The Sangheili are a race of creatures hailing from the planet Sanghelios. They are a species that puts honor above all else. There are two factions that the average Sangheili will join on Trost: The Covenant Remnant and the Swords of Sanhelios. Many humans better know the Sangheili as Elites.
Ancient Years and Joining the Covenant Edit
The Sangheili home world, Sanghelios, had at one point been visited by or had been in contact with the mysterious Forerunners. They revered the objects these "gods" had left, and considered tampering with them a heresy beyond any other. In 938 BCE they encountered the San 'Shyuum (who would later be known as "Prophets" by humans). They were a race that also worshipped the Forerunners as gods, but had utilized Forerunner technology for their own needs, believing that the technology had been left behind by the gods as gifts for their children. This sparked a war between the two races over how to treat the relics. Even though the Sangheili were much more physically imposing and numerous, they suffered extreme casualties due to the sheer power of the Forerunner Dreadnought, a surviving Keyship, and by 876 BCE even the most devout had to admit that their survival depended on the reconstitution of their own Forerunner technologies. This, of course, led both sides to an agreement that ended with the decommissioning of the Forerunner Dreadnought and a shaky alliance that eventually expanded into the Covenant.
The San 'Shyuum helped assuage the Sangheili by informing them of the Great Journey: By seeking out theHoly Rings scattered throughout the galaxy and utilizing them, this "Journey" would transform believers into godlike beings, while providing salvation from their doomed existence of fighting with the Flood. The Sangheili became the bodyguards of the physically inferior San 'Shyuum, who would search the galaxy for the Halos. The Writ of Union was drawn up in 852 BCE in order to codify the Covenant. Its first canto clearly outlines the nature of the Covenant from the perspective of the San 'Shyuum.
Being one of the few races in the Covenant to achieve space-faring status without outside intervention, the Sangheili interaction with the San 'Shyuum was initially strained due to memories of the recent war. However, the two sides later formed a prosperous relationship, eventually laying the foundation for the modern Covenant hegemony.
During their membership in the Covenant, the Sangheili were technological and societal equals of the San 'Shyuum. For a significant period, they found themselves providing military might for the entire Covenant structure - hardly surprising given the warlike, feudal nature of their homeworld, Sanghelios. What wassurprising was the cyclical stability this feudal society was able to offer. Technological and medical advancements followed, and the intelligent, aggressive Sangheili were peerless until they encountered the San 'Shyuum. With the exchange of goods and ideas, the Sangheili adapted to and eventually embraced the Covenant religion, grafting its tenets into their own belief system.
Human-Covenant War Edit
When the San 'Shyuum declared war on a previously unknown species called "Humans," the Sangheili followed their lead without question. After a period of time, however, some seasoned Sangheili veterans began to question the refusal of the San 'Shyuum to even consider accepting the Humans into the Covenant, even though the San 'Shyuum insisted that the Humans were "unclean beings" that must be eliminated from the galaxy. These Sangheili seemed to believe that Humans, although physically weak, at least compared to themselves, were brave and even honorable. Some even believed that the Humans were equal to them - a considerable step for a Sangheili - or any member of the Covenant - to make. These few Sangheili admired how willing and brave the Humans were when fighting to survive against outright extinction, they even respected to a certain degree those few soldiers who were willing to stay behind and cover their comrades from a Covenant attack. A few Sangheili even had some degree of disrespect for the San 'Shyuum before the Great Schism.
The Great Schism Edit
During the final months of the Human-Covenant war, the political shift caused by both the Prophet of Truth and Tartarus, the Chieftain of the Jiralhanae, started a slippery slope that ended in the dissolution of the Covenant between the Sangheili and the San 'Shyuum. Originally, the Jiralhanae were viewed as savagely aggressive and extremely goal-oriented, which the Sangheili viewed as a serious threat should the Jiralhanae ever begin to desire political power. This fear became reality when the Honor Guards of the San 'Shyuum, originally an all-Sangheili class, was transformedinto a duty of the Jiralhanae. This was directly caused by the death of the Prophet of Regret at the hands of John-117, the Human "Demon" known as the Master Chief, despite Regret's protection from his personal squad of Sangheili Honor Guardsman. Soon the Jiralhanae found themselves in new positions of power, such as Field Masters, Ship Masters, and veritable replacements for the Sangheili. At the same time, during the Battle of Installation 05,Arbiter Thel 'Vadam and Rtas 'Vadum (both of whom soon dropped the 'ee' suffix from their name to signify their abandonment of the Covenant) discovered the truth of the Halo Arrays from the Monitor 343 Guilty Sparkand the deceit of the San 'Shyuum.
