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LmL

Let's Be Rational About Mythology, Please

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1.) George Martin is clearly influenced by mythology as well as history and even comic books. It is indisputable that he drew from all three of these things to create elements of his characters, the symbolism surrounding his characters, and elements of their plot arts. Thus, there is much to gain from studying these elements from which he drew upon.

2.) George R.R. Martin has not plagiarized from Ragnarock, The War of the Roses, or anything else to the extent that the entire ending of a song of ice and fire can be revealed by studying said topics. When mythology is transferred from culture to culture, The main element stay the same but the relationships of those elements usually changes. Thus, although any to give and characters maybe drawn from Norse mythology they may not have the same relationship as they did in the Norse myth. Enemies in one myth may become lovers in another - children may become parents, etc etc. Some mythological archetypes match multiple characters in ASOIAF. George has clearly scrambled and modified the elements that he drew from mythology - he's not following anything exactly. That would be plagiarism, and I hope we can all agree that George is a better writer than that.

3.) George R.R. Martin has repeatedly shown a proclivity to stack layers of meaning, symbolism, and foreshadowing on top of eachother. Thus, any insight which is drawn by examining the source myths or history (or comic books - Arya is Batman, it is known) can and probably does have multiple layers of meaning, and multiple ramifications. George has created a rich tapestry here. There is the surface action layer, the political intrigue "whodunit" layer, the symbolic foreshadowing layer, the mythological archetypes and literal references layer, and finally the Easter Egg / inside joke layer. All of these are interconnected, not mutually exclusive or isolated from each other.

4.) We are all fans of George R.R. Martin here. Being mean to each other is stupid. We've got people that have taken the mythological interpretations so far as to come to conclusions which don't seem to make any literary sense and some of these folks like to chime in on every thread to beat people over the head with the idea that their chosen mythological correlation explains everything there is to know about said ice and fire topic. Then, on the other hand, we've got folks who jump into any thread referencing mytholgy and say "oh god not another mythology / Ragnarok thread." Some of these folks are so turned off by the mythology folks that any reference to mythology is dismissed out of hand. This is also stupid because George clearly is a huge fan of mythology and clearly drew on mythology to create elements of his story.

5.) That is all. Let's be reasonable about this, please. I really cannot believe how controversial mythology has become in the ice and fire community. It's ridiculous.

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Thanks Lady Blizz.... Had this one in my craw.

PS. The Arya as Batman theory (which I love) is a good reminder not to take this too seriously. Otherwise, "you're going to be having a bad time," as they say.

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5.) That is all. Let's be reasonable about this, please. I really cannot believe how controversial mythology has become in the ice and fire community. It's ridiculous.

As a recent newcomer to these forums, this makes me happy because I am sometimes put off by certain discussions as they start to spiral out of control and the "evidence" is based solely on everything but ASOIAF. It gets met irritated.

Frankly, when a topic has "Let's be rational", I am already more on board with the discussion. I love knowing the inspirations/traits borrowed as a way to get a deeper understand of a character or socio-political structure / geography when it comes to places. I, however, draw the line at concluding to an ending just because of the source of inspiration which doesn't work for most characters anyway because they often have bits and pieces that reflect multiple characters from history/mythology/etc. and they probably all have different ways their stories ended. Anyway, that was fun to read and agree with.

I hope it makes a difference with certain posters who seem to feel the need to beat me over the head with 100% extraneously gathered evidence. As a knew reader/member, I get super confused when a person responds to an OP with their opposite theory as if their conflicting idea is a fact and then I get worked up trying to remember when the thing happened. 'If' or 'I believe that' statements would also be great.

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Agreed. Comparison and analysis of the series is fun, and part of the attracting to Martin's world. Hostility towards divergent points of opinion isn't fun for anyone.



Every author worth their keyboard will pull concepts, idea, characters, and events from whatever inspires them. Seldom wholesale, if ever, just certain elements that appeal to them, and/or what fits the authors inspiration. And that's the danger of over-analysis and comparison of anything written. Especially mythological figures, the big ones like Odin, Athena, or Apollo. Gods of such broad scope, they can fit dozens of characters in aSoIaF alone. Its a trap that is insidious, and easily to fall into.



I joined th forum for the fun, the re-read projects, and occasional gem of an observation I didn't make before. Plenty of the later, along with some insightful analysis at times. As in life, I ignore the rest, or revert to humorous comments meant to lighten the moment. Mayhap in the future I'll even risk some predictions of mine own on Winds. Now won't that be fun?!?! :ack:


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Yeah, well said, Northgirl and Tannim. The first test of any prediction, whether it be based on in-world ASOIAF foreshadowing or by studying the myths and archetypes which helped create the characters and other story elements, is "does this make literary sense?" It's a story, first and foremost. GRRM shows his cleverness and ingenuity by finding creative and sometimes subtle ways to nod to the legend he's drawing from - he's far from a slavish plagiarizer. I think everyone is making "predictions," or at least predictions of what COULD happen. I agree it's a good thing to put qualifying phrases in - the "it might be that" and "it would make my sense if xxxx happened." And certainly, sniping other people's theories to say "NUH-UH, it's xxxx theory" is just sour grapes.

