Bini

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  1. Yes, I'm aware that some of the events and episodes presented as parallels fall into general "trope" territory, both in history and fiction, and it's hard to know for certain if GRRM was alluding to a specific thing. On the Livia and Visenya thing, I find it similar not as a generic "evil stepmother", but the specific situation of caring for a dying stepson/nephew when he gets ill, despite never being sympathetic to him before, and the rumours about it afterwards. The essay was originally longer than this version, especially the Introduction, where I (among other things) mentioned this: Maybe I should have kept it.
  2. Indeed, not only Livia-Visenya, but many of the parallels are superficial, in fact. Despite the title, I don't argue that all the characters presented as having parallels had similar personalities, though, but that there were similar episodes in their biographies. In this sense, despite Visenya's involvement in Aenys's death being no more than gossip, it's too much alike to the gossip about Livia and Marcellus for me not to mention them. The murders of Aegon and Julia Drusilla are mentioned through the text.
  3. Intro Even if I, Claudius is not as popular as ASoIaF, it certainly has a place among the great English language novels of the 20th century. Authored by Robert Graves and originally published in 1934, it is a historical fiction narrated as an autobiography of Claudius, an outcast member of the Julio-Claudian family, who follows the court intrigue in the early Roman Empire from his childhood until his ascension to Emperor. A second book, Claudius the God, has Claudius chronicling his time as ruler of Rome, and his relationship with his wives Messalina and Agrippina, until his death and the rise of Nero. The first volume was listed by Time and Modern Library among the 100 best English-language novels of the century, and the two books originated some adaptations since their release. The first attempt was an unfinished feature movie, in 1937. The most famous one is the BBC TV miniseries I, Claudius, released in 1976. In 2010, the British corporation also did a radio adaptation, and BBC2 and HBO acquired the rights for a new miniseries in 2011. Among I, Claudius’s fans is GRRM, who never made a secret of it and many times has admitted liking both the books and the TV series. In several interviews (such as this 2007 one) and talks with fans, Martin has lauded it as “one of the best TV shows of all-time”. He has also denied the possibility of being involved in HBO’s new version, in a Not a Blog comment. When asked about the influence the novels and their TV version had in his work, the author did not deny it either: After reading ASoIaF and the Claudius novels, and watching the BBC series, it's possible to notice, in fact, many parallel points between the works. Excusing myself for “usurping” the name of a famous work by a classic author – Parallel Lives, by Plutarch – this essay’s intention is to bring to the reader some of the noticeable similarities in the works of GRRM and Graves (and Roman history in general). Tiberius and Stannis Baratheon A most evident association in GRRM's and Graves's works is the one between Tiberius and Stannis Baratheon. In fact, it was acknowledged by GRRM himself. The author has stated that Stannis is (not only) a version of some historical monarchs, among them the Roman emperor: GRRM has also conceded that his Stannis has much not only of Tiberius, but specifically of George Baker’s portrayal of the character: Starting by one of the most noticeable attributes of both characters: Stannis’s grim, unsmiling and stern personality is very akin to that of the Roman emperor, who Pliny described as “tristissimus hominum” (“the gloomiest of men”). Tiberius, who succeeded Augustus as the second Emperor of Rome, went into History as a somber, reclusive ruler, who showed signs of never having wanting to become Emperor. This description matches Martin’s Stannis, who sees his claim to the Seven Kingdoms as duty, and not personal desire or ambition. The cold relationship between Stannis and his wife Selyse Florent may also allude to the one between Tiberius and Julia the Elder. Not everything is analogous, however, as Stannis never had in his personal life a first wife from whom he was forcibly separated, as happened to Tiberius with Vipsania Agrippina. Neither there are rumours of Selyse being promiscuous, as there were about Julia. Stannis’s periods of withdrawal on Dragonstone may have been influenced by the times when Tiberius went into exile on islands. During Augustus’s rule, at a time when it seemed he was the second most powerful man in Rome, Tiberius withdrew