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Lord Varys

Toxic aristocratic values

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11 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

As gross as any other type of dead tissue, like pork or beef. Dead tissue is dead tissue. And dying is worse. I’m a vegetarian

Ahh, I see. 

11 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

 I would also have no issue whatsoever being eaten, by all means, bbq me away. :D

Yea, I suppose. Its not the greatest thought. But its not like id have much control over it either

11 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

 I would eat human flesh if the alternative was death.

I guess I would too in the face of death.

However Im not a soldier, if a battle were to start Id probably run the hell away. Deserting when the alternative is death is an extraordinarily punishable offense before a battle. Very taboo, just like eating human.

Quote

"Some might call that craven," Lord Peasebury replied.

"Better a craven than a cannibal."

 

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12 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

As gross as any other type of dead tissue, like pork or beef. Dead tissue is dead tissue. And dying is worse. I’m a vegetarian and I would eat human flesh if the alternative was death. I would also have no issue whatsoever being eaten, by all means, bbq me away. :D

 

Exactly)

Besides, dying from hunger is grosser still. It is one of the most painful and horrible ways to die, and if anyone thinks they would be above it they are most likely mistaken. It's like wadding through a ditch filled with shitwater, disgusting and even unimaginable in normal state, but if the bear is running after you, you won't even think twice.

Even if I accept that cruel medieval laws would be unforgivable on this (that's pretty realistic), there is no call to execute these people in such a sadistic fashion. Stannis takes harsh laws of Westeros and turns them crueller still. Besides, you have to set up fires in specific way for people to burn alive rather than choke on hot air beforehand, common cause  of death during burnings, and it seems like it was done. Even Mirri died faster, even though it was still cruel. After her head was on fire (it was covered in oil IIRC), she wouldn't last long. These people were basically burned to crisp. I'm not sure if they chose to be soldiers, either. Probably conscripted. 

Edited by Agnessa Schizoid

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1 hour ago, Hugorfonics said:

Yea, I suppose. Its not the greatest thought. But its not like id have much control over it either

Definitely not the greatest thought but if someone can survive by using my dead body, that I'm not using anymore I would like them too. Think of it as organ donation :lol:

1 hour ago, Hugorfonics said:

I guess I would too in the face of death.

However Im not a soldier, if a battle were to start Id probably run the hell away. Deserting when the alternative is death is an extraordinarily punishable offense before a battle. Very taboo, just like eating human.

Yeah, I'm not a soldier either but I was thinking more along the lines of be stranded somewhere - in a boat at sea or in the mountains after a plane crash. 

This is going to probably sound very strange so I would like to clarify first: I'm not nor would I ever want to be a cannibal. I'm not condoning cannibalism

other than when it is necessary to survive. That being said I feel like deserting is worse, in modern day anyway. You signed up for this, chose this & now that your fellow men need you, you are leaving them. Of course it's different when you didn't have a choice in the matter. Also though the alternative may not be death. While many people die during a battle there is no promise one of them would be you. 

Eating on the other hand is necessary for survival & if you do not eat death is inevitable. It's definitely taboo & I've read stories of people being ostracized after being stuck in a situation where eating the dead was their only means of survival & I just don't think that's fair. (Not that you were saying that) Killing someone to eat them is not ok ever. But if they are already dead & they are your only source of sustenance then I don't think it's fair to condemn them for it later.  

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8 hours ago, Agnessa Schizoid said:

there is no call to execute these people in such a sadistic fashion. Stannis takes harsh laws of Westeros and turns them crueller still. 

While that is totally true, Stannis generally doesnt execute folks without burning them, it's his whole shtick. 

So on the one hand I dont think anybody should ever be burnt alive on the stake but thats a different issue then executing your men turned cannibal

8 hours ago, Agnessa Schizoid said:

I'm not sure if they chose to be soldiers, either. Probably conscripted. 

Probably. (They were southron, so probably veterans of Blackwater and Castle Black, they were already invested in Stannis' war)

But again, this is a different issue. While I dont support involuntary drafts I still recognize that a soldier is a soldier and must act accordingly. 

6 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Definitely not the greatest thought but if someone can survive by using my dead body, that I'm not using anymore I would like them too. Think of it as organ donation :lol:

Lol thats true. Its like the circle of life, think of the next guy.

Quote

"Will we bury him?"

