Assassins or Templars? Good guys vs bad guys; or it’s more than just a simple case of black and white? The world of Assassin’s Creed weaves an intricate, complex relationship between the protagonists and their opposites which are centuries old. In part 2 of her Assassin’s Creed-inspired essay, Syafiqah discuss about the differences and similarities between Assassins and Templars.
This post was originally published on her website here.
I asked my followers to choose a side (The Assassin Order versus The Templar Order) and this was the results of the poll.
I was interested in knowing what people thought as I was (and still am) undecided myself. A lot of people would think that the sensible answer would be to support the Assassin Order, but I have some qualms about that.
All the Assassin’s Creed games have painted the Templar Order as a power-hungry organisation, but did you know that the aims of these two Orders actually align? Just like the Assassins, the Templar Order also want to lead humanity towards peace, though their ways to achieve it were different.
The Templars believed that too much freedom can lead to chaos, thus they aim to lead under one rule – which in a way is dangerous in itself. As noble as their cause may be, we cannot deny that power corrupts, thus the birth of many evil leaders under the Templar Order.
(You might be interested to read up on The Lucifer Effect, a psychological theory coined by Philip Zimbardo on how good people become evil.)
The Templar Order aims to influence people with powerful leaders throughout time in order to guide mankind to be our best possible selves. Like the saying “Do not judge a religion based on its adherents,” the Templar Order’s cause may be noble, however not all their leaders are.
And this is where the Assassins come in. They too want mankind to grow, but by preserving freewill and freethought of the human race. The Assassins believe in a strong set of principles, even willing to die for them, and this is what bothers me.
For a group that strongly believes in freewill and freethought, they are bound – almost caged – to their Order. It’s ironic that they are against the Templars’ idea of rule and order, but have their own rules and orders that they have sworn themselves into.
Although, I completely agree with the ideals of the Assassin Order. I live for the maxim, “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”
“You cannot know anything. Only suspect. You must expect to be wrong, to have overlooked something.” – Malik Al-Sayf
Assassins believe that rationality and knowledge come first, even before morality or faith (for these things are subjective). To them, true objectivity can never be obtained and that “one can only know that one knows nothing”, the infamous Socratic paradox.
“From this skepticism arises the Assassins’ maxim that “nothing is true, everything is permitted,” a relativistic assertion designed to provide an answer to the vastly disparate convictions over the perfect solution for humanity’s ills: that there is no Truth and any attempted application of a singular ideal on a universal scale is first and foremost unrealistic. Moderation is therefore an inherent principle of the Assassins, who shun extremism as destructive to society. To treat one belief as absolute is to not only submit oneself to the irrationality of blind faith, but also to cloud oneself from the perspectives of inevitable dissenters.”
The Assassin Order also believes in liberalism, evident from their principles of humanitarianism and social justice. However, their belief does bring up some concerns. Example: If everything is permitted, does that mean immorality and evil are allowed?
Like I have mentioned, they adhere to their beliefs so strictly while at the same time opposing the strict beliefs of others. Any Assassin that does not follow the Order wholly are considered hypocrites, essentially making the Assassin order just another dogma. Also, for an Order that truly believes in the protection of human life, they have no qualms assassinating those who strongly oppose them.
Altaïr mentions these paradoxes in his codex and could not provide the answers to them, but mentioned this is only proof that “nothing is true”.
Even though I believe in the ideals of the Assassin Order, I completely agree with the Templars that too much freedom can lead to chaos. Although I agree that freewill and freethought must be preserved, I also agree that we need leaders to bring us forward. Although I am not fully opposed to the idea of one rule, my fear is that inevitable corruption that comes with absolute power.
This dilemma has been bugging me since I started playing Assassin’s Creed. I know some people might say that I am taking the franchise too seriously, but it completely mirrors mankind in general and I think that it’s important we address it.
The Templars versus Assassins conflict exists in all spheres, more dangerously so in politics and religion. Thus why I think we should talk about it.
History has showed us cruel tyrants, barbaric rebels, silenced nobles, assassinated leaders, and so on. It’s honestly terrifying. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which Order you choose – or religion, political party, movement etc. – but it is your individuality that counts.
Maybe your ‘creed’ has its own beliefs, but its what you do with those beliefs and whether it affects those around you that matter.
That’s it for Part 2 (of 3) of Shafiqah’s analysis on the world of Assassin’s Creed. Stay tuned for Part 3 where she talks about her favorite Assassin of the franchise.
You find Part 1 here, where she talks about the Shia & Sunni side of the Assassin’s Creed world.