill his cousin, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, another skilled fighter, in a kanly duel at the time of his ascension to Emperor.
- Mentat training: For the first fifteen years of his life, much of Paul's training, through his teachers, had been geared toward turning Paul into a Mentat by order of his father Duke Leto. The theory was that when Paul succeeded his father as the Duke of the Atreides, one of the most respected and moral Great Houses of the Imperium, a Mentat-Duke would truly be a formidable force in the Landsraad. He became a fully fledged "true" Mentat after first escaping the Harkonnens with his mother, and the high level Mentat abilities he gained at that time would help him at many points in his life, including helping handle the data of the battles of his jihad and allowing him to piece together the nature of the conspiracies which were aimed against him more quickly than he could have otherwise.
- Endurance: Paul's unusual endurance, especially for a male, was noted by Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam when she tested him with a gom jabbar, a test which he passed through this skill. She noted that he surmounted more agony in the test than any other human of record.
Leto Atreides I
- "How do we approach the study of Muad‘Dib’s father? A man of surpassing warmth and surprising coldness was the Duke Leto Atreides. Yet, many facts open the way to this Duke: his abiding love for his Bene Gesserit lady; the dreams he held for his son; the devotion with which men served him. You see him there—aman snared by Destiny, a lonely figure with his light dimmed behind the glory of his son. Still, one must ask: What is the son but an extension of the father?"
- ―from Muad’Dib, Family Commentaries by the Princess Irulan[src]
Paul respected his father Leto, the penultimate Atreides Duke, who had hopes for a great future for his son as a Mentat-Duke. When Paul was nearly killed by a hunter-seeker in a supposed assassination attempt, Leto grew enraged at his Mentat Thufir, who had failed to detect the trap, and was angry that the Harkonnens had tried to take the life of his son. Paul was greatly disturbed when he heard Reverend Mother Mohiam tell his mother: "for the father, nothing", and had an urge to tell Leto what she had said, although he never did. Leto felt like Paul was one of the only people to whom he could reveal his weaknesses and fears as well as entrust the fact that he had never distrusted Jessica, a fact which he told Paul to reveal to her if he never could, and which he did after Leto's death.
- Paul: "You're the strong one, Chani. Stay with me."
- Chani: "Always."
- — Paul and Chani's love[src]
Paul first encountered Chani Kynes, daughter of the great Planetologist Liet-Kynes, during him and Jessica's initial encounter and fight with the Fremen, but by that point he had dreamed of her many times. Stilgar told her to keep Paul out of trouble and Chani helped Paul in his fight with Jamis by warning him that Jamis fought with either hand, and that he should keep his mind on the knife and not on the hand that held it. From that point they grew closer, calling each other Usul and Sihaya, and she ultimately became his concubine, and the mother of his first son, Leto Atreides II the Elder, who was killed by Sardaukar in the Battle of Arrakeen. After Paul's ascension to Emperor Chani was considered his true wife rather than his titular wife, the Princess Irulan, and became the mother of two further children with Paul, Ghanima and Leto II, before her death. The love between them was shown by her last word: Usul.
- "Duncan the moral."
- ―Paul's opinion of his teacher[src]
Paul had a close bond with his Swordmaster teacher Duncan Idaho, who trained him from his earliest years, and he was greatly distraught when Idaho fell in battle with Sardaukar on Arrakis saving him and Jessica. When the first ghola of Duncan, "Hayt", was presented to Paul by the Tleilaxu in 10208 AG, he found himself unable to turn the gift down due to his previous friendship with his mentor and his guilt for Duncan's death, and grew a bond with Hayt almost as strong as that he had had with the original Duncan, whose memories were awakened in Hayt after he failed to kill Paul shortly before his walk into the desert and supposed death.
- Shaddam IV: "Kill this upstart for me. The Atreides is young and resourceful, yes—but he is also tired from long effort and he’d be no match for you, anyway. Call him out now ... you know the way of it. Kill him. Do it!"
- Hasimir Fenring: "Majesty, I must refuse."
- — Count Fenring refuses to kill Paul[src]
Paul first met Count Hasimir Fenring in 10193 AG during his final confrontation with Emperor Shaddam IV, the Count's closest friend, following the Battle of Arrakeen. Upon seeing the Count Paul felt extreme shock, as he had seen the Emperor in uncounted associations spread through the possible futures, but never once had Count Fenring appeared within those prescient visions. When the Emperor ordered Fenring to kill Paul, he realised that this was because the Count was a failed Kwisatz Haderach, and looking into Fenring's eyes he felt a deep compassion for the Count flow through him, the first sense of brotherhood he’d ever experienced. Seeing this, Fenring refused to kill him, accompaning the Emperor into exile on Salusa Secundus afterwards.
