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Ser Dips A lot

Robert Baratheon, An Alcoholic’s Perspective

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King Robert Baratheon, the prodigious drinker who ruled the realm. We all know Robert ate, drank, and fucked his way into an early grave but what was his true demise. Was he doomed from birth, powerless over alcohol? I believe he was, as an alcoholic myself, and I’ve evaluated him and made my diagnosis.

Robert was alcoholic, and it took a toll on his life. His life had become unmanageable;  he was powerless over his drinking and whether he enjoyed it or not, he drank to excess, as any good alcoholic would, and he did it often. He destroyed his marriage, he strained relationships with friends and family, and he financially spiraled out of control, putting the crown in debt. He was manifested with character defects: unfaithfulness, gluttony, and was questionably a sex addict as well. His shortcomings as a husband, father, and ruler were obvious as well. Robert was a miserable man, and he drank and drank to avoid the consequences, and unfortunately being a king, he never had any. The realm had lived in peace since the rebellion, but the country grew weak under his reign. He had hit his bottom, undoubtedly, at the start of the series.

Could it have been a result of his grief over the death of his love, Lyanna, that fueled his disease? Most likely. But I think whether Lyanna had married him or not, the reality of Robert’s disease would not have changed; Everyday Robert would wake up with untreated alcoholism, and he could not face it alone. He was in need of outside help and I believe that if he abstained from drinking somehow and had known and admitted he was powerless, Robert would have made a much better King. 

Too bad they didn’t have AA and a 12 step recovery program in Westeros, Robert might have stood a chance. 

I open this up for thoughts and speculation on Robert and his drinking. 

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First of all I mean no offense and hope you are doing well but I feel you are in danger of trying to diagnose someone who lived in a totally different society. On top of that they lived in a city where the water is going to be more likely to get you ill than alcohol. 

 

2 hours ago, Ser Dips A lot said:

King Robert Baratheon, the prodigious drinker who ruled the realm. We all know Robert ate, drank, and fucked his way into an early grave but what was his true demise. Was he doomed from birth, powerless over alcohol? I believe he was, as an alcoholic myself, and I’ve evaluated him and made my diagnosis.

Cersei and a wild boar killed him, alcohol did not. 

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Robert was alcoholic, and it took a toll on his life. His life had become unmanageable;  he was powerless over his drinking and whether he enjoyed it or not, he drank to excess, as any good alcoholic would, and he did it often.

Drinking, whoring, feasting and hunting are all fun past times, Robert indulged himself similar to how Edward IV, Henry VIII and many other medieval kings did. Even William the Conqueror was so fat on his death that his body would not fit in his coffin and split causing a god awful stench (similar to Tywin) when they struggled to fit his body in. 

Robert growing fat and doing everything to excess was not uncommon given his position and lack of serious conflict. 

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 He destroyed his marriage, he strained relationships with friends and family, and he financially spiraled out of control, putting the crown in debt.

I don't think alcohol was the cause of the breakdown of his marriage or the poor relationship he had with his brothers.  Ned's problems with Robert have little to do with his drinking. 

Jon Arryn and the Small Council telling him 'no' was the problem with the crown's finances, not alcohol, perhaps hiring someone like Littlefinger was also a bigger factor. Though it should be pointed out kings like Aerys and Henry VII leaving behind rich vaults were the exception than the rule. 

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He was manifested with character defects: unfaithfulness, gluttony, and was questionably a sex addict as well. His shortcomings as a husband, father, and ruler were obvious as well.

Sure. 

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Robert was a miserable man,

Not in the books he was not. Despite dying in the first book I don't think we see another character laugh more than Robert in the entire series. 

"You need to come south," Robert told him. "You need a taste of summer before it flees. In Highgarden there are fields of golden roses that stretch away as far as the eye can see. The fruits are so ripe they explode in your mouth—melons, peaches, fireplums, you've never tasted such sweetness. You'll see, I brought you some. Even at Storm's End, with that good wind off the bay, the days are so hot you can barely move. And you ought to see the towns, Ned! Flowers everywhere, the markets bursting with food, the summerwines so cheap and so good that you can get drunk just breathing the air. Everyone is fat and drunk and rich." He laughed and slapped his own ample stomach a thump. "And the girls, Ned!" he exclaimed, his eyes sparkling. "I swear, women lose all modesty in the heat. They swim naked in the river, right beneath the castle. Even in the streets, it's too damn hot for wool or fur, so they go around in these short gowns, silk if they have the silver and cotton if not, but it's all the same when they start sweating and the cloth sticks to their skin, they might as well be naked." The king laughed happily.

