On the blood of our fathers, on the blood of our sons, we swore to uphold the Covenant!
The Sangheili (Macto cognatus, "I glorify my kin"), known to humans as Elites, are a saurian species of strong, proud, and intelligent warriors, as well as skilled combat tacticians. The Sangheili are named after their home planet, Sanghelios. Due to their skill in combat, the Sangheili have formed the military backbone of the Covenant for almost the entirety of its existence. They had a fierce rivalry with the Jiralhanae, which finally boiled over into open hatred during the Great Schism, and the conclusion of the Human-Covenant war.
Originally a founding member of the unified conglomerate of races known as the Covenant, their entire species later led the breakaway faction known as the Covenant Separatists, who sided with the humans against their former allies due to the fact that the Prophets of Truth and Mercy had ordered the genocide of the entire Sangheili race. This was established after the assassination of the Prophet of Regret at the hands of John-117, as it was the Sangheili who were ultimately held responsible for Regret's death, and they were seen as "unfit" to continue to guard the San'Shyuum. The San'Shyuum sought to replace them with other Covenant races, primarily the Jiralhanae. The aftermath of the Great Schism formed the bedrock of the Covenant's ultimate collapse.
Development of Civilization and the Covenant
The Sangheili homeworld, 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 the Holy 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 was surprising 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.
- Main article: Human-Covenant war
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
- Main article: Great Schism
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 transformed into 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 Spark and the deceit of the San'Shyuum.
These events led the entire Sangheili species to secede from the Covenant, forming the Covenant Separatists. 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
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 activated the newly constructed replacement Halo ring, supposedly ending the Flood threat.
After the Human-Covenant war ended, there had been speculation of competition between the UNSC and the Sangheili when it came to examining Forerunner ruins and relics like the Artifact. However, by March 2553 the Sangheili and Humans remain friendly to one another as evidenced by the conversation between Thel 'Vadam and Lord Terrence Hood. All the Sangheili who fought in the Battle of Installation 00 agreed to depart Earth and return to their home planet, Sanghelios, to ensure its safety.
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 the 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.
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.
Having abandoned the Covenant was that the Sangheili were now in a state of mass confusion in regards to their religion. Even though they rejected the San'Shyuum's religion of the Great Journey which they had lied about, the San'Shyuum had still given the Sangheili purpose for their actions. Many Sangheili were still religiously devoted to the Forerunners and were attempting to uncover their meaning. 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.
Due to their hatred for the Jiralhanae, the Sangheili and Jiralhanae typically did not work together, unless one was subjugated beneath the other. There were a small minority of Jiralhanae employed under the Sangheili in the post-war period as laborers. A few Unggoy and very few Jiralhanae remained on Sanghelios and continued to serve the Sangheili, a few humans visited the planet for diplomacy or stayed to work. After a Jiralhanae uprising in Ontom, right outside the Servants of the Abiding Truth's headquarters, Avu Med 'Telcam decided the time had come to begin the Servants' rebellion against Arbiter Thel 'Vadam's new Swords of Sanghelios government. 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 Blooding Years, 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 are renowned for great strength and intelligence, and are praised for their bravery and honor. Sangheili warriors augment these natural abilities further through use of Energy Shields integrated into their armor. Depending upon rank and mission objective, they are commonly seen in battle with Plasma Rifles, Plasma Repeaters, Needlers, Covenant Carbines, Needle Rifles and sometimes, if they are higher ranked, Energy Swords. Sangheili employ coffin-shaped Orbital insertion Pods as well as Phantom and Spirit Dropships for military transit purposes and rapid-response operations. Historically, Sangheili have followed the Covenant mentality of maintaining hatred towards Humanity, believing them to be an affront to their religion and a challenge towards The Great Journey. However, there are signs that this stance is being slowly abandoned as seen in the tentative alliance between the two enemies, forming the core allied faction at the end of Halo 2 and during the events of Halo 3.
In Halo: Combat Evolved, upper ranks have a Forerunner symbol adorning their back. It is not known if the symbol varies from rank to rank. In Halo 3, Sangheili have Forerunner symbols on their arms and on the sides of their torso.
Anatomy and Physiology
Sangheili are generally between 2.2 and 2.6 meters (Roughly 7.4 to 8.6 feet) tall  including helmet and armor, have two fingers and two thumbs on each hand which are much larger than human fingers and thumbs, which make the Sangheili look ungainly when wielding small human weapons such as the M6. Their large, reptile-like appearance has earned them the nicknames "Alligator" and "Dino." They look vaguely like lizards or theropods, except for their jaws.
