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Eyes of the Kinslayer


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Kinslaying is huge taboo in Westeros, maybe the biggest one. Giving it half a thought I noticed that the most prominent kinslayers in ASOIAF Tyrion Lannister and Euron Greyjoy have one thing in common: mismatched eyes. Parallels are further heightened by the fact that they are only characters with heterochromia iridum in the story.

Heterochromia iridum, medical name for mismatched eyes can happen in a few ways but the most common by far for the true inborn heterochromia iridum is chimerism. Human chimeras are the result of merger of two (or more) embryos. In ASOIAF this is very clearly represented in misshapen Maelys the Monstrous and it is supposedly a result of having eaten his twin in the womb, making him kinslayer. Tyrion's deformities as well as heterochromia iridum and multicolored hair clearly point to his chimerism. If embryos are of different sexes, result can be possession of both female and male sex organs, which was a rumor about baby Tyrion Prince Oberyn recounts.

Intrauterine kinslaying is employed as a foreshadowing for the intentional kinslaying later, as Maelys brutally kills his cousin Daemon for the leadership of the Golden Company, just as Euron killed three of his (living) brothers, and Tyrion killed his father (killing of his mother, while of course in unintentional is often mentioned and implied it makes him kinslayer as well).

P.S. It is mentioned by Martin outside of the books that Shiera Seastar had mismatched eyes, it could be offhand remark but it could also be interpreted towards our case if we go off road a bit. Now certainly one of the most famous kinslayers from the ASOIAF past is Brynden Rivers Bloodraven, having killed Daemon I Blackfyre and his two sons. Purportedly he did this by longbow barrage. It is difficult to pierce plate armor with arrow, even bodkin arrow at relatively close range, especially in the lethal degree and especially late medieval plate of the highest quality such as member of the royal family would wear. At Crecy English archers managed to kill horses and in that way make disarray of the French charge, casualties of the barrage mostly resulting from horses falling or falling into pits English dug beforehand. Even if French soldiers were killed by arrows piercing their armor in all probability they were men-at-arms in incomplete or lower quality plate. That say it was at least 5000 English archers and the battle was a day long, 300 Raven’s Teeth could not for the short time they had the Ridge, before Bittersteel was onto them, sustain the rate of fire to plausibly cause so may lucky fatalities. It is acknowledged in the Hedge Knight "The arrows are said to have been driven by Brynden's sorcery" causing him to be pronounced kinslayer. But we read in TWOIAF that "Shiera used sorcery to aid Bloodraven". Since Daemon was her brother as well it is possible she is kinslayer as much as Brynden is. That said Brynden himself with his missing eye he left uncovered evokes mismatched eyes and kinslaying connection.

P.P.S. Historical kinslaying brings us to the another character who lost and eye, Prince Aemond Targaryen, who accentuated the mismatched eyes thing by having a sapphire in the place of the missing eye. 

Also from the Dance the mutually deadly duel of the twins Arryk and Erryk Cargyll, connects twin kinslaying with the chimerism and as they would say in Westeros eating one's twin in the womb, which Maelys, Tyrion and Euron had done.

P.P.P.S. Having gone too far into "expanded universe" including SSM remarks, I would like to drive the point home by one more piece of analysis, we know that Tyrion and Euron are the only characters in the books with heterochromia iridum, but using wikia I would like to propose they are the only kinslayers in the books, at least the main timeline. Below is the brief listing of book characters described as kinslayers, while some cases could be argued about, out of main characters Euron and Tyrion are the only ones for whom we know for certain that they purposely killed close family members.

Robert Baratheon: Killed his second cousin Rhaegar Targaryen, too distant relation, or else almost every noble who kills another noble would be kinslayer due to intermarriage.

Stannis Baratheon: Conceived a shadow assassin with Melisandre that went on to slay his brother. Unclear personal involvement (A Clash of Kings, Chapter 42, Davos II) which seems to be prerequisite for kinslaying. Daeron isn't considered kinslayer even though his army killed his half-brother.