to Rhodes, and later, when already Emperor, he started to live in Capri instead of the capital. Stannis withdrew to the island of Dragonstone when he feared for his life after Jon Arryn’s death, and after his defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater. Furthermore, both Stannis and Tiberius have close counselors in whom they trust, but with whom they have troubled relationships. Even if the male and female roles are in some ways interchanged, some personality traits and personal events of Thrasyllus, Livia, Melisandre and Davos Seaworth and their relationships with Stannis and Tiberius are notably similar. During his voluntary exile on Rhodes, Tiberius met the Greek philologist and astrologist Thrasyllus, who, at a certain point, “predicted” that he would be recalled to Rome and named Augustus’ heir (which really happened). Tiberius became interested in astrology, and in the I, Claudius TV show the simultaneously trusting and distrusting relationship between him and his “magical advisor” is used as comic relief. The historical accounts of Tiberius say that he held Thrasyllus in the highest honor and considered the man a true friend, having granted Roman citizenship to him and his family upon his ascension to Emperor. Stannis's closest supporters are Davos and Melisandre, and both of them seem to resemble Thrasyllus in some way. Melisandre repeatedly tries to prove magical powers to Stannis, a skeptic, through predictions about the future that she sees in the flames (which eventually truly come to be). Stannis has also a loyal servant in Davos, someone who he imprisons at a certain point, but a lowborn man to whom he granted knighthood, a lordship and the title of Hand of the King. Tiberius had in Livia his most keen supporter to succeed Augustus, having shown indifference to the matter and gotten angry at his mother in several moments, proclaiming not to trust her. The removal of other pretenders to the Iron Throne supposedly done by Melisandre by magical means may be raised as parallel, albeit an inexact one, with Livia’s machinations to pave the way for her son as Augustus’s successor. Tiberius shows ignorance about the murders and ruses perpetrated by his mother, as Stannis initially ignored the exact nature of the shadow that murdered his brother Renly, birthed by Melisandre. There are also doubts for the reader if there really was active magic by the sorceress in the deaths of Joffrey, Balon and Robb, or if she merely saw them and simulated that they were consequence of her blood magic. In real world, there are doubts if, like some historians (and Graves’s historical fiction) suggest, Livia was really responsible for the deaths of many of Augustus’s designated successors. In the military sphere, both Tiberius and Stannis are accomplished generals: the former conquered territories in Northern Italy which laid the foundations for the frontiers of the Roman Empire, while the the latter held Storm's End during Robert’s Rebellion, defeated the Iron Fleet in the First Greyjoy Rebellion (which helped to cement Robert’s power), and was victorious at the Battle of Castle Black. Neither the Roman nor the Westerosi, however, are properly recognized by the monarch they succeeded (or should succeed). Moments when Stannis complains to his closest advisors about being demeaned and disregarded by Robert, his brother and former King of the Seven Kingdoms, are not uncommon in ASoIaF. Likewise, I, Claudius’s Tiberius frequently complains to his brother Drusus and his mother Livia about the bureaucratic tasks he is appointed to by Emperor Augustus, whom he thinks considers himself a mere bellboy. The relationships between the brothers are also similar in some ways, in spite of some differences. Drusus was younger than Tiberius, and both were really close and cared for one another. The some did not happen with the Baratheons: Stannis feels devaluated by and always in the shadow of his brother, while Robert does not care much for him. The resemblance resides in the popularity and in how the pairs of brothers deal with their military subordinates. The four of them are effective military leaders, but Graves's Claudius describes his father Drusus as beloved by his legions for giving them more freedom than usual and encouraging camaraderie among them, which earned him a sympathy akin to the one Robert had among his men. Stannis and Tiberius, on the other side, are described as capable generals who are also followed by their men, but through rigidity and discipline. The popularity also extends to the commons, as Drusus and Robert are also much more beloved by the people than Stannis and Tiberius. Even traits that at first glance may seem opposite may hide associations. In