Seams

Nipples on a breastplate

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Jon slid his new dagger from its sheath and studied the flames as they played against the shiny black glass. He had fashioned the wooden hilt himself, and wound hempen twine around it to make a grip. Ugly, but it served. Dolorous Edd opined that glass knives were about as useful as nipples on a knight's breastplate, but Jon was not so certain. The dragonglass blade was sharper than steel, albeit far more brittle.

It must have been buried for a reason. (ACoK, Jon V)

Westeros people use the phrase "nipples on a breastplate" as a simile for things that are useless. But we know that GRRM includes a lot of references to wet nurses (one of whom might be an important person's mother), milk brothers, Sweetrobin nursing on Lysa, the cutting of a nipple from an Unsullied soldier and from the Blue Bard. In other words, nipples really are useful, although one could argue that they are not useful on a breastplate.

That could bring us to the topic of King Robert sending his squire to find a breastplate stretcher (a fool's errand, like sending out the apprentice mason to sharpen a hammer) and passages like this:

Bran tore his eyes away from the monster. That was when he noticed the bundle in Robb's arms. He gave a cry of delight and moved closer. The pup was a tiny ball of grey-black fur, its eyes still closed. It nuzzled blindly against Robb's chest as he cradled it, searching for milk among his leathers, making a sad little whimpery sound. Bran reached out hesitantly. "Go on," Robb told him. "You can touch him." (AGoT, Bran I)

When Dany's dragons are born, they are suckling from the milk her body had produced in anticipation of the birth of her baby, Rhaego.

We know that Sam will discover that the "glass knives" really are useful in slaying white walkers or Others.

So here's the question: is GRRM always using irony when his characters use the "nipples on a breastplate" phrase? Does this phrase signal the reader that he is saying the opposite of the truth?

If nipples are important, particularly as a source of mother's milk, what might this tell us about the many references to dairy products (and to House Darry) in the books?

And what might it tell us about the importance of women - who can produce milk - as opposed to men who, like Robb Stark, can offer no milk to a sad, whimpery direwolf pup?

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I think it's just what it looks like. Nipples aren't useless, but metal ones on a breastplate are definitely useless. Not everything is "Arbor Gold" level symbolism. 

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@Seams

Hey, you might be right!

Going along with the mother's milk, there seems to a pattern of change and/or rebirth in the quotes below. As for the Jon passage, the dragon glass weapons lead to Sam being reborn as Sam the Slayer, a character earlier determined to be useless in battle who unexpectedly turned out to be quite useful in a battle situation.

The Kingsguard

Quote

ADWD Cersei I

"He is a creature of the shadows. He killed Joffrey. He killed Father. Did you think he would stop there? I feared that the Imp was still in King's Landing plotting harm to Tommen, but he must have gone to Dorne instead to kill Myrcella first." Cersei paced the width of the cell. "I need to be with Tommen. These Kingsguard knights are as useless as nipples on a breastplate."

 

ADWD Cersei II

Cersei never saw where Qyburn came from, but suddenly he was there beside them, scrambling to keep up with her champion's long strides. "Your Grace," he said, "it is so good to have you back. May I have the honor of presenting our newest member of the Kingsguard? This is Ser Robert Strong."

Yes, thought Cersei Lannister. Oh, yes. 

 

Jorah Mormont

Quote

ADWD Tyrion X

Nurse returned with Jorah Mormont. Two of their master's slave soldiers flung him into the back of the mule cart between the dwarfs. The knight did not struggle. All the fight went out of him when he heard that his queen had wed, Tyrion realized. One whispered word had done what fists and whips and clubs could not; it had broken him. I should have let the crone have him. He's going to be as useful as nipples on a breastplate.

ADWD Tyrion XII

"There's sound steel here if you can find it," a deep voice growled. "None of it is pretty, but it will stop a sword."

A big knight stepped down from the back of a wagon, clad head to heel in company steel. His left greave did not match his right, his gorget was spotted with rust, his vambraces rich and ornate, inlaid with niello flowers. On his right hand was a gauntlet of lobstered steel, on his left a fingerless mitt of rusted mail. The nipples on his muscled breastplate had a pair of iron rings through them. His greathelm sported a ram's horns, one of which was broken.

When he took it off, he revealed the battered face of Jorah Mormont.

