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Mad huntsman and his flock to feed stony sept? 
Does Little Finger buy, dye, resell wool? Or just silk? 
Sheep are 3 toed animals? I know there are some toeless people limping around. Only 3 finger Hob comes to mind. No idea if anything relates to that. 

Edited by Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe
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On 1/9/2022 at 12:19 AM, Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe said:

House Rambton. 
Sigil of a White Ram with golden horns.

Thanks for this. This is a good reminder that I need to look at other sheep-related sigils, such as House Stokeworth's lamb.

The wiki reminds me that House Rambton tries to defend Dragonstone when Selyse's Queen's Men are trying to burn the historic Targaryen sept and its contents. Ser Hubard Rambton and his three sons manage to kill four of the Queen's men but Hubard and one son are killed and the other two sons are sacrificed to R'hllor, along with Lord Guncer Sunglass. Hubard is described as pious and I have theorized that Sunglass (as a symbolic prism or crystal) is connected to the rainbow symbolism associated with the new gods (and with Renly). Is the ram of House Rambton also linked to the new gods and/or Renly? 

The deaths of the Rambtons certainly fit with the sacrifice pattern we see with some other sheep and sheep-related humans. Instead of being eaten by dragons or direwolves (or left out for the Others?) these rams are sacrificed to R'hllor. 

On the other hand, there is imagery that connects Stannis to the Night's King and Selyse to the Night's King's Corpse Queen. Were the men of House Rambton sacrificed to those monsters of legend, when they died fighting the Queen's men? 

(Skip this next bit if you're not interested in literary analysis.)

Why would rams step forward to defend the Targaryen sept? I suspect the literary answer connects with the mast symbolism, although there are several steps needed to make the connection.

In this sept, the icons of the gods of the seven were carved from the masts of ships the Targaryens sailed in when they escaped Valyria.

I suspect that masts are a way that the author connects trees (central to the old gods) to ships (symbolic eggs).

Through wordplay, masts and the dogs known as mastiffs are related. The famous line about Sam Tarly's "fat, pink mast" (erection) might also refer to his stiff mast. 

When Sam arrives at Oldtown, he tells his story to Marwyn, who is nicknamed The Mastiff. (Pate reflects that Marwyn does look like a mastiff, "as if he wants to bite you.") Marwyn departs Oldtown on the same ship that carried Sam to Oldtown. 

These are the most tenuous parts of the motif (if accurate) and probably need more corroboration:

Mastiffs are not usually used as sheep dogs. Through the Qyburn symbolism, we have a line contrasting sheep and mastiffs:

Quote

"They do," mused Alleras, the Sphinx, "and if there are dragons in the world again . . ."

"Dragons and darker things," said Leo. "The grey sheep have closed their eyes, but the mastiff sees the truth. Old powers waken. Shadows stir. An age of wonder and terror will soon be upon us, an age for gods and heroes." He stretched, smiling his lazy smile. "That's worth a round, I'd say."

"We've drunk enough," said Armen. "Morn will be upon us sooner than we'd like, and Archmaester Ebrose will be speaking on the properties of urine. Those who mean to forge a silver link would do well not to miss his talk."

(AFfC Prologue)

We also have a line comparing the skulls of the last dragons to mastiff skulls:

Quote

There were nineteen skulls. The oldest was more than three thousand years old; the youngest a mere century and a half. The most recent were also the smallest; a matched pair no bigger than mastiff's skulls, and oddly misshapen, all that remained of the last two hatchlings born on Dragonstone. They were the last of the Targaryen dragons, perhaps the last dragons anywhere, and they had not lived very long.

(AGoT, Tyrion II)

Tyrion uses a torch to illuminate the display of dragon skulls and he senses that the skulls like the fire. (Oddly, Sandor Clegane wears a hound helmet, which could be compared to a mastiff skull - Rattleshirt uses a giant's skull for a helmet so there is an armor/bones connection. But Sandor hates fire. Maybe the point is that he needs his hound helmet to feel protected from fire? What does it mean that direwolf Rickard Stark was baked over a fire inside of his armor?)

Maybe the Rambton men weren't defending the sept so much as trying to keep fire away from the masts/effigies of the gods. If these are uniquely Targaryen gods and they have an affinity for fire (like the dragon/mastif skulls), the goal may have been to prevent them from uniting with the fire that they crave; to prevent them from somehow being ignited back to life. In spite of their efforts, they fall to the Queen's Men (possibly symbolizing The Others, if Selyse is a symbolic Night's King's Corpse Queen) and to R'hllor, a fire god. 

On 1/8/2022 at 10:19 AM, ravenous reader said:

... a monstrous great weirwood.

It was the biggest tree Jon Snow had ever seen . . . the mouth especially, no simple carved slash, but a jagged hollow large enough to swallow a sheep.

Those are not sheep bones, though. Nor is that a sheep's skull in the ashes.

More skulls. The mouth eating sheep (or sheep-like humans) is important for both the sheep and peach analysis, I suspect. 