Their jaws are quadruple-hinged, with an upper jaw and four finger-like mandibles. With few exceptions, these mandibles are generally shown with six teeth each; many sources also depict an additional large fang on the tips of each mandible. Anywhere from eight to ten broader teeth have been observed mounted on the central jaw structure. Some Sangheili keep their mandibles closed, using only the front two joints of their lower mandibles to speak, giving them a more humanoid appearance. Sangheili smell with the use of two nostrils, each a little in front and below the eye socket. Given their predatory nature, a Sangheili's sense of smell is likely very developed. However it must be noted that as a distinct race they may have omnivorous tendencies. The mandibles appear to be made for gripping small prey, which insinuates that the Sangheili evolved from a quadruped race and that they are much larger than their natural prey.
Their hands are tetradactyl, having four digits; two middle fingers, and two opposing thumbs on the outside for grasping. Their legs are digitigrade, with short upper and lower legs, and elongated tarsals, using the distal and intermediate phalanges to support their weight when walking. These two “toes” are much stronger and easier to move on than the human foot, and allows them to run very quickly and jump large distances, but climbing, especially on standard ladders, is difficult for them. Their superior agility may also be attributed to their homeworld's higher gravity; the additional strength required to move normally in a high-gravity environment would likely cause them to be more powerful in lower gravity situations. They also appear to have a double set of pectoral muscles, which contribute to their incredible strength.
Sangheili have at least two hearts, which circulate purple/indigo-colored blood through their veins; the coloration is most likely caused by bimetallic hemoglobin, possibly cobalt-iron, whereas the crimson-blooded Humans possess monometallic iron-based hemoglobin. Though there are many theories on the subject, the chemical formula(e) of Sangheili hemoglobin is still unknown. It is assumed that they breathe oxygen, as they can breathe the same atmosphere as Humans without any trouble, and their homeworld has a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, similar to Earth's. Sangheili blood smells like fresh tar.
Although Sangheili skin color and texture varies from light brown and scaly to black and smooth, most appear to have dark grey skin. The majority have either dark blue, black, or brown eyes, although there are a few exceptions. It has been theorized that the reason Sangheili seem to have dark, blue eyes is because they wear eye coverings (which provide their in-game HUD). This hypothesis comes largely from the Arbiter's appearance - when standing before the High Council in his armor, his eyes were dark, but after his armor was removed, his eyes became a much lighter brown—and is also supported by the fact that in Halo: Combat Evolved, a Sangheili's eye color is always the same color as their armor. Sangheili have laterally-positioned eyes with slit-shaped pupils, large irises, and horizontal eyelids, though these traits can only be seen in Halo 3 - Sangheili in Halo 2 have all black eyes with no pupils except for the Arbiter, and in Halo: Combat Evolved they never blink. However, this is a result of animation.
Female Sangheili are similar in appearance to male Sangheili. Raia 'Mdama, was described as being slightly shorter than the average male and having paler skin tone. Female Sangheili are oviparous, meaning babies are born from eggs outside the mother's body.
Supposedly, Sangheili have a 'faintly leathery' scent.
- “Although Elites are naturally very intelligent, their culture's long dependence on a military-industrial schema has led to an emphasis on might over science. In some regards, the advent of the Covenant made this position easier-allowing the Elites to concentrate even more singularly on military endeavors, while Prophets took care of science and technology.”
The Sangheili have been seen to create powerful technology, even without the presence of the San'Shyuum. Great examples of this are the spacecraft the Sangheili created before joining the Covenant. The Hekar TAA-pattern blockade runner, the Carrack merchant cruiser, Man O' War and the Brigantine are Sangheili ships.
The Sangheili are intelligent and can demonstrate this in battle. Sangheili are normally on the move when fighting, constantly running and ducking, strafing and dodging when firing at an enemy. It should be noted that not all Sangheili make use of cover because of their superior strength; these are the Sangheili who hold the ranks of either Zealot or Sangheili High Councilor. The Sangheili seem to employ complex strategy only if it either improves success in battle, or it allows them to inflict more casualties on their enemies. In ship-to-ship combat, despite having the advantage of long range weapons such as Plasma Torpedoes, the Sangheili prefer to maneuver in close in an attempt to board their opponent's vessel. These Sangheili charge their enemies with reckless aggression, regardless of any damage they sustain; only very seldom do they admit temporary defeat. They are quite capable of luring their enemies into traps by falling back into cover; as the enemy approaches, a Sangheili will spring from its position and land a massive melee hit on the unsuspecting opponent. This is especially dangerous if the hiding Sangheili wields an Energy Sword, due to the weapon's lethal melee power. With great and varied long-range weapons, they choose to fight in hand-to-hand combat.
