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Jon Snow and the Blue Winter Rosetta Stone


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#1 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 01:48 AM

Like the well known Rosetta Stone, ASoIaF's blue winter roses help to decipher what otherwise might have been a mystery. In this case, Jon Snow's true identity as the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.

 

Before we get to the analysis, there are a couple of issues I want to address. The first being what I consider to be the biggest misunderstanding about the blue roses, and the second on where I think they might be most useful in arguing R+L=J.

 

1) Probably the most common misconception regarding Lyanna's blue roses is that they symbolize (only) her. While that connection is the most obvious, I think there is more to it. In fact, I believe the obviousness of this connection is an intentional misdirection, wherein GRRM used a kind of cognitive bias against the reader.

 

In AGoT the flowers only appear in Ned's POVs, and only when he thinks about his sister. This fact conditions us to connect the flowers to her and, in many cases, only her. It's a clever (re: tricky) way to obscure their true meaning. That way, by the time we read Ned's final chapter, and find out that Rhaegar gave Lyanna the crown of winter roses at Harrenhal, we have already (mis)learned that the flowers symbolize Lyanna. Which makes it easy to ignore the actual significance and symbolism of that particular reveal. Lyanna's roses were given to her by Rhaegar Targaryen. Which leads to the next point.

 

2) Every now and then a debate will arise regarding the certainty of Jon's paternity, whilst conceding the maternity; i.e., ?+L=J. The answer to which is: trace Lyanna's blue roses back to their origin. Chronologically, their first appearance was the QoLaB's crowning at the Harrenhal tourney in 281AC. This turns out to be the key piece of information needed to understand Ned's recurring thoughts and dreams, about his sister and her blue roses. It provides the context: Lyanna's roses were given to her by Rhaegar Targaryen.

 

(A quick note regarding real world blue rose symbolism. "The meaning of the blue rose is about mystery [as in; who is Jon Snow's mother?] or attaining the impossible. The blue rose is also used as a symbol of love at first sight [R+L?]. The blue coloring also represents royal blood [which Jon receives from his father] so it can represent splendor and regal majesty.")

 

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AGoT, Eddard:
 

“I was with her when she died,” Ned reminded the king. “She wanted to come home, to rest beside Brandon and Father.” He could hear her still at times. Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes. Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black. After that he remembered nothing. They had found him still holding her body, silent with grief. The little crannogman, Howland Reed, had taken her hand from his. Ned could recall none of it. “I bring her flowers when I can,” he said. “Lyanna was... fond of flowers.”

- Eddard I

 

Spoiler

 

As they came together in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death.

-Eddard X

 

Spoiler

 

Her eyes burned, green fire in the dusk, like the lioness that was her sigil. “The night of our wedding feast, the first time we shared a bed, he called me by your sister’s name. He was on top of me, in me, stinking of wine, and he whispered Lyanna. “
Ned Stark thought of pale blue roses, and for a moment he wanted to weep. “I do not know which of you I pity most.”

-Eddard XII

 

Spoiler

 

He was walking through the crypts beneath Winterfell, as he had walked a thousand times before. The Kings of Winter watched him pass with eyes of ice, and the direwolves at their feet turned their great stone heads and snarled. Last of all, he came to the tomb where his father slept, with Brandon and Lyanna beside him. “Promise me, Ned, “ Lyanna’s statue whispered. She wore a garland of pale blue roses, and her eyes wept blood.

-Eddard XIII

 

Spoiler

 

Let's revisit The Moment When All the Smiles Died, from Eddard XV, because there is an addendum which belongs here, I think.

 

Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty’s laurel in Lyanna’s lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost.

 

Spoiler

 

Ned Stark reached out his hand to grasp the flowery crown, but beneath the pale blue petals the thorns lay hidden. He felt them clawing at his skin, sharp and cruel, saw the slow trickle of blood run down his fingers, and woke, trembling, in the dark.
Promise me, Ned, his sister had whispered from her bed of blood. She had loved the scent of winter roses.

 

Spoiler

 

ACoK, Theon:

 

But there were others with faces he had never known in life, faces he had seen only in stone. The slim, sad girl who wore a crown of pale blue roses and a white gown spattered with gore could only be Lyanna.

- Theon XI

 

Spoiler

 

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ACoK, Daenerys:

 

A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness.

-Daenerys IV (HotU)

 

Spoiler

 

“A dead man in the prow of a ship, a blue rose, a banquet of blood… what does any of it mean, Khaleesi? A mummer’s dragon, you said. What is a mummer’s dragon, pray?”

- Daenerys V

 

Aside from affirming that the blue flower in the HotU was in fact a blue rose, the latter quote serves little other purpose, as far as I can tell, and is presented without additional comment.

