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Lost Melnibonean

Illyrio's Motives

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This thread was archived, but I would like to add something from Fire and Blood...

Quote

No lord, no knight, not even a magister, Rego Draz was a merchant, trader, and money-changer who had risen from nothing to become the richest man in Pentos, only to find himself shunned by his fellow Pentoshi and denied a seat in the council of magisters because of his low birth. 

A Time of Testing, Fire and Blood

Compare that to what we know of Magister Illyrio Mopatis...

Quote

"How is it that the Spider became so dear to you?"

"We were young together, two green boys in Pentos."

"Varys came from Myr."

"So he did. I met him not long after he arrived, one step ahead of the slavers. By day he slept in the sewers, by night he prowled the rooftops like a cat. I was near as poor, a bravo in soiled silks, living by my blade. Perhaps you chanced to glimpse the statue by my pool? Pytho Malanon carved that when I was six-and-ten. A lovely thing, though now I weep to see it."

...

... I grew so respectable that a cousin of the Prince of Pentos let me wed his maiden daughter, whilst whispers of a certain eunuch's talents crossed the narrow sea and reached the ears of a certain king. 

Tyrion II, Dance 5

Clearly, Illyrio was not just a poor bravo. 

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I suspect he was just a rich, cunning man, with with a master manipulator in his pocket. He possibly blackmailed the Prince's cousin or had some other form of leverage. He could be lying, not only by omission, and secretly be a noble, but in that case you can't really rely on anything he says to form an argument.

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2 hours ago, Makk said:

I suspect he was just a rich, cunning man, with with a master manipulator in his pocket. He possibly blackmailed the Prince's cousin or had some other form of leverage. He could be lying, not only by omission, and secretly be a noble, but in that case you can't really rely on anything he says to form an argument.

He never denied that he was born of noble blood. He just suggested he was poor and selling his sword. 

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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We also cannot rule out that Pentos as society hasn't evolved from an aristocratic one to a semi republic during that time frame. It seems that many of the Free Cities only keep the valyrian social structure more as a tradition, with the rich merchants holding the actual power. 

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On 8/7/2019 at 11:17 AM, Lost Melnibonean said:

This thread was archived, but I would like to add something from Fire and Blood...

A Time of Testing, Fire and Blood

Compare that to what we know of Magister Illyrio Mopatis...

Tyrion II, Dance 5

Clearly, Illyrio was not just a poor bravo. 

Do you assume that Illyrio wasn't poor because Pygmalion, err Pytho Malanon carved a statue of him?  We don't know that Illyrio commissioned the statue do we?  We only know that Illyrio was the model for it, he posed for it.

It could just be that at one time he was a good looking braavos, and Pytho Malanon thought he would be a good model for his sculpture.  And when Illyrio became rich he then purchased the statue for himself.

Edited by Frey family reunion

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1 hour ago, Frey family reunion said:

Do you assume that Illyrio wasn't poor because Pygmalion, err Pytho Malanon carved a statue of him?  We don't know that Illyrio commissioned the statue do we?  We only know that Illyrio was the model for it, he posed for it.

It could just be that at one time he was a good looking braavos, and Pytho Malanon thought he would be a good model for his sculpture.  And when Illyrio became rich he then purchased the statue for himself.

Yes that could be, and perhaps Illyrio was poor when he became a man grown, so to say. In Fire & Blood, though, we see that a Pentoshi of low birth could not become a magister even after he had attained great wealth. This suggests that Magister Illyrio, whether he was poor or not, was descended from nobility and not just some poor bravo. 

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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37 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

Yes that could be, and perhaps Illyrio was poor when he became a man grown, so to say. In Fire & Blood, though, we see that a Pentoshi of low birth could not become a magister even after he had attained great wealth. This suggests that Magister Illyrio, whether he was poor or not, was descended from nobility and not just some poor bravo. 

I see your point.  Of course on the flip side, one could argue that it could have been Illyrio's marriage to a relative of the Prince of Pentos that opened the way for him to become a Magister, even if he was of low birth.  Perhaps Illyrio's fame led to the marriage which in turn led to his eligibility for becoming a Magister.

Edited by Frey family reunion

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5 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

I see your point.  Of course on the flip side, one could argue that it could have been Illyrio's marriage to a relative of the Prince of Pentos that opened the way for him to become a Magister, even if he was of low birth.  Perhaps Illyrio's fame led to the marriage which in turn led to his eligibility for becoming a Magister.