Ramsey Bolton: Poisoned Domeric. Rumor, unclear culprit (his mother, Reek, people have even ventured Roose himself in various theories)

Craster: For sacrificing his male children to the Others. Unclear as we don't know what Others do with children, Craster just leaves sons.

Robb Stark: Executing Rickard Karstark, too distant relation.

Theon Greyjoy: Named a kinslayer by some for his supposed murder of Bran and Rickon Stark. No relation

Gregor Clegane: It is rumored that he murdered his father and his sister. Rumor. On the other hand Gregor is deformed and reminds us of Maelys with inhuman strength and brutality.

Gilwood Hunter: Was accused by his two younger brothers Eustace and Harlan of killing their father Eon Hunter. Probably false accusation.

Harlan Hunter: According to Petyr Baelish, Harlan murdered his father Eon Hunter. Rumor. Unclear personal involvement. Additionally Harlan is minor background character, never described.

Black Walder Frey: Accused for Ser Ryman Frey's death by Edwyn. Highly unlikely as we know how Brotherhood operates and that Tom told on Ryman's itinerary.

Walder, Lothar and Whalen Frey: Lucas Blackwood murdered at Red Wedding. As we don't know Alyssa Blackwood's degree of kinship to Tytos it's unlikely to be close, Tytos would have mentioned if she was his sister or an aunt to strengthen his argument.

Edited by Equilibrium
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5 hours ago, Equilibrium said:

Heterochromia iridum, medical name for mismatched eyes can happen in a few ways but the most common by far for the true inborn heterochromia iridum is chimerism. Human chimeras are the result of merger of two (or more) embryos. In ASOIAF this is very clearly represented in misshapen Maelys the Monstrous and it is supposedly a result of having eaten his twin in the womb, making him kinslayer. Tyrion's deformities as well as heterochromia iridum and multicolored hair clearly point to his chimerism. If embryos are of different sexes, result can be possession of both female and male sex organs, which was a rumor about baby Tyrion Prince Oberyn recounts.

I made the connection between the mismatched eyes and chimerism a while ago but hadn't noticed the correlation with kinslaying. Great catch and thanks for the detailed list you attach. Here's one more kinslayer to add to the list, though we have no information on the eyes: Bael the Bard was killed by his son, then Lord of Winterfell. 

I've been looking at breaking taboos as a means to acquiring greater magical powers or to becoming more proficient at a particular skill (consciously or not). Kinslaying appears to be associated with knowledge. I think it confers upon the perpetrator the desire and ability to gather secret knowledge. And your connection regarding the mismatched eyes supports the idea, at least in a number of the cases we have more detailed information about. Tyrion as a person with mismatched eyes and kinslayer is a knowledge seeker, particularly of knowledge lost or no longer readily available to the general public. Bloodraven was a spymaster and is a greenseer who obtains knowledge through the eyes of the weirwood, both connected to secret knowledge. Euron is less obvious because he drinks shade of the evening which grants visions as well. He may not be a reader but he undoubtedly learned a great many secrets on account of his trip to Valyria and the capture of the warlocks.

I think kinslaying is the author's version of Odin's eye that the god sacrifices in exchange for a drink of the well of wisdom at the bottom of Yggdrasil. 

 

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Bloodraven is probably a kinslayer (although he uses agents to do the actual slaying, for the most part). But he definitely has mismatched eyes, courtesy of Aegor "Bittersteel" Rivers.

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1 hour ago, Evolett said:

I made the connection between the mismatched eyes and chimerism a while ago but hadn't noticed the correlation with kinslaying. Great catch and thanks for the detailed list you attach. Here's one more kinslayer to add to the list, though we have no information on the eyes: Bael the Bard was killed by his son, then Lord of Winterfell. 

I've been looking at breaking taboos as a means to acquiring greater magical powers or to becoming more proficient at a particular skill (consciously or not). Kinslaying appears to be associated with knowledge. I think it confers upon the perpetrator the desire and ability to gather secret knowledge. And your connection regarding the mismatched eyes supports the idea, at least in a number of the cases we have more detailed information about. Tyrion as a person with mismatched eyes and kinslayer is a knowledge seeker, particularly of knowledge lost or no longer readily available to the general public. Bloodraven was a spymaster and is a greenseer who obtains knowledge through the eyes of the weirwood, both connected to secret knowledge. Euron is less obvious because he drinks shade of the evening which grants visions as well. He may not be a reader but he undoubtedly learned a great many secrets on account of his trip to Valyria and the capture of the warlocks.