These events led the entire Sangheili species to secede from the Covenant, forming the Covenant Separatists, Led by Rtas 'Vadum and Thel 'Vadam. They were aided by a few of the member-races within the Covenant, such as many Unggoy and most Mgalekgolo, even though many apparently ended up siding with the Covenant Loyalists despite the Sangheili's efforts. The secession included a movement to destroy the treacherous Jiralhanae and San 'Shyuum, and the destruction of the Flood at all costs, eventually resulting in the Sangheili's alliance with the Humans, persuaded by the Arbiter's counsel.
It is known that this civil war stretched from the Human homeworld, Earth, all the way back to Sanghelios as the Sangheili attempted to wrest their share of the hegemony away from their new-found enemies. The Jiralhanae stepped in to fill the military void in ever increasing numbers, sensing the vacuum and opportunity left by the departure of the Sangheili.
Fall of the Covenant Empire Edit
Finally, after the Battle of Earth, the Sangheili and Humans managed to kill the Prophet of Truth, effectively dissolving the Covenant. However, the Sangheili and Humans were forced to deal with a more pressing threat: the Flood. At the end of the battle the Arbiter and Master Chief activate the newly constructed replacement Halo ring, supposedly ending the Flood threat forever.
As the Great Schism went on, the Sangheili continued their fight against the Jiralhanae. This was proving largely unsuccessful, and the Sangheili were accepting serious losses. Without the Covenant to provide them with ships, technology, and repairs, they slowly lost warships and technologies they couldn't repair or replace. After the San 'Shyuum went into hiding, the Sangheili began to prevail against the Jiralhanae, who in turn began to fight amongst themselves. Despite their hatred for Jiralhanae, the Sangheili employed Jiralhanae who stayed at the Sangheili's side. Having abandoned the Covenant, the Sangheili were now in a state of mass confusion in regards to their religion, because even though the San 'Shyuum lied to them, they had still given them purpose for their actions. The Sangheili were still religiously devoted to the Forerunners and were attempting to uncover their meaning.
Post-Great Schism Edit
Following the Great Schism, the Sangheili found themselves undergoing a major societal change. They were used to the San 'Shyuum providing everything: communications, food, technology, and a purpose. They now had a fortress world with no one to run it, and for the first time in thousands of years, they had to act on their own. Since they were used to importing most of their food, power shifted on Sanghelios from cities to the countryside, with formerly backwater states gaining power and prestige due to their fertile farmland. The Sangheili had a fleet, but without Huragok or the skills to repair them on their own, any damage their ships sustained were nearly impossible to repair. The same went for any technology they possessed. They regressed to their keep-systems, with Kaidons and Elders gathering ships and weapons to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. A few Unggoy and Jiralhanae remained on the planet and continued to serve the Sangheili.
In January 2553, the Arbiter Thel 'Vadam began to visit the various states to propose a peace treaty with humanity. He argued that too many Sangheili had been lost in the Great Schism, and that Sanghelios had to be rebuilt. This proposal was not well received by all, and civil unrest ensued. Dissident Sangheili began to join the Servants of Abiding Truth, an old orthodox religious group who opposed the Arbiter led by Avu Med 'Telcam.
In February 2553, Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood arrived on Sanghelios to formalize the cease-fire with the Arbiter. They met in the state of Vadam and formally ended hostilities. Meanwhile, the Servants were gathering many faithful every day and were being armed by the Office of Naval Intelligence, who wanted to divide the Sangheili. Furthermore, they were able to acquire an intact warship, the frigate Unflinching Resolve, and were preparing to stage a coup to kill the Arbiter and his supporters.