"Why?" Sandor said. "He don't care, and we've got no spade. Leave him for the wolves and wild dogs. Your brothers and mine." He gave her a hard look. "First we rob him, though."

 

6 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Yeah, I'm not a soldier either but I was thinking more along the lines of be stranded somewhere - in a boat at sea or in the mountains after a plane crash. 

Word, but thats a total different situation. After being stranded with your fat dead friend your gonna start looking out for number one. An active soldiers loyalty should always be to the State

6 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

This is going to probably sound very strange so I would like to clarify first: I'm not nor would I ever want to be a cannibal. I'm not condoning cannibalism

Your condoning what!

Lol nah jk, I understand. Rhetorical in the most extreme measures. 

6 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

That being said I feel like deserting is worse, in modern day anyway. You signed up for this, chose this & now that your fellow men need you, you are leaving them. Of course it's different when you didn't have a choice in the matter.

(I dont think it is a different matter. Well perhaps your loyalty shouldn't be to the State but the army, which is probably worse... Its a very complicated issue, not black and white at all. Just like war)

I agree desertion is like the worst thing you can do, but all crimes must be punished. Not silly soldier crimes like gambling or not tucking in the sheets tightly but real stuff like rape and murder. Deserters weaken your army, which is unacceptable but heinous crimes ruin your public relations. Nobody should be above the kings law, especially not the kings men

7 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Also though the alternative may not be death. While many people die during a battle there is no promise one of them would be you. 

Eating on the other hand is necessary for survival & if you do not eat death is inevitable. 

So it takes like a week to die of starvation, water is quicker thats like two days. I dont think the gap in between the soldiers last meal was that long before.

Perhaps they didn't know if they were going to eat in the next seven days but there were still live horses (which Im not trying to anger any vegetarians by saying, im just trying to decipher Stannis' thinking) the future wasnt that bleak.

7 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

. It's definitely taboo & I've read stories of people being ostracized after being stuck in a situation where eating the dead was their only means of survival & I just don't think that's fair. (Not that you were saying that) Killing someone to eat them is not ok ever. But if they are already dead & they are your only source of sustenance then I don't think it's fair to condemn them for it later.  

I suppose your right, its not to fair to condemn someone for doing that. Its also, uh, not the type of story you would bring up at your daughters wedding

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45 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

Lol thats true. Its like the circle of life, think of the next guy.

Yeah! I love that quote btw. One of my favorites. 

45 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

Word, but thats a total different situation. After being stranded with your fat dead friend your gonna start looking out for number one. An active soldiers loyalty should always be to the State

Yeah, I suppose you are right. 

46 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

Your condoning what!

Lol nah jk, I understand. Rhetorical in the most extreme measures. 

Haha! 

46 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

dont think it is a different matter. Well perhaps your loyalty shouldn't be to the State but the army, which is probably worse... Its a very complicated issue, not black and white at all. Just like war)

Absolutely. It is very complicated. 

46 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

agree desertion is like the worst thing you can do, but all crimes must be punished. Not silly soldier crimes like gambling or not tucking in the sheets tightly but real stuff like rape and murder. Deserters weaken your army, which is unacceptable but heinous crimes ruin your public relations. Nobody should be above the kings law, especially not the kings men

I do agree it just seems so harsh to punish men for eating, when they are starving, when you (Stannis) are the reason they are starving ya know?

47 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

So it takes like a week to die of starvation, water is quicker thats like two days. I dont think the gap in between the soldiers last meal was that long before.

Perhaps they didn't know if they were going to eat in the next seven days but there were still live horses (which Im not trying to anger any vegetarians by saying, im just trying to decipher Stannis' thinking) the future wasnt that bleak.

For sure. I didn't think of that but they definitely should have been eating the horses before eating their friends. 

48 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

suppose your right, its not to fair to condemn someone for doing that. Its also, uh, not the type of story you would bring up at your daughters wedding

Haha! For sure! It's a bad situation all around & not likely to be something you would be very proud of I wouldn't think. 

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1 hour ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Yeah! I love that quote btw. One of my favorites. 

Mine too. Sandors got lots of good quotes

1 hour ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I do agree it just seems so harsh to punish men for eating, when they are starving, when you (Stannis) are the reason they are starving ya know?

I agree that it's harsh, but its kinda irreparable. 