Or it's possible that social mobility eased over a century or two. 

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12 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

Or it's possible that social mobility eased over a century or two. 

That's possible as well.

Although I think the primary difference between Illyrio and Rego Draz is that Rego never married, while Illyrio married into the family of the Prince of Pentos.  And the Prince of Pentos was probably the one guy who could have greased the wheels for Illyrio to become a Magister.

Which is probably why there was such a falling out when Illyrio's second wife was a former prostitute.  Illyrio may have only become socially acceptable because of his marriage into a noble family, and then he brings scandal on the same family by marrying a former prostitute (or even more scandalous a former slave).

This all makes me think that Illyrio's motivations are a bit more complex than it first appears.  If he's currently acting out of a debt of affection, than the one person he appears to hold the most affection for his is late wife, Serra.  Someone who was a former Lyseni prostitute/slave.  This scenario also suggests that Illyrio may have very well been quite an outsider in the Pentos ruling caste despite being a part of said ruling caste.

Edited by Frey family reunion

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32 minutes ago, Frey family reunion said:

That's possible as well.

Although I think the primary difference between Illyrio and Rego Draz is that Rego never married, while Illyrio married into the family of the Prince of Pentos.  And the Prince of Pentos was probably the one guy who could have greased the wheels for Illyrio to become a Magister.

Which is probably why there was such a falling out when Illyrio's second wife was a former prostitute.  Illyrio may have only become socially acceptable because of his marriage into a noble family, and then he brings scandal on the same family by marrying a former prostitute (or even more scandalous a former slave).

This all makes me think that Illyrio's motivations are a bit more complex than it first appears.  If he's currently acting out of a debt of affection, than the one person he appears to hold the most affection for his is late wife, Serra.  Someone who was a former Lyseni prostitute/slave.  This scenario also suggests that Illyrio may have very well been quite an outsider in the Pentos ruling caste despite being a part of said ruling caste.

The way I interpret it is that Illyrio was able to wed the cousin of the Prince of Pentos and become magister because he was of noble blood. I realize that my interpretation is not fact, but I do think it is what the author intended for us to take away. 

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14 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

The way I interpret it is that Illyrio was able to wed the cousin of the Prince of Pentos and become magister because he was of noble blood. I realize that my interpretation is not fact, but I do think it is what the author intended for us to take away. 

I’m not so sure of that at all.  Illyrio seems very proud of the fact that he and Varys were so successful in their ill gotten ventures that he, a poor sell sword, became successful enough to marry into the Prince’s family, the same Prince who then banned him from the palace because his second wife was a slave.

He and Varys than groom Young Griff to be a ruler, someone grew up amongst the poor, and was trained to be good ruler, and not because it was just his birthright to rule.

Which of course cast doubt on Young Griff being the son of Rhaegar.  But would fit in perfectly if Young Griff was in actuality the son of a Lyseni prostitute/slave.

Which is why I bring up Pygmalion (and I think the sculptor Pytho Malanon is a sly wink and a nod to the sculptor Pygmalion), I think Varys and Illyrio may be playing the parts of Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering.  They are training someone from a lower caste of society to impersonate a noble.  In this case, they are looking to put their pupil on the Iron Throne. 

Edited by Frey family reunion

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On 9/13/2019 at 6:20 PM, Frey family reunion said:

Which is why I bring up Pygmalion (and I think the sculptor Pytho Malanon is a sly wink and a nod to the sculptor Pygmalion), I think Varys and Illyrio may be playing the parts of Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering.  They are training someone from a lower caste of society to impersonate a noble.  In this case, they are looking to put their pupil on the Iron Throne. 

This is a very interesting idea that also does not need any Blackfyre, Brightflame, whatever, conspiracy. Except maybe for bringing the Golden Company into the fold.

 

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7 hours ago, rotting sea cow said:

This is a very interesting idea that also does not need any Blackfyre, Brightflame, whatever, conspiracy. Except maybe for bringing the Golden Company into the fold.

As I think I've said since ADwD was out - artisitically the idea that Aegon is just a whore's son with no royal or noble blood at all would be the best plot.

It would allow Varys to explore the theme that power resides where men believe it resides - without any of the prerequistes of power actually being there. It would all be fake.