The lines in The Sworn Sword that helped me to recognize the importance of the linked sheep and peach motif include Eustace Osgrey saying that the Lannisters wanted to take a "bite out of the Reach" ( = peach) and the conflict that arose from Rohanne Webber kidnapping and drowning the sheep-stealer, Dake (Lem), in her moat. There seems to be a cyclical pattern of trying to take wealth from a neighbor in the form of peaches and sheep. 

Since dragons and wolves and humans eat sheep, the biting motif seems to be the uniting factor. 

I bet the Knight of Skulls and Kisses is going to connect to this, too. One symbol always leads to another ...

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This is going to be a somewhat long response because I’ve given the topic of sheep and its symbolism in the story a lot of thought. I’ve thought about it a lot but I’m not quite clear on all the symbolism because of the overlap with other symbols and metaphors. However, I’ve never related it to peaches and so I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts whenever you make your post.

Ultimately, I think that George’s use of sheep is about sacrifice and the Christ myth. Like you, I agree that we must look at George’s usage of the words lamb, sheep, or mutton in unison.

I am sometimes tempted to include goats as well but while no longer a practicing Catholic, George was raised as one, and in the bible, there is a big difference between sheep and goats. As he is playing heavily on biblical mythology with his use of sheep, I’m not sure that we should combine the two.

There are two reasons that I wanted to include goats in with the symbolism. One I will mention now and the other later. The first reason is because a few chapters after it is revealed that Drogon roasted and ate Hazzea, a human child, Dany is served a roasted kid, which is of course a baby goat. Kid is also another name for a human child.

We are obviously meant to look at the two events side by side and as Reznak compared Hazzea’s bones to those of a sheep, I thought that with its similarities to a goat, the two were meant to have the same symbolism. Upon re-reading the passage where Dany is served the kid, I’ve come to a change of mind. That, and remembering the Parable of the Goats and Sheep from the bible.

In the parable, when judgement day comes, Christ the shepherd will split the masses into two groups, the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Those on the right are the blessed and will be allowed to enter the Kingdom while those on the left will be cast along with the devil into the fiery pits specially prepared for them.

Quote

That night her cooks roasted her a kid with dates and carrots, but Dany could only eat a bite of it. The prospect of wrestling with Meereen once more left her feeling weary. Sleep came hard, even when Daario came back, so drunk that he could hardly stand. Beneath her coverlets she tossed and turned, dreaming that Hizdahr was kissing her … but his lips were blue and bruised, and when he thrust himself inside her, his manhood was cold as ice. She sat up with her hair disheveled and the bedclothes atangle. Her captain slept beside her, yet she was alone. She wanted to shake him, wake him, make him hold her, fuck her, help her forget, but she knew that if she did, he would only smile and yawn and say, "It was just a dream, my queen. Go back to sleep."

A Dance with Dragons - Daenerys VII

I do wonder what it means that George uses the word kid with its dual meaning in a passage that contains Dany’s having a sexual dream about Euron who many would compare to a devil, while Daario, the Euron in training is lying in bed next to her. It’s kind of scary.

On the other hand, Pan with his horns and cloven feet of a goat is also the Greek god of shepherds and spring and so the symbolism is multi-layered.  But enough about goats and back to your question about sheep.

In the bible, Christ is both the shepherd and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Christ is also from Nazareth. In addition to being called Jesus of Nazareth, he was also known simply as The Nazarene and I think that this is the origin of George’s name for the people of Lhazar and their moniker as the Lamb People.

This raises the possibility that there might be something special about the Lhazereen and in killing this group of people, Dany, her dragons and the Dothraki may have committed an ultimate sin. Or it might just be symbolism.

As you and others have proposed, I think that the use of sheep is about sacrifice. However, I’m not sure that it about a specific type of sacrifice…e.g., that of children. I think that like with ants, George uses lamb, sheep, and mutton to represent humanity in general and the threat to its existence from both the fiery and icy dragons.

Another biblical myth that’s at play is that of Abraham’s sacrifice of his young son Isaac.  Abraham is ordered by the Lord to take his son Isaac to the mountain of Moriah and there, offer him up as a burnt offering.  Abraham does this…lying to his son about the purpose of their trip to the mountains.

He binds his son upon the altar and just as he is about to kill him, the voice of the Lord stops him. The Lord also sends a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac.

Quote

9And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

Genesis 22: 9-11

In an interesting way, Craster with the sacrifice of his sons is the Abraham of the story.

We don’t know what the Others have done to Craster’s sons. They might still be alive for all we know. What is interesting is that they are willing to accept sheep from Craster in their stead when he has no sons to give them.  This plays into the biblical story about Abraham and Isaac.

God’s order for Abraham to take Isaac to the altar and offer him up as a sacrifice was a test of faith. Abraham had faith and was willing to kill his son for that faith.  Craster has faith of a sort as well.

Quote

There had been no attacks while they had been at Craster's, neither wights nor Others. Nor would there be, Craster said. "A godly man got no cause to fear such. I said as much to that Mance Rayder once, when he come sniffing round. He never listened, no more'n you crows with your swords and your bloody fires. That won't help you none when the white cold comes. Only the gods will help you then. You best get right with the gods."