1 hour ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

For sure. I didn't think of that but they definitely should have been eating the horses before eating their friends. 

Word. Well, to a degree... Whats a knight without a horse? But again, I don't think the situation ever got thay dire. Just a couple of days without eating. Not great. Extra much hunger. But not actual starvation either

Edited by Hugorfonics

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52 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I do agree it just seems so harsh to punish men for eating, when they are starving, when you (Stannis) are the reason they are starving ya know?

At that point I don't think reasons matter. Stannis needs to keep discipline in his army otherwise they are all going to die. And if the men start eating the corpses of the fallen soon all semblance of discipline or chain of command disappears. Not to mention that if you don't punish cannibals soon some people will not be satisfied with only eating corpses. So is it fair to burn the 3 cannibals? No, not really. Is it necessary in a crisis situation to avoid total breakdown? Yes, it absolutely is.

Edited by Alyn Oakenfist

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Hmmm, the cannibalism... George explores this topic in most plotlines and arcs.

  • Craster's larder: suggestion of Craster practicing cannibalism is present even in the first chapter he appears in (aCoK), and more so in his second (in aSoS), when Tollet mentions it as a joke to Sam during the burning of their dead brother's corpse. If Craster did practice cannibalism, then Sam likely survived on human meat or blood worked into blood sausages.
  • Lady Hornwood and using people as meat for dogs: Ramsay forces Donella Hornwood to marry him, then locks her up and leaves her to starve in a tower, where she's found to allegedly having eaten her own fingers (unless the fingers were missing due to Ramsay's torture). He feeds human victims he hunts to his dogs.  While not outright cannibalism, much of the fear, disgust and taboo about cannibalism is the thought of people ending up as food to either other humans or animals.
  • Amory Lorch and other people ending up in the bear pit: again, not exactly cannibalism of humans eating humans, but humans offering humans as living food to a captured wild bear kept in a pit for entertainment purposes.
  • the Rat Cook story surprising many a reader that to the Old Gods cannibalism isn't the offence, but the breaking of guest right is.
  • Tyrion's Singer-stew: the murder of a singer that Shae is fond of who ends up as meat in bowls of brown and thus over a woman that Tyrion eventually kills with his own bare hands. Tyrion did not order the singer to end up as stew, but he finds the result amusing and entertaining. 
  • Vargo Hoat's fate: The Mountain having Vargo Hoat "the Goat" amputated and feeding the limbs of a still living man to starving HH prisoners, including to the Goat himself.  The Mountain's men think it funny. Jaime is grossed out.
  • Mutineer Pork: not explicitly confirmed, but most likely the "bacon" that Coldhands gives to Bran and the Reeds on their trek to BR's cave in the northern winter wasteland was flesh taken from the mutineers he killed.
  • Frey Pies: Wyman Manderly is believed to have murdered Freys after they left his home with guest gifts to mark the ending of them being guests and had them cooked into pies which he serves to the Boltons and Freys, having the Rat Cook's story for inspiration. Except for the cook and Manderly who eats them himself with satisfaction, nobody is aware of it, least of all the Freys who find the dish tasty. It is never explicitly confirmed, but a well accepted fact by readers that those pies did indeed contain the remains of the Frey brothers that went missing.
  • Starving-army cannibalism: one of the few if not sole examples where people end up being executed for the "crime" of cannibalism. In their case, they ate the flesh of corpses who either died of cold or starvation. When discovered, Stannis condemns them and has them executed by burning them alive.
  • Skagos: it is rumored that the Skagosi practice cannibalism. This makes Davos very apprehensive when he has to go there to smuggle out Rickon who survives there with Osha.
  • Mummers for lion's meat: Tyrion and co perform their mummery in the fighting pits of Meereen for Dany. The intent was to let the lions loose at the end of their mummery and thus feed Tyrion, Penny and Jorah as human food for predators. Since a Lannister is supposed to be a "lion" this would have been a lion being fed to lions, and therefore a symbolic form of cannibalism. Dany intervened.
  • Singer stew II: at BR's cave the Children of the Forest keep goats and make a stew out of it that they give to Bran and the Reeds. It is not confirmed whether this stew contains human meat or CotF meat, but it is at the least suggested to the reader to wonder about it. And if until now it is indeed goat meat, it is entirely possible that the stew will end up containing a human or humanoid meat source. The alternative name for the CotF are the Singers (shortened). Hence any type of stew can be called Singers' stew, which is a callback to the Singer's stew in Tyrion's arc. The brown stew also recalls "bowl of brown" of KL. Goat meat is a reminder of Vargo Hoat "the Goat". The meat of young goats is called "kid" and thus the stew can be called "kid's/kids stew", which is very ominous knowing that three kids took shelter there. But kids is also another word for children, and the Children may not actually be kids, but nonetheless are called Children. On top of that we have the theory of Jojen paste amongst the readership. Meanwhile we do not yet know whether Jojen is dead, let alone how he died.
  • Dany's "kids": while Dany's never suggested to eat humans physically as food, there are symbolic references to Dany eating her own unborn children in order to wake the dragon eggs, and at the very least MMD wants to push Dany to question in how much she knowingly sacrificed her own unborn child in order to have Drogo live. This theme returns when Drogon ends up eating Hazzea, and when Dany is suggested to have miscarried in her last aDwD chapter after eating green berries. There are also wordplay references to Dany liking the meat of "kids" (young goats). 
  • Nymeria's prey: while in Braavos, Arya has wolf dreams, including those where Nymeria hunts and eats human prey.

