Darius' first teacher is a mysterious figure, appearing only as an entry in the Watcher Chronicles CD. His homeland,
Parthia, was part of the old Persian Empire, located in what is now northeastern Iran. The name Ahasuerus appears in the
Bible, but for all we know it may have been a common name in the ancient Middle East and does not necessarily refer to a
famous individual. But in a legendary and historical context, Ahasuerus was the Persian king who made Esther the Israelite
his queen (as in The Book of Esther), and historians equate him with Xerxes I, heir of Darius the Great of the Achaemenid
Dynasty of Persia. Xerxes and his heir (also named Darius) were both murdered in 465 B.C. as a result of a plot by Artabanus,
the commander of the palace guard.
It is possible to speculate that Xerxes I could have been an Immortal, and could have changed his name and gone to Parthia
after his first death, and eventually became the teacher of the Immortal Darius, and perhaps even gave him that name.
While we know nothing of their student-teacher relationship, he must have taught Darius the Rules and the skills that
would enabled him to survive in The Game, so in that respect he could be considered a friend. The Greek historian Herodotus
portrays Xerxes I as headstrong, temperamental, governed by passion, and prone to executing people (even his relatives)
on a whim. If he was indeed Darius' first teacher he may have passed some of his autocratic attitudes on to his student.
Alaric I, ca.370-410
Alaric I, King of the Visigoths, and the real historical figure who sacked Rome in 410, is not even mentioned in the series
or CD, but appears in the novel Shadow of Obsession as Darius' friend and fellow Goth warlord. After Darius and Alaric
sacked Rome in August, Alaric marched into southern Italy where he died before the year was out, and Darius took his warband
north into Gaul to meet his destiny at the gates of Paris. In the novel Alaric is portrayed as a hard-drinking boorish man
dressed in skins. The real Alaric had received military training from the Romans as a young man, fought with the Roman General
Stilicho, was ambitious for a generalship in the Roman Army himself, and even dressed as a Roman on occasion.
In the novel Shadow of Obsession the young Immortal Violane was working as
a prostitute in the streets of Paris when Duncan MacLeod found her and brought her
to Darius. Darius befriended Violane and tried to assist her in making a better life
for herself by teaching her the healing arts and allowing her to assist him.
When she became restless, he asked the Immortal Marie Guilliard to teach the girl
what she needed to know to survive, but in spite of all their efforts on her behalf
Violane ran off after two years and returned to her former life of prostitution.
Darius and Marie searched for her in vain. Some years later, in 1642, she encountered
Duncan in Paris and attacked him, forcing him to take her head in self-defense.
While Ian Bancroft (played by Michael Anderson, Jr.) would doubtlessly have denied that he was either Darius' friend or his enemy, in a way he was both. According to the CD,
Bancroft was Darius' Watcher from 1962 until 1993. He also recruited Joe Dawson, who eventually became Duncan MacLeod's Watcher,
and James Horton, the renegade Watcher who murdered the unarmed Darius on Holy Ground. In the episode They Also Serve
Bancroft's attitude towards Immortals seems detached, and almost callous. He registers no grief on learning that his latest
assignment, Mei-ling Shen, has just been killed, and he takes a fellow Watcher severely to task for being obsessed with her Immortal.
Yet the Watcher Chronicles record that Bancroft suffered a breakdown after Darius' death, and when Joe Dawson presses him on the
issue later, saying "You spent thirty years watching the man. You're going to tell me you didn't feel anything after he was killed?",
Bancroft reluctantly admits, "Darius was different." In spite of the rules and his Watcher vows, he had come to respect and even care
about Darius, and after the Immortal was murdered by a man he had personally recruited, Bancroft must have sworn to himself that he
would never become so emotionally attached again. He was later killed by a fellow Watcher.
Father Robert Beaufort
Father Beaufort (played by Dudley Sutton) was the elderly mortal priest who was assigned to St. Julien at some point after Darius' murder, although he never
actually appeared in the series until Armageddon, the second episode of Season 6. It is implied that he belonged to the same order
as Darius and knew him well as a friend and colleague. He was also acquainted with Duncan MacLeod, and Duncan consulted Father Beaufort
in his capacity as archivist of the order when Duncan was looking for information he could use to defeat the demon Ahriman. But although
Father Beaufort was Darius' successor as resident priest of St. Julien, he does not seem to have been a mentor or father-figure to Duncan
as Darius was.