A Storm of Swords - Samwell II

It’s not about the good human vs the bad. It’s about humanity and whether it can survive the joint coming of the two dragon forces. In the text, we’re shown symbolic sacrifices to both extremes with Hazzea and the Dothraki to the fire dragons, and Crafter’s sons to the icy Others. We’re shown over and over that people are sheep.

However, as in the biblical myths about Christ, it may also be about self-sacrifice…who among the sheep can also be a shepherd but not just any shepherd. It may be about who can be a good shepherd.

Quote

10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So, when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

John 10-1:18

You may also want to look at House Mooton in your analysis of the House sigils. I think that George is using wordplay for Mooton aka Mouton, which is French for sheep or sheepskin. Mouton fur is also sheepskin that has been processed to look like pelts of beavers or seal. Not sure it means anything but with an implied connection to water and the facts that beavers build dams, I thought that I would mention.

House Mooton’s sigil is also interesting because when you combine the name with the red fish on the sigil, you get the Capricorn symbol or at least you would if you substitute the goat for a ram. However, should we make this substitution when you consider what I stated up about the biblical differences of sheep and goat. Maybe not.

The reason that I’m throwing the idea out there is because, while mutton is the name of meat from a ram or ewe over one year old, in certain parts of the world like South Asia, the Caribbean and Australia, it’s the name given to meat from a goat. This means that the House Mooton sigil might be that of the Capricorn Zodiac. What might that imply?

I will end by referencing another book passage that mentions sheep that I find of interest. I’m talking about the sheep’s skull that Dany kicks off her little Dragonstone in the Dothraki Sea that serves as her impetus to descend and try to make her way back to Meereen.

Quote

She was hungry too. One morning she had found some wild onions growing halfway down the south slope, and later that same day a leafy reddish vegetable that might have been some queer sort of cabbage. Whatever it was, it had not made her sick. Aside from that, and one fish that she had caught in the spring-fed pool outside of Drogon's cave, she had survived as best she could on the dragon's leavings, on burned bones and chunks of smoking meat, half-charred and half-raw. She needed more, she knew. One day she kicked at a cracked sheep's skull with the side of a bare foot and sent it bouncing over the edge of the hill. And as she watched it tumble down the steep slope toward the sea of grass, she realized she must follow.

A Dance with Dragons - Daenerys X

When you consider that Raznak compared Hazzea’s bones to that of a sheep with the fact that Dany has heartbreakingly forgotten the girl’s name at the end of ADWD, I can’t help but wonder whether the skull she kicked off the hill was in fact that of a sheep. If it was not a sheep, might that be the reason Dany forgot Hazzea’s name.

Well, that’s some of my thoughts on the symbolic use of sheep in the books.  Hope it provides the type of info you were looking for to help in the writing of your essay.

The full story of Abraham and Isaac is in Genesis 22 if you want to read more of the details.

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The significance of sheep = don't be a sheep, lest you get eaten. 

Marwyn was talking about the Maesters stuck in dogma.  They follow this dogma as sheep follow the flock.  They lack original thought.  Euron will be at their doorsteps soon.  Warlocks and academics are studious but are no match for brute force.  Brute force usually wins in Martin's universe.

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On 1/15/2022 at 2:22 AM, Stormy4400 said:

Ultimately, I think that George’s use of sheep is about sacrifice and the Christ myth.

I feel this must be true, or at least partly true. But it's a funny thing that all the sheep/shepherd symbolism is laid on Mirri's people, but the Faith of the Seven, with its hymns and incense and multi-part godhead, is a lot like the catholic church with all the sheep symbolism stripped out.

Personally I'm still very attached to the idea that the Others are shepherds, but maybe the far north is where the gods are.

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I've been looking for quotes to support the Others=shepherds idea - there should be some sense of a threat if the link is true, but in fact almost all sheep are the innocent victims you'd expect. There is just one who isn't: Barristan's Red Lamb. And additionally, LF's strange remark: "I've never been frightened of shepherds. It's the sheep who trouble me.[...]"

Dangerous shepherds are actually pretty common. LF was replying to Tyrion describing Stannis' soldiers as shepherds gathering lost lambs. Some Ironborn are surnamed Shepherd, including one called the Black Shepherd. Mirri herself slays the Dothraki Stallion (even if accidentally). She says the Great Shepherd was 'angry'. There's even a faint hint that the Great Shepherd has something to do with death - he appears in Arya's tour of the 'stranger' gods of Braavos.

I especially like the quote below, which has both enemy shepherds, and gigantic hordes of dead sheep:

The sheep had been dead longest. There seemed to be thousands of them, black with flies, arrow shafts bristling from each carcass. Khal Ogo's riders had done that, Dany knew; no man of Drogo's khalasar would be such a fool to waste his arrows on sheep when there were shepherds left to kill.

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1 hour ago, Springwatch said:

I feel this must be true, or at least partly true. But it's a funny thing that all the sheep/shepherd symbolism is laid on Mirri's people, but the Faith of the Seven, with its hymns and incense and multi-part godhead, is a lot like the catholic church with all the sheep symbolism stripped out.