So, cannibalism is certainly a theme, and imo to make the reader explore their own morals about it, and especially in how much you are consistent about it. When do you as reader condemn it. When do you allow, excuse, forgive or even deny it. When are you entertained by it, but condemn in-world characters for being entertained by it themselves.

Take Tyrion's cases for example. When it comes to readers' debates about Tyrion in how much he is a villain or not at all, the Singers' stew might be brought up as one of his crimes by those who consider him a villain, but focus shifts foremostly on his murder of Shae and the rape of the enslaved prostitute. If the singes stew comes up, then several reasons are given to excuse Tyrion's responsbility in it. Nevertheless, after he learns of it, he finds it quite amusing. However, stuff turns very sour for him after this. First he murders Shae with his bare hands, which makes the murder of the innocent singer completely pointless. And in aDwD he learns he was about to be a lion's meal for other people's amusement. Tyrion does not laugh about that. If a fan of Tyrion condemns the Meereenese for the latter, then should they not also condemn Tyrion for making jokes about Singer stew? And if a reader condemns Tyrion's entertainment, should they also not condemn themselves if they are entertained by Frey pies?

What the topic imo certainly is not is a blanket argument to characterize "evil". Some readers treat the text's suggestion of Jojen paste or Children's goat stew as "evidence" that the CotF and Bran ARE evil. I've seen arguments in the same vein for Arya's wolf dreams. It's a black-white view of "oh, cannibalism, so evil." But if this was indeed the case - that George wrote in potential cannibalism via wordplay or remote cannibalism to mark a character as being "evil" - then almost every arc and every character ends up being "evil". 

In Stannis' case: I personally cannot condemn those men who ate the flesh of the dead. But I can also see why Stannis could not abide by it from a preventive point. The risk that a starving soldier would cut the throat of the man sleeping next to him, in order to have a bite to eat is enormous. Not to mention the outcry of abhorration from many of his soldiers against cannibalism that would result if he let it slide and indeed to how it would lead to desertion or mutiny. And yet, I doubt that Stannis executed them for those reasons, but did indeed do so more out of conviction that it's a sign of "evil" (a conviction I do not fully share). Ironic in his case though are his potential allies he may end up being indebted to, such as Wyman Manderly, Bran in the raven and potentially speaking through Theon or the tree, and Rickon if he ends up being named the Lord of Winterfell (even in his absence). Manderly murdered men and worked them into pies. His returned son ate Vargo Hoat stew while a prisoner at HH. Bran ate imo mutineer pork. And Rickon or even Davos may end up being served a dish of human meat on Skagos in tWoW. Even Stannis, who rewards failty as well as punishes that same man's crimes, may end up in a situation where he finds it impossible to punish, let alone execute, any of these men or children.

