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Hello! I am new to the website so forgive me if this has been brought up elsewhere and I missed it. I'm curious why Viserys and Daenarys of ASOIAF would be under the impression that Targaryens are immune to illnesses. Reading through both companion pieces, it seems that a decent number of Targaryens died of some illness or another, not to mention the girl that died of the shivers and Aegon the Unworthy catching the pox. Their own grandfather died at 37 years old of a short illness that included shortness of breath. I know that Daenarys believes this based only on what Viserys told her but why would he believe that to be true? 

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Posted (edited)
On 8/9/2019 at 3:35 AM, Gnobbels said:

Hello! I am new to the website so forgive me if this has been brought up elsewhere and I missed it. I'm curious why Viserys and Daenarys of ASOIAF would be under the impression that Targaryens are immune to illnesses. Reading through both companion pieces, it seems that a decent number of Targaryens died of some illness or another, not to mention the girl that died of the shivers and Aegon the Unworthy catching the pox. Their own grandfather died at 37 years old of a short illness that included shortness of breath. I know that Daenarys believes this based only on what Viserys told her but why would he believe that to be true? 

I think it was more likely an exaggeration or embellishment to sustain the belief that the members of House Targaryen were apart from other men and women. I asked the same question on the subreddit for ASOIAF, and was told that it reveals that Targaryens are no less likely to become ill than other individuals, it may just be a statement to maintain their aura and mystique without anything credible behind it. For example, Targaryens perished in the Great Spring Sickness I believe, so they aren't immune to illness. 

Edited by The Ghost Beyond the Wall

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17 hours ago, The Ghost Beyond the Wall said:

I think it was more likely an exaggeration or embellishment to sustain the belief that the members of House Targaryen were apart from other men and women. I asked the same question on the subreddit for ASOIAF, and was told that it reveals that Targaryens are no less likely to become ill than other individuals, it may just be a statement to maintain their aura and mystique without anything credible behind it. For example, Targaryens perished in the Great Spring Sickness I believe, so they aren't immune to illness. 

Yes, I agree. Plus at the end of the Dance, Dany had doubts that she's sick with the bloody flux.

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The Targaryens according to Fire and Blood, believed that they were immune due to never getting sick whenever there was an epidemic or just in general a head cold.  This in addition to being able to ride dragons the noble family also believe this elevated them above regular men. However this all changed when the shivers came Westoros during the reign of Jahaerys and good Queen Allysanne when their firstborn daughter Daenerys became afflicted and died.

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On 8/9/2019 at 8:35 AM, Gnobbels said:

Hello! I am new to the website so forgive me if this has been brought up elsewhere and I missed it. I'm curious why Viserys and Daenarys of ASOIAF would be under the impression that Targaryens are immune to illnesses. Reading through both companion pieces, it seems that a decent number of Targaryens died of some illness or another, not to mention the girl that died of the shivers and Aegon the Unworthy catching the pox. Their own grandfather died at 37 years old of a short illness that included shortness of breath. I know that Daenarys believes this based only on what Viserys told her but why would he believe that to be true? 

The Targs believe their own hype. They think they are above the laws of Gods and Men. Therefore they can't get ill like mortal man. Its all a con

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Hundreds of years of observation of a single family revealed a pattern of increased resistance to diseases.  This resistance is not going to be bestowed on every member of the family.  The gene may even be recessive.  A little girl living under the stress of poverty and never even so much as suffer from a minor illness is extremely out of the ordinary.  A little girl and her older brother never even gotten sick is extremely, extremely out of the ordinary.  It is true.  Disease resistance was strong in Viserys and it is very strong in Daenerys.  

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The claim never was that Targaryens were immune to all diseases, just that they had a hightened resilence against the common infectious diseases. And that seems to be not untrue for many of them.

Most Targaryen dying of diseases seem to have lacked this resilience - indicated by them being sickly their entire lives (like Jaehaerys II, Aerys I, Archmaester Vaegon, etc.) - or by them being struck by a really powerful plague which, in the case of the Shivers, the Winter Fever, and the Great Spring Sickness might be of magical origin, just like greyscale originally seems to be (if it goes back to Garin's Curse, as is implied).

If one looks at the Shivers then it is very striking that Princess Daenerys is the only Targaryen who catches it and dies (Jaehaerys I, Alysanne, Rhaena, the boys do not catch it) whereas many other people who have the blood of the dragon to various degrees (various Velaryons and Baratheons) either don't catch it or catch it and recover. This is striking in and of itself if you compare it to the tragedies occurring in the households where there is no Targaryen blood at all - there the Shivers seems to have routinely eradicated entire families.