 

But Robert was a three dimensional character so he did have troubles in his life

  • a nagging wife who would not have sex with him
  • an heir he was disappointed in
  • ungrateful brothers who wanted more from him
  • not being able to trust anyone at court
  • the threat of being usurped (the fear of all usurpers)
  • becoming fat in his middle age

 

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and he drank and drank to avoid the consequences, and unfortunately being a king, he never had any.

He drank before then, his lifestyle as king is no different to how he was before he was king, its the reason Lyanna did not want to marry him. 

Furthermore, his lifestyle seems problematic now, it was not in their society.  No one would be telling him to have a salad or cut down on the quaffing, people would be expecting him to feast like a king. 

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The realm had lived in peace since the rebellion, but the country grew weak under his reign. He had hit his bottom, undoubtedly, at the start of the series.

The realm had grown strong, at no point in history had we seen larger armies than in the war of the 5 kings. 

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Could it have been a result of his grief over the death of his love, Lyanna, that fueled his disease? Most likely.

Robert Baratheon had always been a man of huge appetites, a man who knew how to take his pleasures.

According to Ned, who knew him better than anyone, he'd always been like this. 

 

 

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Yeah, I'm calling bullshit on Robert changing his ways had Lyanna actually married him. He was in love with the idea of Lyanna, not Lyanna herself. Had she lived, Robert would've seen that she was just a normal woman, but since she died before he got a chance to really know her, he put her on this impossible to reach pedestal. Plus its not as if the man only started drinking and whoring once Lyanna died, he was always like that.  

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On 12/4/2018 at 9:01 AM, Bernie Mac said:

First of all I mean no offense and hope you are doing well but I feel you are in danger of trying to diagnose someone who lived in a totally different society. On top of that they lived in a city where the water is going to be more likely to get you ill than alcohol. 

Robert Baratheon drank in excess, there is no question of that. Of all characters who drink beer or wine because of problems of water availability Robert still stood out as an excessive drinker.

I've drank myself in excess during periods of my life and the amount of things I regret is enormous, I can tell, alcohol is a hard drug so I empathize with @Ser Dips A lot for bringing this up.

 

On 12/4/2018 at 9:01 AM, Bernie Mac said:

 

Cersei and a wild boar killed him, alcohol did not. 

Cersei’s  entire plan hinged on her knowing that if Robert got super trashed he’d do something so stupid he’d end up dea

 

 

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Thanks to the OP for sharing their perspective. Power be to them. I would say things point towards alcoholism: past trauma is often a contributor to substance abuse, so never getting over Lyanna may potentially have been a cause, but his father and mother dying may have been an even stronger trigger. I don't have books to hand but I'm sure Stannis mentions rejecting gods when he learnt of their death, and they were pretty fricking young.

In terms of the world build/culture - it's definitely true this is an imagined and, if anything, archaic setting, but the existence of, for example, Roose, Tywin and Eddard, none of whom are ever shown drinking to excess iirc, does counter the likes of Tyrion, Viserys, Robert, who are pretty self destructive dudes. 

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13 hours ago, rotting sea cow said:

Robert Baratheon drank in excess, there is no question of that. Of all characters who drink beer or wine because of problems of water availability Robert still stood out as an excessive drinker.

  • Cersei drinks a similar amount to Robert in relation to their respective sizes. 
  • The Greatjon drinks as much, but unlike Robert he is still an active warrior (thus he trains). 
  • Merrett drinks as much
  • Thoros (and Robert's other drinking companions) doso as well, but like the Greatjon they are all more active, needing to stay fit to fight in tourney's or actual war.
  • Young Aeron Greyjoy also shared a lot of young Robert "Aeron Greyjoy had been the most amiable of his uncles, feckless and quick to laugh, fond of songs, ale, and women."

 

Many characters will have similar appetites to Robert but, like Robert of a few years ago (he was fine in the Greyjoy Rebellion), they will still be active, still have responsibilities that mean feasting and drinking are not 24 hour 7 options. Being at the top of the pyramid, not needing to please anyone, as well as the metabolism slowing down, will have that effect.  Cersei, who is half a decade younger, is seeing this natural change in her own body.

