The Eye of Magnus is an ancient artifact of unknown origin. It possesses a great amount of magical power and can be manipulated with the Staff of Magnus, which once belonged to the God of Magic himself. It was discovered by the ancient Nords when they were building the city of Saarthal. The Nords attempted to keep it buried, but the elves learned of its existence and coveted it for themselves. During the Night of Tears the elves assaulted Saarthal to secure this powerful artifact for themselves. Ysgramor rallied together his people to keep the elves from seizing it, and the Nords were successful in preventing the elves from obtaining the artifact. The Eye was buried deep below the earth and sealed away.
In 4E 201, during an expedition in Saarthal, the Eye of Magnus was uncovered by members of the College of Winterhold. The artifact was transported to the college for examination. Ancano, a Thalmor agent, attempted to draw power from the Eye, but was prevented and killed by members of the college. Monks from the Psijic Order, who had been observing the situation, arrived to take the artifact, claiming that it was too unstable to keep in Mundus. Ancano's meddling with the eye had long-term effects, causing Ruptures to appear across Skyrim, through which dangerous Magic Anomalies emerged. The college tried its best to close these Ruptures using the Staff of Magnus.
Ancient Khajiiti mythology writes that when Magrus fled from Boethra and Lorkhaj, he could only see out of one eye and fell into the Moonshadow. There Azurah judged him as too full of fear to rule a sphere, and she tore out his other eye. Magrus left to the heavens blinded, but Azurah made of his eye a stone to reflect the Varliance Gate. This is the "Aether Prism", which opens at Dawn and closes at Dusk. Some sorcerers hold that Magrus left the eye willingly as an offering to Azurah and her children, and these magi still utter prayers to his name. However, it is not known if the Eye of Magnus has any connection to this myth.
- In the Altmeri lesson of the divine body, the phrase "The Eye of Magnus is always upon us, in the spells and enchantments that devout Mages conjure." is recited by religious preachers. Whether it refers to the artifact itself is unclear.
- The central component of the Orrery of Elden Root highly resembles the Eye of Magnus and its plates rotate when activated.
- Ada'Soom Dir-Kamal landed on the White River close to Winterhold looking for something or someone called the "Ordained Receptacle".
- For game-specific information, see the Skyrim article.