In that sense, I think one can assume that one of the healthy and well-bred 'great Targaryens' whose body is well-formed, etc. has a pretty good chance to be very resilient to most, if not all, normal diseases - like our Daenerys Targaryen actually is. She was apparently never sick from infection her entire life - but that doesn't mean she isn't afraid of catching a disease. And the fact that she doesn't jump the Pale Mare in ADwD despite being around the infected so much underlines this - as does the fact that Aegon III doesn't catch the Winter Fever despite the fact that he hung out with many people who died of the disease.

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We  are told in Fire and Blood that from Aenar the Exile, through Jaehaerys the Conciliator, no Targaryen got sick. Does that suggest that Targaryens became more susceptible to common illnesses after intermarrying with no Targaryens, notably Alyssa Velaryon, wife of Aenys I and daughter of Aethan Velaryon and Alarra Massey?  

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23 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

We  are told in Fire and Blood that from Aenar the Exile, through Jaehaerys the Conciliator, no Targaryen got sick. Does that suggest that Targaryens became more susceptible to common illnesses after intermarrying with no Targaryens, notably Alyssa Velaryon, wife of Aenys I and daughter of Aethan Velaryon and Alarra Massey?  

I don't think that's what implied, especially in light of the fact that Alyssa Velaryon pretty much counts as a, albeit distant, dragonlord descendant and Targaryen relative (like Corlys Velaryon later she is more closely related to her Targaryen spouse on the Velaryon side, but there is a Targaryen link there, too) considering her very striking Valyrian features.

And we also have 1-2 Targaryens dying of illness before the reign of Jaehaerys I - Queen Visenya was apparently killed by a disease she caught in old age with caused her to lose a lot of weight before she died and King Aenys died of an disease of the stomach if he was not poisoned (by his aunt). Although one certainly can make the case that neither of those diseases was necessarily an infectious disease - both (and especially Visenya's cause of death) could have been cancer.

If we want to believe that this heightened resilience against infectious diseases I talked about above goes back to back to the blood of the dragon, then one can speculate whether the dragonlords of Old Valyria (and the Targaryens among them) had a much stronger such resilience back when they were constantly strengthening their own 'magical blood' by only interbreeding with their peers (when they were not marrying their sisters).

Incest as practiced by the Targaryens in Westeros also preserves the Westerosi bloodlines marrying into the family - e.g. Jaehaerys II and Shaera's incestuous union preserved the golden blood of Old Valyria as much as the blood of the Blackwoods, Daynes, and Martells due to the non-incestuous unions of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. That certainly means their blood is 'less pure' than the blood of Aegon I and his sister-wives.

But back in Jaehaerys I's things were still somewhat different.

And as I said, there are Targaryens who are described as weak and sickly from birth - King Aenys, Aerea, Archmaester Vaegon, Jaehaerys and Jaehaera, King Aerys I, Jaehaerys II, etc.

I'd say that the best take on that thing is that - just as there are more and less promising Targaryens insofar as physical and mental gifts are concerned - there are also such with heightened resilience to (infectious) diseases (i.e. such who rarely/never get sick in childhood, youth, and middle age) and such who have trouble with various vexing maladies and problems their entire lives.

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On 8/22/2019 at 9:37 PM, Lord Varys said:

And we also have 1-2 Targaryens dying of illness before the reign of Jaehaerys I - Queen Visenya was apparently killed by a disease she caught in old age with caused her to lose a lot of weight before she died and King Aenys died of an disease of the stomach if he was not poisoned (by his aunt). Although one certainly can make the case that neither of those diseases was necessarily an infectious disease - both (and especially Visenya's cause of death) could have been cancer.

I always suspected Visenya was poisoned by Tyanna of the Tower, because the books claim that -while at first Visenya allowed Tyanna to use her dark arts to heal Maegor after the Trial of Seven-, they later became rivals, and we already know Tyanna poisoned Maegor's other queens to make them unable to give him a living son. Visenya's death seems to have been really sudden and mysterious, similar to Aenys'. It would be a sort of poetic justice that she died poisoned in Dragonstone, exactly like her stepson-nephew.

Edited by Martin Lasarte

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23 minutes ago, Martin Lasarte said:

I always suspected Visenya was poisoned by Tyanna of the Tower, because the books claim that -while at first Visenya allowed Tyanna to use her dark arts to heal Maegor after the Trial of Seven-, they later became rivals, and we already know Tyanna poisoned Maegor's other queens to make them unable to give him a living son. Visenya's death seems to have been really sudden and mysterious, similar to Aenys'. It would be a sort of poetic justice that she died poisoned in Dragonstone, exactly like her stepson-nephew.

