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By the first Leto II, I'm referring to the one born in Dune, who died during the Sardaukar raids. Additionally, I am not necessarily implying that Paul was not the Kwisatz Haderach (because that is it's own discussion), I am asking, could the first son have achieved the same "terrible purpose" that Paul saw and Leto II fulfilled.

The first son had the same heritage as the second, and so should genetically be as capable as the later son.

Paul shares some prescient connection with both of them: he knows the instant the first has died, and the vision-sharing experience on the night of the second's birth. This in contrast to him not even knowing Ghanima was born.

Would the genetics alone have led him along the Golden Path?

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Did you mean Leto I? –  DVK Feb 11 at 19:06
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Paul Muad'dib had two sons, the first died in a Harkonnen attack, the second survived and became the God Emperor. Both were named Leto II –  Richard Feb 11 at 19:25
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@DVK Leto I is the father of Paul –  Envite Feb 11 at 20:07

2 Answers 2

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The short answer is "no" with a healthy dollop of "probably" on the side...

In order to successfully steer humanity along the Golden Path (and become a sandworm/human hybrid) you seem to require three things;

  • The Atreides genetic structure

Duke Leto's male heirs seem to possess quite similar powers; the ability to view the memories of their male forebears and a form of prescience. Although the Bene Gesserit are pretty convinced the Paul Muad'Dib is the Kwisatz Haderach, he himself constantly claims that he's not and that he's something similar but distinct and different.

Either way, in order to walk along the Golden Path you have to have the Atreides genes in order to be able to sense the future and use the powers of the Bene Gesserit to resist the chemical changes needed (see below).

  • Saturation with Melange spice

When Leto II (the Second) begins the initial change, he has become super-saturated with Spice. In addition to supplementing his visions of the future, the Spice also allows his body to become physiologically compatible with the baby sandtrout. A normal human would simply have died by this point.

  • You need to be Pre-born but not possessed.

Leto II (the Second) and Paul have an intense conversation in the desert before Leto deposes Alia. It's pretty clear that Paul has seen the possibility of joining with the sandtrout but had rejected it because the option is simply too horrible to consider. The path essentially requires the subjugation of humanity, the death of billions more people as well as centuries of unpleasant physical changes;

Leto : "I've already done it. My skin is not my own."

Paul : "You think I've not seen a thing similar to what you choose?"

Leto : "You saw it"

Paul : "Is your vision any better than mine?"

Leto : "Not one whit better. Worse, perhaps,"

Which all brings us back to Leto II (the first). Although he possessed the Atreides genes and certainly could have become a male Bene Gesserit/Kwisatz Haderach, the simple fact is that without being pre-born he would have lacked the emotional detachment (as did Paul) required to guide the human race along the Golden Path.

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I'm not sure your second point is valid. If Paul was capable of joining with the sandtrout, but simply chose not to, then Leto II the first would have been physically capable of surviving the saturation too. –  friggle Feb 11 at 20:19
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Joining with them isn't the issue, coping with the intense psychological changes over hundreds of years is. –  Richard Feb 11 at 20:24
    
Your third point is your big maybe though. Paul was scared of the Golden Path, but until twins were born when he only expected one, he didn't doubt his visions. He obviously wasn't held to humanity by his children (since he walked out on them the night of their birth) but by Chani, as the Tlielaxu hoped to hook him with. If Leto II the second hadn't been born unseen, he would have still considered his future inescapable. –  friggle Feb 11 at 20:39
    
I agree that the third point is the "probably" but we do see that neither Ghani nor Paul were delighted about the idea of undergoing the change. In 'God Emperor' we see that Leto has endured a thousand years of torment and committed atrocities that would make Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Khan Singh blush. –  Richard Feb 11 at 21:00
    
Paul chose not to embark upon the Golden Path because he did not realise it was necessary. It had nothing to do with psychological resilience - though it must be said that Paul probably didn't have enough of that - and everything to do with the fact that he (correctly) recognised that the Golden Path was positively horrific; its only redeeming quality was that it saved the human race from extinction. Paul did not have enough prescience to realise this, which is something that he acknowledged to Leto II (the second one) in Children of Dune. –  James Sheridan Mar 21 at 10:39

I think it's unlikely. Leto and Ghanima were pre-born due a combination of being part of Paul's line (and therefore possessing many of the same qualities that marked Paul as the Kwisatz Haderach) and the large quantities of spice that Chani ingested to counter the effects of the drugs that Irulan was slipping her to prevent pregnancy. We have no evidence to suggest that the first Leto II shared that attribute. I don't believe that genetics alone would have been sufficient for him to have taken the Golden Path, because it was the oversaturation of spice in Leto's system that really allowed him to bond with the worms and give him ultimately the control over the spice.

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Alia was pre-born due to the Water of Life. If Chani's spice consumption alone was enough to cause pre-birth, then why would it be a "ancient Fremen fertility diet", considering they had prohibitions against Abominations? I agree that there was no textual evidence of Leto II the first being pre-born (the little guy barely has any text at all), but I don't recall her consuming large amounts of spice beyond her diet. –  friggle Feb 11 at 20:25
    
@friggle Edited my response to include that it was more likely a combination of their unique genetics being triggered by the overlarge spice consumption. (The Water of Life being distilled spice essence, the same sort of effect would have led to Alia.) –  Roger Feb 11 at 20:33

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