Sean Burns (played by Michael J. Jackson) was a close friend of both Darius and Duncan MacLeod, and like Darius, he was also Duncan's mentor. Although we never see Sean and Darius together in the series, a chronicle entry in the Watcher CD reveals that they were friends prior to 1804. The writers of Highlander have said for the record that the
Immortal psychiatrist was one of several characters created to fill the void left by Darius' death. From the Watcher CD we know
that Sean, like Darius, had been a monk and a priest, and much of his life was spent helping mentally disturbed mortals
and Immortals. When Duncan was overwhelmed by a Dark Quickening in the episodes Something Wicked and Deliverance he
went to Sean for help, but lost control and killed his unarmed friend. His memories of Darius, along with Sean's Quickening, helped Duncan
defeat his demons and regain control of his sanity. Sean made two other appearances in flashbacks during later episodes, Till Death
and Forgive Us Our Trespasses.
Grace Chandel (played by Julia Stemberger) was a long-time friend of both Darius and Duncan MacLeod. In the episode Saving Grace, she turned to them for help when she
found herself pursued once again by a jealous lover, Carlos Sendaro. Over the centuries, Grace had been a midwife, a doctor, and a
research scientist, choosing to help save lives instead of taking heads, which suggests that Darius could have also been her mentor as well as her friend.
Coltec (played by Byron Chief-Moon) appeared in the 4th Season episode Something Wicked. He was a Native
American Immortal who was also a hayoka (holy man), and a friend of Duncan's. It is very unlikely
that he knew Darius, but there are several interesting parallels between him and the
warlord-turned-priest. Like Darius, Coltec was a holy man who had a profound
effect on Duncan MacLeod's life. After the death of Duncan's beloved Little Deer, Coltec healed him
from serious depression, using his powers as a hayoka to draw the evil from Duncan's
psyche and take it into himself. Many years later, however, Coltec's penchant for taking evil into himself
to remove it from the world catches up with him, and he experiences a Dark Quickening,
which makes him evil. The Dark Quickening passes to Duncan when he is forced to take
Coltec's head. (In essence, this was the opposite of what happened when Darius took
the Quickening of the Holy Man at the Gates of Paris). Duncan was released from the
effects of Coltec's Dark Quickening in part through the efforts of Methos and Sean Burns,
both of whom are considered successors of Darius.
Marcus Constantine (played by James Faulkner) was another character the writers created as a mentor figure for Duncan after Darius' death. A Roman general, Constantine
hated the barbarian general Darius for leading the Goths to Rome. But over the centuries Constantine changed. By the time Duncan met him in
the episode Pharoah's Daughter he had taken himself out of The Game and was working as a museum curator to preserve history and help
others learn from it. He and Darius had long ago set aside their differences and become good friends. The actor playing Constantine did not
particularly stand out in the role, so the character was not used again in the series, but it is easy to see the parallels the writers drew
between Constantine and Darius. Both had been generals who gave up war and left the Game to become men of peace. The actors playing them
even resembled each other somewhat--both were tall, with patrician features and similar coloring. When Duncan is forced to fight and kill Nefertiri,
a woman Immortal obsessed with revenge, Constantine gives Duncan the advice he believes Darius would have given him the circumstances, "Life
always chooses life." (Constantine later reappears as a character in the Highlander novel Zealot).
Hugh Fitzcairn (played by Roger Daltrey of The Who) was a friend of both Darius and Duncan MacLeod, and was with Duncan when he discovered Darius' body in the episode The Hunters.
He later helped Duncan pursue the killers at the risk of his own life. In the series, we never see Fitz and Darius together, but Fitz speaks fondly
of "Brother Darius", and remarks to Duncan, "He was one of the best of us", which suggests they had a longstanding friendship.
