Hello all. I think that the overarching theme of the whole ESO is love.
(As well as being a super awesome sword-swinging, spell-slinging fantasy epic adventure.)
PSA: --- I have tried to not include any spoilers in this post, and so have not used names (most I can't remember in any case) or too many specifics. I also stand to be corrected on any and/or all points I raise; just show your work (as my maths teacher said). ---
First off, love in the game has no boundaries, even if you take a particularly notorious lore book (redacted in Skyrim) on Khajiit copulation physiology (penile spines) as lore. Thank goodness the ESO lore guys ignored this one, not only because it opened up the possibility of more interspecies love relations.
Also, homosexuality is a non-issue in Tamriel (proof: Skyrim Mara quest where your toon can marry any gender, race or species, as well as tons of examples in ESO of homosexuality, bisexuality, etc.). I think this is similar to many older cultures on earth, such as the Romans, Greeks and feudal Japanese - and probably a host of others - where homosexuality was not considered abnormal.
I only know a bit of Latin, which has two distinct forms of love: amor, the physical aspects of love (which is where we get the word "amorous" from, among others), and caritas, which is the platonic or non-physical aspects of love (from which we derive the words "care" and "charity", among others). ESO has examples of both forms of love, though neither is made to be lesser than the other.
Examples (not exhaustive):
In Stonefalls, there is an Argonian female and a dark elf female couple, in Hew's Bane, a dark elf female reunites with her long-lost female Khajiit love, also in Hew's Bane, you learn that a high elf male loved a female red guard; in Rivenspire, a female Breton and a female orc and a male Breton form a love triangle (which you have to settle, as usual), and depending on your advice and another quest, the male Bret finds love with a former bandit female orc who had been in a relationship with a male dark elf bandit.
In Bleak Falls, there are many examples of more conventional love, including fraternal and sororital love, love by a Nord female (encountered later in the story quests) for her children and family, and also a Nord wife looking for her Nord husband who is injured. Lassie... erm, I mean Rex their dog leads you to him.
In Bangkorai, there is a male couple (I can't recall their races) where one is a lycanthrope, and the other sends you on a quest to find his lost love. Even after learning of his cursed nature, the quest giver still wants to remain with him. There is a female wood orc who loves her father and her people (she was also one of my first in-game crushes), and she is killed by her uncle trying to protect her friend, who is a legendary female wood elf. (Most of my in-game female orc crushes are brutally murdered during the related quest, no wonder most male orcs are single.)
In Summerset, there is particularly moving quest involving a male Breton alchemist and his deceased male Altmer alchemist partner (the quest states everyone who knew them expected them to get married). There is also a married pair of powerful high elves mages who loved their daughter whom unfortunately died in her early years despite everything magic and alchemy could do, and, despite fighting with each other and even possibly hating each other after this event, they eventually realise that they both loved their daughter - and each other though the relationship cannot continue - dearly and profoundly.
In one of the Wood Elf lands, there is a side quest involving a female Nord and her addict Khajiit husband. The almost mystical love between the Green Lady and the Silvenar is also particularly potent, not only because they are destined to be together, but because they seem to truly love each other eventually, and have to combat the rage of her former lover.
There is also a quest where a male wood elf wants to find a particular species of flowers for his dying wood elf husband, and even though he does not make it, at least the flowers bloom at the site of his death.
In Wrothgar, there is a male Khajiit suthay-raht raised by orcs (he even sounds like one, until he tries to talk like a Khajiit, which is hilarious) and he eventually finds love in the form of a female Khajiit suthay-raht fighter. In southern Elsweyr one of my favourite male orc fighters ends up abducted along with a female Alfiq and a young suthay-raht Khajiit, and risks his life to save the suthay-raht and the Alfiq, although the young suthay-raht does not survive. The Alfiq seems fairly attracted to the orc, although he seems to not reciprocate beyond a deep friendship and kindness. She even tells him that he has a kind heart, which he seems a bit embarrased about.
A really tall and important female Nord soldier (whom most people will meet in-game) learns that her father loved her and her mother more than life itself, she realises her love for a seriously well-built red guard swordmaster (who also has an awesomely deep voice), and he in return realises this; both are also willing to sacrifice themselves to save the world.
An ancient vampire in Rivenspire (I initially thought he was a bosmer, but it seems he is an altmer) loves his people, and his wards, so much that he would literally go to hell itself to save them.
Now we get to the immortal original spirits or et'Ada (there are also spirits descended from them called Ada). Here, again, there is significant evidence of their love for mortals and for Nirn.
I will start with Meridia. I always thought that she is a bit of a trickster (especially given that Ayleids - even those who worshipped her - were particularly cruel, although one specific heartland high elf king and general seems to offer some redemption potential), but I have reconsidered that she does not necessarily love mortals, per se, but that she loves creation itself. There is evidence (as with most Elder Scrolls lore, it is not definitive) that she is a Magna Ge - one of the architects of Nirn - but one who refused to abandon creation after her boss fled the Mundus to Aetherius.
Similarly, this love for creation seems to be the motivating force for her battling Molag Bal and his attempt to realise the Planemeld.
Further, while Akatosh/Auri-El/Ruptga/et cetera. is said to be an et'Ada and one of the ada who gave of themselves to create Nirn and lost some of their power, became susceptible to death and cannot leave creation, other myths (notably Altmer and Red Guard) have him ascending to Aetherius in full view of his followers (putting a big question mark on the whole story of aedra being limited and bound to creation).
Additionally, he does seem to retain a significant amount of power, enough to toss interloping daedric princes out of Nirn and permanently seal the liminal barriers, and this action seems to be in answer to the pleas of mortals - indicating an enduring care for them, perhaps even love.
(Mild spoiler follows: Avert Ye Eyes those who have not finished main quest)
Not only that, but he seems to retain sufficient power to provide it to a vessel in Molag Bal's realm of Coldharbour - where one would expect the daedric prince to be preeminent in all matters (though his dremora servants seem to have other ideas of their own) - and with the help of another daedric prince(ss) - to combat the daedric prince; again as a result of the pleas of his mortal followers.
If we take some of the Vvardenfell quests as evidence, Azura (who, if dunmer and Khajiit are really her descendants, should be considered an aedra) is willing to help even Vivec for the sake and because of her love for her people.
The theme of love seems to be a constant thread throughout the stories and quests of ESO, whether through sacrifice or boundless love between people.What do you guys (lore experts and lore non-experts alike) think?
and RIP the most well-spoken orc I have ever met
(image credits to uesp.net)
Nothing leads to more death than the need for certainty. - Xukas
HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN’T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME? - Pratchett
In balance with this life, this death - W.B. Yeats