The Juice Of Sapho.
The Juice Of Sapho.
A Mentat.
A Mentat is a profession and a discipline in the Landsraad; Mentats are humans trained to mimic computers, with minds developed to staggering heights of cognitive and analytical ability.
Following the defeat of the thinking machines by humanity in the Butlerian Jihad, it was forbidden to create sentient machines. The Mentat discipline was developed as a replacement for computerized calculation, just as the Gesserit Bene and the Spacing Guild take on functions previously performed by thinking machines. For thousands of years, society considers Mentats the embodiment of logic and reason.
Unlike computers, however, Mentats are not simply calculators. Instead, the exceptional cognitive abilities of memory and perception are the foundations for supra-logical hypothesizing. Mentats are able to sift large volumes of data and devise concise analyses in a process that goes far beyond logical deduction: Mentats cultivate "the naive mind," the mind without preconception or prejudice, so as to extract essential patterns or logic from data and deliver useful conclusions with varying degrees of certainty. They are not limited to formulating syllogisms; They are the supreme counselors of the Landsraad, filling roles as menial as archivist and clerk, or as grand as advisor to the Emperor.
Being a Mentat can be a profession in and itself, or the discipline can be added to other roles. Few people have the ability to be a Mentat; Thus, those with the discipline are prized in whatever role they choose. There are also varying degrees of ability; Thufir HAWAT was considered to be one of the best Mentats of his era (the pre- to mid-Muad'Dib Jihad). Paul ATREIDES (the future God-Emperor) himself was a Mentat Duke; Miles TEG was a Mentat bashar (or general) and the most formidable militry commander in the known universe. Duncan IDAHO'S gholas were trained as both a Mentat and a Zensunni philosopher. (The first IDAHO ghola married the Regent, Paul's sister Alia, but is then was instrumental in protecting the royal heirs from her, demonstrating that Mentats are rarely simply disinterested observers and counselors.)
It is also possible to vary the discipline: The Tleilaxu Bene create a "twisted Mentat" for Baron Vladimir HARKONNEN, the much-reviled Piter DeVRIES (amongst others). These are sociopathic Mentats free from the usual constraints of human morality or instinctual considerations (Piter was, among other things, a sadist, and acted as torturer for the Baron, who reportedly enjoyed watching every session). In a similar vein, the Tleilaxu supply the Gesserit Bene with a Duncan ghola they have altered in many subtle and hidden ways, including the addition of submerged Mentat abilities.
Go Emperor Leto II outlaws the order and crushed any renegade training schools he found. Unlike his execution of historians, done to control his legacy and symbolism, Leto never said why he suppressed Mentats, leaving historians to conclude that played a role in his larger purpose of oppressing humanity in order to create his Golden Path. The art was not anywhere near eliminated, however, surviving through underground schools; Notably, the Gesserit Bene preserve the art, assuming that Leto knew of this (through his prescience) and approved. An IDAHO ghola spoke to the Gesserit Bene Reverend Mother Bellonda and recalled his past incarnation from the time of Leto II:
"I went to Wallach IX at the Tyrant's command ... My orders were to suppress the Mentat school you thought you had hidden there... I, a Mentat, forced to suppress a school that trained people the way I was trained. I knew why he ordered it, of course, and so do you."
Bellonda retrieves the following information from Other Memory:
"Order of Mentats, founded by Gilbertus ALBANS; temporary sanctuary with Bene Tleilax who hoped to incorporate them into Tleilaxu hegemony; Spread into uncounted "seed schools"; Suppressed by Leto II because they formed a nucleus of independent opposition; Spread into the Scattering after the Famine."
During the Butlerian Jihad, thinking machine leader Omnius saw humans as animals, but the independent robot Erasmus argued that any human can become brilliant. Omnius picked a nine-year-old, a blond-haired boy who appears to be the wildest and most unkempt of all, and challenges Erasmus to prove his theory. Erasmus calls the boy Gilbertus ALBANS, thinking that this sounded like a smart human's name. After initially failing to make progress by using a system of benevolence and rewards, he switched to a system of strict supervision and punishment, and the method worked. By emulating Erasmus, whom he has come to consider his father, Albans becomes the first to display computer-like cognitive and calculation capacity on the level of thinking machines.
To his own surprise, Erasmus also developed an attachment to the boy; When Gilbertus was about 20 years old, Erasmus performs a life-extension procedure on him without permission from Omnius. Because of Gilbertus' remarkable memory-organizational ability and capacity for logical thinking, Erasmus nicknamed him "Mentat," created from the words mentor, mentee and mentation. During the Battle of Corrin, Erasmus deactivate an explosive trip mechanism in the thinking machine defenses in order to save Gilbertus, thereby dooming the entire machine empire. Afterward, the robot declared:
"Perhaps when all the thinking machines are gone, you can teach your fellow humans how to think efficiently. Then all my work will not have been for nothing."
-Erasmus, Battle Of Corrin.
Thus, thinking machines were the creators of the Mentats, who remain the machines' enduring legacy to human civilization. Amidst the fanatical anti-computer culture that took permanent root throughout all humanity, the Mentats thrived from being an accepted substitute over intelligent technology, with thier origins laregely forgotten.
Mentat Assassins
The most feared assassins in the known universe are the Mentats; Their minds are developed in such a way that they could assassinate anyone they want easily enough- Which in turn makes them ideal bodyguards. They can usually foresee assassination attempts months, even years in advance, thus thwarting the attempt before it begins. (One of the Chairman's Mentants' -ONLY-, to exclusion, job is to serve as the Chair Assassin, which ironically enough means plot to assassinate the Chairman, thereby determining how best to protect the Chairman.)
"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
It is by will alone I set my mind in motion."
- Mentat Mantra.
The Mantra is taught to potential Mentants early in their training, long before they take sapho for the first time. It is not strictly speaking required, though most do so when they are about to drink it.
The Mantra is parodied throught the landsraad and beyond by working-class people as "It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion" (often with the drinking of coffee or similar morning beverages in place of the sapho).
Sapho, or more commonly the Juice of Sapho, was a high-energy liquid extracted from the barrier roots of the planet Ecaz. A Mentat's capabilities can be doubled or even tripled over the Mentat's already immense processing power by taking sapho juice, but using it leads to addiction. Users develop deep ruby stains on their mouth and lips. It "can" be used by normal people as well, but to far more limited effect, as their minds are not developed to fully realize their potential.
Beyond The Landsraad
Mentants are one of the few exports the Landsraad has, with schools having formed in every purely human-compatible planet in the known universe, and many beyond (by potential Mentats travelling to a planet that already had such a school). The best Mentant candidates are send to the Landsraad, where they are developed into practical mental weapons. Three serve the Chairman at any given time, though none are ever Human or T'entraedi (to avoid biases). Sapho is far more restricted outside the Landsraad, and requires a prescription which is very difficult to obtain, as justification must be included in the script itself (and "Maintenance" was long-ago disqualified as a justification). As a result, sapho is one of the more commonly smuggled items throughout the UGC, though 99% of said smuggling is between Mentats, and as such there is little or any profiteering going on.
Mentats are not "friends" with anyone, not even each other; Today's ally could very well end up tomorrow's enemy, and the next day's ally. However, Mentats do enjoy a credibility, respect, and deference between each other that they do not necessarily always enjoy with those outside the order.
Each school is utterly unique, and as a result the Mentat Order does not have stats. Instead, they use the stats of whatever employer or enitity they are part of directly.