I, Claudius, Tiberius is portrayed as very promiscuous, and quite eccentric and abusive in his sex life. GRRM's Stannis, on the other side, is described as virtually asexual: he doesn’t have any sexual interest towards his wife, he forbids prostitution in Dragonstone and once suggested that King’s Landing’s brothels should be closed; his extramarital relations with Melisandre would be “magically” justified. Graves’s portrayal of Tiberius as a perverted man, however, is largely influenced by Suetonius, whose work has quite sensational reports. While they have questionable credibility, what Suetonius’s stories show about Tiberius, however, is the negative view that the Roman senatorial class had of the Emperor, and in this may reside inspiration for GRRM. In a similar way, Stannis’s unpopularity among a great part of the Westerosi nobility is also a notorious fact in ASoIaF. Stannis’s Julio-Claudian influences are not restricted to Tiberius. The character also “inherited” a famous quote historically attributed to Caligula, also present in I, Claudius. At one point, Caligula furiously exclaims to the crowd in the arena during gladiatorial games: “I wish you had only a single neck, I’d hack it through!”. In a Theon POV chapter in The Winds of Winter, Stannis tells the Ironborn: “You are not the only turncloak here, it would seem. Would that all the lords in the Seven Kingdoms had but a single neck...”. Despite the Westerosi having little to do with Caligula in other aspects and the sentences being uttered under different circumstances, it is also an unquestionable reference by GRRM. Augustus and Livia: Visenya, Aegon I, Robert and Cersei If Stannis was strongly flavored with Baker’s Tiberius, his brother Robert may also have received bits of Brian Blessed’s Augustus, and of the Emperor himself. The eventual overweight, the easy-going nature combined with fits of fury (many of them reckless and unjust), the readiness to make friends (even out of old enemies) and the ignorance of many plots and schemes around them are all similarities between the two characters. Robert died without ever knowing that Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen were not his children, and that Cersei cheated on him with Jaime through all of their marriage. Despite the inexistence of reports of Livia having extramarital affairs, for decades Augustus was also oblivious of her machinations behind his back, many of them against his own interests. Eventually, both Graves's Livia and Martin's Cersei murdered their husbands to ensure their children would rise to power. Augustus seems to have influenced GRRM in another of his characters, a “historical” one: Aegon I Targaryen. The first King of the Seven Kingdoms was greatly influenced by William I of England (“The Conqueror”), but he also finds has many parallels in Rome’s first Emperor. Not only Aegon and Augustus had similar traits, but also people close to them had parallels: while the former had in Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa his greatest general and closest friend, the latter had Orys Baratheon, the first Hand of the King; the influence of Visenya, Aegon’s sister-wife, in his reign, also resembles that of Livia over Augustus. Parallels between Livia and Visenya are not restricted to their influence on the affairs of State of their consorts. In The World of Ice and Fire, the circumstances in which Aenys I died are put under doubt by Yandel. After becoming ill, the king was cared by his aunt Visenya, before dying. After his passing, she brought back from Pentos Maegor, her exiled son, who was then crowned King. Due to the fact that Visenya had never showed any previous sympathy for Aenys, rumors arose that she may be directly involved in his death. A very similar situation happens in I, Claudius’s when Livia, under the pretext of caring for the sick Marcus Claudius Marcellus, murders him by poisoning. After the death of Marcellus, who was Augustus’s nephew, son-in-law and designated successor, Agrippa – who Livia thought more useful for her anti-republican ambitions – returned to Rome after his time in Asia (only to, afterwards, also be murdered by the empress). According to transcriptions of Sons of the Dragon we see that the Aenys, at least initially, was quite beloved by the smallfolk, a common trait with Marcellus. Maegor, on the other side, was very unpopular since a young age due to his temper. It's possible be that the final version of GRRM's novella includes more parallels with Roman history. Claudius and Tyrion I, Claudius's titular character, who narrates all the plot as his autobiography, may allude to the ASoIaF character who in many moments works as GRRM’s mouth: it's hard not to think of