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Puns and Wordplay

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Hair / Heir - Obviously a central pun for the plot involving the blonde children of Cersei and the dark-haired children of Robert. This also seems significant for the auburn-haired offspring of Catelyn and Ned contrasted with their dark-haired siblings and half-sibling.

Also, a weird sort of anagram struck me as a possibility recently: could Nissa Nissa and assassin be a deliberate word game by GRRM? I know he says he adapted the name from an ancient Native American myth, but it seems so different from other names in the books.

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Eyes / Ice - This is a completely new one to my mind, and I haven't collected the evidence to determine whether it's one of GRRM's deliberate pairs or not. We have a number of blind people - Maester Aemon, Arya, Merillion. Timett son of Timett puts out one of his eyes to show how tough he is. We have a Wall made of ice with watchers on the wall. We have the incredibly rich symbolism around swords and a sword named Ice that becomes two swords. Ned takes his sword into the gods wood to clean it, and there he is observed by the hart tree. Not sure how to connect all the dots, though, if at all.

This may be relevant or not: the German word for iron is "Eisen".

Ice, eyes, baby.

Edited by Seams

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9 minutes ago, Seams said:

the German word for iron is "Eisen".

If we're going Deutsch, then there's 'Gift' which means 'poison' in German -- and would have obvious relevance in terms of GRRM's cynical conception of giving 'The Gift'...

Remember 'all Euron's gifts are poisoned'...and Arya is not far behind!

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On 4/1/2016 at 1:13 PM, sweetsunray said:

Seams, I reccomend reading that passage about Ice in Catelyn's first chapter from a double entendre point. Ned is stroking and polishing hiw "greatsword" and Catelyn finds it has its own beauty. Later she gets shown Ned's bones and remarks his sword is missing. Following the same double entendre, we get the Osiris-Isis myth. Osiris is murdered and Isis goes searching for his body (or rather the separate pieces of his body). She can find everything but his phallus. So, then she has a golden magical one made.  

Speaking of Isis, I wonder if that allusion also takes part in the Ice / Eyes wordplay?

Just before things get bad for Ned in King's Landing, I think he muses in a POV that maybe he and Catelyn will make another son together. Do you think we have a Horus among the cast already, or will one be "born" somehow?

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On 31.3.2016 at 2:01 PM, Seams said:

A couple new thoughts this morning on sewing, my favorite motif. There is another sound-alike word having to do with planting crops: sow. The landowners and peasants throughout Westeros have to prepare for long winters by sowing seeds and storing harvested grain for winter food. When Bran is sitting as Lord of Winterfell, he and his advisors instruct a liege lord to set aside more of his crop. I wonder whether this means that Bran is also part of the sewing/sowing motif? It could also be an allusion to the old phrase, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap," meaning people get the outcomes they deserve.

Also, Penny's pig, Pretty Pig, is female. That makes her a sow, an adult female swine. I realize this is pronounced differently than the sow having to do with planting crops, but it could be part of the same motif. Tyrion rides the sow when he joins Penny's comedy jousting act. There is a lot of talk in Tyrion's Selaesori Qhoran POVs about the crew's desire to kill and eat Pretty Pig, but Penny manages to keep the pig and dog alive with Tyrion's help. (Penny feeds the pig acorns, which I associate with the tree-worshipping Starks. Speaking of sewing, Arya wears a dress with acorn embroidery when she is recognized as a high-born girl at Lady Smallwood's house.)

So it may be a bit of a leap of logic, but the sow (pig) could be part of the sewing motif in that Tyrion is working to keep her alive in the same way his sewing of an outfit aboard the Shy Maid might represent his work to keep the seven kingdoms united. I think he presumes that the pig has died when he and Penny and Ser Jorah make their way to the Second Sons. Maybe we will find out otherwise in TWoW, or maybe a different symbolic pig will enter the story to tell us that there is hope for the survival of the Seven Kingdoms.