Gaius Helen Mohiam
- Paul Atreides: "Try your tricks on me, old witch. Where’s your gom jabbar? Try looking into that place where you dare not look! You’ll find me there staring out at you! Have you nothing to say?"
- Gaius Helen Mohiam: "I welcomed you to the ranks of humans. Don’t besmirch that."
- Paul Atreides: "Observe her, comrades! This is a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother, patient in a patient cause. She could wait with her sisters—ninety generations for the proper combination of genes and environment to produce the one person their schemes required. Observe her! She knows now that the ninety generations have produced that person. Here I stand... but... I ... will ... never... do ... her... bidding!”"
- Gaius Helen Mohiam: " Jessica! Silence him!"
- — Paul defies Reverend Mother Mohiam[src]
First meeting the aged Reverend Mother Mohiam when she visited Caladan to test him with a gom jabbar, Paul took instant dislike to the 'old crone', complaining about how she addressed his mother and how she treated him. When Mohiam ordered him to sit as her mother did, he told her that he was not his mother and he preferred to stand, from which she ordained that he hated her a little. Despite being judged human by Mohiam in the test, these feelings continued. He encountered Mohiam again during his final confrontation with the Emperor, terrifying her with his final ultimatum of destroying all melange after pointing out her reliance on spice as a Reverend Mother. She recognised that Paul was indeed the Kwisatz Haderach as she had long suspected. Paul declared that he was indeed the One but he would never to her bidding, and that for her role with the Emperor he could gladly have her strangled, but he thought it better punishment that she should live out her years never able to bend him to the Bene Gesserit schemes. He retained this opinion to the last, telling Alia not to execute Mohiam for her role in the conspiracy against him shortly before his walk into the desert, although she disobeyed him.
- "Muad'Dib is wise in the ways of the desert. Muad'Dib creates his own water. Muad'Dib hides from the sun and travels in the cool night. Muad'Dib is fruitful and multiplies over the land. Muad'Dib we call 'instructor-of-boys.' That is a powerful base on which to build your life, Paul Muad'Dib, who is Usul among us."
The name Muad'Dib, given by Stilgar after Paul bested Jamis in amtal, was taken from the Fremen name for the kangeroo mouse of the Arrakis desert. While he originally called himself Paul-Muad'Dib after accepting this name, as to not completely remove the name given by his father, this did not become a common name and by his time as Emperor he was generally called only Muad'Dib. While this was the open way to refer to Paul, it was also decided after Jamis' death that the private name used within the sietch would be Usul, meaning "the strength of the base of the pillar" in the Fremen language. He was also called Abu Dhur or Abu d' Dhur.
In addition to being the Kwisatz Haderach long sought for by the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, Paul was known as both the Lisan al-Gaib and the Mahdi to the Fremen. The vanquished of his jihad called him the Tyrant, a title which would later be used more widely to describe his son, the God Emperor, after his assassination. In his nine years as a nameless blind Fremen after walking into the desert, Paul was known by the title of the Preacher in absence of any name that could be given to him. He was given the postthumous title of the Mentat Emperor by the Mahdi Spirit Cult. He was given the title of Father of the Indefinite Roads of Time while being called Abu Dhur by Stilgar and later his son Leto II, who also called him the Fil-Haquiqa and The Reality.
In earlier stages
Behind the Scenes
Paul as a hero
According to novelist Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert's son and biographer, House Atreides was based on the heroic but ill-fated Greek mythological House Atreus. Noting that the characters in Dune fit mythological archetypes, Brian Herbert wrote that "Paul is the hero prince on a quest who weds the daughter of a 'king'". A primary theme of Dune and its sequels is Frank Herbert's warning about society's tendencies to "give over every decision-making capacity" to a charismatic leader. He said in 1979, "The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better rely on your own judgment, and your own mistakes." He wrote in 1985, "Dune was aimed at this whole idea of the infallible leader because my view of history says that mistakes made by a leader (or made in a leader's name) are amplified by the numbers who follow without question." In a 1970 interview, Herbert noted that the character of Paul was constructed to express "the conflict between absolutes and the necessity of the moment". Brian Herbert wrote:
Paul Atreides (who is the messianic "Muad'Dib" to the Fremen) resembles Lawrence of Arabia (T. E. Lawrence), a British citizen who led Arab forces in a successful desert revolt against the Turks during World War I. Lawrence employed guerrilla tactics to destroy enemy forces and communication lines, and came close to becoming a messiah figure for the Arabs. This historical event led Frank Herbert to consider the possibility of an outsider leading native forces against the morally corrupt occupiers of a desert world, in the process becoming a godlike figure to them.