Tyrion when one reads Graves’s Claudius. Martin has already revealed how he came up with an “embryo” of ASoIaF’s dwarf, in this interview. He doesn't make any references to Claudius, but the “filling” of that character, when he was reused as Tyrion, may have been influenced by the Roman emperor’s story. Their characters are quite different, with Tyrion being much more ambitious and cunning than Graves’s Claudius (at least initially), and in this sense the dwarf has a much stronger parallel in Richard III of England, especially Shakespeare’s version of him. At first glance, however, their disability and its consequences are evidently similar: the isolation, the consequent interest on books and History, the sharp mind. The eventual rise to offices of power, when both characters acted in a pragmatic and diligent way, doing “what needs to be done”, even if to achieve that they had to get their hands dirty. Also the fact that they are greatly rejected by their (rich and powerful) families, except for their successful brothers, who are their best (and one of the few) friends: Germanicus and Jaime. Livilla, the older sister who pestered Claudius in Graves's story, seems to have an extreme counterpart in Cersei. In romantic life, also some parallels: initially, a first love as teenagers that ended in tragedy. When he was thirteen, Claudius met Livia Medullina Camilla, who treated him well in spite of his disabilities, something no other girl seemed to do. His luck went further when it was in the interest of Augustus and Medullina’s grandfather to have them married. On the day of the betrothal, however, she died by poisoning. Tyrion, at the same age, met and fell in love with Tysha, a lowborn girl, with whom he got married. The romance had a brutal end when Tywin found out about the wedding, forcing Jaime to tell his brother Tysha was a prostitute, and organizing a gang rape, in which Tyrion was included. Afterwards, both Claudius and Tyrion had organized marriages, with beautiful young women who had no attraction to them: Sansa Stark and Valeria Messalina, although the similarities between these two go no further. Despite being and noble and not being a prostitute by profession, Messalina’s historical reputation was one of great promiscuity. Juvenal says she used to work clandestinely in a brothel (as the “She-Wolf”), and Pliny tells the infamous story of an all-night sex competition against a famous Roman prostitute, which Messalina won. Eventually, Messalina married her last lover, which led to her execution. In this sense, the Roman empress may have inspired Martin to create another lover of Tyrion’s: Shae, who may also have been influenced by Calpurnia, a prostitute who was Claudius’s lover for a great part of his life. There are differences, however: if Tyrion projected in Shae a dedication to himself that did not exactly match reality, the same does not happen with Calpurnia, who, in I, Claudius, really cares about Claudius and proves herself a true friend to him. Much like Stannis inherited a Caligula quote, a dialogue between Tyrion and Young Griff is quite similar to a conversation that Claudius has with Herod Agrippa in the I, Claudius TV series. In this case, however, Tyrion’s role is not similar to Claudius’s, but to the one of his interlocutor: The conversation takes place right after Claudius was named Emperor by the Pretorian Guard. Sometime later, news arrive that Herod was launching an insurrection in Judaea, and Claudius concludes that the advice was true. Now, Tyrion’s dialogue with Aegon: Aegon does not ask, like Claudius, if not even Tyrion was trustworthy. However, he also learns this "lesson" during the cyvasse game, when the dwarf deceives him. This situation may extend itself for the bigger picture: there is a big possibility that they are on opposite sides in an imminent conflict between Aegon and Daenerys, with Tyrion supporting the queen, being an enemy of the young man he originally advised. Aerys II, Joffrey I, Caligula and Nero A monarch who is sadistic, extremely eccentric, paranoid and cruel, one who makes extravagant decisions, mistreating and humiliating members of his court. This is not an unseen figure, either in fiction or History. Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, more commonly known as “Caligula”, successor of Tiberius as Emperor of Rome, is one of the most prominent representatives of this archetype. Historical sources describe that initially Caligula was moderate and noble, but that he later became known for his cruelty, sadism, extravagance and sexual perversity. Even if they have questionable credibility, ancient authors tell that Caligula had incestuous relationships with his sisters, for example. They also report the infamous episodes about his promise of naming his horse Incitatus a consul, and that he had really named the animal a priest. Thus, while maybe exaggerated, it's very likely that at least some factual basis existed for the many accounts of Caligula’s follies. It was this “extreme” version of Caligula that Graves transported to I, Claudius: he is described as extremely spoiled as a child, also with sadistic and homicidal tendencies from a young age. His nickname is a diminutive of caliga, the boot used by the legionnaires, and comes from the fact that he accompanied his father Germanicus in campaigns, fully clothed in military outfit. He became a sort of mascot for the legions of his father, who was beloved by the soldiers and the people. This made Caligula hugely popular since his childhood, but, according to Claudius, also made him even more spoiled. Later, he ascended to Emperor murdering Tiberius, who had adopted him as his son, being very popular in the first months of his rule. After an episode of “brain fever”, however, Caligula became completely insane, with an increasingly unpredictable, abusive and eccentric behavior. He believed he had transformed himself into a god, and behaved as such (even saying, after a military campaign, that he defeated his “colleague” Neptune). Like Caligula, Aerys showed some character flaws and a bit of paranoia in his youth, but a certain episode was crucial for his descent into total madness that gave him the “Mad King” epithet (a meaningful one in a madness-prone family): the Defiance of Duskendale, when he was made prisoner by Denys Darklyn. Not only for insanity, however, their biographies are similar. Like the Roman emperor, the Westerosi king was also quite beloved in his youth, and the first years of his reign were equally a period of joy and prosperity. As Emperor, Caligula started a series of grandiose and extravagant construction projects, such as a floating bridge, two huge ships that functioned as floating palaces and great aqueducts. Aerys also idealized and elaborated grand and majestic works, like a new Wall further North than the one already existent, a new King’s Landing built on white marble, and the construction of a canal under the desert of Dorne. His schemes, however, never came to fruition. Incestuous relationships are also a parallel between the two men. There are differences: in Aerys’s case, the situation came from a familiar custom to keep the bloodline pure (a trait GRRM probably drew from the Egyptian Pharaohs). Marriage with Rhaella happened by order of his father, Jaehaerys II, due to prophecy. On the other side, incest was taboo in Rome in Caligula's time, but there are accounts of him having extramarital incestuous relationships with his sisters Agrippina, Drusilla and Lesbia. Both monarch’s relationships with their sisters were abusive. Suetonius and Cassius Dio (and Graves) tell that beyond his own relations with Lesbia and Agrippina, Caligula prostituted them to other men. Drusilla, his favorite, dies of apparent natural causes in the book, and Claudius simply suspects that Caligula may have killed her. In the TV series the murder is openly portrayed, in a brutal way. Aerys’s and Caligula’s violence was not directed only to their sisters: they both harassed and murdered many other less “favored” lovers. In Aerys’s case, after a series of abortions, stillbirths and babies with early deaths, he started distrusting Rhaella, accusing her of being unfaithful. Later, he became sexually abusive towards his sister, who had bruises, scratches and bites over her body. Jaime Lannister, as Kingsguard, wanted to intervene when he heard the queen cry when raped by Aerys, but was stopped by Jonothor Darry. At this time, Aerys had developed an obsession with fire that extended to sexual fetish: he only had relations with Rhaella after seeing some die by burning. Aerys’s pyromania made him order the Alchemists to produce great quantities of wildfire, that were stored in the undergrounds of King’s Landing, ready to be lit and burn the city and its half a million inhabitants should the Rebels win. The plan was unsuccessful due to the intervention of Jaime, who murdered his king and also the pyromancer, then Hand of the King, Rossart. The deaths of Caligula and Aerys are also similar: both were killed by members of their personal guards. Cassius Chaerea, a distinct war veteran serving in the Praetorian Guard under Caligula, was frequently insulted by the emperor and had intentions of Rome returning to a republic. He schemed with other praetorians, senators and knights to murder Caligula at the exit of the games, which they did. Cassius’s republican plans failed, however, since his praetorian colleagues