The Sangheili are competent tacticians, known for their ferocity and decisive thinking. This is shown to be true in space during ship-to-ship combat, even when horribly outnumbered; they can win the fight with only few losses. An example of this is the Battle above Installation 00, when Truth's fleet outnumbered Sangheili forces three-to-one, yet the Sangheili prevailed with at least the Assault Carrier Shadow of Intent. However it should be noted that the Sangheili received and possessed ship technologies from the San'Shyuum's study of Forerunner technology, perhaps a century or several centuries more advanced than that of Humanity. Examples include advanced reactor technologies with power outputs several times greater than Human reactor technologies, powerful shields capable of withstanding up to 3 MAC impacts, highly effective point-defense laser turrets capable of fending off sizeable barrages of Archer Missiles and nuclear ordnance, and super-accurate Plasma Torpedoes and Energy projectors. Due to the lack of shielding on Human vessels, these plasma weapons were capable of outright destroying or disabling most Humans vessels in a single hit. The performance of their sub-light engines also far outstripped the maneuvering capabilities of Human vessels. Due to the vast technology gap, the tactical and strategic intellect of the Sangheili with respect to Humans cannot be ascertained.
There were incidences, however, of smaller Human fleets obliterating much larger Sangheili fleets such as Admiral Patterson's victory over Voro Nar 'Mantakree's initial fleet over Onyx. This, combined with Admiral Preston J. Cole's repeated victories over Sangheili fleets throughout his career with numbers to offset the Covenant's massive technological advantage, as well as the fashion in which the Sangheili lost over two thirds of their entire invasion fleet over Reach to nothing more than ablative tactics, gives reason to cast doubt on the Sangheili's actual mastery of their own technology. For example, Cortana points out that had they known the extent of their own Slipspace technology, they could have simply bypassed Reach's orbital defenses by appearing in-atmosphere. This should hardly been surprising given that most of the technology utilized by the Covenant has been reverse-engineered from Forerunner technology; the Sangheili could use the technology but had very little grasp of how it actually worked. Indeed, this also appears to happen between the Sangheili and the Jiralhanae. Although the two possess similar ships, the Sangheili possess slightly more sophisticated technology which gave them an edge over their Jiralhanae counterparts, such as the Counter Guidance Signal technology used to disrupt the guidance of plasma torpedoes. The Jiralhanae's grasp of this technology in comparison to the Sangheili's was poor.
However, their dominance over the Jiralhanae is more likely due to the Sangheili having much more experience with ship to ship combat. At the time of the Great Schism, very few Jiralhanae Shipmasters had ever commanded warships, while their Sangheili counterparts had years if not decades of experience in that field.
As much as Sangheili are, for the most part, competent when it comes to combat tactics and battle plans, their code of honor does get in the way of it as they have shown a preference for close combat with their foes, and the majority of their weaponry is suited for short-ranged fighting. The Energy Sword, the most prized weapon of the Sangheili, is the strongest example of this. Swords are often carried and used as primary weapons on the battlefield by Sangheili Zealots and other superior officers, and although devastating in hand-to-hand combat, are useless at long range.
The Sangheili practices of commanders leading from the front and distinguishing leaders through colored armor has resulted in a very high attrition rate for Sangheili commanders. In many battles, Zealots have been killed early in the fighting (such as Noga 'Putumee), leaving their forces leaderless and uncoordinated. UNSC snipers have been specifically trained to pick out and eliminate high-ranking Sangheili. The Sangheili tradition of promotion through feats of arms on the battlefield has sometimes placed individuals of questionable tactical and strategic skill, such as Ripa 'Moramee, into high-ranking positions, purely because of their ability to kill their enemies personally. However, it should be noted that this isn't common and certain Sangheili such as Thel 'Vadam and Rtas 'Vadum are brilliant tacticians.
