A truly virtuous spirit, one who is a paragon of Virtue, is capable of freeing itself from the Labyrinth of Ages through transcendence.

The Doctrine of the Paragons

Overview

According to the doctrines of the faith, paragons are souls who have attained sufficient purity of spirit, predominantly through perfection of Virtue, to pass through the Labyrinth of Ages and achieve enlightenment. Exemplars are generally viewed as those who are on the path to become paragons - but have not yet reached the destination. Together these inspirations serve as human figures to light the Way of Virtue for those who follow. By studying the teachings they left behind or by emulating the deeds they accomplished, citizens of the Empire are inspired to virtue.

It is the role of the Imperial Synod to recognize those whose deeds meet the signs of the paragon and exemplar. Several legendary figures were identified as paragons at the dawn of the Empire - but the accomplishments of a paragon represent the pinnacle of human achievement and only a handful have ever accomplished this since the Empire was founded.

The requirements for exemplars are less demanding and so they are far more numerous by comparison. Like paragons, many prominent individuals were recognized as exemplars when the Way of Virtue was first codified and the Imperial Synod has raised countless more to the pantheon in all the years that followed. The current Synod has continued this tradition recognizing several more exemplars in the years preceding Empress Lisabetta's ascension to the Throne.

Annals

In the early years of the Empire, the followers of the Way kept meticulous records of the paragons and the exemplars, recording their lives and deeds for the benefit of future generations. Sadly these records were destroyed along with the Lepidean Library by the madness of Nicovar who sought to purge the inspirational histories along with the accumulated wisdom they represented. Fortunately the mad Emperor was stopped before he could completely destroy the School of Epistemology in Tassato, but it was too late to prevent the catastrophic loss of knowledge. Despite the best work of historians, scholars, and civil servants, no definitive list of paragons and exemplars from this time now survives.

Since that day historians and scholars have striven to curate the knowledge that remained and add to it where they can. With the help of the civil service they have promulgated this list of known paragons and exemplars throughout the Empire. In recent times the chaos that followed Empress Britta's death has meant that no new histories of past inspirations have been unearthed and so most folk have come to regard the roster of known exemplars and paragons as conclusive. With a new Empress on the Throne, this should change and it is hopeful that the chroniclers may resume restoring what was lost.

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The faithful often make pilgrimages to sites connected to a renowned paragon or exemplar, such as inspirational tombs.

Renown

The most popular paragons and exemplars are known throughout the Empire, their wondrous deeds woven into stories in the lessons of parents and the sermons of priests. Not everyone in the Empire knows every paragon - but their names and stories are recognized throughout the Empire. These inspirational figures are renowned, the tale of their lives has spread so far and wide that records of their lives are no longer needed to ensure their memory lives on.

However there are many more inspirations, mostly exemplars, of whom knowledge is much more localized. An isolated Navarr steading in Liavathen will preserve the memory of their exemplar who drove back the Vallorn to establish their settlement, but few others will ever have heard of her. In theory the deeds of an exemplar serve as an inspiration to everyone who hear them - in practice folk tend to remember best those whose stories appeal to them and that often means local figures whose lives they can relate to or whose deeds have personal meaning for them.

When the Imperial Synod recognize a new exemplar or paragon, or when details of a past inspirational figure are unearthed, the civil service will try to spread word throughout the Empire. Theologians tend to take special interest in these figures, looking for new lessons about Virtue in whatever details of their deeds are available, but the lives of most Imperial citizens are busy with other concerns. An exemplar or paragon will always be of interest to those who knew them in life or for whom that figure particularly resonates, but without a focal point for their faith, the common citizens of the Empire will pay heed to those figures they already know and love.

In the decades since the destruction wrought by Nicovar, a handful of inspirational figures have been interred in a inspirational tomb. Consecrated with true liao, this grave or cenotaph encompasses a powerful spiritual aura that inspires all those who experience it. These tombs are a major destination for pilgrimage, and the site will usually contain records of the life and deeds of the memorialized exemplar or paragon. Creating a tomb in this way ensures that an exemplar will become renowned throughout the Empire, so their Virtue of their lives will inspire generations to come.

Renowned Paragons

The following are paragons of Virtue who have been formally recognised by the Imperial Synod and are renowned throughout the Empire.

Renowned Exemplars

The following are exemplars of Virtue that have been formally recognised by the Imperial Synod and are renowned throughout the Empire.

In addition to these famous figures there is a complete list of all known exemplars.

Philosophy

Priests are divided on both the exact role of inspirational figures in the faith, and the way they are recognised by the Synod. There are many competing schools of thought in the Empire, some of which might be considered to border on the heretical.

Further Reading

Core Brief

Additional Information