Personally I'm still very attached to the idea that the Others are shepherds, but maybe the far north is where the gods are.

35 minutes ago, Springwatch said:

I feel this must be true, or at least partly true. But it's a funny thing that all the sheep/shepherd symbolism is laid on Mirri's people, but the Faith of the Seven, with its hymns and incense and multi-part godhead, is a lot like the catholic church with all the sheep symbolism stripped out.

Personally I'm still very attached to the idea that the Others are shepherds, but maybe the far north is where the gods are.

I think that the use of sheep is about sacrifice and the Christ myth but I also see your point about the Others coming across as symbolic shepherds. They do seem to have been herding the Wildings south of the Wall. They have been back for years and could have added all the Wildings to their army of the dead and so they must be a reason that they didn't go this route.

They were only harrying Mance's forces...seemingly to force them further South. Also, we know what happened at Hardhome on the show but we don't yet have a definitive answer about events in the books and so it can be argued that on the page, Stannis army has killed more of the Wildings than the Others.

As I said, I think that sheep is a metaphor for man and represent sacrifices to both the fiery and icy gods. What I find interesting is that we've been shown that the icy gods are willing to accept actual sheep as a replacement sacrifice. Not so with their fiery counterpart as is emphasized in the text from Dany's own mouth and in her last chapter in ADWD.

Quote
Qotho was ever the cruelest of the bloodriders. It was he who laughed. "Does the horse breed with the sheep?"
Something in his tone reminded her of Viserys. Dany turned on him angrily. "The dragon feeds on horse and sheep alike."
 
Khal Drogo smiled. "See how fierce she grows!" he said. "It is my son inside her, the stallion who mounts the world, filling her with his fire. Ride slowly, Qotho … if the mother does not burn you where you sit, the son will trample you into the mud. And you, Mago, hold your tongue and find another lamb to mount. These belong to my khaleesi." He started to reach out a hand to Daenerys, but as he lifted his arm Drogo grimaced in sudden pain and turned his head.

A Game of Thrones - Daenerys VII

Quote
A vast herd of horses appeared below them. There were riders too, a score or more, but they turned and fled at the first sight of the dragon. The horses broke and ran when the shadow fell upon them, racing through the grass until their sides were white with foam, tearing the ground with their hooves … but as swift as they were, they could not fly. Soon one horse began to lag behind the others. The dragon descended on him, roaring, and all at once the poor beast was aflame, yet somehow he kept on running, screaming with every step, until Drogon landed on him and broke his back. Dany clutched the dragon's neck with all her strength to keep from sliding off.
 
The carcass was too heavy for him to bear back to his lair, so Drogon consumed his kill there, tearing at the charred flesh as the grasses burned around them, the air thick with drifting smoke and the smell of burnt horsehair. Dany, starved, slid off his back and ate with him, ripping chunks of smoking meat from the dead horse with bare, burned hands. In Meereen I was a queen in silk, nibbling on stuffed dates and honeyed lamb, she remembered. What would my noble husband think if he could see me now? Hizdahr would be horrified, no doubt. But Daario …
 
Daario would laugh, carve off a hunk of horsemeat with his arakh, and squat down to eat beside her.

A Dance with Dragons - Daenerys X

I feel sure that this distinction is important and I'm curious to find out why as we get closer to the battle of ice and fire.

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On 1/15/2022 at 3:22 AM, Stormy4400 said:

This is going to be a somewhat long response because I’ve given the topic of sheep and its symbolism in the story a lot of thought. I’ve thought about it a lot but I’m not quite clear on all the symbolism because of the overlap with other symbols and metaphors. However, I’ve never related it to peaches and so I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts whenever you make your post.

Ultimately, I think that George’s use of sheep is about sacrifice and the Christ myth. Like you, I agree that we must look at George’s usage of the words lamb, sheep, or mutton in unison.

I am sometimes tempted to include goats as well but while no longer a practicing Catholic, George was raised as one, and in the bible, there is a big difference between sheep and goats. As he is playing heavily on biblical mythology with his use of sheep, I’m not sure that we should combine the two.

There are two reasons that I wanted to include goats in with the symbolism. One I will mention now and the other later. The first reason is because a few chapters after it is revealed that Drogon roasted and ate Hazzea, a human child, Dany is served a roasted kid, which is of course a baby goat. Kid is also another name for a human child.

We are obviously meant to look at the two events side by side and as Reznak compared Hazzea’s bones to those of a sheep, I thought that with its similarities to a goat, the two were meant to have the same symbolism. Upon re-reading the passage where Dany is served the kid, I’ve come to a change of mind. That, and remembering the Parable of the Goats and Sheep from the bible.

In the parable, when judgement day comes, Christ the shepherd will split the masses into two groups, the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Those on the right are the blessed and will be allowed to enter the Kingdom while those on the left will be cast along with the devil into the fiery pits specially prepared for them.