What the Sangheili consider to be dishonorable has also limited their flexibility in battle. Being wounded is considered a dishonor by the Sangheili, and it has been seen that most Sangheili go berserk upon having their blood spilled and charge straight at their enemies for revenge. Others, such as Jora 'Konaree, have chosen to kill themselves after being seriously wounded in battle. The preference of most Sangheili to die rather than live wounded has resulted in unnecessary casualties. Retreat is viewed as an even greater dishonor, and many Sangheili have doomed themselves to be killed rather than retreat. The UNSC and Jiralhanae have very frequently attempted to take advantage of the Sangheili concept of honor to lure them into traps. Examples of this include Battle of Installation 05 where Tartarus killed many Sangheili with the Fist of Rukt, Operation: FIRST STRIKE, Kurt's final actions in the Battle of Onyx, the Battle of Alpha Base, and Cole's Last Stand at Psi Serpentis. Covenant remnants often will use their swords to wound enemy Sangheili and let them commit suicide.
After the fall of the Covenant, the Sangheili's religious, superstitious, and political views have somewhat changed and have led to the realization that many of these beliefs are unnecessary and zealous rather than honorable. Although it was not favored, the Sangheili began taking after Human customs such as understanding blindly charging is in no way beneficial compared to finding a tactful solution, taking away the advantage enemies like the UNSC and Jiralhanae have attempted to use against them. This is something that is becoming more and more beneficial to the Sangheili, both culturally and militarily.
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.
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.
Sangheili children and adults used Arums to learn patience.
Respect and Honor
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.
The Sangheili code of honor appears quite similar to Japanese Bushido, sharing concepts such as skill in combat (with an emphasis on swordsmanship), loyalty to master and family/clan, and views on death. Both systems promote death in battle as being the most honorable and proper way to die. If a warrior is critically injured, incapacitated, or captured, the only acceptable recourse is to commit ritualistic suicide, ensuring one's honor is kept intact. This was of such importance to Sangheili warriors that if they were incapable of killing themselves, they requested the assistance of their fellow Sangheili in doing so.
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.
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.
It is believed among the Sangheili that a weapon is only to be drawn if it is to be used, because a drawn weapon "demands blood."
One figure of pre-Covenant religious significance is Kel 'Darsam, a demigod warrior. His tale is recounted in the Ballad of Kel 'Darsam, First Light of Sangheilios. Following the creation of the Covenant, most Sangheili began to believe in the Covenant religion.
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.
Many Sangheili government factions arose out of the destruction of the Covenant including Jul 'Mdama's Covenant, the Servants of the Abiding Truth and Merg Vol's Covenant. Even before the fall of the Covenant Empire, there were breakaway factions like the Heretics and The Banished.
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 strive to 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 father 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 word "Sangheili" is often transposed as an English translation of their own name in-game and in other media.
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.
- Main article: Sanghelios
Sanghelios is the homeworld of the Sangheili species with a population of 8.135 billion. Sanghelios is the fourth planet in a Triple Star System of stars Urs, Fied, and Joori. The planet has two Moons called Qikost and Suban. Many Forerunner artifacts exist on the planet, which are (or at least were) the topic of worship, as well as the cause of historical wars between the Sangheili and the San'Shyuum before the formation of the Covenant. Sanghelios is divided into provinces, which are subdivided into states. Each state is owned by a lineage, and everyone born in that state adopts the lineage's name as a surname. Each state is controlled by a Kaidon, who is advised by Elders.
Sangheili have also settled on a number of colonies. Thus includes:
- Main article: Sangheili Rank Structure
Sangheili are promoted based upon their skills, abilities, and the number of casualties they inflict upon their enemy. This is usually measured by scalps. A high-ranking Sangheili may have personally slaughtered thousands of enemies throughout his military career. The Sangheili armor becomes more complex as the rank increases, much like the Jiralhanae rank system.
The order of Sangheili rank is: Minor, Officer/Major, Stealth Minor, Stealth Major, Ranger, Special Operations, Special Operations Officer, Special Operations Commander of the Covenant, Honor Guard, Honor Guard Ultra, Ultra, Zealot (Zealot covers Shipmaster, Fleet Master and Field master; the last two are equal in rank, but Shipmaster, however, is the lowest Zealot rank), General, Field Marshal, Supreme Commander, Imperial Admiral and Sangheili High Councilor.
Their rank can be identified by their armor. Many Sangheili ranks have more ornate and different stylings compared to those in the lower ranks.
- Main article: Sangheili/Gameplay
Sangheili are playable in several Halo title's multiplayer mode. This includes Halo 2/Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo: Reach. In Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, Sangheili are not playable in multiplayer, as the multiplayer centers around the Spartan-IVs and their training.
- The dialogue spoken by the Sangheili of Halo: Combat Evolved was made by reversing and slowing sound clips of Sergeant Johnson. "Wort! Wort! Wort!" is the reversed phrase, "Go! Go! Go!"