I've been trying to work out the Penny-related chapters. This may be one of the key pieces I need to make sense of the allegory.

Sewing / sowing / sewers / sows.

 

'Sewing' and 'sowing' are very important to the backstory. Both relate to magic in terms of the mythological 'weaving' of magic as practiced by the Greek Fates. The Fates were three crones who controled the mother thread of life of all mortals from birth to death. They spun destiny from the moment of birth and each had a role in the weaving process. Similarly the Norns of Norse mythology had the task of shaping destiny by weaving it into a web or tapestry of life. They lived within the Well of Urd (the well of wisdom) beneath Yggdrasil (equivalent to a weirwood heart tree) and practiced the magic of seidr exclusive to women. Odin sacrificed his eye to drink from this well of wisdom - he additionally acquired the means to practice the magic of seidr normally exclusive to women. 

We have several characters associated with weaving, sewing, embroidery and related arts in the story. Sansa via her ability to sew, Arya on account of her Needle and Mel for her ability to 'weave' light for magical purposes. I have a theory that all this sewing and weaving is intimately related to magic and that it originally sprang from the Fisher Queens of the Silver Sea whose wisdom and capacity for magic (specifically for magically utilizing light), not only extended the life of the gemstone emperors of the dawn but also greatly enhanced the fertility of the land (sowing), making it possible for the empire to prosper and the people to live in 'peace and plenty'. 

It's a bit difficult summing up all that here but I have three essays that deal with the subject in detail. The Fisher Queens of the Silver Sea in my Pearl Inheritance series more or less brings all my findings and thoughts together. 

It's thus interesting that Tyrion was in charge of sewers and that he himself sews and rather enjoyed the process. Like Bloodraven, who mirrors Odin, Tyrion also appears to possess the magical ability to 'sew' and being in charge of 'sewers' actually also puts him in charge of the female 'sewers and weavers' possessed of this inner magic. Indeed, he is married to and was thus 'in charge of' Sansa and is now on his way to Daenerys, another 'weaver' of magic, whom we expect he shall guide in some way. The pun on the word sew in relation to sewing and sewers becomes evident, when we consider the wise Fisher Queens who ruled a water based kingdom but were (in my theory - yet to be completed), exploited, degraded and more or less exterminated, their benevolent magic corrupted for dark purposes by later rulers of the Empire. Tyrion putting the sewers in order, restoring water flow etc. is a pointer at his role in setting past wrongs right.

The sow (the pig) is likewise related to all this in two ways - part one of my pearl study reveals that major pearl-wearers in the story are also 'weavers' and these young girls and women have been literally 'cast before the swine'. Pigs are thought of us unclean, which feeds into the  'sewer, all the shitty, stinky stuff and unclean water theme (think also pale mare in which Tyrion is involved and which arrives to plague Dany and her people). In the biblical sense, casting pearls before the swine meant offering the gospel to people incapable of understanding it; thus the metaphorical swine trample upon the pearls of wisdom in offered to them, disappointed that they are not given what they want: acorns. Tyrion and Penny feed the sow what she really wants - acorns. They do not offer the pig 'pearls' she neither wants nor understands. I would say both Penny and Tyrion are doing the right thing, at least metaphorically, though I am not quite sure what the 'right thing' is yet.

I'll just add that 'sowing' in terms of agriculture, fertility of the land and producing enough food for the population are kind of hidden underlying themes. Recall Tyrion is not happy about the 77 courses planned for Joffery's wedding. Note the Tyrell's (as heirs to the Gardener's and thus to Garth the Green) role in producing and providing an abundance of food and Maegery's wish to give the poor the leavings of the feast as opposed to Cersei's callous attitude and her thwarting that of that wish. Of course the Ironborn also 'do not sow', they fish or steal the produce of others instead. 

 

Edited by Evolett

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On 31.3.2016 at 5:12 PM, The Fattest Leech said:

I think Grey-joy will be where Theon ultimately ends up if we use a black to white color scale. It's not just his name.