After a Jiralhanae uprising in Ontom, right outside the Servants' headquarters, 'Telcam decided the time had come to begin the rebellion. He and his supporters gathered their ships, vehicles and troops and attacked Vadam. The Arbiter was winning at first, since fewer keeps joined the rebellion than 'Telcam had thought. The tide turned when the Arbiter allowed Kilo-Five to land on Sanghelios to search for Evan Phillips in the Temple of Abiding Truth. Many Sangheili viewed this as a desecration and joined 'Telcam's side. The Servants quickly surrounded Vadam Keep and began a siege. The tide turned once more when Admiral Hood arrived in orbit with the UNSC Infinity' and offered the Arbiter aid, which he grudgingly accepted. The Infinity shot down 'Telcam's ship Defender of Faith and fired a MAC round directly into the besieging forces outside Vadam Keep. The siege quickly became a rout as the Arbiter counter-attacked. 'Telcam and the Servants were able to escape with three frigates intact, along with as many troops, vehicles and supplies the ships could hold, to New Llanelli. The rebellion was crushed for the time being, and the Arbiter remained in power on Sanghelios, however in a weakened state.
During the aftermath of the Sangheili Civil War, some Sangheili sought political asylum on Earth. With these refugees came terrorists, with at least one Sangheili attempting to detonate a HAVOK Nuclear Bomb in the city of Rio de Janeiro in early 2558.
The Sangheili consider most other species to be inferior to them, both culturally and in fighting skill. Although Sangheili are naturally very intelligent, their culture's long dependence on a military-industrial scheme has led to an emphasis on might over science. In some regards, the advent of the Covenant made this position easier, allowing the Sangheili to concentrate even more mono-manically on military endeavors whilst the San 'Shyuum took care of science and technology. Despite this, their adeptness at using and creating technology is evident. It is probable that they designed the Covenant cruiser themselves. They demonstrated their superiority at space combat in the battle with the Jiralhanae over Installation 00.
Promotion in the Covenant military is by merit; a Covenant soldier must succeed to advance among the ranks. Success is often measured in scalps. A Zealot, for example, has personally slaughtered thousands of individuals to reach that status.
Raised from childhood to be warriors, other societal roles are treated as secondary endeavors or even hobbies, and are not honored at all. Sangheili are skilled in the usage of most Covenant weapons. One interesting example of this martial focus is that only aristocrats are allowed to wield swords and that sword-wielders are then no longer eligible for marriage; however, they may breed with any female they choose, married or otherwise, to ensure successful transmission of "swordsman" genes.
In many ways, the Sangheili are much like humans. They communicate, are loyal to their superiors and comrades, become protective of their troops and become angry and vengeful if other Sangheili are killed. They fear very little, taking great pride in an ancient, honor-laden code. Even when mortally wounded, the Sangheili still charge towards the enemy in a doomed last minute attack. Sangheili honor also dictates that they always be the first ones into a battle, and to never allow themselves to be captured alive. The more honorable captured Sangheili typically commit suicide while in prison to retain some measure of honor; oftentimes when they are freed those who have not are executed anyway, as was the case with one of Thel Vadam's ancestors. However, escaping or staging an uprising is acceptable, by the same example.
The Sangheili display respect and admiration for honorable fighters, whether they are allies of the Sangheili or not. It is common for the Sangheili to have such an admiration for their adversaries. Sangheili respect and revere veterans and often follow their lead. Their history is rife with victorious combatants welcoming the defeated enemies' remaining forces into their own arm, provided of course that they fought with honor. During the Unggoy Rebellion, the most tenacious of the Unggoy who survived the conflict were admitted for the first time into previously all-Sangheili forces, much to the San 'Shyuum' discontent. This was likely the reason that many Unggoy joined the Sangheili during the Great Schism.
Despite their martial nature, the Sangheili have reservations to the spilling of one's own blood. This is an extension of the belief that the blood of a warrior is his essence (honor); thus, to spill one's blood is to lose one's honor. As a result, in Sangheili culture, doctors are seen by many as the lowest members of society because they "make [their] living slicing and causing another Sangheili to bleed without honor." This meant that the only 'honorable' way for a Sangheili to be injured or bleed out is from combat with the enemy. This belief also makes visiting a doctor very shameful for most Sangheili. Some Sangheili viewed this as wasteful, especially after the war when manpower was depleted.