I do wonder what it means that George uses the word kid with its dual meaning in a passage that contains Dany’s having a sexual dream about Euron who many would compare to a devil, while Daario, the Euron in training is lying in bed next to her. It’s kind of scary.

On the other hand, Pan with his horns and cloven feet of a goat is also the Greek god of shepherds and spring and so the symbolism is multi-layered.  But enough about goats and back to your question about sheep.

In the bible, Christ is both the shepherd and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Christ is also from Nazareth. In addition to being called Jesus of Nazareth, he was also known simply as The Nazarene and I think that this is the origin of George’s name for the people of Lhazar and their moniker as the Lamb People.

This raises the possibility that there might be something special about the Lhazereen and in killing this group of people, Dany, her dragons and the Dothraki may have committed an ultimate sin. Or it might just be symbolism.

As you and others have proposed, I think that the use of sheep is about sacrifice. However, I’m not sure that it about a specific type of sacrifice…e.g., that of children. I think that like with ants, George uses lamb, sheep, and mutton to represent humanity in general and the threat to its existence from both the fiery and icy dragons.

Another biblical myth that’s at play is that of Abraham’s sacrifice of his young son Isaac.  Abraham is ordered by the Lord to take his son Isaac to the mountain of Moriah and there, offer him up as a burnt offering.  Abraham does this…lying to his son about the purpose of their trip to the mountains.

He binds his son upon the altar and just as he is about to kill him, the voice of the Lord stops him. The Lord also sends a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac.

In an interesting way, Craster with the sacrifice of his sons is the Abraham of the story.

We don’t know what the Others have done to Craster’s sons. They might still be alive for all we know. What is interesting is that they are willing to accept sheep from Craster in their stead when he has no sons to give them.  This plays into the biblical story about Abraham and Isaac.

God’s order for Abraham to take Isaac to the altar and offer him up as a sacrifice was a test of faith. Abraham had faith and was willing to kill his son for that faith.  Craster has faith of a sort as well.

It’s not about the good human vs the bad. It’s about humanity and whether it can survive the joint coming of the two dragon forces. In the text, we’re shown symbolic sacrifices to both extremes with Hazzea and the Dothraki to the fire dragons, and Crafter’s sons to the icy Others. We’re shown over and over that people are sheep.

However, as in the biblical myths about Christ, it may also be about self-sacrifice…who among the sheep can also be a shepherd but not just any shepherd. It may be about who can be a good shepherd.

You may also want to look at House Mooton in your analysis of the House sigils. I think that George is using wordplay for Mooton aka Mouton, which is French for sheep or sheepskin. Mouton fur is also sheepskin that has been processed to look like pelts of beavers or seal. Not sure it means anything but with an implied connection to water and the facts that beavers build dams, I thought that I would mention.

House Mooton’s sigil is also interesting because when you combine the name with the red fish on the sigil, you get the Capricorn symbol or at least you would if you substitute the goat for a ram. However, should we make this substitution when you consider what I stated up about the biblical differences of sheep and goat. Maybe not.

The reason that I’m throwing the idea out there is because, while mutton is the name of meat from a ram or ewe over one year old, in certain parts of the world like South Asia, the Caribbean and Australia, it’s the name given to meat from a goat. This means that the House Mooton sigil might be that of the Capricorn Zodiac. What might that imply?

I will end by referencing another book passage that mentions sheep that I find of interest. I’m talking about the sheep’s skull that Dany kicks off her little Dragonstone in the Dothraki Sea that serves as her impetus to descend and try to make her way back to Meereen.

When you consider that Raznak compared Hazzea’s bones to that of a sheep with the fact that Dany has heartbreakingly forgotten the girl’s name at the end of ADWD, I can’t help but wonder whether the skull she kicked off the hill was in fact that of a sheep. If it was not a sheep, might that be the reason Dany forgot Hazzea’s name.

Well, that’s some of my thoughts on the symbolic use of sheep in the books.  Hope it provides the type of info you were looking for to help in the writing of your essay.

The full story of Abraham and Isaac is in Genesis 22 if you want to read more of the details.

Excellent post. 

Sheep definitely indicate vulnerability, and who are more vulnerable than people? We see how people with less power are subjected to violence from the more powerful ones, we could even say that this is how society is layered - but then mankind may soon be at the mercy of even more powerful forces. Fire dragons and ice dragons - should we look at them as (magical) forces of nature or as (the agents of) sentient enemies?

The Lamb People may also refer to children since a lamb is a young sheep, and violence against children is a central motif. Ned defines himself as the one who does not kill children, and I think this can easily be the acid test to separate "the sheep and the goats" of ASOIAF. (Are you willing to go this far to achieve your goals?)

The motif of shepherds is related to leadership and protection. A good shepherd protects the sheep and leads them to a safe place, a good king protects his people or he is no king at all. Characters in leadership position often face the choice of sacrificing their "sheep" or protecting them. The dilemma of Stannis over Edric Storm is such a choice. Another dilemma, which is less frequently discussed but I think ties neatly into the "people are sheep" metaphor, is the disagreement between Edmure and the Blackfish whether to open the gates of the castle and let the smallfolk find refuge there or leave them outside to be the prey of the "lions" in order to save food for the soldiers. Edmure's choice is to protect his "sheep", but his decision is overridden by the decision of the Blackfish, who, in essence sacrifices the sheep to the lions for "practical" considerations.