proclaimed Claudius Emperor – instead of also murdering him as a member of the Imperial family, which was the original plan by the conspirators. Caligula's wife Milonia Caesonia and their daughter Julia Drusilla were not as lucky as Claudius, being murdered in their quarters by the conspirators, an event that by itself finds a notable parallel in the deaths of Elia Martell and her children Rhaenys and Aegon. In the I, Claudius TV show, Caesonia's death by Cassius is not shown onscreen, but her wailing is audible, and afterwards her bloody body extended over a bed is visible. Even if this doesn't necessarily mean a rape, the scene may have influenced GRRM in Elia’s rape by Gregor Clegane. The influence in the deaths of the children is clear; the description of Aegon’s murder and the allegation by Amory Lorch that Rhaenys would not stop kicking him are blatantly similar to the way Drusilla is killed: Aerys failed in burning King’s Landing, but a fire in the capital by order of the monarch has a parallel with other Roman Emperor almost as infamous as Caligula: Nero, Claudius’s successor. Some classic historians attribute to Nero himself the conflagration of the fire – to build new palaces – and, despite controversy regarding the truth in these claims, it seems a huge coincidence that Martin’s Aerys had a similar plan. Another prominent character in ASoIaF who holds parallels with Nero is Joffrey Baratheon. Also with sadistic tendencies as a child (Stannis remembers of a time when he killed a pregnant cat and opened her belly to see the kittens), he ascended to power at twelve years old, after the death of his official father. Robert had his wine poisoned by his wife Cersei during a hunt, which is similar to Claudius’s death, also by poisoning. Agrippina, Nero’s mother and Claudius’s fourth wife, is almost unanimously regarded as responsible for her husband’s death, which meant Nero rising to Emperor, also at a young age: sixteen. Nero had been adopted by Claudius and named his heir, but the return of Claudius's son Britannicus to the Imperial line (which the Emperor seemed to intend to do) meant a hindrance to succession. In a similar way, the investigations by Stannis, Jon and Eddard regarding the bastardy of Cersei’s children, if came to be known by Robert, would mean the complete downfall of the queen and her children, including Joffrey. Nero rose to power under Agrippina’s influence, but became gradually independent, and their relationship became stranded over the years. It culminated in matricide, when Nero ordered Agrippina killed in an arranged shipwreck. The relationship between Joffrey and Cersei did not reach such extremes, but she, who played a pivotal role in her son’s crowning, did not have the influence she wanted over him either. One of the first acts of transgression by Joffrey was the execution of Eddard, which was not on Cersei’s plans. Afterwards, she has a hard time restraining her son’s sadistic and reckless impulses. Sejanus and Petyr Baelish, Livilla and Lysa Tully Correspondences between characters are not restricted to the Roman and Westerosi high nobles. Petyr Baelish, originally lord of one of the smallest and least influental holdings in Westeros, seems to have inherited some traits of a character of the early Roman Empire also present in I, Claudius: Lucius Aelius Sejanus, an ambitious soldier who became powerful and influential during Tiberius’s time as Emperor. Sejanus was, by birth, a member of the Equestrians (also known as “knights”), the lowest of Rome’s two aristocratic classes. Sejanus joined the Praetorian Guard at a young age, eventually being named Prefect, one of the highest offices a knight could achieve in the Empire. In this position, he became a counselor and confidant of Tiberius, then Emperor, functioning as his "Hand". Baelish ascended in the Seven Kingdoms through the way of (apparent) friendship with the higher nobles, showing himself as helpful and powerless. Sejanus rose through force, in the condition of Praetorian Prefect, being more feared than loved. Nonetheless, Littlefinger’s rising influence in King’s Landing resembles Sejanus’s meteoric ascension in Rome. There is, however, another parallel in the character's biographies. Sejanus amassed power by controlling a large military contingent but was still a knight, and had higher ambitions: he wanted to solidify his relations with the Imperial family through marriage. His first attempt was organizing a betrothal between his daughter and a son of Claudius’s. The boy died before the marriage happened, however, an act attributed to Livia in I, Claudius. Sejanus then seduced Claudius’s sister, Livilla, even divorcing his wife Apicata to convince her of his love. She was