Irathients are a Votan species native to the planet Irath, which they share with the Sensoth and Liberata.
For centuries the Omec came to their world to harvest millions of them for use as slaves and food, but ultimately they rose up against their oppressor in the war of six, and were free to prosper.
When the time to flee the Votanis System came, the Irathients used tribal rituals to select who would survive (and leave on the Arks), and they were among the first to establish themselves on Earth. This explains why their population on the planet is one of the most important of the Votan species (along with the Castithans).
Prior to the events of Defiance, the Irathients and Castithans appear to have warred terribly with one another. In it is revealed that during an event called the "Great Diaspora" Castithans filled caves with chlorine gas to kill Irathients.
As of episode "Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go" there are very few Irathients in Defiance. Eight years before when the town was founded, it boasted a population of over a thousand Iraths. However, they did not believe in the inoculation of their children for diseases. When the town charter was rewritten to include mandatory vaccinations, deputies went door-to-door and forced inoculations on Irathi children at gunpoint. There was an uprising, and as the Iraths had clubs to the city's vo-tech weapons, they never stood a chance. Some were killed and the rest left ''en masse". Relations have been strained since then in the area, but, as the Spirit Riders came to help the city of Defiance when the Volge attacked, things are starting to improve.
The most common Votans on Earth are the Irathients. They are a proud, tribal people who wear tribal markings to identify themselves. They have a deep love of the natural world and an aggressive demeanor. They are often perceived as feral by others. Irathients are rustically handsome, with predominantly orange hair and yellow eyes, and are naturally athletic. They are fierce fighters and pride themselves on their low-tech hand-to-hand combat skills.
According to "If I Ever Leave This World Alive", given that they are vectors of many diseases yet rarely become ill themselves, they are known among other Votan races—particularly Castithans—as "disease carriers."
Irathients greet each other with their hands out and the word eseneziri, which literally means "Without concealed weapons or hidden agendas." They may also touch foreheads, according to "If I Ever Leave This World Alive".
Irathient spirituality is made up of three idealized parts of the body:
- Gyabire (the brain) the seat of intellect
- Gyagbe (the heart) the source of vitality
- Gyargye (the stomach) the house of emotion.
Irathients are a deeply spiritual people. In the "Pilot" episode, it is revealed that their faith includes belief in a god called Irzu, who sets people on their path in life and defines their fate, and Idanyu "of the flame," who is called upon in "If I Ever Leave This World Alive" during a time of plague. There is also the god Gyaamashaa "of the waves," seemingly invoked for healing in "Everything Is Broken". In the episode "The Devil in the Dark" a clairvoyant ritual is shown in the apprehension of an Irathient criminal.
In episode "Goodbye Blue Sky", it was shown that Irathient funeral rites include a "sinking ritual," in which the possessions and then the body of the deceased are lowered into a bath of acid. This spares the bones and releases the three elements--gyabire, gyagbe and gyargye—back into the world. According to "The Devil in the Dark", Irathients also believe that the dead "dance with their ancestors."
After being captured in the season 1, episode 1. It was mentioned that Irathients are cannibals.
During prayer, as seen in episode "If I Ever Leave This World Alive", Irathients may build small piles of stones, circling them and chanting in invocation of their gods.
In dress, the Irathients seem to have a flair for the unusual and the flamboyant. Sukar sports a kilt, a top hat, a green faux fur jacket, and leather sword armor. Rynn wears a corset and black fishnets over her bright yellow tights. The spirit riders wear a variety of old military and athletic helmets.
Irathients prefer the company of their own kind but, because they evolved on the same planet as Sensoths and Liberata, they enjoy a degree of kinship with those races. They resent Castithans' sense of superiority. Irathients view Humans as crude and lacking respect for the natural world. They do however hate the Volge most of all. Individual exceptions exist however, such as Irisa, whose foster father Nolan was human, and Volubela, married to Castithan Rahm Tak (with whom she also had children).
According to "If I Ever Leave This World Alive", Irathients refer to Castithans scornfully as "haints."
In an interview in which she was asked which race she would want to be, Julie Benz picked Irathient, citing their fashion sense as one reason. She attributed the way they dressed in the show as being influenced by Steampunk.