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Lord Varys

Sex and stuff - How different is Dorne?

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11 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

[snip]

Again, this really boils down to Martell personalities. Doran seems almost heartbroken with how things turned out with Mellario, and I just don't think he wants anything like that. Arianne also did have a lover - Daemon Sand, who she lost her virginity to at 14, and that didn't ruin her. I assume that pregnancy would be a nuisance though, and moon tea seems mostly reliable. So I'm not sure what a bastard child would accomplish. Again, we've only had 5 chapters in Dorne, not a particularly good sample size to say that the TWOIAF information is inaccurate. 

The moniker "Sand" is not cruel in any way, and only has ill meaning by association. I imagine it was once cruel, before the coming of the Rhoynar, but now it's just a way to say -- okay, you're a bastard. That doesn't mean I should treat you any differently, though, you're still a noble member of this family.

I think paramours are not often kept when one is married. It's a way with settling down with someone for love, without bringing scandal to your family by marrying someone much lower in rank than you.

For the difference between mistress and paramour, again, see Samantha Tarly, who was "paramour," not a mistress. She was basically running things as Lady of Oldtown and attending functions with Lyonel, while Tytos's mistresses probably only existed for his sexual pleasure.

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4 minutes ago, Vaith said:

For the difference between mistress and paramour, again, see Samantha Tarly, who was "paramour," not a mistress. She was basically running things as Lady of Oldtown and attending functions with Lyonel, while Tytos's mistresses probably only existed for his sexual pleasure.

Well, Lady Sam is a completely wrong example here. Lord Lyonel did not want to have a mistress or paramour, he wanted to marry his stepmother. That he could not was due to the High Septon condemning such a union. Effectively Lady Sam was the Lady of Oldtown and Lord Lyonel's wife even if she was not.

But no paramour in Dorne is a paramour due to the fact that the High Septon bars her from marrying the man she wants to marry, right?

Tytos' second mistress was effectively behaving and acting as Lady of Casterly Rock - or doing even more. There are reports that she wore the jewels of the late Lady Jeyne, that she ordered about household knights and servants, that she sat at Tytos' side at table and during audiences, and that stood in for him when he was incapacitated. She did more or less the same as Lady Sam in Oldtown.

Daemon Sand was a one-night stand, not a lover or paramour. A bastard child would establish the fact that in Dorne it is no dishonor if the heir to Dorne gives birth to illegitimate children and chooses paramours and lovers long before she is actually married.

All the bastard names are cruel because they ostracize children. A culture valuing such children more than the rest of Westeros would not brand them with such a name.

It is made perfectly clear by Elia Sand that she is no Martell and worth pretty much nothing. Even Arianne agrees - it is only Doran's personal love for his brother's children that would cause him to pay a ransom for Elia should she become a hostage of the Golden Company.

If Dorne was different then a Sand would be worth about as much as a Martell with or without the Prince of Dorne loving any Sands. He would be as honor-bound to pay a ransom for bastards as he would be to free his trueborn children.

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2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Well, Lady Sam is a completely wrong example here. Lord Lyonel did not want to have a mistress or paramour, he wanted to marry his stepmother. That he could not was due to the High Septon condemning such a union. Effectively Lady Sam was the Lady of Oldtown and Lord Lyonel's wife even if she was not.

But no paramour in Dorne is a paramour due to the fact that the High Septon bars her from marrying the man she wants to marry, right?

Tytos' second mistress was effectively behaving and acting as Lady of Casterly Rock - or doing even more. There are reports that she wore the jewels of the late Lady Jeyne, that she ordered about household knights and servants, that she sat at Tytos' side at table and during audiences, and that stood in for him when he was incapacitated. She did more or less the same as Lady Sam in Oldtown.

Daemon Sand was a one-night stand, not a lover or paramour. A bastard child would establish the fact that in Dorne it is no dishonor if the heir to Dorne gives birth to illegitimate children and chooses paramours and lovers long before she is actually married.

