|Resided in||Throat of the World|
|Appears in||Skyrim, Legends|
- "What is better - to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?" — Paarthurnax
Paarthurnax, a legendary dragon whose name means "Ambition Overlord Cruelty" in the Dragon Language, acted as the lieutenant of Alduin, his older brother, during the Dragon War, purportedly committing many atrocities in the process. Eventually, Paarthurnax rebelled against Alduin and taught mortals how to use the thu'um (Nords believe this was ordered by, or at least willed by, the goddess Kyne). When Alduin was defeated by being cast forward in time through use of an Elder Scroll, Paarthurnax used meditation to overcome his draconic instinct and lust for power. He retired to the peak of the Throat of the World, where he took up practice of the Way of the Voice, a philosophy discovered by Jurgen Windcaller. He served as the leader of the Greybeards, a monastic order also dedicated to the Way of the Voice. Paarthurnax evaded death because of the protection provided by the Greybeards, although he remained a high-priority target of the Blades. His younger dragon brothers refer to him as "the Old One".
Throughout the eras, Paarthurnax spent most of his time meditating, rarely communicating even with the Greybeards and never with outsiders. Being allowed to see him is a great privilege, and only those whose Voice is strong can find and walk the perilous path to him. He recalls visiting the captured dragon, Numinex, in Dragonsreach around the first era. He attributes the decline of the dragon race to the Akaviri, who slaughtered his brothers in the late first era and dwindled their numbers drastically. In 4E 201, Alduin reappeared and the prophesied Last Dragonborn arrived in Skyrim. The Dragonborn was soon summoned to High Hrothgar by the Greybeards, and eventually met with Paarthurnax, who had not trained another in over a hundred years and aided the Dragonborn in defeating Alduin. When confronting Paarthurnax at the Throat of the World, Alduin noted that his brother had weakened in power and offered him the chance to join him once more or perish, but Paarthurnax refused. Paarthurnax then took it upon himself to teach the Way of the Voice to the remaining dragons who had been resurrected by Alduin, so that they too could control their lust for power. However, the Blades discovered Paarthurnax's whereabouts, and appealed to the Dragonborn to kill Paarthurnax as punishment for his ancient crimes against humanity. Paarthurnax's fate is currently unknown.