Sangheili government appears to be a feudal meritocracy, and is partially democratic, as elders of different clans rule different areas. The ruler of these areas, a Kaidon, is elected by a group of council elders that reside in that area. If a council elder believes that his vote was "ill advised" or if he "had second thoughts," it was considered a tradition for council elders to initiate some form of attack, such as sending assassins, against the Kaidon in order to "test the true merit of [the] ruler's martial abilities." The belief was that "a Kaidon who could not defend himself was not a true leader." Should the attack fail, the responsible elder will be executed immediately, and his family will be killed. However, punishment for this form of heresy was usually flexible. As such, if the elder did something honorable, such as attack the Kaidon himself, or attempted to make a final stand against the Kaidon, then he would probably have managed to save his family from certain death, although they might still be banished. It seems that if a keep was to attack another keep and fail the attacker would have its keep destroyed and slaughtered.
Family history and lineage are greatly valued, with each family having their own unique "Battle Poem" detailing the deeds and actions of its members during times of war. These "epics" may have influenced the recitation of war poetry among the Mgalekgolo, due to their deep respect for Sangheili. It is theorized that Sangheili males are sent into service as warriors and soldiers, as no female Sangheili have been seen in combat roles. Females are trained from a young age to fight alongside the males but are kept home to tend to their respective houses. This training allows the Sangheili to have a potent home guard should an attack on their homeworld ever make it past the males fighting on the front line.
Sangheili warriors form very close-knitted relationships, referring to their comrades as "brothers" and remaining intensely loyal to them. This loyalty is shown in the custom of grieving after the death of a fallen comrade, a ritual which includes prayer for the dead warrior.
In some clans, Sangheili children are raised in "common rooms" to ensure that all start on an equal footing and progress in rank by merit of their abilities. Members of some Sangheili clans rarely know their true fathers, and are usually raised by a maternal uncle instead. This may be a method of preventing status from being inherited in order to force children to make their own way in the world so they actively work for and earn advancement. However, as some children's fathers were Swordsmen who were granted the right to reproduce with any number of female Sangheili they desire, the use of a maternal uncle as a fatherlike figure may have also been used to allow children to be raised equally. Sangheili believe that copulation without regard for the bloodline is uncultured. A popular pastime for Sangheili children is to hunt small rat-like creatures that live on their homeworld.
The Sangheili place great value in their names, and it is considered both a privilege and an honor for only those proved worthy. The Sangheili generally consider humans to be nameless (one notable exception being the Spartans encountered in the battlefield, whom they exclusively refer to as "Demons"), and resent that the humans have assigned the label "Elites" to them (although they have been given many other names far more derogatory, such as squid-head, split lip, hinge-head, Dino, etc.).
The surname of each individual comes from their lineage. Thel 'Vadam, for example, was from the Vadam lineage. Each lineage has its own state on Sanghelios, and each Sangheili from that state adopts the name of the lineage.
Sangheili names are constructed from a series of parts, each of them with a specific or special meaning. The first name is a given name that is attained at birth, which persists until adulthood. As they come of age, they earn the right to carry a badge name. This name is made up of three parts: an adjectival descriptor, such as "fast" or "deadly," a crèche or family name, and the "-ee" suffix, an honorific indicating that the Sangheili is a military participant. Since the Great Schism, most Sangheili in the rebellious faction have removed their name of the '-ee' suffix. Most Sangheili have names with this kind of construction. It appears that additional titles may be given to those of very high rank, such as Xytan 'Jar Wattinree. Since "Jar" is not a part of the standard Sangheili name, it may be assumed that it denotes Xytan's status as Imperial Admiral, although this has yet to be confirmed. There is only one other known instance of this naming structure: Voro 'Mantakree, who was given the additional title "Nar" to denote his status as a Fleet Master. Apart from the "-ee" suffix, the suffix "-ai" denotes swordsmanship, as with Bero 'Kusovai and Toha 'Sumai.