And if Illyrio is the father of the lad then this fact alone could explain why he thinks the guy is the noblest lad, etc. - a father has a right to think his son is great, even if he is mistaken about that...

On 9/13/2019 at 6:06 PM, Lost Melnibonean said:

The way I interpret it is that Illyrio was able to wed the cousin of the Prince of Pentos and become magister because he was of noble blood. I realize that my interpretation is not fact, but I do think it is what the author intended for us to take away. 

You have to keep in mind that Rego Draz is more like Varys than Illyrio Mopatis. Illyrio Mopatis may have started his career as a poor bravo, but he was handsome and fair-haired, and nobody ever says anything about Illyrio's low birth. But Draz's low birth is confirmed - as is the fact that Varys lacks some balls (which makes him an outcast, too). An inpoverished guy can rise again, but lowborn scum remains lowborn scum.

Illyrio can be the scion of an impoverished Braavosi family, say. If Elissa's eggs are Illyrio's eggs then the Sealord Elissa sold them to could have been a Mopatis.

Those Braavosi all seem to have names resembling Illyrio's rather closely - it is not far from Nestoris, Domittis, Tendyris, etc.

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On 9/12/2019 at 8:06 PM, Frey family reunion said:

Do you assume that Illyrio wasn't poor because Pygmalion, err Pytho Malanon carved a statue of him?  We don't know that Illyrio commissioned the statue do we?  We only know that Illyrio was the model for it, he posed for it. 

It could just be that at one time he was a good looking braavos, and Pytho Malanon thought he would be a good model for his sculpture.  And when Illyrio became rich he then purchased the statue for himself.

Regarding the statue, we DON'T know that Illyrio was the model. What we KNOW, is that Illyrio TOLD TYRION he was the model. Two very different propositions.

I also had trouble thinking why a famous sculptor would be making statues of impoverished bravos, because at the age of the statue's model, Illyrio was claiming to be poor... so could the statue be someone else - like Young Griff, for instance? (Or whoever else the missing child from Illyrio's household may be).

But overall, I do like the Pygmalion idea, that's a good catch in the name. There's no reason at all for any of the grand conspiracies of Blackfyres and secret identities and bloodlines. If Young Griff is a fake, then why not a total fake? He may be Illyrio's son, but then again he could be just another Lysene slave bought for his looks just as Serra had been (if Serra was ever real...) and trained up for the role like Eliza Doolittle.

The whole Young Griff/(f)Aegon storyline is full of echoes of the Yorkist pretenders Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel, and the fact that GRRM has created characters called both 'Perkin' and 'Lambert' in the story seems like a hint that he knows these characters from history and could be using thier stories. Simnel in particular was chosen as a figurehead for rebellion because he had a close resemblance to the Princes in the Tower, and he was educated by a clergyman in all he needed to know to become a 'learned ruler'. Both pretenders were supported/manipulated by characters that had held powerful posts (maybe equivalent to a master of whisperers and a king's hand....) and both had known what it was like to live a life of poverty (like Young Griff) and moved around foreign courts and cities (like Young Griff) gathering support before invading the homeland with a mixed bag of exiles and mercenaries (like Young Griff).

 

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If one wants to have the Blackfyre thing in the Aegon story - it could just be Varys. He could be the last scion of House Blackfyre through the female line. But he lacks root and stem, he is a dynastic dead end, and he can never sit a throne himself.

The second best option if you cannot father a golden child yourself is to create one from scratch - and that's what they have been doing.

It might be that Illyrio told the truth that his stake in the game is indeed the repayment of 'debts of affections'. Varys made Illyrio Mopatis who he is now, so he has to give up his own son for Varys' plan. And if it works then Illyrio is going to make a lot of money yet again.

But with the back story of Rego Draz chances are not that bad that Illyrio and Varys both have no actual ties to the Blackfyres. If the Golden Company believes they do they could be fooled about that the same way Varys and Illyrio fooled Jon Connington.

I'm not entirely sure about that the Blackfyre element is not going to be there, of course.

We do have Perkin Warbeck, Lambert Simnel, or the fake Jean I of France already in the story with Trystane Truefyre, Gaemon Palehair, and with the fake Daerons we are going to get in FaB II, in even more detail in the future.