He started off kinda cocky and obnoxious but saves Bran from the wildlings = medium grey

I hadn't thought of the colour scale and like your thoughts on that. I also find it significant that the Greyjoys are 'Grey Joys'. Given that there seems to be a link between the Shrouded Lord who offered a boon to anyone who could make him laugh and the Grey King of the Ironborn, it's rather interesting that Theon was a particularly happy 'Greyjoy'. He was noted for always smiling, named his horse Smiler as well. Ramsay essentially drives all the joy out of him, turning him into a sad caricature of his former self. Also, the name 'Theon' means 'untamed' or an 'untamed' man in French and in Greek it means Godly. Reek of course is a bad smell and this is what Ramsay reduces Theon to, but 'Reek' also means a plume of smoke or a vapour. The latter could mean that Theon may be sacrificed to the fire after all but actually, I think there's more to that meaning of Reek than meets the eye. As far as 'untamed' and 'godly' are concerned - this seems to indicate that Theon may be the 'godly' man to eventually seat the Seastone Chair and I think it's obvious that Ramsay did not fully succeed in 'taming' Theon.

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10 minutes ago, Evolett said:

I hadn't thought of the colour scale and like your thoughts on that. I also find it significant that the Greyjoys are 'Grey Joys'. Given that there seems to be a link between the Shrouded Lord who offered a boon to anyone who could make him laugh and the Grey King of the Ironborn, it's rather interesting that Theon was a particularly happy 'Greyjoy'. He was noted for always smiling, named his horse Smiler as well. Ramsay essentially drives all the joy out of him, turning him into a sad caricature of his former self. Also, the name 'Theon' means 'untamed' or an 'untamed' man in French and in Greek it means Godly. Reek of course is a bad smell and this is what Ramsay reduces Theon to, but 'Reek' also means a plume of smoke or a vapour. The latter could mean that Theon may be sacrificed to the fire after all but actually, I think there's more to that meaning of Reek than meets the eye. As far as 'untamed' and 'godly' are concerned - this seems to indicate that Theon may be the 'godly' man to eventually seat the Seastone Chair and I think it's obvious that Ramsay did not fully succeed in 'taming' Theon.

Wow. I knew about the Greek Theon meaning godly, but not the French meaning untamed. That's good :thumbsup:

I used to joke and say Theon was The-one, as in holy. I know there is an extra "e", but not much I do or say makes sense to anyone but me as I walk around singing it aloud :lol:

I like the plume of smoke link. Another good catch. I guess another way to look at the plume of smoke (if he doesn't get sacrificed, which he could) is the way the Catholic Church chooses a new pope and announces it with the smoke signal from the chimney on the Vatican. A plume for a new pope. Sounds fancy ;)

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On 30 de març de 2016 at 11:31 PM, evita mgfs said:

Dawn was forged on the heart of a fallen star.

Bran is the fallen Stark who is in the heart of the weirwood.

So good this one

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On 1.4.2016 at 6:59 PM, evita mgfs said:

After taking off his cloak, Jon reads the words of a king, after which he reflects upon Winterfell, “the castle is a shell . . . not WF, but the ghost of WF” [470]. 

 

Jon without his NW identity and cloak is an empty shell as is WF without a visible Stark on location.  Ghost will house Jon Snow’s warg, and wolf and warg will make their presence known as a Ghost in Winterfell, literally and symbolically.

I do love your very insightful and detailed analyses of Martin's texts :). I agree that Jon is done with his black cloak and on rising, will fully embrace his 'white cloak, his white shadow' who is not only Ghost the Direwolf, but a literal ghost, an ancestor, up until now resident in the wolf and who will be reborn in him. Sounds crackpot, I know. Anyway, while Dany is 'fire', Jon Snow is 'snow/ice'. I was quite surprised by my own conclusion upon investigating the genetic significance of blue winter roses. They represent another form of frozen fire and Jon Snow, Lord Snow is indeed living frozen fire, presumably impervious to the Others, with enough 'immunity' to tackle them when the occasion arises. 