The similarity to T.E. Lawrence was reinforced within the novel Dune Messiah, in which a chapter heading-quotation is taken from a post-conquest work of Paul's, with the title The Seven Pillars of the Universe. This appears to have been inspired by Lawrence's account of his war-time activities in the desert, titled Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
Throughout Paul's rise to superhuman status, he follows a plotline common to many stories describing the birth of a hero. He has unfortunate circumstances forced onto him, and after a long period of hardship and exile, he confronts and defeats the source of evil in his tale. As such, Dune is representative of a general trend beginning in 1960s American science fiction in that it features a character who attains godlike status through scientific means. Paul's riding and controlling a giant sandworm cements him as a Fremen leader, and he eventually gains a level of omniscience which leads to his accession to the Imperial throne and causes the Fremen to worship him like a god.
Juan A. Prieto-Pablos says Herbert achieves a new typology with Paul's superpowers, differentiating the heroes of Dune from earlier heroes such as Superman, A. E. van Vogt's Gilbert Gosseyn, and Henry Kuttner's telepaths. Unlike previous superheroes who acquire their powers suddenly and accidentally, Paul's are the result of "painful and slow personal progress". And unlike other superheroes of the 1960s—who are the exception among ordinary people in their respective worlds—Herbert's characters grow their powers through "the application of mystical philosophies and techniques". For Herbert, the ordinary person can develop incredible fighting skills (Fremen and Sardaukar) or mental abilities (Bene Gesserit and Mentats).
Denis Villeneuve, director and co-writer of the 2021 film adaptation Dune, compared Paul to the character Michael Corleone in The Godfather, explaining that "He's training to be the Duke. But as much as he's been prepared and trained for that role, is it really what he dreams to be? That's the contradiction of that character. It's like Michael Corleone in The Godfather–it's someone that has a very tragic fate and he will become something that he was not wishing to become."
The Egyptian-Canadian commentator Khalid M. Baheyeldin has enumerated the obviously Islamic concepts and references appearing in Dune, to the level of finding multiple similarities between the career of Herbert's Paul Atreides and that of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Beyond the obvious general resemblance - both Muhammad and Atreides found a powerful new religion, energizing hitherto disregarded desert-dwellers to topple an old empire and build a new one - Baheyeldin noted various specific similarities between Muhammad's career and that of Atreides.
In Original Dune it is noted that Paul Atreides was born on Caladan, both in an excerpt from Princess Irulan's Manual of Muad'Dib, as well as through his own thoughts. However in Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's prequel novel Dune: House Corrino, his birth takes place on Kaitain.
In Paul of Dune, it is asserted that Irulan, through her history books, "streamlined the story for mass consumption". This alleviates any concern for inconsistency between the two accounts and maintains the canonical status of the original Dune.
In Other Media
Alejandro Jorodowski wanted his then 12-year-old son Brontis Jodorowski to star as Paul in his unsuccessful attempt to produce a film adaptation of Dune.
In the 1984 movie Dune, the role of Paul was played by long time Dune fan Kyle MacLachlan. In interviews, MacLachlan related that when reading Dune for the first time as a teenager, he imagined himself as being Paul Atreides, and to be provided the opportunity to portray him in a big budget film was a dream come true for him.
In the 2000 and 2003 Sci-Fi Channel mini-series Paul was played by Alec Newman. The actor, who has a Scottish accent, reportedly adapted an American accent in a relatively short span of time just to land the role. In the 2000 miniseries, Paul was initially portrayed as a sort of "spoiled brat" in order to show the audience his growth from Atreides heir to Emperor of the Known universe.
In the Denis Villeneuve's 2021 Dune film, Paul was played by Timothée Chalamet. Villeneuve stated that Chalamet was his first and only choice to play the role of Paul Atreides saying "Timothée has that kind of charismatic power. And I needed that for the audience to believe this young man will be able to raise and lead an army, and then lead a whole planet." Chalamet be reprising the role of Paul Atreides in the sequel to Dune, titled Dune: Part Two, which is scheduled to release on October 20, 2023.
- Dune Messiah
- Children of Dune
- God Emperor of Dune (Mentioned only)
- Heretics of Dune (Mentioned only)
- Chapterhouse: Dune (Mentioned only)
Leto Atreides I
|Duke of House Atreides
10191 AG - 10196 AG
Shaddam Corrino IV
|Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe
10196 AG - 10210 AG
Alia Atreides (regent)