Grayson (played by James Horan) was Darius' former student, second-in-command of his armies, and once his best friend on earth. Then Darius changed after killing the Holy Man,
and Grayson turned against him. For over 1500 years Grayson nursed his hatred and plotted against his former teacher. He tried to force Darius off
Holy Ground by killing his students one at a time until Duncan stopped him in the episode Band of Brothers. Duncan and Grayson were both Darius's
students and his friends at two different points in his life. It is likely that he also saw them both as his "sons," each of whom resembled their
surrogate father as he was at the time he shaped and influenced them. Grayson must have been one of Darius "thousands of regrets."
Marie Guilliard is mentioned in the novel Shadow of Obsession as a trusted
friend to whom Darius sent Violane Armand for training in the ways of Immortals.
Marie and her mortal husband Hubert (an ex-soldier who knew about his wife's
Immortality) lived on a farm south of Paris. Like Grace Chandel, Marie served as
a healer and a midwife to nearby villages, so Darius hoped that Violane might
continue to study the art of saving lives in addition to acquiring skill in the
use of a sword. Marie taught Violane both over the next two years, and frequently
visited Darius in Paris to report on her student's progress, but in the end the willful and
self-destructive Violane disappointed both her teachers by running away and
returning to prostitution.
The Holy Man of Paris
Very little is known about the Holy Man of Paris. In the novel Shadow of Obsession, he wears the robes of a priest and gives his name as Emrys, which is Welsh,
and means "Immortal", but he himself admits that this is just one of the many names he has gone by over the millenia. We do know that
whoever or whatever he was, the Holy Man was without a doubt Darius' worst foe, greatest friend, and truest mentor all rolled into one. The oldest living Immortal on Earth
at the time Darius took his head, the Holy Man obviously knew that an Immortal such as Darius posed a terrible threat. He had obviously seen mortal conquerors and
their empires rise and fall countless times, but Darius was different--an Immortal in such a position of power could plunge civilization into a Dark Age
from which it might never emerge. And so he stood before the gates of Paris and refused to let Darius pass. He must have been a man of incredible spiritual
power, because even though he lost the fight and his head, he ultimately won the battle, not by destroying his opponent, but by transforming him forever. Darius, the taker
of life, was taken by the Holy Man's Quickening. And such was its power, the legend tells, that Darius sent his armies away, and ever since, from Holy Ground,
tried to be a peacemaker.
Horton (played by Peter Hudson) was a renegade Watcher who hated Darius and all Immortals, believing that whichever Immortal won the Prize would dominate mortal kind.
He and his recruits within the Watcher organization used inside information to track and exterminate any Immortals they could catch. He murdered
Darius on Holy Ground, for which Duncan tracked him down three times before making good his revenge. However, the evil that Horton represented returned to
haunt Duncan again and again.
A mortal student of Darius, Jean-Pierre (played by an unknown actor) was murdered by Grayson just outside Darius' Church in the episode Band of Brothers. Grayson suspected that Darius had
placed Jean-Pierre in his organization as a spy. To confirm his suspicions, Grayson followed him to the church, and struck him down with a thrown dagger as Jean-Pierre called out to Darius within. The possibility of Darius masterminding a conspiracy against Grayson was never explored further in the episode, but doubtlessly it would have made an interesting subplot.
Connor (played by Christopher Lambert, star of the Highlander movies) appeared as Duncan MacLeod's
kinsman in the television series. The series does not tell us that Connor knew Darius, but the novel The Element of Fire indicates that Connor either knew, or at least knew of Darius
by the year 1854. Duncan may have told his kinsman about Darius or introduced them, or Connor could have met Darius in some other way, perhaps even on the
field of Waterloo. (Connor was at the Duke of Wellington's side during the battle and could have had his own encounter with the Immortal priest). The novel does
not go so far as to say that Connor and Darius were friends, but merely knowing how much Duncan valued Darius' friendship would no doubt have made Connor
inclined to like him if they did meet.