All the bastard names are cruel because they ostracize children. A culture valuing such children more than the rest of Westeros would not brand them with such a name.

It is made perfectly clear by Elia Sand that she is no Martell and worth pretty much nothing. Even Arianne agrees - it is only Doran's personal love for his brother's children that would cause him to pay a ransom for Elia should she become a hostage of the Golden Company.

If Dorne was different then a Sand would be worth about as much as a Martell with or without the Prince of Dorne loving any Sands. He would be as honor-bound to pay a ransom for bastards as he would be to free his trueborn children.

Lady Sam is someone with a lot of influence and a rather wild card, and being the only woman who's referred to as "paramour," I think that's telling. 

Can a Martell prince marry a olive-picker's daughter? Legally, yes, but the social barrier is almost just as prevalent in that instance as the legal barrier was to Lady Sam and Lord Lyonel. Meanwhile Tytos's mistress had clearly overstepped her mark -- I suppose you could call it a retroactive labelling. Tywin proved that Tytos's mistress was just a mistress; as Lady Sam went on to marry Lyonel, "paramour" is the more appropriate, respectable phrasing of their relationship.

I don't think the good story that there already is in Dorne has to be sacrificed for showing the reader every inch of their social constraints.

I do not see how simply having a name is a sign of one necessarily being ostracised. Is it impossible to respect someone as a member of your family if they have a different surname than you? It seems weird. There's no reason why Elia Sand couldn't be treated as lesser in rank and have less good marriage prospects, whilst also not being seen as a scandalous figure simply because of her illegitimate birth.

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As a I already demonstrated with the Daario example, there is no meaningful difference between 'mistress/lover' and 'paramour'. Both are sexual/romantic partners of a person outside of wedlock.

Aegon IV's mistresses are also not different from Ellaria Sand or Lady Sam but they are not referred to as paramours up to that point.

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Just saying I think @Vaith has very much the right end of the stick on this.Arianne already knew that her father desired her for a political match to some lord or heir. She knew Daemon Sand, a bastard, was never going to be a lord or heir. Ergo, she knew that Doran would not find it suitable. She understood her marriage situation as a matter of politics. Indeed, the whole point of paramours is to have someone you choose for love, not for politics, because political marriages happen in Dorne just as much as they do in the rest of Westeros.

FWIW, George's document for Aegon's mistresses is actually titled by him as "Aegon's Paramours".

I would say a paramour or a mistress are functionally equivalent, but in Dorne they are both more open about it and less scandalized by it. 

Edited by Ran

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17 minutes ago, Ran said:

Just saying I think @Vaith has very much the right end of the stick on this.Arianne already knew that her father desired her for a political match to some lord or heir. She knew Daemon Sand, a bastard, was never going to be a lord or heir. Ergo, she knew that Doran would not find it suitable. She understood her marriage situation as a matter of politics. Indeed, the whole point of paramours is to have someone you choose for love, not for politics, because political marriages happen in Dorne just as much as they do in the rest of Westeros.

Daemon Sand himself seems to have issues with the fact that he, the bastard, cannot hope to marry the heir to Dorne. You can construe this as Daemon having issues with himself and not seeing how little his life as bastard sucks in Dorne as compared to other places, but at this point I'd would share his view on the matter.

Also, the love he seems to feel for Arianne doesn't seem to cherish the idea that he could, perhaps, be her paramour. For some reason he would like to marry her because of his feelings. What does this tell us about him and how he sees the status of a paramour in comparison to a spouse? If it was pretty great to be a paramour then why has he issues with being Arianne's paramour or the fact that he may have been Oberyn's lover in the past?

Even more noteworthy is Prince Doran's decision to marry the obscure Mellario of Norvos, a union with little to no political relevance, which was caused by his love/passion for her. He didn't make her his paramour - a hint that at least Doran Martell preferred to marry the woman he loved - just as Daemon Sand would like to do. But Oberyn Martell failed to do.