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On 3/31/2016 at 10:49 AM, LiveFirstDieLater said:

The letters of "Daenerys" rearranged spell "Ser Dayne"

And of course, Sarella is Alleras backwards...

I meant to acknowledge these and thank you for your contribution. In a similar line, I've been pondering whether Craster is a version of "Stark" spelled backwards.

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Goat / Groat - Maybe also AGoT?

The ruthless and utterly disgusting Vargo Hoat is nicknamed The Goat. He keeps a chain of linked coins from all the places he has fought. Penny's brother is named Groat, which is also the name for one of the smallest coins in circulation. Groat and Penny are mummers, and Vargo Hoat's sellsword group is sometimes called The Bloody Mummers. Aside from the rhyming names and the shared performer and coin motif, we have this vignette from Penny, who would like Tyrion to assume her brother's role in the jousting act now that Groat was beheaded as a result of the reward offered for Tyrion's head.

“By myself, all I can do is ride around in circles. And even if the queen should laugh, where will I go afterward? We never stay in one place long. The first time they see us they laugh and laugh, but by the fourth or fifth time, they know what we’re going to do before we do it. Then they stop laughing, so we have to go somewhere new. We make the most coin in the big cities, but I always liked the little towns the best. Places like that, the people have no silver, but they feed us at their own tables, and the children follow us everywhere.”

That’s because they have never seen a dwarf before, in their wretched pisspot towns, Tyrion thought. The bloody brats would follow around a two-headed goat if one turned up. Until they got bored with its bleating and slaughtered it for supper.

So Groat and the two-headed goat have a slaughter association; similarly, Vargo Hoat is eventually dismembered and fed to human beings. Before he dies, though, Hoat has a reputation for traveling to towns throughout the Westeros countryside, taking their food and their silver to support the Lannister and Bolton encampments at Harrenhal. The goal and methods are different, but the pattern of "making a living" by targeting a series of communities in succession is similar.

I think I understand the reason for this particular wordplay by GRRM. Groat and The Goat both end up as pawns who are played and then cruelly discarded by high-born people playing A Game of Thrones (known as AGoT). The message is that small folk are not taught how to play the games of high-born children (another thought that strikes Tyrion when Penny suggests they play a game), even if they think they have done everything asked of them and are going to make it into the big leagues, as Vargo Hoat believes when he strikes a bargain with Roose Bolton. So goats represent the vulnerable small folk and they end up as part of the larger slaughtered meat and butcher motif that runs throughout the books. (See also Lamb Men.)

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On 2/13/2016 at 8:59 AM, Seams said:

Hart / heart - The hart trees seem to be a network with sap that looks like blood.

Hart trees?  They are heart trees, with sap that looks like blood and networks like veins.  A hart is a stag, and a stag is a Baratheon.   I don't see a connection here tho.

Edited by LongRider

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2 minutes ago, LongRider said:

Hart trees?  They are heart trees, with sap that looks like blood and networks like veins.  A hart is a stag, and a stag is a Baratheon.   I don't see a connection here tho.

Aha! I listen to the audiobooks and I guess I picked up the spelling from forum posts that were not accurate. So it's just a metaphor, not really a pun.

I could see a hart / heart play on words, though. Ned and Robert are like brothers but are completely different from each other. (Maybe also contrast with each other in the Winter King / Summer King literary roles.) One is associated with heart trees and the other is symbolized by the hart: alike but completely different.

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Just now, Seams said:

Aha! I listen to the audiobooks and I guess I picked up the spelling from forum posts that were not accurate. So it's just a metaphor, not really a pun.

