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In the Dune series, spice is noted for its geriatric properties - the ability to extend human life well beyond the natural norm. In "God Emperor of Dune", Leto II reflects on that property:

Without the geriatric properties of melange, people live and die according to the ancient measure-no more than a hundred years or so.

However, most of the humans we see in the series are of an age well within that norm. Obvious exceptions would be Leto himself or the Duncan gholas. However, that begs the question of what lifespans actually were in a spice-rich civilization.

How much could spice extend a human life in Dune, and what character is an example of it?

Note that by an example I mean someone who lived beyond the "hundred years or so", yet still maintained youth and/or vitality.

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    I recall Miles Teg was around 250 in Heretics of Dune, though I think that was a result of BG training as well as the spice. I always had the impression that it roughly would double one's lifespan and vitality, though I don't have a hard quote to back that up. Nov 30, 2017 at 21:29
  • Does Leto II count?
    – friggle
    Nov 30, 2017 at 21:30
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    How old was Shaddam IV's father? I seem to remember he was quite a bit past 150 and was a randy old goat almost up until his death by poisoning
    – HorusKol
    Nov 30, 2017 at 21:50
  • @friggle He doesn't. Duncan mentions that spice could not make him live as long as he did. This also may give approximate upper bound.
    – Mithoron
    Dec 1, 2017 at 21:16
  • the Appendices of Dune give the birth and death dates of some characters (which later books might change in some cases). The number of emperors since the battle of Corrino is given as well as the date of it -approximately 10,000 years - so the average reign length can be calculated. That would give some indication of the average generation length in the imperial dynasty. Dec 2, 2017 at 18:40

1 Answer 1

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There's a quote in Children of Dune that seems to address this. With the regular ingestion of melange, the rich can expect to live several hundreds of years (e.g. 80-100 years x 3).

Without melange and its amplification of the human immunogenic system, life expectancy for the very rich degenerated by a factor of at least four. Even the vast middle class of the Imperium ate diluted melange in small sprinklings with at least one meal a day.

Heretics of Dune suggests that someone with extensive access to Melange and general good health could live in to their 300s

He [Teg] was, she knew, four SY short of three hundred. Granting that the Standard Year was some twenty hours less than the so-called primitive year, it was still an impressive age with experiences in Bene Gesserit service that demanded that she respect him.

and

Was he [The God Emperor] driven by the desire for long life? He lived more than ten times the normal span of three hundred SY, but consider the price he paid.


Those who aren't wealthy (but merely middle-class) also experience a lesser effect and would, presumably, expect to live into their hundreds.

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  • I was wondering how Moneo could have seen several Duncans come & go, despite several of them serving Leto II for decades. I guess that explains it, though - with a steady diet of spice he could be 300+ years old.
    – Omegacron
    Dec 1, 2017 at 20:34
  • FYI - Heretics of Dune has the following line about Leto II: "He lived more than ten times the normal span of three hundred SY, but consider the price he paid."
    – Omegacron
    Dec 15, 2017 at 15:32
  • @Omegacron - A good find. There's also another quote I missed.
    – Valorum
    Dec 15, 2017 at 15:44
  • From God Emperor of Dune, on Moneo showing his age: "Moneo will be one hundred and eighteen years old in the week after our return from Onn. The man could live many times that long if he would take the spice, but he refused." So even without the spice, it seems longer lives than we are used to are the norm. Aug 18, 2021 at 15:48
  • @JonThysell - I don't think Moneo is a particularly good example in this case. Even if there is no more spice in production, it seems likely that the atmosphere of Arrakis is suffused in spice, which would impart unnaturally long life to those who live on the planet.
    – Valorum
    Aug 18, 2021 at 16:21

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