I think kinslaying is the author's version of Odin's eye that the god sacrifices in exchange for a drink of the well of wisdom at the bottom of Yggdrasil. 

 

Thanks for the kind words.

Didn't want to mess with too many historical characters, "fog of legend" as Samwell would say, much and more is hearsay and Bael the Bard example is so poetic that it could be exactly the source of it. 

Didn't go too much into other parallels between Euron and Tyrion or tried to draw any additional meaning from my analysis, maybe later, but from top of my head, they were younger sons so they weren't heirs, they both had some sibling rivalry (Cersei and Victarion), they had a thing for dragons (Tyrion dreamed of them, Euron did as well but more in the meaning of wanting them).

I read the taboo stuff you wrote, it is well thought out. It connects in multiple ways to the power in blood stuff, cannibalism, kinslaying etc. Kinslaying in Euron's case does point out to him deliberately doing it for some unknown benefit, testing the gods as he termed it. How guest right factors into all of this, I am a bit murky on, I can't recall any instance of someone breaking it and getting anything good in return and it is a huge taboo.

One eye Odin stuff is well established, I am familiar with it, haven't thought about it while writing, but now that you mention it, Tyrion and Euron both have one black eye and if memory serves me empty eyehole was described as black on occasion, even black holes (not astrophysics phenomena but holes and pits) could figure in this line of symbolism. I do consider taboo breaking kinslaying the opposite of sacrifice, sacrifice demands something you love or it isn't true sacrifice, while Tyrion had no love lost for Tywin and everything points out Euron and other historical examples were even more casual about it.

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I thought of an example of kinslaying that provides further symbolic evidence to support the pattern you identified: in the Dance of the Dragons, we have the Greens vs. the Blacks. Could these be symbolic eyes of different colors?

Many of the highborn members of the royal family are step-siblings or secret bastards so the question of kinslaying is difficult to answer for many of the casualties of the Dance of Dragons.

In a final, climactic battle, however, Prince Daemon battles his nephew, Prince Aemond over the Gods Eye holy lake. From the wiki:

Quote

On the fourteenth day of Daemon's waiting, Aemond arrived on Vhagar with his paramour, Alys Rivers. While the two dragons grappled in the Battle Above the Gods Eye, Daemon leapt from his saddle and drove Dark Sister into Aemond's blind eye. Both dragons crashed into the Gods Eye, with Caraxes crawling to the shore before dying. The bodies of Aemond and Vhagar were discovered in the lake years later. Daemon's body was not found, but historians are convinced he died there as well.

If you're willing to consider and expand on symbolism as a way to tease out more meaning in this chimera / kinslayer pattern, maybe we should be looking at dragon eggs and the colors of eggs. Eyes are part of the wordplay group with eggs because the German word for "egg" is "Ei". 

I think there's also something going on here with blindness. I recently re-read the scene where Maester Aemond asks to "see" the sword called Lightbringer that is in the possession of Stannis Baratheon. He initially says that Sam Tarly will be his eyes but then seems to indicate that he can "see" the sword well enough to know about it. In that wiki excerpt, above, Daemon stabs Aemond's blind eye with Dark Sister.

We know that a later Targaryen family feud will involve Bloodraven and Bittersteel on opposite sides, with Dark Sister and Blackfyre also on different sides of the conflict. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, Bittersteel caused Bloodraven to be blind in one eye. Aemond had lost his eye in a childhood scuffle with Lucerys Velaryon, a son of Princess Rhaenyra (and later step-son of Daemon). He filled the empty eye socket with a sapphire, creating a symbolic "chimera" situation. 

One of the points I'm getting at is that it appears GRRM uses kinslaying on a symbolic level to indicate self-harm or self-sacrifice. In the self-mutilation coming-of-age ritual of his mountain clan, Timmet son of Timmet puts out his own eye to show how brave he is. Interestingly, some readers believe that Timmet might be a descendant of Nettles, the dragonseed lover / daughter of Daemon. 

