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Portrait of Paulus Atreides by Albe

Paulus Atreides (10089 AG - 10154 AG), aka the Old Duke, was the son of Kean Atreides, grandson of Miklos Atreides, and the 25th Duke Atreides. Paulus married Helena Richese, and fathered a single son, Leto Atreides I. Paulus posthumously became the grandfather to Paul Atreides (who was named in his honor), and great-grandfather to Leto Atreides II (the God-Emperor) and Ghanima Atreides. Duke Paulus regularly engaged in bullfights, until he lost his life to a drugged Salusan Bull.


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. During the Ecazi Revolt Paulus and Dominic Vernius fought on Elrood IX’s side against the rebels.

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.

Paulus educated Leto with methods which Helena disagreed; he make him worked with villagers (had spent a month working in the pundi rice fields) and socialized with citizens and commoners.

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. However, he was killed by a Salusan Bull in the bullring of the Plaza de Toros.

Leto later discovered his mother was involved in the drug of the animal, so he exiled her to Caladan's Eastern Continent, to live in solitude in the Abbey of the Sisters in Isolation.

Paulus atreides and a salusan bull

Death of the Old Duke by a drugged salusan bull. (source:http://dreamsofshaihulud.tumblr.com/)


The bull was subsequently killed, and its head was mounted on the wall in the Dining Hall of Castle Caladan, (and later the Keep at Arrakeen), replete with the Old Duke's blood stains.

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 successive 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.


  • "The populace must think their ruler is a greater man than they, else why should they follow him? Above all a leader must be a showman, giving his people the bread and circuses they require."

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.


Preceded by
Siridar-Duke of Caladan
? - 10154 AG
Succeeded by
Leto Atreides I