Closely related is the motif of sacrifice versus self-sacrifice. The story is full of legends or beliefs about the magical power of killing someone (usually someone special) as a sacrifice to win the favour of a supernatural power, to acquire magical abilities. Yet, the only true sacrifice is self-sacrifice, and the willingness of certain heroes to sacrifice themselves for other people may well be the saving grace of humanity when all is said and done. 

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6 hours ago, Julia H. said:

Excellent post. 

Sheep definitely indicate vulnerability, and who are more vulnerable than people? We see how people with less power are subjected to violence from the more powerful ones, we could even say that this is how society is layered - but then mankind may soon be at the mercy of even more powerful forces. Fire dragons and ice dragons - should we look at them as (magical) forces of nature or as (the agents of) sentient enemies?

The Lamb People may also refer to children since a lamb is a young sheep, and violence against children is a central motif. Ned defines himself as the one who does not kill children, and I think this can easily be the acid test to separate "the sheep and the goats" of ASOIAF. (Are you willing to go this far to achieve your goals?)

The motif of shepherds is related to leadership and protection. A good shepherd protects the sheep and leads them to a safe place, a good king protects his people or he is no king at all. Characters in leadership position often face the choice of sacrificing their "sheep" or protecting them. The dilemma of Stannis over Edric Storm is such a choice. Another dilemma, which is less frequently discussed but I think ties neatly into the "people are sheep" metaphor, is the disagreement between Edmure and the Blackfish whether to open the gates of the castle and let the smallfolk find refuge there or leave them outside to be the prey of the "lions" in order to save food for the soldiers. Edmure's choice is to protect his "sheep", but his decision is overridden by the decision of the Blackfish, who, in essence sacrifices the sheep to the lions for "practical" considerations.

Closely related is the motif of sacrifice versus self-sacrifice. The story is full of legends or beliefs about the magical power of killing someone (usually someone special) as a sacrifice to win the favour of a supernatural power, to acquire magical abilities. Yet, the only true sacrifice is self-sacrifice, and the willingness of certain heroes to sacrifice themselves for other people may well be the saving grace of humanity when all is said and done. 

TY!

I do think that sheep is being used as a metaphor for man in general.  However, a lamb is a baby sheep and so one can't avoid the obvious in that they likely represent children.  In fact, one of the things I've considered about the Lhazareen is that they might symbolically represent the COTF. That's what I was hinting at when I said that The Dothraki and Dany may have committed a greater sin. 

The Lhazareen's skin color is copper like the Dothraki and have similar almond shape eyes. Both these are similar to the nut brown skin of the children and almond shape eyes are usually larger in size...possibly like the children. While the Dothraki are tall, Dany thinks of the Lamb men as squat, which means that they are short in stature. More interesting is that their language is described as having a sing-song quality which echoes the musical nature of that of the COTF. And like the children, they are vegetarians. 

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On 1/14/2022 at 6:22 PM, Stormy4400 said:

the shepherd will split the masses into two groups, the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Those on the right are the blessed and will be allowed to enter the Kingdom while those on the left will be cast along with the devil into the fiery pits specially prepared for them

 

On 1/14/2022 at 6:22 PM, Stormy4400 said:

You best get right with the gods."

 

I like this. Left hand sinister.

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This is all very helpful! 

The sacrifice role for sheep feels accurate. 

But the "blind followers" angle also seems to ring true with some of the sheep references in the books - the archmaesters as "grey sheep" (contrasting with Marwyn the mastiff) is the strongest evidence for this.

I did skim the known sigils to see if I could find sheep imagery in addition to House Rambton and House Stokeworth. (In the wiki, the noble houses for each region are shown at the bottom of the page for that region. If anyone has a better suggestion for searching sigil imagery, let me know.) Besides those two, the only clear sheep reference was an odd one: House Woolfield in the North.

The Woolfield sigil is three bags of wool. They are sworn to House Manderly and semi-canon sources say they may be associated with Ramsgate or the Sheepshead Hills. Leona Woolfield is married to Manderly heir, Wylis, and is the mother of Wynafryd and Wylla, who are part of the fake betrothal deal that Wyman Manderly pretends to make with the Baratheon/Lannister regime. 

This image and story make me think that sheep's wool has a meaning separate from sheep as animals of sacrifice or from mutton - sheep that are eaten. The fleece symbolism may go back to that "wolf in sheep's clothing" or "pulling the wool over your eyes" that describes Jon Snow wearing sheep skin while he mingles among the Free Folk.

Or is the point here that the wool family can turn the tables on their enemies; avoiding being sacrificed (in arranged marriages) while bringing about the deaths of their betrothed: Wynafryd is betrothed to Rhaegar Frey who is one of the three Frey messengers likely baked into the Frey pie. (The wiki reminds me that Rhaegar Frey wears a lambskin doublet. What does that mean in the symbolism?) Wylla is betrothed to Little Walder whose frozen, bloody body is found at Winterfell.

