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Greyjoy = Atreidai

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In Weirwood compendium 3 of Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire, LML brought to my attention that one of the many symbolism of Daenerys of house Targaryen is that of Helen of Troy. Now I’m not an expert in symbolism, asoiaf or even greek mythology but if Danny is Helen shouldn’t it follow that the two Greyjoy brothers are paralleling Agamemnon (the brother commanding the fleet to ‘safe’ her) and Menelaus (the brother she was the bride of)?

My first instinct was to equal Victarion to Agamemnon as he is the one that’s actually going to Danny and it was Agamemnon, not Menelaus, who lead the hellenic fleet and, even before that, the one that actually went to Tyndareus (Helen’s father) to ask for her hand on behalf of his brother. Curiously Victarion is made to fetch both of his brother’s would-be-wife: 

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¨When Balon was wed, it was me he sent to Harlaw to bring him back his bride.¨

However a closer inspection shows that while Victarion does have a lot of Agamemnon symbolism, he has a lot more in common with Menelaus. He may be the commander of the iron fleet but he served, and looked up to, Balon. Not to mention that the greatest feat he accomplished during the Greyjoy’s Rebellion was actually Euron’s plan. He is a fierce warrior but he’s lived all his life in the shadow of his older brothers and seemed quite content with that (at least when it was the older brother he didn’t despise).  As Theon so eloquently put it:

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“Victarion is like some great grey bullock, strong and tireless and dutiful, but not like to win any races. No doubt he'll serve me as loyally as he has served my lord father. He has neither the wits nor the ambition to plot betrayal.

 

Even after Balon’s dead when it is decided that Euron, a man he fantasies of killing, is to be king he accepts it and obeys his command to go to Mereen. It’s made also very clear that he still respects Balon enough not to disobey him even in death.

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¨Victarion would not speak of kinslaying, here in this godly place beneath the bones of Nagga and the Grey King’s Hall, but many a night he dreamed of driving a mailed fist into Euron’s smiling face, until the flesh split and his bad blood ran red and free. I must not. I pledged my word to Balon.¨

Likewise Menelaus is a brave, competent warrior that gets completely outshine in what should have been his narrative. He is a king on his own right, it’s his wife that gets kidnapped and it’s him that holds the promise of all the other suitors to come to his aid but it is Agamemnon (the High King) that leads them, Achilles that’s the best fighter, and Patroclus and Odysseus that arguably played the key roles to resolve it (getting Achilles to kill Hector and breaching the walls). He did engage in a duel with Paris that he won but that was about it.

Victarion does plan on “stealing” Danny from Euron so I suppose we could count him as her suitor. 

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“You stole my wife and despoiled her, so I'll have yours.”

Menelaus and Helen had a daughter named Hermione (though in some versions they are giving three male ones as well they do not appear in the Iliad). As for Victarion his first wife died giving birth to a stillborn daughter.

Which brings us to Victarion’s ‘stolen’ third wife. She had a very different fate than Helen who ended up being forgiven by Menelaus and living a long life with him. Depending on the tale she either used tears or her naked body (what Cersei would call a woman’s weapons) to stop her husband killing her. The salt wife was less fortunate though she did try the tears. Ironborn culture and Greyjoy pride only allowed a weeping Victarion a choice, or at least that’s how he saw it.

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“I beat her to death with mine own hands, but the Crow's Eye killed her when he shoved himself inside her. I had no choice.”

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“She gave me horns. I had no choice.”

The question of whether she went to Euron willingly or not also parallels Helen who in the most popular version went with Paris after the actual goddess of love charmed her into loving him. And there was also the whole her being a literal bribe/payment to Paris for rigging a glorified beauty pageant between the three main goddesses. So saying Helen consented to being taken away is a stretch. Likewise while we don’t know too much about the salt wife we do now Euron Greyjoy well enough to be doubtful of her having a choice in the matter.

Now onto Agamemnon. He was a proud king, far too proud and far too used to getting what he wanted. He let his emotions get the best of him and lashed out when his pride was hurt. He showed indecision when he had to decide how best proceed on his war and, despite having been promised victory by a prophet, more than once talked about turning back home. His unwillingness to back down from a conflict with Achilles, one he himself had caused by slighting him, costed hundreds of men their lives as did his disregard from the gods. He also sacrificed his own daughter to the gods in order to have favorable winds in the sea. 

Now like with everything Martin writes, he is not a perfect copy of either of the eldest Greyjoy’s but he does share some of their traits.

Let’s start with Balon, Victarion’s original Agamemnon. He is a prideful man, whose unwillingness to admit defeat even when it’s clear for all to see costed him two sons (or three depending on how you look at it) and the motike of ‘Widowmaker’ by Baelor Blacktyde. As for sacrificing his children, his daughter is actually the only one that doesn’t get traded for a crown or send off as a peace offering or, more accurately, as a sacrificial lamb to the Stark’s while Balon awaits for the best moment to rebel again. He does seem to respect the gods though and is strongly opposed to kinslaying which sets him apart from his younger brother.