- Jason Jones originally wanted the Sangheili to have tails, but Shi Kai Wang talked him out of it by arguing that the Sangheili would look too animalistic, as opposed to being an intelligent race. An additional point was that when the Sangheili sit, the only place their tails could go was folded between their legs, creating a seemingly awkward and inappropriate appearance.
- Sangheili culture is comparable to that of the ancient Spartans of Sparta and Samurai of Feudal Japan from humanity's past. Rank is achieved by success, and much of their lives revolve around war. Also, their sense of honor and ritualistic suicide are similar to that of the Feudal Japanese Samurai.
- In Halo 2, if a player who's skin is that of a Sangheili activates an Energy Sword, they will strike a pose like the Sangheili AIs.
- It is mentioned in Ghosts of Onyx that Sangheili would rather die with their weapons out of energy than pick up fully loaded human weapons, yet they show no shame when they obtain them in Halo 3. They will sometimes even thank the player when handed powerful human weapons, such as the Rocket Launcher. This is likely because they are Covenant Separatists, and no longer view humans as Heretics, nor their weapons "unclean." However, in Halo 2, Thel 'Vadamee can use UNSC weapons when you play as him. This could be attributed to the fact that he is the Arbiter, and thus has no honor left. It is equally possible that reluctance to use human weaponry may vary among Sangheili individuals, in regard to how religiously conservative they are. Due to the significant ratio of extremely zealous individuals, it is understandable that most Sangheili encountered would regard human weapons as initially described.
- In Halo: Reach, if the player chooses to play as the Sangheili in Firefight and has higher-ranking armor than the other Sangheili around them, they will talk to the player in their language. They will sometimes also follow the player, and will stand behind you when you stop moving. This has also been seen with other species such as Skirmishers, Unggoy, and sometimes Kig-Yar.
- Although the player is not able to dual wield in Halo: Reach, Sangheili are occasionally seen dual wielding Plasma Rifles, the most common being the Sangheili Ultra. It is unknown why this is.
- In Halo: The Fall of Reach, a Sangheili is said to have green blood when it has been purple in all game appearances to date.
- They are, fittingly, the very first Covenant species the player encounters in most of the Halo games: when you make your way to the bridge of the Pillar of Autumn in Halo: Combat Evolved, at the trial of the Thel 'Vadamee in Halo 2, in the opening cut scene of Halo 3, the first Covenant "seen" in Halo: Reach at the beginning of Winter Contingency on Legendary difficulty is an invisible Sangheili, and in Halo 4, when John-117 gets back up from the elevator, a Storm Sangheili is running towards him, sword drawn. In Halo Wars, they are seen in the first cutscene during a battle on Harvest fighting against UNSC Marines, but the Sangheili are not the first seen Covenant species in Halo 3: ODST due to the lack of live Sangheili.
- There has been a running inconsistency in the franchise regarding when humans first encountered the Sangheili. According to Halo: The Fall of Reach, Sangheili had not been deployed to combat against the UNSC prior to the Fall of Reach when John-117 encountered one above Reach. However, this has been abandoned in newer sources, most of which depict Sangheili being active in the field for most of the Human-Covenant war. Finally, the project page for Halo: Reach confirms that Sangheili have been observed in the field since the First Battle of Harvest in 2525.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved, the Sangheili have three different types of helmet appearances. One is the classical shark-like helmet with the pointed cone at the peak of the helmet. The second is slightly different with a wide, crest-like and curved upper piece on the helmet. The third is known as in the game code as "Sangheili Special." Stealth Sangheili, the gold Zealots and the Special Operations Officers all have a helmet very, very similar in shape to the "shark-like" helmet but slightly different.
- An exclusive set of Sangheili Officer armor is included with the Limited and Legendary editions of Halo: Reach.
- In Halo 3, Sangheili pupils turn to vertical slits upon death, whereas they are circular and centered when they are alive. This is because they have horizontal eyelids, which can be seen when they blink, and this is simply their eyes closed while dead.
- In Halo: Reach, the Sangheili HUD compass has Covenant markings instead of cardinal directions.
- In Halo: Reach, if you activate night vision while aiming at a dead Sangheili's eyes, the eyes will glow.
- In Halo: Reach, when a Sangheili wields an Energy Sword, it slouches.
- In Halo: Reach Firefight, the Sangheili night vision is blue.
- In Halo 3, although the Sangheili and Humans are united towards the end of the Human-Covenant war, they still sometimes refer to John-117 as "Demon." In Halo 2: Anniversary's Epilogue cutscene, Thel 'Vadam clarifies that the term is both an insult and a sign of respect, during conversation with Jameson Locke.