In that sense, this paramour system is actually pretty ugly since it allows you to fuck people and produce bastards without necessarily taking any responsibility.

Think what Egg's sons or Rhaegar may have done if they had lived in Dorne - they would just have made their loved ones paramours and gone along with their arranged marriages.

Perhaps Oberyn would have had the guts to actually marry Ellaria had he not been born in Dorne?

17 minutes ago, Ran said:

FWIW, George's document for Aegon's mistresses is actually titled by him as "Aegon's Paramours".

Why didn't you title the sidebar on them this way in TWoIaF?

17 minutes ago, Ran said:

I would say a paramour or a mistress are functionally equivalent, but in Dorne they are both more open about it and less scandalized by it. 

Such scandals just seem to be cosmetic and superficial differences to me.

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18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Even more noteworthy is Prince Doran's decision to marry the obscure Mellario of Norvos, a union with little to no political relevance, which was caused by his love/passion for her. He didn't make her his paramour - a hint that at least Doran Martell preferred to marry the woman he loved - just as Daemon Sand would like to do. But Oberyn Martell failed to do.

In that sense, this paramour system is actually pretty ugly since it allows you to fuck people and produce bastards without necessarily taking any responsibility.

Think what Egg's sons or Rhaegar may have done if they had lived in Dorne - they would just have made their loved ones paramours and gone along with their arranged marriages.

Perhaps Oberyn would have had the guts to actually marry Ellaria had he not been born in Dorne?

Just because paramours are for love, does not mean that love matches cannot exist. Doran's marriage may have been both appropriate and for love. It's likely Mellario is the equivalent of nobility in Norvos, and is an acceptable marriage partner. Meanwhile Ellaria would be a partner for love, but would not be an appropriate match.

How is free sex necessarily a bad thing? We don't know how common it has to have a paramour and spouse at the same time. Presently, a paramour seems to be an alternative to marriage that does not have the scandal of marrying below one's station, but allows for a love-based relationship nonetheless.

If Duncan Targaryen was Duncan Martell, then Jenny of Oldstones may have been a paramour - but we don't know that it would've been appropriate to have her at the same time that he was betrothed to the Baratheon daughter anyway.

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As I said in another thread:

Just now, Ser Lepus said:

I wonder how different is the sexual behaviour of Dornish septons and septas from the mainstream ones... I mean, homosexuality, paramours and bastards are quite accepted in Dorne... are Dornish priests like Catholic priests in some regions in medieval Europe, where mistresses and common law wives of priests were pretty much an open secret accepted by everybody?

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On 1/29/2019 at 9:23 AM, Lord Varys said:

This is from 'Queer Customs of the South' from TWoIaF:

 

On 1/29/2019 at 9:23 AM, Lord Varys said:

Am I overlooking something here? 

I think you overlook the fact that “The World of Ice and Fire” isn’t a absolutely reliable source of information. It is a book that exists within the world George R. R. Martin has created. It was written by a singular maester, under specific circumstance. My take is that Martin writes the way the rest of Westeros see Dorne much like the west sees the east in our world, as Edward Said has explored in his ground setting book Orientalism. 

Edited by Lady Dacey

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On 2/3/2019 at 7:59 PM, Lord Varys said:

In general one should also keep in mind that Yandel was never in Dorne and that it is actually a common trait of his to depict faraway regions as exotic and strange - not just the lands beyond Westeros but also places like the Neck and Skagos, the lands beyond the Wall or the Northern clansmen. And, of course, also the Dornishmen.

So is Yandel giving us an accurate picture of Dorne or only the kind of picture and Oldtown-born maester ingrained in the culture of the Reach would draw of Dorne in a book?

I think this is very relevant. It’s possible that the Dornish have a slightly different approach to sex than the rest of the seven kingdoms, something less hypocritical, and it’s cleat that the (high born) women have more agency there, but I’m on the camp that they are not that different really - it’s mostly Yandel being ethnocentric...