Like Balon, and most of the Ironborn to be honest, Euron’s got quite a few character treats with Agamemnon. He is prideful, ruthless and does not back down. He may seem like more in control of his temper than Balon was but if Victarion’s fear when Asha is sassing him is anything to go by, he does have one and it’s bad enough to frighten even the fiercest warrior.

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“The sharpness in Asha’s voice made Victarion frown. It was dangerous to speak so to the Crow’s Eye, even when his smiling eye was shining with amusement.”

He also holds no regards for the gods old or new, ironborn or foreign. Agamemnon provoked the gods by taking as a war prize the daughter of one of Apollo's priest and refusing to return her when the priest begged him to. Euron takes this a step or mile further as we see in the Forsaken chapter; he has kidnapped several priest of different religions and has bind them to the prows of his ships. Unlike Agamemnon though, it is unlikely that Euron will have to end up folding or being punished for it, at least by the hands of the gods. But maybe instead of unleashing a plague on his men,  he’d set a kraken on them if the theories of him summoning one are true.

Continuing with Agamemnon, his response at having to give up Chryseis, the priest’s daughter, is to take Achilles war prize, a girl by the name of Briseis, offending the hero. Seeing that a war prize and a salt wife are basically the same thing (they even sound similar) we can see this as a clear parallel to Euron taking Victarion’s wife. It’s interesting to point out that when Agamemnon was finally forced to return Briseis he did so claiming he hadn’t lain a finger on her which suggest that a, he was a liar, or b, he didn’t actually fancy her and only took her to probe he could after being humiliated when he had to return his own prize. Euron did touch Victarion’s salt wife, of course, but I’d bet anything that he did it more because she was Victarion’s that because he was particularly attracted to her.

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“She came to me wet and willing. It seems Victarion is big everywhere but where it matters.

And then there’s the whole kinslaying and blood sacrifice too. Agamemnon offends Artemis, no surprise there, and he is told that only the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia  will appease her. He does so and to fool both his daughter and his wife, he tells them and Achilles that Iphigenia is to marry the hero. Only instead of getting a husband she gets stabbed as soon as she reaches the altar.

Euron’s got the kinslaying part well covered seeing as he’s killed several of his brothers and looks like he will continue to do so until he is left an only child. And he’s already done blood sacrifice at least once when he had Cragorn blow the Dragonbinder burning his lungs in the process. A horn that was blown three times and it is also mention that Euron’s got three bastard children, it may be a coincidence but it’s a curious one.

There are those that think Cragorn is Euron’s bastard and that this is how he binds the horn to himself (sacrificing his blood). Or maybe he have already binded it to himself before kingsmoot since he could have had other bastards. Or Victarion, very much like Iphigenia, could be going to what he thinks is to be his wedding only to find death. We all know he is being set up to die, so why not doing so as a sacrifice for Euron and gaining him a dragon?

It’s interesting to mention that the greeks do win the war even if they have several loses (Achilles chief amongst them which seems to me like another red flag for Victarion’s ever growing collection). I’m not in any way implying that Euron (or Victarion!) will wed Danny but just like Helen was little more than an excuse for Agamemnon to declare war on the rich Troy, Danny it’s not really the prize here, her dragons are. And Euron getting one, at least for a while, is something I would bet on.

And this is where we get to the more interesting part, Agamemnon getting home and meeting his demise.

When Agamemnon returns to his palace he does so with a new war prize, the trojan princess Cassandra who’s cursed to always prophecies the truth and never be believed (Apollo is a dick when people tell him no). There he is greeted by his wife who murders him for daring to bring home a concubine and for, you know, killing her daughter in cold blood. 

(Also worth pointing out that she does so with her lover’s help a man that cites Agamemnon father’s crimes against his own as motive. Those crimes consist in killing his sons and cooking them before serving them to him which does sound familiar, doesn’t it?)

I doubt that Euron will be killed by the mother of one of his blood sacrifices and he isn’t even married so him being killed by his 'wife' is really unprobable (thought I wouldn't mind if Falia stabbed him), but there are three parts of these myth that may be relevant: the grieving mother, the prophetess and said prophetess silence.

The last one, Cassandra not warning Agamemnon of the danger (not that he would have listened or believed her anyway) seems to apply more to Victarion who despite playing Maneleus does have some Agamemnon symbolism. It’s made pretty clear in his WoW chapter that Moqorro is aware of Vic’s impending demise and is at the very least misleading (if not outright lying) him into causing it himself.

And while I’m pretty sure that any of Euron’s kidnapped priest would rather eat their own tongue than warn him against danger I don’t really see any of them receiving a vision or being key in bringing him down with the possible exception of Damphair. Of course Aeron has already had a “vision” about Euron which I’m sure has already been analysed far better than I could so all I’ll say on the subject is that it didn’t exactly spell doom for his older brother.