@Stormy4400 I am not yet sure of the possible Mooton / mutton wordplay. Because mutton is the meat form of sheep, I think I need to take a closer look at meals and feasts and other places where mutton is mentioned. And this might require a closer look at a lot of meat imagery in the books - why does GRRM mention the rotten meat thrown at Cersei on her walk of shame? Iirc, in other cases where small folk throw food at high born people, the emphasis is on fruit. 

Proper analysis of mutton will probably also require a return to examination of "butcher kings," an archetype GRRM made obvious with King Cleon. The butcher imagery is also clearly part of the Ramsay Snow symbolism (I think Roose says he wields a sword as if it is a cleaver) and Sandor Clegane's m. o. (If The Hound was truly the killer of Mycah, the butcher's boy, he also cut him into pieces so his father, the butcher, thought he was being given the body of a butchered pig before realizing it was his son.)

The pairing I see between peaches and sheep starts with GRRM's wordplay games: peach is (almost) sheep spelled backwards. (Like "southron" and "north" and some other wordplay pairs he has used.) The pairing would have been lost on me except I have been trying to analyze The Sworn Sword, a Dunk & Egg novella, for years. I believe I have put together some of the pieces of the underlying, literary meaning in the story.

A few spoilers here, but not the entire story:

In a nutshell, Ser Eustace Osgrey is trying to grow crops and Lady Rohanne Webber is trying to raise sheep. At one time, the two houses had a good relationship and Lady Rohanne's first love was the son of Ser Eustace, who was a squire at her father's seat. The good relationship ended when Ser Eustace was a supporter of Daemon Blackfyre while Lady Rohanne's family sided with the Targaryens during the Blackfyre Rebellion. Now the neighbors are estranged. A servant in the employ of Ser Eustace trespassed on Lady Rohanne's land to steal sheep. She caught him and sewed him up in a sack that she threw into her moat, drowning him. After that incident, Ser Eustace hired the sellsword Ser Bennis and refused to go on Lady Rohanne's land. There is a water shortage that has reached a crisis point. 

So the sheep stealer was the servant of House Osgrey. We don't see House Webber trying to steal peaches, but she does take the water that is necessary to grow the crops that are dying in the fields on Osgrey land. The peach symbolism is indirect: Ser Eustace tells a story of House Lannister trying to take a bite out of the Reach. The land grab is stopped by an Osgrey ancestor. We know from Robert singing the praises of peaches to Ned, and Renly trying to get Stannis to accept a peach, that this fruit is closely associated with the Reach. We have been told that Lady Rohanne will eventually marry a Lannister and will be the matriarch of the line that figures so prominently in the ASOIAF generation of Lannisters. So I finally connected the peach/sheep rivalry. (In my mind, anyway.) 

And you all are helping to pin down the reason that one faction would want to steal sheep while the other faction would want to bite a peach. 

The resolution of The Sworn Sword comes when abundant rain falls and when Ser Eustace and Lady Rohanne realize that they can solve a number of problems by uniting in marriage to each other. (Because our POV is unconscious when these events occur, some of the cause-and-effect relationship of the rain and the marriage are unclear.) 

There is wordplay on cask and sack (Ser Eustace seeks casks of wine; Lady Rohanne threatens to sew people into sacks) that almost certainly goes to the sacrifice motif you are exposing for sheep: Ser Eustace pours wine on the graves of his sons as a way of toasting "the king," while Lady Rohanne sacrifices Lem/Dake (he is given two names in the story) to her moat. 

There is also wordplay on berry / bury, as the sons of Ser Eustace are buried in a berry patch.

Poaching / peaches becomes a cheeky (!!) play on rhyming words as poached peaches are prepared with wine while poached eggs (the only protein easily available to House Osgrey) are prepared with water. Lem/Dake was actually poaching when he stole sheep, although Ser Eustace describes him as foraging. (Which may be wordplay on forge, linking Lem/Dake to smith symbolism.) 

The whole set of symbols adds up to a fertility story - crops need water; livestock need water. The marriage of Rohanne and Eustace represents the restoration of the balance of nature, allowing crops and herds to thrive again.  I suspect this story will be a huge clue for us about getting the seasons back into balance in Westeros. 

Off the top of my head, the clues that still require attention are:

- Do sheep, mutton and wool have different roles in the symbolism? What about shepherds? Why is Littlefinger more worried about sheep than shepherds? His servants tend a flock of 23 sheep for him at The Fingers.

- What is the relationship of butcher kings to sheep and mutton?

- What are the differences among mutton, pork, beef, venison, crab and other meats? The wolf-head king that looks at Dany with mute appeal is holding a mutton-bone scepter, as I recall.

- What ingredients are combined with mutton or lamb when served at feasts?

- What are the differences among oxen, horses, pigs and sheep as livestock? The Dothraki and the Lamb Men are traditional enemies. Why does Lord Manderly give palfreys to the Frey messengers before they disappear (and are baked into pies)? 