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1 hour ago, Lady Dacey said:

I think you overlook the fact that “The World of Ice and Fire” isn’t a absolutely reliable source of information. It is a book that exists within the world George R. R. Martin has created. It was written by a singular maester, under specific circumstance. My take is that Martin writes the way the rest of Westeros see Dorne much like the west sees the east in our world, as Edward Said has explored in his ground setting book Orientalism. 

This would actually be my point. This topic grew out of my realization that Yandel's claims about the differences in Dorne are actually not reflected by the text, at least not where it matters.

Yes, Dornish noblewomen like Arianne are closer to bastard cousins and seem to be more open about their sexuality and actual affairs, but bastards don't have more legal rights than elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms, nor are they branded differently (they are stuck with their 'Sand names) nor are people of high birth like legitimate Martells soiling themselves and their families by entertaining the idea (let alone going through with the notion) of marrying a bastard. The examples there being obviously Arianne never considering the possibility of marrying Daemon Sand, Oberyn not marrying Ellaria Sand, and none of the Sand Snakes being married or being courted by highborn Dornishmen.

And with male homosexuality it is pretty much the same. We can make a case that Prince Daeron and his companion Jeremy Norridge (and possibly also Laenor Velaryon and Queen Rhaena) fare much better than Oberyn Martell and Daemon Sand.

Edited by Lord Varys

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2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

This would actually be my point. This topic grew out of my realization that Yandel's claims about the differences in Dorne are actually not reflected by the text, at least not where it matters.

Yes, Dornish noblewomen like Arianne are closer to bastard cousins and seem to be more open about their sexuality and actual affairs, but bastards don't have more legal rights than elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms, nor are they branded differently (they are stuck with their 'Sand names) nor are people of high birth like legitimate Martells soiling themselves and their families by entertaining the idea (let alone going through with the notion) of marrying a bastard. The examples there being obviously Arianne never considering the possibility of marrying Daemon Sand, Oberyn not marrying Ellaria Sand, and none of the Sand Snakes being married or being courted by highborn Dornishmen.

And with male homosexuality it is pretty much the same. We can make a case that Prince Daeron and his companion Jeremy Norridge (and possibly also Laenor Velaryon and Queen Rhaena) than Oberyn Martell and Daemon Sand.

Yeah, you and me agree on this topic lord Varys! We are on the same page. I hope further writing from GRRM proves us right, I’d be slightly disappointed otherwise. Can’t be sure though. 

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On 1/29/2019 at 1:00 PM, The hairy bear said:

And it's not only Catelyn's opinion. Ned says about Jon: "You know I cannot take him south. There will be no place for him at court. A boy with a bastard’s name . . . you know what they will say of him. He will be shunned." If Eddard thinks that a bastard has no place in King's Landing court (even the son of the Hand of the King), but the court of Sunspear is filled with bastards, I think that we could easily deduce that the Dornish are more tolerant in this regard.

I think the short answer for this is that Ned simply did not want to take Jon to King's Landing. Garth the Gross was taking both his two bastard sons with him to King's Landing with the intent that they would have places possibly with the gold cloaks. Humfrey Waters, a bastard, was raised from captain of the Dragon Gate to Commander of the City Watch by the small council in ADwD. 

Bastards are looked down on, true enough, but I think Ned was laying on thick there.

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3 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

Yeah, you and me agree on this topic lord Varys! We are on the same page. I hope further writing from GRRM proves us right, I’d be slightly disappointed otherwise. Can’t be sure though. 

I'm not so sure what to think about it, truly. I'd have liked it if the text were proving Yandel right - as many people want him to be and with good cause - but I just don't see that in the actual text.

2 hours ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

I think the short answer for this is that Ned simply did not want to take Jon to King's Landing. Garth the Gross was taking both his two bastard sons with him to King's Landing with the intent that they would have places possibly with the gold cloaks. Humfrey Waters, a bastard, was raised from captain of the Dragon Gate to Commander of the City Watch by the small council in ADwD. 

Bastards are looked down on, true enough, but I think Ned was laying on thick there.