It seems more probable that he faces the same consequences Aga did for bringing foreign priest/magic users home. If I had to bet I’d say Qarth is probably not too pleased about Euron enslaving and killing (and desecrating and forcing cannibalism and who knows what else) of four warlocks. But even though warlocks are dark magic users, rich and the providers of Euron’s drug of choice I do not think they will be his destruction. After all Tarly was able to scourge the two he had invited to his home without any consequences that we know of.

But Cassandra wasn’t just a prophetess, she was also driven insane by people not listening to her warnings. She knew the horse was a trap and no one believed her. She knew the city would burn but no one believed her. She foresaw her family and friends dead but even though she warned and warned them, they didn’t believe her.

And who has spend five books being ignored while they tried in vain to make people face the real danger? The night’s watch, that’s who. We see it since the first and second chapter of Game of Throne with poor Gared. 

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“The poor man was half mad. Something had put a fear in him so deep that my words could not reach him.”

Now I don’t mean to say that the Night’s Watch will declare war on Euron or something else like this but if this last books focus on the battle of the dawn and Euron is the big bad human it’s more than likely that they will be on opposing teams especially if he uses magic to maybe break the wall or something of the source. 

And it doesn’t even need to be a night watch brother specifically who brings his doom but anyone that’s focused on the actual problem while the rest of the world continues their petty squabbles. Right now Stannis is residing in the Black Castle helping the Watch and has Euron’s niece and nephew with him both of whom have ample reason to want him dead. 

I personally don’t see Theon getting mixed up in the succession war for the iron islands since the tragedy of his character is his estrangement of his people and his desperate longing of a place to belong to and him ending up becoming the Iron King would defeat all of that but he could still kill him for Asha’s sake. And Asha could kill him both as a means to seek the throne and as revenge for his father. Or she could turn the ironborn against him by convincing them of his murdering of Balon, something she has already started to do. Either way this would mean the shift of the ironborn from raiding to fighting the long night under their new ruler giving team living more manpower and less threats all in one.

Or we have the third option which is my favourite tinfoil theory: the grieving mother who is described in Aeschylus’ play as: 

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Architect of vengeance

growing strong in the house

with no fear of the husband

here she waits

the terror raging back and back into the future

the stealth, the law of the hearth, the mother -

Memory womb of Fury child-avenging Fury!”

 

While we have a lot of grieving mothers in the story, chief amongst them Lady Stoneheart who’d make a terrific Clytemnestra, one in particular springs to mind. And that’s Lady Alannys Harlaw.

Alannys has been growing insane since the deaths of her two older boys and the basically sacrifice of her youngest and believe that Euron is to blame for his husband’s death but most people dismiss her which nicely parallels Cassandra as well.

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“Was my father murdered?” “So your mother believes.” There were times when she would gladly have murdered him herself, she thought. “And what does my nuncle believe?” “Balon fell to his death when a rope bridge broke beneath him. A storm was rising, and the bridge was swaying and twisting with each gust of wind.”

 

Also nice pointing out that it is implied that she held her husband partly to blame for the death of her boys which would very much have included all three Greyjoy brothers since they were as keen to rebel as he was. And like Clytemnestra has also spent decades mourning her childs and is now suffering another blow from one of the people she could hold accountable for it.

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“And now I must tell her that Theon is dead, and drive yet another dagger through her heart. There were two knives buried there already. On the blades were writ the words Rodrik and Maron, and many a time they twisted cruelly in the night.”

And we shouldn’t forget that while she is frail now, Asha remembers her as having a fierce strong face and she loves her deeply. She was also deemed a worthy rock wife for Balon Greyjoy and Queen of the Iron Islands and while I know there were a lot of politics involve I don’t believe the ironborn would accept a weak woman in such positions.

Not to mention that Euron’s made her a widow, has stripped both her living children of their birthright, has married her daughter off to a man to ‘tame’ her without consulting her and won’t hesitate to kill Asha or Theon to secure his throne. And he is the reason that her daughter has gone away. That and news of Theon’s fate, specially if delivered carelessly or cruelly, may make her lash out unexpectedly and since this is a woman that has spent the last years sitting by a window and asking for her son, Euron’s guard may be low enough that he may end up tumbling to his dead as Balon did probably with his sister-in-law in tow.

But then again, it takes several years for Agamnenon to die after he’s sent his ships to Troy and Euron is just now going for Danny so I do not expect him to die in WoW. Also Menelaus and Helen end up being immortals and living in a paradisiac afterlife thanks to Zeus’ blood running through Helen so maybe Victarion is not as doom as we think? Or maybe it will be twisted in a more Martin manner and he will end up becoming another ser Robert Strong or lady Stoneheart sort of character. Anyway I cannot wait for Winds’ release.

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First of these kind i’ve read in a while. Still going through it, but just wanted to say thanks for this.

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