married to Drusus, Tiberius’s son and heir apparent since Germanicus’s death, a hindrance to the designs of Sejanus, who intended to succeed the Emperor. Sejanus convinced Livilla to remove her husband, and with help from her doctor Eudemus, Drusus was poisoned and apparently died of natural causes. Thus, the way was clear for a betrothal between Sejanus and Livilla. Afterwards, Sejanus’s ambition cost him his life, with Tiberius ordering his death (for treason) before he could marry Livilla. Baelish seducing Lysa Arryn and persuading her to poison her husband Jon (and marrying her afterwards), however, is notably similar with the story of Sejanus and Livilla. The relationship between the latter two may have existed even before she gave birth to two wins, officially Drusus’s sons, but possibly Sejanus’s. Analogously, there are theories that Robert Arryn is really Baelish's son. Other parallels Beyond the similarities found in the lives of characters, other elements and isolated situations of ASoIaF resemble passages in I, Claudius and Roman history. One of the classic examples is the Westerosi Wall, which admittedly came to Martin’s mind when he visited the Roman wall in the North of England, constructed by Emperor Hadrian. Parallels in the big picture are also found: the Valyrian civilization resembles the Roman one, and the historic conflicts between Rome and Carthage seem to have influenced the wars between Valyria and the Ghiscari Empire. The Valyrian Roads are a clear reference to the Roman Roads in the real world. Similarly, the general idea of the War of the Five Kings seems to allude to the Year of the Four Emperors, when Rome descended into civil war after Nero’s death (and other similar years, such as the Year of the Five Emperors and the one of the Six Emperors). Some episodes in the lives of specific characters in Roman history may have also served as influence to GRRM. One of them is Marcus Licinius Crassus, politician and general who played a prominent role in the transformation of Rome from republic to the Empire, and probably the wealthiest man in Roman history. Two incidents in his life have apparent parallels in ASoIaF. Crassus gained prominence after defeating the army of escaped slaves under gladiator Spartacus. Crassus’s legions achieved a decisive victory and captured six thousand slaves alive, who were then crucified along the Appian Way under orders of the general. A similar episode happens in A Storm of Swords, when the Great Masters of Meereen order the nailing of 163 slave children onto the mileposts along the road between Yunkai and their city, as a “welcome” to Daenerys. Later, Crassus joined Pompey Magnus and Julius Caesar in the First Triumvirate, and was given the province of Syria, which seemed a source of great wealth. Crassus, however, had ambitions of new military glories, and decided to invade Parthia. He was defeated in battle against the Parthians despite his numerical superiority, and ended up dying during an unsuccessful attempt by his men to negotiate. A story later emerged, however, that said the Parthians had executed Crassus by pouring molten gold into his mouth, representing his insatiable thirst for wealth. Curiously, a similar story is told about the death of Emperor Valerian, almost 200 years later. Accounts tell that Emperor Shapur, of the Sassanid Empire, successor of the Parthian one, captured and humiliated Valerian, eventually having forced the Roman Emperor to swallow molten gold. Of course the possible reference to these stories found in ASoIaF is the death of Viserys Targaryen, who had molten gold poured not into his mouth, but over his head, by Khal Drogo (also after being humiliated by the dothraki). Returning specifically to Graves’s work, a case that jumps to the eye is the “Claudian tree”, mentioned by Claudius many times in the novels and also present in the TV series: The Claudian family was the first dominant dynasty of the Roman Empire. Curiously, the first dominant dynasty in Westeros, House Targaryen, also has a famous proverb, attributed to Jaehaerys II and reminded by Barristan Selmy, which is quite similar: Another curious coincidence that may hide a reference on Martin’s part refers to a historical character who is also in Graves’s work. Locusta was a notorious poisoner in ancient Rome, forming with Martina and Canidia the most (in)famous trio of these professionals. She was supposedly responsible, under Agrippina’s orders, for the killing of Claudius himself. The apparent reference in ASoIaF resides in poisoned locusts episode that happens in ADwD. Given the notoriety of the historical poisoner and GRRM's interest over Roman history, it is hard not to think of a relation. Still on poisons, Claudius