Anyway my point is this: George has so many layers of this story, from literal to symbolic and everything in between, that any one angle cannot reveal more than a couple pieces of the puzzle. It's basically mindless-blowing how George was able to fit so many ideas together, to get them all to work together in such a complex web of relationships.... He's truly a master. By digging into mythology, history, religion, and classic literature, my appreciation for what George has done has deepened greatly. The more I untangle about the series, the more in awe I stand. And honestly, I am a fan of mythology, and I'm fascinated by how myths are retold and changed over time - and George is clearly playing with this, as well. But here's the thing, Northgirl - any time George is drawing from mythology, it's easy to see which pieces have real in-world import. If a theorist is drawing from non-ASOIAF material, he or she should be able to corroborate it with in-story ASOIAF material, and should be able to show how the elements are shaping the story of character INSIDE the story. Otherwise, you're right, it's an interesting but irrelevant research expedition.

Let's all keep cheering for sanity and reasonableness. Gee, maybe there are some house words in there. "Sanity is Coming" Maybe "As high as Logic" or "We do not Snipe."

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Let's all keep cheering for sanity and reasonableness. Gee, maybe there are some house words in there. "Sanity is Coming" Maybe "As high as Logic" or "We do not Snipe."

In-world, I do believe, 'Words are Wind' is quite apt. :cool4:

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In-world, I do believe, 'Words are Wind' is quite apt. :cool4:

Of course. Sitting right there on a silver platter, and yet I missed it. Only 7,968 occurrences in ADWD, but I couldn't think of it. Ha.

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Yeah, well said, Northgirl and Tannim. The first test of any prediction, whether it be based on in-world ASOIAF foreshadowing or by studying the myths and archetypes which helped create the characters and other story elements, is "does this make literary sense?" It's a story, first and foremost. GRRM shows his cleverness and ingenuity by finding creative and sometimes subtle ways to nod to the legend he's drawing from - he's far from a slavish plagiarizer. I think everyone is making "predictions," or at least predictions of what COULD happen. I agree it's a good thing to put qualifying phrases in - the "it might be that" and "it would make my sense if xxxx happened." And certainly, sniping other people's theories to say "NUH-UH, it's xxxx theory" is just sour grapes.

But I don't think you can apply the old rules of literature here where the hero wins and evil is vanquished and everything comes out right in the end. So "literary sense" is probably the last criterion in which to base any idea because in aSoIaF things don't happen, or not happen, because they conform to some sort of literary romantic symmetry -- they happen because that is what would happen given the real-world environment that the characters find themselves in. No one here is part of a grand story, they are simply living their lives and trying to preserve the safety and security of themselves and their families.

So "good" people are going to do bad things and "bad" people are going to do good things, and sometimes "good" triumphs and the reader is satisfied and sometimes "bad" triumphs and the reader is shocked by the unfairness of it all.

So rather than say this or that will happen because it would make the most literary sense, we need to adopt a more realistic attitude that things happen because that is what would naturally happen, literature be damned.

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But I don't think you can apply the old rules of literature here where the hero wins and evil is vanquished and everything comes out right in the end. So "literary sense" is probably the last criterion in which to base any idea because in aSoIaF things don't happen, or not happen, because they conform to some sort of literary romantic symmetry -- they happen because that is what would happen given the real-world environment that the characters find themselves in. No one here is part of a grand story, they are simply living their lives and trying to preserve the safety and security of themselves and their families.

So "good" people are going to do bad things and "bad" people are going to do good things, and sometimes "good" triumphs and the reader is satisfied and sometimes "bad" triumphs and the reader is shocked by the unfairness of it all.

So rather than say this or that will happen because it would make the most literary sense, we need to adopt a more realistic attitude that things happen because that is what would naturally happen, literature be damned.

I think you're right about how George writes to an extent. The way I see him using these references to mythology and classic literature is very subtle, such as simply borrowing the symbols around a certain figure but having them do their own thing. He definitely does like to INVERT things though, in fact, I am finding that every legend in Planetos is switched around, somehow. That's what humans do with myth, to get back to your point about George depicting human failings accurately.

The way in which he is able to infuse ASOIAF with so many influences, and yet have the characters act realistic, speaks to his freaking genius powers of creativity. It's mind-blowing.

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A while back I remember someone getting livid with another person on a thread, calling the other person a Targaryan apologist. It cracked me up. I like this forum, because I can nerd out on conspiracy theories without having to take it seriously, because it is fiction, and we are playing.

The one exception is my tendency to go ape shit, when anyone says the Shadow is near the Land of Always Winter. Seriously, the Shadow is barely north of Sothoryos, which is presumably near the equator. The Shadow is south of Dorne, actually. Yet, I still try not to be offensive about this. :)

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Haha, it's the "Ice and Fire" atheists that trip me out - the folks who don't think the prophecies mean anything, there's no AA reborn, etc etc. Everything is literal, all the stories of half human hybrids are just stupid stores people made up, etc. These are the wrongest people on the board, IMO. But yeah, we still gotta be nice. These ASOIAF 'atheists' or cynics are only enjoying the surface layer of the story - which is only one of at least 5 layers. That's kind of what the HBO show is - basically just the surface action. But we know George is doing so much more here. He manifests a symbol in as many ways as possible.

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