And to bring it back to "social criticism", I think the "bowl of brown" and especially Tyrion's singer stew may be construed to argue against the class society. The KL Singer's stew occurs in contrast to the preparations of the extravagant royal wedding feast. While the rulers of the city prepare a feast of courses like we've never seen before or after in the novels in a  kingdom finally at peace and having access to trains of food brought in from the Reach, the people in Flea Bottom eat questionable stew that contains human meat as the sole affordable food if they want to avoid starvation. Sure, Flea Bottom is infested with cut purses and throat cuts, the prostitutes, the "lowest". It is however a direct testament against KL's rulers being benefactors. People in a city during peacetimes shouldn't be in a situation where their choice is cannibalism or starvation. If we think of such a choice, we don't picture a capital. No, we think of Stannis' starving army in a winter blizzard, or three children trying to survive a journey in a frozen wasteland, where all other prey has been turned into wights. And one cannot condemn the people of Flea Bottom for having caused their own "poverty". It's the class they were born to that decides whether they risk death by starvation while there is plenty or not. 

 

 

 

Edited by sweetsunray

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1 hour ago, Hugorfonics said:

Mine too. Sandors got lots of good quotes

I agree that it's harsh, but its kinda irreparable. 

Word. Well, to a degree... Whats a knight without a horse? But again, I don't think the situation ever got thay dire. Just a couple of days without eating. Not great. Extra much hunger. But not actual starvation either

Yes! Extra much hunger, but not actual starvation. A perfect description ;)

 

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1 hour ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

At that point I don't think reasons matter. Stannis needs to keep discipline in his army otherwise they are all going to die. And if the men start eating the corpses of the fallen soon all semblance of discipline or chain of command disappears. Not to mention that if you don't punish cannibals soon some people will not be satisfied with only eating corpses. So is it fair to burn the 3 cannibals? No, not really. Is it necessary in a crisis situation to avoid total breakdown? Yes, it absolutely is.

Yeah, I mean I agree mostly. I just feel bad for the hungry folks. But Hugor reminded me there were still horses so really they could have eaten them first. 

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I always thought it would serve as an interesting contrast to Stannis if Dany allowed cannibalism while her troops are desperate and dying in the North, especially if the Dothraki/Unsullied/Southern knights would be to Napoleon as the North is to Russia.

She'd even have an easy way to cook the meat. 

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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I was never in the military services and therefore that type of discipline is alien to me.  However, Stannis put those men in that predicament.  I would think he should not have executed them.  Perhaps my interpretation of that scene is different from LV's.  Some of the nobles are very harsh.  Stannis and Roose in particular.  Maybe that's what it takes to keep subordinates in line in a violent world.  Let's not forget Tywin, to whom killing children and servants for the sins of their parents is not a problem.  It is indeed a world where everybody must know their place lest they step out of line and receive the most extreme of punishment.  

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On 1/10/2020 at 6:35 PM, Lord Varys said:

But then - would you agree that those aristocratic values are supposed to be seen as problematic? Or would you say they should be seen as 'the normal setting of this world' and 'the proper way for a nobleman or knight to conduct himself'?

To me it feels like a contrast between the trappings of feudalism that are presented in shiny, shallow detail in fantasy novel after fantasy novel and the "real world" implications of these systems on characters' lives and how those in varying stations and even (probably even primarily) different systems might interact.

 

Edited by hiemal

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IMO, the setting is there to help us, as readers, avoid idealising or just outright excuse the characters' decisions. 'It's medieval.' is a cop out. 

The world around the characters is there to build an increasingly tight network of complication and conflict, to push them into decisions that will show us who they are.

Explaining away cruelty or idiocy simply because of 'setting' isn't what GRRM set out to do, I cannot believe that. But neither was the author out to glorify a system where, as an exageration of our own reality, the ruling class deal with the rest at their leasure.

I refuse to believe the system criticism isn't real but I consider it to be a tool, exposing the characters to a crucible of societal expectation and teaching so their actions are then perceived by us so we may form our own critique through the story we're told. Nobility are simply easier targets in this as I see it because the system exposes them to power over the other, which most of the smallfolk will never glimpse.

Still, Medieval class system or not, people can always be shitty if the right pressure is applied, regardless of starting intent or morals. An ongoing discussion elsewhere on the forum over Jaime pushing Bran shows just how polarizing an unforgivable act can still be once you factor in the circumstances around it.

If a lord condemns half the people he rules over to starvation and death out of a lack of resources to feed them all, is he a hero because of the half he saves or a monster due to those he single handedly in effect killed? That is the type of question to explore in ASOIAF. 

The fact that a lord has the power to make those kinds of decisions is never to be glorified or waved aside. It is however a matter of staging the scene so the event can take place.

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