 

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AFfC, Cersei:

 

“Not kind,” said Cersei, “merely truthful. Taena tells me that you are called the Blue Bard.”
“I am, Your Grace.” The singer’s boots were supple blue calfskin, his breeches fine blue wool. The tunic he wore was pale blue silk slashed with shiny blue satin. He had even gone so far as to dye his hair blue, in the Tyroshi fashion. Long and curly, it fell to his shoulders and smelled as if it had been washed in rosewater. From blue roses, no doubt. At least his teeth are white. They were good teeth, not the least bit crooked.

- Cersei IX

 

Spoiler

 

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The Song O' the Winter Rose; Bael, Rhaegar, Mance, R+L=J:
 

While Bael's song is largely viewed as a parallel for R+L=J, and rightly so in my opinion, some believe that Mance is Rhaegar in disguise, mostly based on the parallels between the two in ASoS, Jon I. This despite a number of issues, not the least of which is GRRM stating that "Rhaegar was cremated, as is traditional for fallen Targaryens." - Link. But I believe a more elegant explanation exists.

 

Taking the Mance-Rhaegar parallels in ASoS for granted, as I mostly agree with them, we have to explain why, In ADwD, Mance's story suddenly starts to resemble Bael the Bard's. Simply put, I believe GRRM is reinforcing the link between Rhaegar and Bael, through Mance's character. A link that already existed thanks to the similarities between the R+L=J story and the song o' the winter rose. (Both feature singers who stole Stark daughters and gave them sons. Bael even has the Targaryen-like "ae" letter combination in his name, etc.) So, while the Rhaegar-Mance connections do exist in my opinion, it's not because they're the same person. Rhaegar fought valiantly, nobly and honorably, and he died at the Trident.

 

This is, of course, the BtB story as it pertains to R+L=J. There are parts of the story connected to that tale; e.g., Baelish and Sansa.

---

Thanks for reading.


Edited by J. Stargaryen, 17 February 2015 - 06:39 AM.


#2 Sun

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 02:33 AM

I think this post belongs in the R+L=J thread.

#3 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 02:36 AM

It could go there, but the focus of the post is not on Jon's parentage, but rather how the symbolism of the BWR relates to Jon. So I think I'm in the clear.

#4 Usrnmhsnomning

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 03:02 AM

The very least you could have done is pointed out Dany seeing a blue rose in a frozen wall, which is probably the biggest indication that blue roses are symbolism for Jon. Everything else is more of a "and in this sentence it says blue rose, which means Jon" which doesn't really have any weight, true or not.

#5 theguyfromtheVale

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 03:12 AM

Nice post overall.

However, there's one mention of the blue winter rose that you still have to explain: Bael the Bard asking Brandon the Daughterless for a Blue Winter Rose and taking his daughter instead.

Basically, both interpretations exist in parallel, and both have some points in favor and some against. I'll wait and see how all of this plays out ;)

#6 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 03:13 AM

The very least you could have done is pointed out Dany seeing a blue rose in a frozen wall, which is probably the biggest indication that blue roses are symbolism for Jon. Everything else is more of a "and in this sentence it says blue rose, which means Jon" which doesn't really have any weight, true or not.


You know, honestly, I take that fact for granted, and assumed that anyone who buys into the Jon-BWR symbolism does too. I felt like it was superfluous to add, but just for you...

And, FYI, the point of my interpretations is that I'm at least attempting to show how Jon fits into these parts of the story in place of the BWR, when the rose pops up.

#7 Usrnmhsnomning

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 03:16 AM

The Dany vision makes the theory, imo. Just saying.

#8 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 03:23 AM

Nice post overall.

However, there's one mention of the blue winter rose that you still have to explain: Bael the Bard asking Brandon the Daughterless for a Blue Winter Rose and taking his daughter instead.

Basically, both interpretations exist in parallel, and both have some points in favor and some against. I'll wait and see how all of this plays out ;)


Well, that's what I try to address here:

Now, they might not symbolize only Jon. There is also good reason to associate them with Lyanna, or the entire set of events beginning with the Tourney at Harrenhal in the Year of the False Spring. However, Lyanna is no longer alive at the beginning of the story; Jon is. And, most importantly, all of those events led to Jon's birth. Symbollically, Jon Snow is the blue winter rose.


The idea being that while I can't necessarily rule others out, I can rule Jon in, in every case. Essentially, the BWR may very well symbolize stolen Stark daughters and the sons that they give birth to. In our story, only Jon meets this criteria in every case. Of course there is an argument to be made for Sansa being connected to the Bael story, too. Besides that, I do not think you can really connect her to any other BWR symbolism.

There is a discussion about the RW vision in the HotU where I note a similar concept. There is some question as to whether the vision really showed the RW. My argument is that even though I can't rule out alternative takes, I definitely can rule in the RW.

Thanks for your input. This is an important point that needed clarification.

#9 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 03:24 AM

The Dany vision makes the theory, imo. Just saying.


Right, I 100% agree. If you doubt me even a little, just hover your mouse pointer over my name. ;)

Thanks for the input.