There is really no support for such a thing, and especially the fact that Visenya was ailing for quite some time at a very old age makes it very unlikely she was poisoned. She didn't die suddenly, she seems to have wasted away slowly. And in light of the fact that Visenya had effectively retired on Dragonstone, willing taking no part in her son's reign unless necessity demanded - we also have no reason to believe she and Tyanna had any serious quarrel in the recent years before her death. And while we hear that she wasn't that fond of Tyanna around the time of the marriage, we really have no reason to believe Tyanna had issues with Visenya. Without that, Tyanna doesn't really have a motive to kill Visenya, does she?

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8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

There is really no support for such a thing, and especially the fact that Visenya was ailing for quite some time at a very old age makes it very unlikely she was poisoned. She didn't die suddenly, she seems to have wasted away slowly. And in light of the fact that Visenya had effectively retired on Dragonstone, willing taking no part in her son's reign unless necessity demanded - we also have no reason to believe she and Tyanna had any serious quarrel in the recent years before her death. And while we hear that she wasn't that fond of Tyanna around the time of the marriage, we really have no reason to believe Tyanna had issues with Visenya. Without that, Tyanna doesn't really have a motive to kill Visenya, does she?

Well, the Wiki article on Visenya says that

Quote

Visenya came to distrust Tyanna and a rivalry developed between them.

And also that:

Quote

By 44 AC - despite being healthy enough to ride her dragon to battle the year before - Visenya had grown thin and haggard, as the flesh had "melted" from her bones.

Of course, those symptoms may point to cancer, but it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that Tyanna had decided to get rid of someone who was Maegor's most trusted advisor and whose influence rivalled hers. She may have used a slow acting poison in order to make it seem as if Visenya had died of a long illness.

Edited by Martin Lasarte

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8 hours ago, Martin Lasarte said:

Well, the Wiki article on Visenya says that

And also that:

That seems to be written by people who make more out of the text than that's there. This is the only reference to the relationship of Visenya and Tyanna around the time of her marriage to Maegor:

Quote

Though it was whispered that his mother, the Queen Dowager, had no love for the Pentoshi sorceress [...].

There is nothing about 'a rivalry' between them in the book.

8 hours ago, Martin Lasarte said:

Of course, those symptoms may point to cancer, but it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that Tyanna had decided to get rid of someone who was Maegor's most trusted advisor and whose influence rivalled hers. She may have used a slow acting poison in order to make it seem as if Visenya had died of a long illness.

Pointing out that Visenya could still ride Vhagar the year before she had grown thin and haggard also falls in that category - especially since nothing indicates that the 'thin and haggard Visenya' could no longer ride Vhagar. It only indicates she had (considerable) health issues that may have contributed to her death.

It is certainly not impossible that Tyanna may have poisoned Visenya, but considering the fact that Visenya resided on Dragonstone - outside Tyanna's direct sphere of influence - and considering the fact that Visenya herself was apparently familiar with both poisons and sorcery it is quite clear that this is not a theory we can build a strong case for.

Instead, it seems relations between Maegor and his mother had cooled down in her last year(s). She did everything to make him king, but she may have not approved how he dealt with Aegon the Uncrowned (she and Vhagar did not join him in that campaign and she later pushed Maegor to not execute many of the men who had fought with Aegon) and it is noteworthy that she also left Oldtown rather quickly earlier the same year after they had put the Faith in its place while Maegor remained for months in the Hightower, holding court there.

There is no mentioning that Tyanna flew to Oldtown with Maegor or hung out there while Visenya was there, indicating that Visenya not living with her son in the Red Keep had more to do with Maegor than with Tyanna.

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Dany and Viserys are wrong. Its an example of unreliable narrator. It's part of a strategy to justify their own position as "better" and to obtain supremacy over others. At best its narcissistic and at worst its coded as racist eugenics. Dany asks with "Have you ever seen a dragon with the flux?" and some argue that we do at the end of the novel. 

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7 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Dany and Viserys are wrong. Its an example of unreliable narrator. It's part of a strategy to justify their own position as "better" and to obtain supremacy over others. At best its narcissistic and at worst its coded as racist eugenics. Dany asks with "Have you ever seen a dragon with the flux?" and some argue that we do at the end of the novel. 

It is more complex than that. Dany was never sick throughout her entire life, unlike other children.

Just because not all Targaryens are immune to disease doesn't mean some cannot have a heightened resilience to disease.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

It is more complex than that. Dany was never sick throughout her entire life, unlike other children.