He looks every inch a sellsword and not at all like the half-broken thing we took from Yezzan's cage, Tyrion reflected. His bruises had mostly faded by now, and the swelling in his face had largely subsided, so Mormont looked almost human once again … though only vaguely like himself. The demon's mask the slavers had burned into his right cheek to mark him for a dangerous and disobedient slave would never leave him. Ser Jorah had never been what one might call a comely man. The brand had transformed his face into something frightening. 

 

Foreshadowing for Brienne and her much-mentioned shield? Brienne serves as Jaime's right hand as she has Oathkeeper.

Quote

AFFC Jaime II

He supposed he might try holding the lance with his left hand, but that would mean shifting his shield to his right arm. In a tilt, a man's foe was always to the left. A shield on his right arm would prove about as useful as nipples on his breastplate. No, my jousting days are done, he thought as he dismounted . . . but all the same, he stopped to watch awhile. 

 

Pycelle - we know that he was of the few who was truly loyal to the Lannisters and was very competent to that ends. Also, maybe foreshadowing that Qyburn is going to tinker with Pycelle?

Quote

AFFC Cersei II

The corners of her father's lips curved upward ever so slightly, giving him a look of vague bemusement. That should not be. She blamed Pycelle; he should have told the silent sisters that Lord Tywin Lannister never smiled. The man is as useless as nipples on a breastplate. That half smile made Lord Tywin seem less fearful, somehow. 

 

Edited by Lollygag

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2 hours ago, Tucu said:

Nipples in breastplates was a greek/roman custom: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_cuirass

Well, that's where Batman's nipples come from. According to Joel Schumacher on the DVD extras:

Quote

I had no idea that putting nipples on the Batsuit and Robin suit were going to spark international headlines. The bodies of the suits come from ancient Greek statues, which display perfect bodies. They are anatomically correct.

And later, Chris O'Donnell points out that the nipples are "fine, they're classical Greek" (and then says that everyone should have instead been talking more about the codpieces that were even larger than in the previous movie and had even more closeups).

But anyway, anyone inventing the idiom "useless as nipples on a breastplate" in the second novel of a series, which he wrote over the course of 1997-1998, surely had Batman & Robin in his head, at the very least subconsciously.

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8 minutes ago, falcotron said:

Well, that's where Batman's nipples come from. According to Joel Schumacher on the DVD extras:

And later, Chris O'Donnell points out that the nipples are "fine, they're classical Greek" (and then says that everyone should have instead been talking more about the codpieces that were even larger than in the previous movie and had even more closeups).

But anyway, anyone inventing the idiom "useless as nipples on a breastplate" in the second novel of a series, which he wrote over the course of 1997-1998, surely had Batman & Robin in his head, at the very least subconsciously.

Not sure of that. The book was first published in 1998 and the movie is from 1997. Maybe he went back and made some chances to laugh at the movie.

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If they do help you'd think Dornish knights would want Arianne size nipples on their breastplates. It would give them an edge and pay tribute to their princess.

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7 minutes ago, Tucu said:

Not sure of that. The book was first published in 1998 and the movie is from 1997. Maybe he went back and made some chances to laugh at the movie.

I'm pretty sure GRRM was still writing the book in June 1997, not just touching up little bits here and there. Look at it this way: Out of his 27-ish months of writing, 17-ish were after Batman & Robin.

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4 hours ago, Seams said:

Jon slid his new dagger from its sheath and studied the flames as they played against the shiny black glass. He had fashioned the wooden hilt himself, and wound hempen twine around it to make a grip. Ugly, but it served. Dolorous Edd opined that glass knives were about as useful as nipples on a knight's breastplate, but Jon was not so certain. The dragonglass blade was sharper than steel, albeit far more brittle.

It must have been buried for a reason. (ACoK, Jon V)

Westeros people use the phrase "nipples on a breastplate" as a simile for things that are useless. But we know that GRRM includes a lot of references to wet nurses (one of whom might be an important person's mother), milk brothers, Sweetrobin nursing on Lysa, the cutting of a nipple from an Unsullied soldier and from the Blue Bard. In other words, nipples really are useful, although one could argue that they are not useful on a breastplate.

That could bring us to the topic of King Robert sending his squire to find a breastplate stretcher (a fool's errand, like sending out the apprentice mason to sharpen a hammer) and passages like this:

Bran tore his eyes away from the monster. That was when he noticed the bundle in Robb's arms. He gave a cry of delight and moved closer. The pup was a tiny ball of grey-black fur, its eyes still closed. It nuzzled blindly against Robb's chest as he cradled it, searching for milk among his leathers, making a sad little whimpery sound. Bran reached out hesitantly. "Go on," Robb told him. "You can touch him." (AGoT, Bran I)

When Dany's dragons are born, they are suckling from the milk her body had produced in anticipation of the birth of her baby, Rhaego.