- Why does Craster have a bear skull and a ram skull on either side of the gate to his compound? I assumed these foreshadowed the deaths of Jeor Mormont and Craster. If correct, why does a ram skull represent Craster? Does the combination of the two skulls underscore that the Night's Watch is allowing Craster to sacrifice his sons to the Others? What does it mean that the Night's Watch eats so much mutton that they remark about being tired of mutton-based meals?

- If Mooton is wordplay on mutton, are there other sound-alike clues we should be examining? I'm thinking of Falyse Stokeworth as a possible "fleece" allusion. But her name could go any number of ways. Certainly Ramsay as a ram symbol could be a key to sorting out some of the sheep motif. Can a character be both a butcher king and a sacrificial lamb? Mycah, the butcher's boy, might be an important clue to that line of thinking. 

Thanks for all of the good insights in this thread!

Edited by Seams
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1 hour ago, Seams said:

- What are the differences among oxen, horses, pigs and sheep as livestock? The Dothraki and the Lamb Men are traditional enemies. Why does Lord Manderly give palfreys to the Frey messengers before they disappear (and are baked into pies)?

Palfreys may tie into the sheep symbolism because they are docile horses. It's why they were popular mounts for women back in the day. One can possibly say that they are like sheep.  Wyman Manderly giving Palfreys to the Freys...especially as frey is part of the name might symbolically position them as sheep being led to the slaughter. Also, Frey pie is basically Shepherd's pie, which is traditionally made with beef or mutton.

Quote

@Stormy4400 I am not yet sure of the possible Mooton / mutton wordplay. Because mutton is the meat form of sheep, I think I need to take a closer look at meals and feasts and other places where mutton is mentioned. And this might require a closer look at a lot of meat imagery in the books - why does GRRM mention the rotten meat thrown at Cersei on her walk of shame? Iirc, in other cases where small folk throw food at high born people, the emphasis is on fruit. 

It's definitely wordplay on mouton, which is the french word for sheep. The linkage with the fish is what potentially gives it the mutton distinction but then that could be meat of either of a ram or a goat.

Edited by Stormy4400
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9 hours ago, Seams said:

The Woolfield sigil is three bags of wool. They are sworn to House Manderly and semi-canon sources say they may be associated with Ramsgate or the Sheepshead Hills. Leona Woolfield is married to Manderly heir, Wylis, and is the mother of Wynafryd and Wylla, who are part of the fake betrothal deal that Wyman Manderly pretends to make with the Baratheon/Lannister regime.

Makes me think this rather derisive comment which Xaro Xhoan Daxos makes of the Lhazareen.

That only made him chuckle. "The Dothraki horselords call the Lhazarene the Lamb Men. When you shear them, all they do is bleat. They are not a martial people."

Unless I'm mistaken, Leona opposes Davos when he comes to negotiate, preferring peace even after the Red Wedding, even if the peace includes marrying her own daughters to the Freys.

9 hours ago, Seams said:

Because mutton is the meat form of sheep, I think I need to take a closer look at meals and feasts and other places where mutton is mentioned.

The NW eating a lot of mutton (which you mention in the OP) reminds me of Eucharist, even if it may be that the Last Supper would actually not have included sheep meat. Jon (who with his corn king symbolism is killed for the Watch) looks like a Christ-like sacrificial fertility figure, and as mentioned, the Christ is known as the Lamb of God, being the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of men. So if Jon is a sacrificial lamb, then one might wonder whether the Watchmen are symbolically consuming his body.

Of course, if we go by what Qhorin Halfhand says, then the Watchmen also are sacrificial figures themselves.

9 hours ago, Seams said:

The pairing I see between peaches and sheep starts with GRRM's wordplay games: peach is (almost) sheep spelled backwards. (Like "southron" and "north" and some other wordplay pairs he has used.) The pairing would have been lost on me except I have been trying to analyze The Sworn Sword, a Dunk & Egg novella, for years. I believe I have put together some of the pieces of the underlying, literary meaning in the story.

So I don't know whether this is anything new, or how relevant it would be, but I'll mention it anyway. The peach/sheep thing reminds me of the tale of Cain and Abel.

The obvious figure in ASoIaF associated with peaches is Renly, killed by his older brother. Besides the fratricide, Abel is a shepherd, bringing from the choice firstlings of his flock as an offering, while Cain the farmer brings from the fruit of the soil. If peaches are tied to sheep, well... either the connection is stronger or the coincidence more striking.

The tale contains lot of similar symbolism than what is mentioned on this thread... crops, sheep, offering, murder of the innocent, blood crying out from the soil, and a curse. I find it very striking how similar the imagery superficially seems to be compared to what you wrote of The Sworn Sword.

Edited by Ivan Tsarevich
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  • 2 weeks later...

The captains of the king's warships Wildwind, Prince Aemon, and River Arrow were honored next, along with some under officers from Godsgrace, Lance, Lady of Silk, and Ramshead

     
     In my head I always see a lamb when thinking of Godsgrace and Graceford. I always confuse the two and can’t find any lamb imagery connection. 

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