Well, to be sure, Ned really tried to treat Jon as his trueborn son. He seems to have made no difference between Jon and Robb, Bran, and Rickon (the whole bastard thing was reinforced by Cat and, presumably, other Winterfell folk). Ned couldn't have continued that kind of special treatment at court. But it is clear that Jon could have served as his squire there, could have been part of his personal deliberations and stuff, although we can assume it wouldn't have been proper to have him sit with his half-sisters and the royal children at feasts, bring him to council with the king, etc.

But you are very much correct that bastards actually do have a place at court. Daemon Blackfyre was raised there, Robert intended to bring Mya Stone to court, and in the Realm at large many a castle has 'the Bastard of X' in an important function there (Aurane Waters, Rolland Storm, etc.). Sansa in her disguise as Alayne Stone is at the very heart of things at the court of the Vale as the bastard daughter of the Lord Protector who even succeeds at arranging her marriage to the heir presumptive of the Vale of Arryn (a truly astonishing feat and something that never happened in Dorne as far as we know!).

Cat's own view of Ned treating his bastard special might extend to the amount of affection and direct attention/favor he showed the boy, but we have numerous precedents of other noble bastard gaining the same treatment insofar as their advancement is concerned. And this takes place everywhere in the Seven Kingdoms with there being no notable difference between Dorne and the rest.

Edited by Lord Varys

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12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I'd have liked it if the text were proving Yandel right

Oh, yeah, me too, most definitely. But it isn’t, is it? If from now on we were to see a very different picture painted in the following books that would be an inconsistency, in my opinion, and thar in itself would disappoint me... also, I think there is room for a very interesting deconstruction of tropes to be built by the author. We first ever saw Dorne through the eyes of Aerys Oakheart, an outsider with his own preconceived notions about the place and its people (and in a sex-laden chapter!), so far I have a feeling like this was a literary choice to set the grounds to present a change of perspective along the narrative, from the outside to the inside... anyway, we have to wait and see. 

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I think @Lord Varys and @Lady Dacey have the right idea...but I do think bastards are treated differently in Dorne and sexuality is viewed much more liberally in Dorne than the rest of Westeros.

Prince Oberyn's decision to bring a paramour (much less a baseborn paramour) was seen as extremely scandalous and even incited some fights. I distinctly remember Oberyn's retinue got into a fight with some Tyrell men in a courtyard of the Red Keep. The whole thing started with Olenna Tyrell insulting both Oberyn and Ellaria...particularly their relationship.

Daemon Sand clearly felt like he had a good chance of winning Arianne's hand in marriage if he felt that he could directly approach the Prince of Dorne about it. The fact that Prince Doran denied him has nothing to do with the fact that he is a bastard and everything to do with the fact that he had plans for Arianne to marry Viserys. This is supported by the fact that Prince Doran was constantly denying Arianne pretty good matches over the years (the best of them being Renly Baratheon) and was deliberating putting forth some very undesirable ones (Walder Frey....need I say more?) so as to keep up the charade.

Arianne assumes that it was Daemon's bastardy that led to the refusal but we know that it was incorrect. It is only with Viserys' death and Daenerys' blossoming that makes Doran switch gears from a Martell queen consort to a Martell king consort.

As to why Daemon feels ashamed? I think that's a hint that the relationship between Daemon and Oberyn is a little more complicated than what it appears to be or that Daemon himself feels bad about the whole thing. I don't think anyone in Dorne cares.

Speaking of people in Dorne not caring, highborn women and men are considered equal in every single way in Dorne. Arianne has had multiple paramours and one-night stands (clearly her sexual confidence signifies sexual experience) over the years but nothing has happened.

But bastards are treated and viewed very well in Dorne compared to how they are treated in the North, the Riverlands, etc.

Another thing that I have noticed is that the Dornish aren't particularly religious. Their religiosity pales in comparison to the religiosity seen in the Riverlands, the Reach, the Vale, the Crownlands and even the North.

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