supposedly died after ingesting mushrooms that intoxicated him. In ADwD, Tyrion finds and picks poisonous mushrooms in Illyrio’s manse in Pentos. He gets suspicious when the Magister’s cooks prepare mushrooms, and many times during the books thinks of using his own, either to assassinate other characters or to kill himself. In the end, he serves them in a soup to the infamous Nurse, but it is possible he still has some of them left. And mushrooms bring us to one more similarity between GRRM’s universe, Roman history an Graves’s work. In The Princess and the Queen, The Rogue Prince and The World of Ice and Fire, the reader is presented to works but written as if they were historical records within that fictitious universe, compiled by secondary sources also from within that world: Archmaester Gyldayn and Maester Yandel. Some of the accounts by the maesters that “wrote” TWoIaF, TRP and TPatQ are derived from another internal source: Mushroom, a dwarf fool that lived in the courts of several Targaryen kings, and who made various controversial claims about important characters in the politics of Westeros. This does not mean, naturally, that all his claims should be taken as truth, but the case is that his accounts are recorded in the History of that world. In this sense, Yandel and Gyldayn allude to the ancient historians in the Roman world. Graves used quite a lot of these authors’ works, especially The Lives of Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, to compose his fictitious autobiography of Emperor Claudius. GRRM has talked about it when TWoIaF was released: Despite Martin having confused himself, with the account about Messalina’s sexual contest with the prostitute being present in Pliny’s work, the author makes his intentions of emulating the historial production of the real world clear. The classic historians included in his works versions of questionable credibility to events they had not witnessed firsthand, and about which they wrote hundreds of years later. These doubtful versions were derived from rumors and hearsay that were around the court, such as Mushroom’s in Martin’s world. The works are, in this sense, susceptible to influences of the historical context in which they were written. Thus, convenient vilifying and glorifying of some characters, according to those in power at those times, was not uncommon. Besides having written “fake history”, GRRM has also demonstrated interest in using a similar structure to I, Claudiusin a book through the POV of a character who went into Westerosi History as a villain. Talking with fans about anti-heroes in 2004, he declared interested in creating a book about Aegon IV, known as one of the worst Targaryen kings. The following year, he was asked about again, with @Ran reporting in this SSM that the idea was a kind of "I, Claudius meets Flashman thing". It is, of course, a report of quite some time ago, and an idea that may have been “archived” or put on hold for an indefinite time. The hope remains, however, that one day GRRM can also write this book. To that effect, let us hope that his cats, named after two notorious (for good or for bad) Roman Emperors, Augustus and Caligula, may help him finish the main series.
  4. I tend to believe he got Dragonbinder from Pree and the warlocks. I suppose it was their "weapon" of some sort, being magical and all, to try and exact revenge against Daenerys. When Euron captured them, he also learned of the horn and its power. About the FM, I still think the hypothesis of him paying them with the dragon egg he allegedly had (instead of throwing it into the water) is a plausible explanation. Don't think they'd "work" with someone.
  5. Minor issue: The "R'hllor' entry states: "Thoros of Myr is dispatched to the Seven Kingdoms in an attempt to win the conversion of King Robert, (...)" Thoros was sent to convert Aerys II.
  6. Oh, glad to know the blank pages thing wasn't happening just in my case. I've just added the command Ran suggested (?action=purge) to the URL of a page I was having problems with (Storming of the Dragonpit), and it seems to have solved it.
  7. The image in Aegon Targaryen's article shows up as a miniature at the character selection screen, but in the actual article there there is no full-sized version of it. Seems like a bug. Nice to see Syrio's "Place of death" listed. Also, I didn't know Rhaegar was actually born at Summerhall. I always thought it was just on the same day the tragedy took place (I know this was there since the older version, but it is a nice bit of information anyway). And @Francisco Araujo da Costa, there are ways to download the app in other countries. I am a Brazilian resident myself and have done so (Android version).