Those fake Daerons are not going to be the real deal, so to make a variation of the theme in the main series Prince Aegon might have some substance to himself - be it Blackfyre or Targaryen substance. Giving us a son of Rhaegar's who is the real deal and ends up as a failure wouldn't be a bad plot if one thinks about that.

And since we also already know that Alys Rivers' son - who certainly could be Aemond Targaryen's trueborn son and thus the rightful heir to the Iron Throne - is going to fail, too, one has to wait and see how the Jon Snow theme is going to play out in that historical variation. If we were to ge this story before the conclusion of ASoIaF we could likely expect Jon not to follow in the footsteps of Aemond's son because George really doesn't like to make his historical characters too close to his main characters (e.g. his decision to not make Bittersteel one-handed less he resembles Jaime too closely).

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5 hours ago, Rufus Snow said:

Regarding the statue, we DON'T know that Illyrio was the model. What we KNOW, is that Illyrio TOLD TYRION he was the model. Two very different propositions.

I also had trouble thinking why a famous sculptor would be making statues of impoverished bravos, because at the age of the statue's model, Illyrio was claiming to be poor... so could the statue be someone else - like Young Griff, for instance? (Or whoever else the missing child from Illyrio's household may be).

But overall, I do like the Pygmalion idea, that's a good catch in the name. There's no reason at all for any of the grand conspiracies of Blackfyres and secret identities and bloodlines. If Young Griff is a fake, then why not a total fake? He may be Illyrio's son, but then again he could be just another Lysene slave bought for his looks just as Serra had been (if Serra was ever real...) and trained up for the role like Eliza Doolittle.

The whole Young Griff/(f)Aegon storyline is full of echoes of the Yorkist pretenders Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel, and the fact that GRRM has created characters called both 'Perkin' and 'Lambert' in the story seems like a hint that he knows these characters from history and could be using thier stories. Simnel in particular was chosen as a figurehead for rebellion because he had a close resemblance to the Princes in the Tower, and he was educated by a clergyman in all he needed to know to become a 'learned ruler'. Both pretenders were supported/manipulated by characters that had held powerful posts (maybe equivalent to a master of whisperers and a king's hand....) and both had known what it was like to live a life of poverty (like Young Griff) and moved around foreign courts and cities (like Young Griff) gathering support before invading the homeland with a mixed bag of exiles and mercenaries (like Young Griff).

The reason I discount the pisswater prince theory (that Aegon is neither Rhaegar's son nor the heir to the Blackfyre claim), is that I fail to see sufficient motivation for Varys and Illyrio spending half their lives to putting just anyone on the Iron Throne. 

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7 hours ago, Rufus Snow said:

Regarding the statue, we DON'T know that Illyrio was the model. What we KNOW, is that Illyrio TOLD TYRION he was the model. Two very different propositions.

Well sure, that's the case with everything Illyrio tells Tyrion.  We have to assume he's mixing truth with lies.  

7 hours ago, Rufus Snow said:

I also had trouble thinking why a famous sculptor would be making statues of impoverished bravos, because at the age of the statue's model, Illyrio was claiming to be poor... so could the statue be someone else - like Young Griff, for instance? (Or whoever else the missing child from Illyrio's household may be).

Actually Illyrio being the model for the statue fits very well with him being an impoverished braavos.  There is a difference between having a statue made for you and being the model of a statue.  And look carefully at what Illyrio says:

Quote

"I was near as poor, a bravo in soiled silks, living by my blade.  Perhaps you chanced to glimpse the statue by my pool?  Pytho Malanon carved that when I was six-and-ten.  A lovely thing, though now I weep to see it."

And the statue in question was:

Quote

A naked boy stood on the water, poised to duel with a bravo's blade in hand.  He was lithe and handsome, no older than sixteen, with straight blond hair that brushed his shoulders.

Just because Illyrio may have modeled for the statue, does not mean that this was a statue commemorating Illyrio.  In fact the name of the statue could have simply been Naked Bravos or Young Bravos.  And it just so happened that the sculptor took a fancy to Illyrio or thought that he looked like a good model for this theme.  Which is historically how it happened.  

(For example the famous real life Renaissance sculptor Donatello was notorious (in the time period) for constantly having nude, adolescent or even preadolescent boys in his studio whom he used as models.)

So Illyrio making extra money to pose as a model for a sculptor who wanted to celebrate the young Bravos that would frequent Essos is not a stretch at all.