- In Halo: Reach, Sangheili player models feature an aim-assist system for the Plasma Pistol, Needler, Plasma Rifle and Plasma Repeater. The aim-assist projects a second reticle which leads a target, much like that of the Sabre. The second reticle is nearly identical to that of the Focus Rifle.
- Only higher ranked Sangheili are allowed to wield Energy Swords.
- In Halo: Reach, the eyes of a Sangheili no longer glow during gameplay.
- In Halo: Reach, a Sangheili will throw an Energy Sword in the air when it picks one up, unlike the Sangheili in Halo 2 and Halo 3, who simply pick it up and turn it on.
- If one were to examine the model of any Sangheili that has its face showing in Halo: Reach, with two or more players signed in on the same console, the teeth and eyes of the Sangheili will have mysteriously disappeared. The cavities where the teeth once resided in are still visible, however. Also, their mandibles will show through the helmets of the *spec ops*, *ultra* and ranger. (*Their eyes will not glow as well*)
- After the Great Schism, the Sangheili employed Unggoy, Mgalekgolo and ironically, some Jiralhanae.
- On Legendary difficulty, it takes 7 melee hits to completely kill a Sangheili, which could be a possible 7 reference.
- Sangheili are about 7 feet tall, which may be another possible 7 reference.
- In the final battle scene of the 2018 film Ready Player One Sangheili can be seen rushing into battle holding a T-51 Carbine next to a group of Spartans.
- Keith David - Thel 'Vadam
- Robert Davi - Rtas 'Vadum
- David Scully - Sangheili (in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo: Reach)
- Miguel Ferrer - Sesa 'Refumee
- Norm Woodel - Sangheili (in Halo 2)
- Ron Hippe - Sangheili (in Halo 3)
- David Sobolov - Ripa 'Moramee and Sangheili (in Halo Wars)
Overviews and Size Comparisons
- Halo: The Essential Visual Guide – page 61
- Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide – pages 45 - 49
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - Headhunters
- Halo 2 - Level: The Arbiter
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx - page 189: "Sangheili: the Elite name for their race"
- Halo Waypoint: Sangheili
- Halo 3 Limited Collector's Edition - Bonus Item: Bestiarum
- The Official Halo 2 Strategy Guide page 43
- Bungie.net: Halo: Reach: Enemies - Elite
- Halo 2 - Level: Delta Halo
- Conversations from the Universe - Sangheili Conversation, One Sangheili mentioned "even the smallest Humans hurl themselves against our defenses with honor. If only the Unggoy were as committed." This shows that humans had earned the begrudged respect of a few Sangheili. They claimed variously that Humans were "tenacious," that their technology is "limited, but...useful," that their battle techniques are "impressive," and that they are "excellent strategists."
- Halo 3 - Level: The Covenant
- Halo 3 - Level: Halo
- Halo: Evolutions - From the Office of Dr. William Arthur Iqbal
- Halo: Envoy
- Spartan Ops - Episode 1: Departure
- Halo 5: Guardians - Level: Battle of Sunaion
- Halo Wars: Genesis, page 7
- Halo Graphic Novel - page ??
- Halo Legends - The Duel
- Halo: Contact Harvest - page 201 (Digital)
- Halo: Contact Harvest - page 201
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx - page 226
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx - Page 343
- Halo 2: Anniversary - Level: Cairo Station
- Halo: Glasslands, page 20
- Halo: The Thursday War, page ??
- Halo: Broken Circle - page 76
- Halo Waypoint: Canon Fodder - Holiday Shipping
- Halo 3 - Level: The Ark
- Halo: First Strike - page 209
- Halo: First Strike - page 305
- Halo: The Fall of Reach - page 106
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx - page 194
- Halo 5: Guardians - Level: Alliance
- Bungie.net: The Covenant Primer
- Halo: Contact Harvest - page 151
- Halo: The Cole Protocol - page 170
- Halo: The Cole Protocol - page 170, 195-196
- Halo: The Cole Protocol - page 143
- Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 138
- Halo: Fractures - Extraordinary Tales from the Halo Canon - page ??
- Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 93
- Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 89
- Halo: The Flood - page 5
- Halo Encyclopedia - page 126
- Halo: Combat Evolved: Sybex Official Strategies & Secrets - page 48
- Halo Encyclopedia - page 125
- The Art of Halo, page 23
- Halo: The Fall of Reach - page 327