 

13 hours ago, rotting sea cow said:

I've drank myself in excess during periods of my life and the amount of things I regret is enormous, I can tell, alcohol is a hard drug so I empathize with @Ser Dips A lot for bringing this up.

Me too, I'm a brit and most of my teenage years and twenties was spent binge drinking. From 17- 27 I'd be regularly having 4 or 5 'nights out a week, something that is acceptable at a certain age but not so much mid to late 20's.  Some people drink a lot because its fun, Robert is one of those people and with no responsibilities (or the likes of Arryn and Ned to carry them out) he's never had to stop living his teenage lifestyle. 

Robert never grew out of being a teenager, that rather than alcoholism is his problem. 

13 hours ago, rotting sea cow said:

Cersei’s  entire plan hinged on her knowing that if Robert got super trashed he’d do something so stupid he’d end up dea

Cersei poisoned the alcohol to make him act like that. His death was not natural. 

 

 

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Stop drinking and whoring? no, but i believe he would not indulge at those levels, he would be more Like Rogar Baratheon i believe, lyana was strong enough to put him in check, actually if not for Rhaegar i believe she would be a positive influence on him, he would continue to have his side whores, but maybe limit himself to 2, 3 bastards instead of 16, and would not become this fat, which still is not ideal, but better than with Cersei.
 

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34 minutes ago, BlueNightzx said:

Stop drinking and whoring? no, but i believe he would not indulge at those levels, he would be more Like Rogar Baratheon i believe, lyana was strong enough to put him in check, actually if not for Rhaegar i believe she would be a positive influence on him, he would continue to have his side whores, but maybe limit himself to 2, 3 bastards instead of 16, and would not become this fat, which still is not ideal, but better than with Cersei.
 

Rogar was a responsible Robert, acted as a patriarch to hid brothers and their offspring, took an active role in the affairs of the government both before and while he was Hand, persisted in the defence of the Stormlands against Dorne and had to stay fit to do his duty to both Storm's End and a royal family who may not have been his biggest fans. 

Robert shirked his responsibilities Rogar didn't, that is why one ended up a glutton.

8 hours ago, Bastard of Bournemouth said:

I would say things point towards alcoholism: past trauma is often a contributor to substance abuse, so never getting over Lyanna may potentially have been a cause, but his father and mother dying may have been an even stronger trigger.

The majority of these characters face that. 

Robert's issue was not his parents dying, it was his surrogate father being around his entire life and taking on all the aspects of rule he did not like, allowing Robert to indulge in his passions. 

8 hours ago, Bastard of Bournemouth said:

 

I don't have books to hand but I'm sure Stannis mentions rejecting gods when he learnt of their death, and they were pretty fricking young.

Young but both would have been recognized as adults at that point as they were 15 and 16. 

 

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12 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

Rogar was a responsible Robert, acted as a patriarch to hid brothers and their offspring, took an active role in the affairs of the government both before and while he was Hand, persisted in the defence of the Stormlands against Dorne and had to stay fit to do his duty to both Storm's End and a royal family who may not have been his biggest fans. 

Robert shirked his responsibilities Rogar didn't, that is why one ended up a glutton.

The majority of these characters face that. 

Robert's issue was not his parents dying, it was his surrogate father being around his entire life and taking on all the aspects of rule he did not like, allowing Robert to indulge in his passions. 

Young but both would have been recognized as adults at that point as they were 15 and 16. 

 

Many of the characters do face terrible trauma - the fates of Ned's family, for example, were arguably far worse than those of the Baratheons. And that's without even mentioning Varys. 

And yet many of these characters react to these traumas very differently. One possible explanation is that they are not as prone to abuse substances. Another could be they're just more resilient and less likely to reach for such crutches.

With Cersei, Great John, et al. There is no set limit in terms of units where one becomes an alcoholic as I understand it - it is more a case of when it becomes destructive to your work and social life. Thoros, was by his own admission a terrible priest, Cersei is a terrible queen, and she and Robert shared a truly toxic relationship. His kingly and husbandly failings could be said to be a symptom of his alcoholism, as opposed to a mitigation of it. 

I'm not saying either way,  just putting the argument forward. From what I remember from GoT I'd definitely say Jon Arynn did greatly indulge Robert - to the extent Eddard was shocked by it iirc. 

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