The assumption is that Illyrio after making his fortune purchased the statue for himself so he could have it as a commemoration of his lost youth and beauty.

7 hours ago, Rufus Snow said:

But overall, I do like the Pygmalion idea, that's a good catch in the name. There's no reason at all for any of the grand conspiracies of Blackfyres and secret identities and bloodlines. If Young Griff is a fake, then why not a total fake? He may be Illyrio's son, but then again he could be just another Lysene slave bought for his looks just as Serra had been (if Serra was ever real...) and trained up for the role like Eliza Doolittle.

Yes, that's my thought.  I don't think that Illyrio and Varys' grand plan is another attempt at a Blackfyre rebellion.  I think that's a little bit too mundane for what GRRM is probably planning.  I think that this is an attempt to put a ruler on the throne that was specifically educated and humbled by a modest upbringing.  As opposed to someone taking the throne because his daddy had it before him.  In fact Illyrio and Varys very much seem like GRRM unlikely protagonists.  (But of course GRRM is hinting that the best laid plans of mice and cheesemongers will probably go awry, especially since it seems that Young Griff has turned out to be a bit of a petulant, impulsive lad.)

But returning to the Blackfyre angle a bit.  Illyrio seems pretty matter of fact when he says that the male line of Blackfyres died out with Maelys the Monstrous.  Which of course begs the question, what does it mean to have a female Blackfyre line?  

I think the clue is the only truly maternal "houses" that we're given in the story are houses of ill repute, like the Black Pearl brothel.  An unbroken line of mothers passing on the family business to daughters that date back to the original Black Pearl and Aegon IV.  So I do wonder if Lys may have had a similar type of brothel.  Mothers passing on the family business to daughters with an unbroken maternal line dating back to one of the Targaryen or Blackfyres.

 

Edited by Frey family reunion

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1 hour ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

The reason I discount the pisswater prince theory (that Aegon is neither Rhaegar's son nor the heir to the Blackfyre claim), is that I fail to see sufficient motivation for Varys and Illyrio spending half their lives to putting just anyone on the Iron Throne. 

I think your completely missing the point.  You are assuming that Young Griff is a nobody, if he isn't descended from some royal line.  (Of course ironically enough the Blackfyres weren't really a royal line were they?).

What Varys is suggesting is that it shouldn't matter who your daddy was.  That line of thinking leads to bad rulers like Aerys.  So Varys and Illyrio have taken it upon themselves to "engineer" a ruler, through education and a humble background.  The only caveat is that Young Griff has to look the part, to convince the ignorant rabble that he has a "legitimate" claim to the throne.

ETA: The above is certainly true enough for Varys, he practically says as much to Kevan.  As for Illyrio, well that may be a trickier motivation.  My guess is Young Griff might be Serra's son, which may be one of the persons Illyrio owed a debt of affection to.  Now whether or not that means Young Griff is also Illyrio's son, I'm not so sure.  We don't really have any evidence of Illyrio having any children despite the fact he has had at least two marriages.  So it could be that Illyrio couldn't have any children.  And if he originally brought Serra in as a "servant" for his house, it's well established that Illyrio is more than willing to share his servants with certain guests in his household.  

Edited by Frey family reunion

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1 hour ago, Frey family reunion said:

I think your completely missing the point.  You are assuming that Young Griff is a nobody, if he isn't descended from some royal line.  (Of course ironically enough the Blackfyres weren't really a royal line were they?).

What Varys is suggesting is that it shouldn't matter who your daddy was.  That line of thinking leads to bad rulers like Aerys.  So Varys and Illyrio have taken it upon themselves to "engineer" a ruler, through education and a humble background.  The only caveat is that Young Griff has to look the part, to convince the ignorant rabble that he has a "legitimate" claim to the throne.

ETA: The above is certainly true enough for Varys, he practically says as much to Kevan.  As for Illyrio, well that may be a trickier motivation.  My guess is Young Griff might be Serra's son, which may be one of the persons Illyrio owed a debt of affection to.  Now whether or not that means Young Griff is also Illyrio's son, I'm not so sure.  We don't really have any evidence of Illyrio having any children despite the fact he has had at least two marriages.  So it could be that Illyrio couldn't have any children.  And if he originally brought Serra in as a "servant" for his house, it's well established that Illyrio is more than willing to share his servants with certain guests in his household.  

Wouldn't be the first point I have missed. 

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