I could see a hart / heart play on words, though. Ned and Robert are like brothers but are completely different from each other. (Maybe also contrast with each other in the Winter King / Summer King literary roles.) One is associated with heart trees and the other is symbolized by the hart: alike but completely different.

I can understand it then.  When I listened to the audiobooks it wasn't until I read the books that the difference between the wights and white walkers came into view.  It sounded like 'whites and white walkers' to me.   :)   I still don't see the heart/hart that you do, they are stags and wolves.  Wolves prey on the stags, and so do lions.

(but the lions preyed on both in this story) 

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36 minutes ago, LongRider said:

Hart trees?  They are heart trees, with sap that looks like blood and networks like veins.  A hart is a stag, and a stag is a Baratheon.   I don't see a connection here tho.

4 harts (stags) nibble at the leaves of Yggdrasil... They are 4 of several animals (a dragon, an eagle/hawk and an evil squirrel gossiping to each about what the other said of them, besides the 4 stags) that undermine the world tree in Norse myth.

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20 hours ago, Seams said:

Speaking of Isis, I wonder if that allusion also takes part in the Ice / Eyes wordplay?

Just before things get bad for Ned in King's Landing, I think he muses in a POV that maybe he and Catelyn will make another son together. Do you think we have a Horus among the cast already, or will one be "born" somehow?

Yes, Catelyn thinks of making another son in her second chapter at WF, and later Ned thinks of making another son with her once he returns to WF (after giving his resignation as Hand). We have 2 characters that figure as a Horus the Younger - Bran and Robb.

As a child Horus the Younger was a mama's boy. In several myths he's struck by some ailment, poisoning or accident while he's a child. And Isis works with Thoth to make a magical spell to cure Horus. So, each one of those myths was used as a reminder how to treat a patient. But as an adult he goes out to revenge his father's death and oust Set. It's a war that lasts 80 years, and the end result of that war differs from dynasty to dynasty (these were myths that got adapted and used over 3000-5000 years of Ancient Egyptian dynasty). The Ptolemeian dynasty (aka Greek one) ended it with Horus ousting Set completely, but Rameses had Egypt torn in two where Horus got one part to reign and Set the other part (and Rameses was from the region that Set ruled). I wouldn't use the anology to predict any outcomes in aSoIaF (obviously Robb is dead). But it fits the 'stark' contrast of first Catelyn not wanting to leave Bran's side while he's in his coma and shielding him from the assassin, while later she joins Robb in his army trek South. Many readers have issues with Catelyn as a mother leaving Bran and Rickon without parental guidance, while she joins Robb on his campaign. But from a mythical pov it's less of an issue, since both Robb and Bran have a Horus role. Of course, Bran as Horus can still grow up and have his impact on the story. 

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19 hours ago, Evolett said:

'Sewing' and 'sowing' are very important to the backstory. Both relate to magic in terms of the mythological 'weaving' of magic as practiced by the Greek Fates. The Fates were three crones who controled the mother thread of life of all mortals from birth to death. They spun destiny from the moment of birth and each had a role in the weaving process. Similarly the Norns of Norse mythology had the task of shaping destiny by weaving it into a web or tapestry of life. They lived within the Well of Urd (the well of wisdom) beneath Yggdrasil (equivalent to a weirwood heart tree) and practiced the magic of seidr exclusive to women. Odin sacrificed his eye to drink from this well of wisdom - he additionally acquired the means to practice the magic of seidr normally exclusive to women.

I have to make a nitpick correction here. The 3 Norns did live at the Urdarbrunnr, which means 'Well of Fate', not 'Well of Wisdom'. Old Norse Urd = Old English 'wyrd' = English 'weird' (spelling) = PIE word meaning 'fate'. The Urdarbrunnr was claimed to be in Asgard (Poetic Edda) or Midgard (later, christianized Proze Edda), with a meeting hall nearby where a stag (a hart) stood on its roof to nibble at the tree... aka Walhalla. The 'Well of Wisdom' was Mimirbrunnr that was situated in the land of the frost giants. Both wells are beneath one of Yggdrasil's roots, but each with a different function and different location in a different realm. So, the location where Odin's eye is hidden is at Mimir's Well, while the 3 Norns decide the fate of gods and humanity at Urd's Well imo in Asgard (rather than Midgard). 