We know that Sam will discover that the "glass knives" really are useful in slaying white walkers or Others.

So here's the question: is GRRM always using irony when his characters use the "nipples on a breastplate" phrase? Does this phrase signal the reader that he is saying the opposite of the truth?

If nipples are important, particularly as a source of mother's milk, what might this tell us about the many references to dairy products (and to House Darry) in the books?

And what might it tell us about the importance of women - who can produce milk - as opposed to men who, like Robb Stark, can offer no milk to a sad, whimpery direwolf pup?

It tells as that it's about as relevant as tits on a bull. House Darry's sigil is a plowman, and cows do not pull plows. Oxen are castrated males, which makes the irony of Lancel leaving that much sweeter.

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7 hours ago, Seams said:

Westeros people use the phrase "nipples on a breastplate" as a simile for things that are useless. But we know that GRRM includes a lot of references to wet nurses (one of whom might be an important person's mother), milk brothers, Sweetrobin nursing on Lysa, the cutting of a nipple from an Unsullied soldier and from the Blue Bard. In other words, nipples really are useful, although one could argue that they are not useful on a breastplate.

I think this is the key to the question. Nipples are not helpful in times of war, and actually when detailed on armour, they become a weak spot when met with a blade.

I remember when the actress that plays Brienne on the abomination was cast to play a female stormtrooper in the Star Wars movie and they gave her a "regular" looking suit, people went insane because she is a female, and therefore, should have nipples on her breastplate :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:. Anyway, this prompted all sorts of replies that demonstrated how adding nipples, and the curve of breasts, actually creates a guide for a blade to follow and to do more damage.

I have no idea if this is where GRRM is coming from, he may just be keeping it to a simpler "this ain't the time" type of idea, but that is all I have.

Besides, only cray-cray people wouldn't see the terrible mistake of adding nipples to breastplates.

7 hours ago, Seams said:

So here's the question: is GRRM always using irony when his characters use the "nipples on a breastplate" phrase? Does this phrase signal the reader that he is saying the opposite of the truth?

If nipples are important, particularly as a source of mother's milk, what might this tell us about the many references to dairy products (and to House Darry) in the books?

And what might it tell us about the importance of women - who can produce milk - as opposed to men who, like Robb Stark, can offer no milk to a sad, whimpery direwolf pup?

George seems to have had this idiom in his head for a long time, but it just took his ASOIAF stylings to make it sound so catchy. He has used this detail in some of his older stories, including this one here written in 1986:

Massive bony head looking down at the world from near three meters’ height, beard and hair blending into one leonine mane as bright as beaten gold, strength written large in every bone and sinew, the broad flat chest with its useless red nipples, the strangeness of the long, soft penis between my legs. Too much strangeness for me; the penis stayed soft all the months I wore that body, and that year my mirrored room was opened twice.

 

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This reminds me of a scene in 3rd Rock From the Sun where Dick is examining a gift Mary got from an old friend (looks like a thimble, which she collects) and tells her the inscription is Turkish and reads "may these always point me toward the spoils of war." She says that's an odd inscription and he says it would be if it were a thimble, but it's actually Turkish nipple armor. :D

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5 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I remember when the actress that plays Brienne on the abomination was cast to play a female stormtrooper in the Star Wars movie and they gave her a "regular" looking suit, people went insane because she is a female, and therefore, should have nipples on her breastplate :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:.

Well, that's just silly. Greek warrior men may have had nipples on their armor, but Greek warrior women had swirly patterns instead.

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20 hours ago, falcotron said:

I'm pretty sure GRRM was still writing the book in June 1997, not just touching up little bits here and there. Look at it this way: Out of his 27-ish months of writing, 17-ish were after Batman & Robin.

Also, Joel Schumacher first added nipples to the Batsuit for the 1995 film Batman Forever with Val Kilmer. The ones in the Clooney Batman get more attention because they are more pronounced, and also because, unlike Batman & Robin, Batman Forever was neither good enough nor bad enough for people to talk about it all the time 20 years later.

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I always thought when GRRM was talking about this he was talking about how nurturing and war are mutually exclusive.