Just because not all Targaryens are immune to disease doesn't mean some cannot have a heightened resilience to disease.

Only the pasty white people who think they're better than everyone, having resistance to disease? It's right out of Nazi German fake science race theory. Hitler talks about less "resistance to disease" in Mein Kampf for his argument for why Aryans shouldn't marry with Jews. So if Targaryens actually had resilience to disease, the author would be taking Hitler's bonkers ideas and making it a reality in his universe. I don't think he's doing that. 

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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3 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Only the pasty white people who think they're better than everyone, having resistance to disease? It's right out of Nazi German fake science race theory. Hitler talks about less "resistance to disease" in Mein Kampf for his argument for why Aryans shouldn't marry with Jews. So if Targaryens actually had resilience to disease, the author would be taking Hitler's bonkers ideas and making it a reality in his universe. I don't think he's doing that. 

Only a very special breed of semi-albino people who happen to have the magical 'blood of the dragon'. This has nothing to do with racist inventions about 'special races' - the Valyrians are set apart from other men by their looks and, especially, their special magical abilities which are, as far as we know, a talent they inherit.

It is clear that the 'Targaryens don't get sick' routine is overstating their specialness in relation to that - but Daenerys dying of the Shivers doesn't they don't have a heightened resilience against disease - just that they aren't immune to sickness in general. Which was always a stupid concept considering Visenya, Aegon I, and Aenys all died of one disease or another.

And I'm not saying I find the concept of special magical races or bloodlines a great concept - but that's what George R. R. Martin decided to use this concept in his series.

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Just now, Lord Varys said:

Only a very special breed of semi-albino people who happen to have the magical 'blood of the dragon'. This has nothing to do with racist inventions about 'special races' - the Valyrians are set apart from other men by their looks and, especially, their special magical abilities which are, as far as we know, a talent they inherit.

It is clear that the 'Targaryens don't get sick' routine is overstating their specialness in relation to that - but Daenerys dying of the Shivers doesn't they don't have a heightened resilience against disease - just that they aren't immune to sickness in general. Which was always a stupid concept considering Visenya, Aegon I, and Aenys all died of one disease or another.

And I'm not saying I find the concept of special magical races or bloodlines a great concept - but that's what George R. R. Martin decided to use this concept in his series.

Having magical races is fine, but it gets into creepy territory when there's a hierarchy involved. Targaryens rank themselves above other people and they just happen to be correct? Uh, sorry, I'm not going to agree with that b.s.

It would be more practical if Targaryens had resistance to certain diseases like the Europeans did with smallpox, but not ALL ILLNESSES and certainly not true for "all the inbred Targaryens."

Also using Dany's memory as a basis for an argument about her own disease resistance is...questionable. 

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11 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Having magical races is fine, but it gets into creepy territory when there's a hierarchy involved. Targaryens rank themselves above other people and they just happen to be correct? Uh, sorry, I'm not going to agree with that b.s.

But this is a world of hierarchy. The setting is that of a feudal monarchy. Somebody is at the top. I despise monarchy and aristocracy but I can differentiate between a fantasy world and reality.

It is factually correct that the Targaryens are the rulers of Westeros and that they are set apart from 'lesser men' insofar as they can ride dragons and others can't. Whether that means they are superior to other people in any meaningful way aside from the fact that they rule other people is a separate question. But they are different on a real level. That's not just imagined.

11 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

It would be more practical if Targaryens had resistance to certain diseases like the Europeans did with smallpox, but not ALL ILLNESSES and certainly not true for "all the inbred Targaryens."

It is not all diseases as history shows - but it seems that more common diseases (i.e. those who might not be magical like greyscale - or possibly both the Shivers and the Winter Fever) really seem to have a hard time affecting the Targaryens.

It is shown in FaB how Jaehaerys I and Alysanne do fall victim to their own propaganda. Targaryens might be more resilient to many diseases but not all of them are immune to disease - and they themselves should know.

And it seems clear that the only diseases they have this heightened resilience against are infectious diseases, not things like strokes (Aegon I), cancer (possibly Visenya), digestive tract diseases brought about by wrong food (King Aenys), or hereditary diseases/weak constitution (from which at least Archmaester Vaegon and King Aerys I suffered).

11 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Also using Dany's memory as a basis for an argument about her own disease resistance is...questionable. 

It is textual evidence we have. You cannot ignore that and pretend that she was sick and only misremembers. It might be she is mistaken about that considering she wouldn't remember her own infancy but at this point we have no evidence for that.

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