It is at Mimir's Well that Odin sacrifices himself to a tree to learn the runes, which the norns use to carve man's fate. There is a weaving connection with the norns, but they basically measured out the length of someone's life by measuring the length of a staff with a spun thread and carved a rune into the staff.

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@sweetsunray Thanks for the extended details on the Norns. My feeling is the author has modelled the sewing theme / weaving destiny theme on both the Norns and the Fates. 

Its also interesting that a hart (white hart/deer) nibbles at the Ygdrassil tree (heart tree). I see a connection here to the role of the CotF, Garth the Green, antlered men and the Horned God, possibly further based on  "The Mists of Avalon":

"‘The Tribes of the fairy folk, and all the Tribes of the North, have been given a great leader, and the chosen one will be tested by the ancient rite. And if he survives the testing-which will, to some extent, depend on the strength with which the Maiden Huntress can enchant the deer-then he will become the Horned One, the King Stag, consort of the Virgin Huntress, crowned with the antlers of the God. Morgaine, I told you years ago that your maidenhood belongs to the Goddess. Now she calls for it in sacrifice to the Horned God. You are to be the Virgin Huntress, and the bride of the Horned One. You have been chosen for this service.’"

 

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1 hour ago, Evolett said:

@sweetsunray Thanks for the extended details on the Norns. My feeling is the author has modelled the sewing theme / weaving destiny theme on both the Norns and the Fates. 

Its also interesting that a hart (white hart/deer) nibbles at the Ygdrassil tree (heart tree). I see a connection here to the role of the CotF, Garth the Green, antlered men and the Horned God, possibly further based on  "The Mists of Avalon":

"‘The Tribes of the fairy folk, and all the Tribes of the North, have been given a great leader, and the chosen one will be tested by the ancient rite. And if he survives the testing-which will, to some extent, depend on the strength with which the Maiden Huntress can enchant the deer-then he will become the Horned One, the King Stag, consort of the Virgin Huntress, crowned with the antlers of the God. Morgaine, I told you years ago that your maidenhood belongs to the Goddess. Now she calls for it in sacrifice to the Horned God. You are to be the Virgin Huntress, and the bride of the Horned One. You have been chosen for this service.’"

 

 

 

I'm thinking of the Baratheons (real and faux): Robert, Joffrey, Renly and Stannis. Robert is very much a horny 'stag', while Stannis has a sigil of a 'heart' with antlers... Stannis' sigil makes for the hart/(antlered) heart pun.

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23 hours ago, Meera of Tarth said:

So good this one

Thanks!:wub:

23 hours ago, Evolett said:

I do love your very insightful and detailed analyses of Martin's texts :). I agree that Jon is done with his black cloak and on rising, will fully embrace his 'white cloak, his white shadow' who is not only Ghost the Direwolf, but a literal ghost, an ancestor, up until now resident in the wolf and who will be reborn in him. Sounds crackpot, I know. Anyway, while Dany is 'fire', Jon Snow is 'snow/ice'. I was quite surprised by my own conclusion upon investigating the genetic significance of blue winter roses. They represent another form of frozen fire and Jon Snow, Lord Snow is indeed living frozen fire, presumably impervious to the Others, with enough 'immunity' to tackle them when the occasion arises. 

Thanks!:D

I look forward to reading your link.  Nothing sounds crackpot from you - you are well-informed.  Share my Star/Stark with LML.  His theories lead me to a connection of "star" in the name "Stark" and that Bran is the Fallen Star - K.:cheers:

I think I have listened to your podcasts - although I may have the wrong name.  Sorry if I do!

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