In this context, the wolf trying to nurse from Robb doesn't work not just because Robb is a dude, but because he is the "Grey Wind" that brings war and death. Robb doesn't nurture anybody; he's a destroyer.

And dragonglass knives are debatably useless because even if they kill Others, they don't - on the surface - help keep you warm or feed you.

Here are a few other situations where somebody compares someone or something to nipples on a breastplate being useless in a practical sense, when the story might be editorializing a bit that what is really useless is war and death without nurturing:

  • Cersei thinks of Pycelle this way at Tywin's funeral, because Pycelle made Tywin smile and Tywin never smiled
  • After he loses his hand, Jaime thinks of putting a shield on his arm and riding into battle this way, when he doesn't think riding into battle anymore will do him any good
  • Tyrion thinks of Demon Jorah this way after he finds out Daenerys is married and loses his hope for being with her
  • Cersei thinks this about the Kingsguard when raging about the Queenmaker affair - thinking about how she is raging at Tyrion instead of spending time with her children
  • When Tyrion is getting ready for the Battle of Fire, he finds Demon Jorah - this time literally with pierced nipples on his breastplate.

It is interesting that Demon Jorah incapable of fighting and Demon Jorah totally decked out and ready to fight are both associated with nipples on breastplates. This suggests that it is not his willingness or unwillingness to fight that is being commented on regarding what is "useless," but rather than his romantic days are behind him and he is now fully an agent of death.

Edited by GyantSpyder

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On 9/27/2017 at 11:07 AM, Seams said:

Westeros people use the phrase "nipples on a breastplate" as a simile for things that are useless.

It is not complicated. I agree that the phrase means useless. A baby gets no nourishment from a teat on a breastplate. A man gets no pleasure from sucking on a metal breastplate nipple. One the other hand a warriors breastplate erect nipples might mean high alert.

A Feast for Crows - Cersei II        The corners of her father's lips curved upward ever so slightly, giving him a look of vague bemusement. That should not be. She blamed Pycelle; he should have told the silent sisters that Lord Tywin Lannister never smiled. The man is as useless as nipples on a breastplate.

Feast for Crows - Jaime II      As Jaime trotted through the castle gates, he came upon two dozen knights riding at a quintain in the outer yard. Something else I can no longer do, he thought. A lance was heavier and more cumbersome than a sword, and swords were proving trial enough. He supposed he might try holding the lance with his left hand, but that would mean shifting his shield to his right arm. In a tilt, a man's foe was always to the left. A shield on his right arm would prove about as useful as nipples on his breastplate. No, my jousting days are done, he thought as he dismounted . . . but all the same, he stopped to watch awhile.

Dance with Dragons - Tyrion X      urse returned with Jorah Mormont. Two of their master's slave soldiers flung him into the back of the mule cart between the dwarfs. The knight did not struggle. All the fight went out of him when he heard that his queen had wed, Tyrion realized. One whispered word had done what fists and whips and clubs could not; it had broken him. I should have let the crone have him. He's going to be as useful as nipples on a breastplate.

A Dance with Dragons - Cersei I      These Kingsguard knights are as useless as nipples on a breastplate." She rounded on her uncle. "Ser Arys was killed, you said."

No secret meaning. The figure of speech is as it is. Useless.

 

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On 27/09/2017 at 11:19 AM, Tuskarr said:

I think it's a reference to the Clooney Batman. "shrugs"

Yeah, I do too. :dunno:

 

On 27/09/2017 at 2:34 PM, falcotron said:

Well, that's where Batman's nipples come from. According to Joel Schumacher on the DVD extras:

And later, Chris O'Donnell points out that the nipples are "fine, they're classical Greek" (and then says that everyone should have instead been talking more about the codpieces that were even larger than in the previous movie and had even more closeups).

But anyway, anyone inventing the idiom "useless as nipples on a breastplate" in the second novel of a series, which he wrote over the course of 1997-1998, surely had Batman & Robin in his head, at the very least subconsciously.

Interesting. I suppose I will watch the film at long last. And no, not b/c of the codpiece shots. :P

 

Quote

:eek:

Why, oh, why? :lol:

Edited by kissdbyfire

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18 minutes ago, Clegane'sPup said:

no fair. show is show

Sorry, can't help but laugh at it. 

 

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5 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

Sorry, can't help but laugh at it. 

 

Oye, every time that cow hide rubs dem puppies they are going to react.

show is show, it creeps in inconspicuously @Dorian Martell's son

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