Duncan (played by Adrian Paul) first met Darius on the bloody battlefield at Waterloo, the two were close friends up to Darius' death in 1993. Darius seemed to be almost a
father-figure to Duncan, especially considering the rejection shown him by his adoptive father when he became an Immortal. And Darius seemed to regard
Duncan almost as a surrogate son. At Waterloo, Darius made Duncan rethink his reasons for being involved in mortal wars. Although Duncan found he could
not follow the same path Darius had chosen and give up the sword entirely, he did try thereafter to limit his role in war to that of a non-combatant.
And the teachings of Darius continued to influence Duncan throughout his life. After his death, Duncan said of him, "He was so wise. He taught me so much."
Duncan believed that the prize should have belonged to Darius, and once expressed this to Joe Dawson, who replied, "It wasn't his fate." Duncan often
returned to Darius' church when he felt in need of guidance, as if the church itself embodied something of his lost friend's spirit.
This mysterious Immortal (played by Ron Perlman) assumed the name of Methos, the oldest living Immortal, and tried to convince other Immortals to lay down their swords
and live in peace. He seemed to know about Duncan's friendship with Darius, and may have been a former student or friend of Darius himself, as he shared the priest's
dream of peace on earth. But the Messenger's plan for achieving peace proved impossible to implement, and those who followed his example soon perished. Eventually, so
did he. We are left to wonder what his relationship to Darius was, and what sent him off on his impossible quest using a borrowed name. Did Darius know about what
he was doing, or did he begin his mission after Darius' death, perhaps as a response to it? We may never know the answers.
Like Constantine and Sean Burns, the elusive, enigmatic Methos (played by Peter Wingfield) was originally conceived as another mentor for Duncan, but even from the beginning, Methos refused to
conform to the mold of the "wise old man." Old he certainly is, at 5000 plus, the oldest living Immortal since Darius killed the Holy Man, but he himself
admits that five millenia have not given him the answers to life's important questions, only more questions. As a result, he seems distinctly reluctant to dispense
advice or provide guidance to Duncan. Instead he limits himself to an occasional obscure quotation, oblique parable, or cryptic remark before once more disappearing
without a trace. His own survival, rather than The Prize, appears to be his primary goal, and yet he has more than once risked his own head to save Duncan's, so perhaps
he has other agendas we do not as yet understand. We have learned that he is similar to Darius in at least one respect--like Darius, he was once a barbarian scourge, but
he has since changed his life. We do not know if Methos knew Darius personally, but the possibility exists. And Methos on several occasions spoke of Darius as if he had
a first-hand acquaintance, such as: "We're none of us perfect, MacLeod. Not you, not me, not even Darius." One wonders if Methos knew Darius before he changed, and if
Darius had possibly asked Methos to watch over Duncan should anything happen to him. And there might be another possible aspect of Methos' relationship to Darius and Duncan.
Duncan felt he never quite lived up to the example Darius set, but Darius was the touchstone to which he compared his own conduct, and an inspiration for the way he lived
his life. Methos, despite ridiculing Duncan's idealistic, Boy Scout mentality, nevertheless admired his ideals, and even admitted to Duncan that he was "the best I've
ever seen." Perhaps in a way, Duncan was as much a touchstone for Methos as Darius was for Duncan, and the mentoring went both ways.
Tessa (played by Alexandra Vandernoot) was introduced to Darius by her companion Duncan MacLeod, but we do not know exactly when they first met, or the nature of their friendship. Duncan obviously talked to Tessa about Darius--she knew that he had once been a Hindu and a Buddhist, and she knew of him prior to returning to Paris with Duncan in 1993. In Band of Brothers, she and Richie awaited Duncan's arrival at Darius' church, so she obviously knew him by this point. She always spoke of him as Duncan's friend, but it would be hard to believe that she did not come to consider him a friend as well.
A mortal student and friend of Darius, Victor Paulus (played by Earl Pastko) was a peace advocate whose organization addressed human rights violations worldwide. Grayson attempted to assassinate him in Band of Brothers but Duncan saved him, and in the novel Shadow of Obsession, we see Duncan working with Paulus in the Sudan. Paulus knew nothing about the existence of Immortals or The Game, but greatly admired Darius and Duncan. In the novel, Victor is murdered by his girlfriend, the Immortal Cynthia VanDervane (see below).