#10 theguyfromtheVale

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 03:57 AM

Well, that's what I try to address here:


The idea being that while I can't necessarily rule others out, I can rule Jon in, in every case. Essentially, the BWR may very well symbolize stolen Stark daughters and the sons that they give birth to. In our story, only Jon meets this criteria in every case. Of course there is an argument to be made for Sansa being connected to the Bael story, too. Besides that, I do not think you can really connect her to any other BWR symbolism.

There is a discussion about the RW vision in the HotU where I note a similar concept. There is some question as to whether the vision really showed the RW. My argument is that even though I can't rule out alternative takes, I definitely can rule in the RW.

Thanks for your input. This is an important point that needed clarification.


Sure, I just wanted you to make the point a little more clear overall. I don't really disagree with it all that much, in fact. Still, I'd argue the BWR is a symbol for both R+L's love and Jon - because both are, basically, identical.

#11 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 04:01 AM

Sure, I just wanted you to make the point a little more clear overall. I don't really disagree with it all that much, in fact. Still, I'd argue the BWR is a symbol for both R+L's love and Jon - because both are, basically, identical.


Yes! Jon is a walking, talking symbol of that love. This is a point I've made in the past, using the term equivalence.

#12 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 04:30 AM

Yes! Jon is a walking, talking symbol of that love. This is a point I've made in the past, using the term equivalence.


ETA: I've updated the third paragraph with what I hope will be helpful information. Or you can just read it here:

ETA: I suppose it is worth stating my intent here, and that is to show how and why Jon fits into the story whenever and wherever the winter roses are mentioned. I am not claiming that my 'translations' are 100% accurate or even 100% complete. That said, I think my interpretations are a good place to start if you wish to make the case that the winter roses are the key to unlocking parts of Jon's back story. I say "parts" because there is already a good deal of evidence for his parentage. In fact, the reason I'm so fond of this theory is that I've tested it against things we already know or at least assume, where applicable. The method I use there is: 1) start by assuming that any mention of the roses symbolizes Jon Snow; 2) see if that fits with things we already know, or assume; e.g., Lyanna + blood + winter roses (aka, Jon) actually correlates to a 'known/assumed event - Lyanna gave birth to Jon.


Edited by J. Stargaryen, 12 March 2013 - 04:32 AM.


#13 Kiss of Fire

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 04:51 AM

In the Bael the Bard story, does it specify which stark girl is stolen...who is Lord of Winterfell at this time? It parellels R+L=J so perfectly...wondering if there were even more clues.

#14 theguyfromtheVale

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 05:15 AM

No, no such time is given. Indeed, pinning it down on the timeline is almost impossible: There's already a Kingsroad, and the Stark is a Lord, not a King. So it has to be within the last 300 years. But at the same time, Bael's son had to fight against a Bolton to subjugate him, and apparently the Starks last faught the Boltons well before the consolidation of the Seven Kingdoms - reputedly 1000 years ago, although I tend to be sceptical of the pre-Targ timeline.

So indeed, the story of Bael the Bard isn't historical, it's prophetic: It tells the story of Jon Snow: being the grandson of a Lord Stark and the son of a bard who would be king who stole the Stark Lord's daughter; returned to Winterfell and brought up by the Starks without knowing his true heritage; fighting against the Wildlings together (or rather, in the function of) LC of the NW; confronting a Bolton and being killed in the process (well, it certainly looks like it right now...)

#15 roxWolfox 🍁

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 10:59 PM

Well, kudos! Well thought out. I'd already come to the conclusion just for the fact that 3 KG were willing to die at the Tower of Joy, but you've given me another reason to reread. Thank you, and well done. :thumbsup:

#16 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 11:07 PM

Well, kudos! Well thought out. I'd already come to the conclusion just for the fact that 3 KG were willing to die at the Tower of Joy, but you've given me another reason to reread. Thank you, and well done. :thumbsup:


Thank you. I'm glad you liked it. GRRM has given us many reasons to repeatedly read his work. Beautiful stuff.

#17 Greenfyre

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 11:11 PM

A fine analysis, and one with which I agree for the most part. The argument that Lyanna is Jon's mother is very compelling.

#18 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 11:20 PM

A fine analysis, and one with which I agree for the most part. The argument that Lyanna is Jon's mother is very compelling.


Thanks, but of course the best interpretation I've come up with for all of the symbolism is The Moment When All the Smiles Died, which certainly states that Rhaegar is Jon's father. Because, you know, he put the crown of blue roses Jon in Lyanna's lap womb.

Edited by J. Stargaryen, 15 March 2013 - 02:59 AM.


#19 indignant mushroom

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 11:23 PM

Blood could also stand for a Targ, since it is in their motto. That's what I gathered initially.

#20 J. Stargaryen

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 11:27 PM

Blood could also stand for a Targ, since it is in their motto. That's what I gathered initially.


That's interesting. I'll have to give that some thought.