Father Liam Riley
Liam (played by Robert Cavanah) first makes his appearance not in the original series, but in the spin-off Highlander the Raven, where he provides advice and help to Amanda and her mortal associate Nick,
but he is clearly a mentor-figure in the tradition of Darius. Liam is a different kind of Immortal priest than Darius was. He seems more modern in his ways, dressing in street clothes
rather than clerical garb, and although he is clearly out of The Game, he does not spend all his time on Holy Ground. Yet there is something about him that reminds me of Darius,
something in his manner, or his presence, and you have to wonder if they knew each other, as both were Immortal priests working in Paris. A recent episode of Raven reveals that Liam became
a priest after an incident on a Revolutionary War battlefield in which he killed a civilian and promised to give his life to God if He would let her live. The battlefield flashback in War
and Peace reminds me of the Waterloo flashback in Band of Brothers because of its clearly expressed anti-war message.
Richie (played by Stan Kirsch) was still a pre-Immortal when he first met Darius in Paris early in 1993. Duncan had already told him about Darius' early history and the Light Quickening which changed his life, and Richie obviously found this fascinating. We do not know how close the two of them became in the four months they knew each other--at the very least Richie may have visited Darius on occasion with Duncan. Perhaps he also visited the priest on his own to hear more of his stories. When Darius died, Richie said of him: "I never thought one of the good guys would lose."
Xavier St. Cloud
Xavier (played by rock musician Roland Gift) had every reason to consider Darius a friend, because the priest once saved him from the guillotine, but he repayed that kindness with evil deeds and taunts. In the episode For Tomorrow We Die Xavier
confesses several murders to the reluctant priest, who is then barred by the seal of the confessional from telling the police. Duncan guesses Xavier's identity, and makes it his mission to put a stop to his killing,
but he does not manage to do so until after Xavier allies himself with Darius' murderer James Horton in the episode Unholy Alliance.
Very little information is provided in the series about Thackery, apart from the fact that he was
a friend of Fitzcairn's who had gone missing, no doubt murdered by James Horton and his associates.
But Darius must have known him because he dreamed of Thackery's death as well as his own, and told Duncan about it.
Nothing is known about the origins of the shy, wild Immortal Ursa (played by Christian van Acker), but we get the
impression that he has lived alone in the wilderness for many years. We first see him
as a mute, ragged creature struggling to defend himself against angry peasants
in the forests of Normandy in the episode The Beast Below. He was rescued
by Duncan MacLeod and placed in the care of the monks of St. Gobain, who guarded
his secret for centuries and taught him to sing and to love music. We are told
that Darius met Ursa working as a gardener at the abbey, and Ursa must have
considered Darius a friend because he drew him a picture of the cave where he had
once lived. Later Darius provided Duncan with information that helped him find Ursa
after he was spotted in the caves below the Paris Opera. Eventually, Duncan took
him back to the sanctuary of Holy Ground where he would be safe and could not hurt
A character who appears in the novel Shadow of Obsession, Callestina was a young pre-Immortal Goth woman who eagerly
initiated a passionate sexual relationship with the barbarian general Darius, only to hate him with equal passion when he dumped her. She became
Immortal at the sack of Rome, and Grayson became her teacher and husband. They remained together for two centuries before parting ways, but kept
in touch. Callestina, like Grayson, spent the rest of her life trying to take revenge on Darius, and even after Grayson and Darius were dead, she continued
slaughtering more of Darius' students until Duncan finally stopped her.
Author's note: A number of the characters described above never appeared on screen,
so there are no actual pictures available to show what they looked like. Just for fun,
I have taken the liberty of providing "portraits" for some of them.
These should not be mistaken for definitive or canonical representations of these characters.
For those who are curious about the sources: Ahasuerus the Parthian
is really an ancient Persian relief of Xerxes I; Damian Thackery is the novelist
William Makepeace Thackeray; Alaric I, Violane Armand, Marie Guilliard and Callestina/Cynthia
are faces borrowed from Braun and Schneider's History of Costume; and the
Holy Man of Paris is really William Blake's Joseph of Arimathea (a very legendary
This article was researched and written by
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