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22 minutes ago, Seams said:

I thought of an example of kinslaying that provides further symbolic evidence to support the pattern you identified: in the Dance of the Dragons, we have the Greens vs. the Blacks. Could these be symbolic eyes of different colors?

One of the points I'm getting at is that it appears GRRM uses kinslaying on a symbolic level to indicate self-harm or self-sacrifice. In the self-mutilation coming-of-age ritual of his mountain clan, Timmet son of Timmet puts out his own eye to show how brave he is. Interestingly, some readers believe that Timmet might be a descendant of Nettles, the dragonseed lover / daughter of Daemon. 

Brilliant! Tyrion's eyes are indeed one green and other black, it could be something there.

Yes, kinslaying and self-harm were historically related concepts, but as I have said, for kinslaying to be sacrifice (or even better put, a way of self-sacrifice, think Nissa Nissa) in a meaningful way it has to be intended that way, book examples of kinslaying are anything but, leaving the kinslayers rarely flustered. 

It is valid argument for familial conflict to be seen as some sort of intrapersonal confilict, self-mutilation. Cutting off a nose to spite the face, as the saying goes, especially seeing how one of our kinslayers is in fact noseless. Importance of the family and "pack survives" sayings and mottoes in the books point to that conclusion as well.

When we are already focused on the eyes there is a tidbit worth mentioning, in neighbouring countries there is a saying about highly divisive, discord sowing person that they could "bring two eyes in the person's head into conflict with each other". I am not aware of the similar sayings in other languages but those things are usually pretty universal. So familiar disputes could be on occasion be interpreted as caused by someone from the outside of family to bring the family down from within, make it self-mutilate. "House divided" is as well universal saying owning to the Bible, but the previous one does combine eyes and incited conflict in the interesting way.

Conflict between green and black "eye" of the "dragon" did cause the death of the dragons and fall of the Divided House of Targaryen.

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2 hours ago, Seams said:

I thought of an example of kinslaying that provides further symbolic evidence to support the pattern you identified: in the Dance of the Dragons, we have the Greens vs. the Blacks. Could these be symbolic eyes of different colors?

Funny how green and black are introduced with Tyrion's eyes and then his first chapter in GOT where everything he does or wears or eats is black and everything that Cersei and Jamie do, wear and say is green.  I remember getting to the Dance of the dragons and getting that green / black dichotomy repeated and not seeing any sort of connection beyond the feeling that there must be something. What the heck does the Dance have to do with Tyrion's eyes, or with the Lannister family? Maybe it's kinslaying.

The other great bit of green and black that we get is the blackwater, which was ostensibly a battle between kin, but otherwise we don't see them together like we do red and black or gold and black or green and grey, ect. Seem to be an explosive mix.

 

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1 hour ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Funny how green and black are introduced with Tyrion's eyes and then his first chapter in GOT where everything he does or wears or eats is black and everything that Cersei and Jamie do, wear and say is green.  I remember getting to the Dance of the dragons and getting that green / black dichotomy repeated and not seeing any sort of connection beyond the feeling that there must be something. What the heck does the Dance have to do with Tyrion's eyes, or with the Lannister family? Maybe it's kinslaying.

The other great bit of green and black that we get is the blackwater, which was ostensibly a battle between kin, but otherwise we don't see them together like we do red and black or gold and black or green and grey, ect. Seem to be an explosive mix.

 

Genius! I mean Tyrion - Cersei conflict is afoot and intensifying since the ACOK! I mean if Cersei gets in bed with Aegon VI, maybe even literally she does like that Targaryen look, we will have them as new Greens against the new Blacks of Daenerys and Tyrion.

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On 6/20/2022 at 4:00 PM, Equilibrium said:

P.P.P.S. Having gone too far into "expanded universe" including SSM remarks, I would like to drive the point home by one more piece of analysis, we know that Tyrion and Euron are the only characters in the books with heterochromia iridum, but using wikia I would like to propose they are the only kinslayers in the books, at least the main timeline. Below is the brief listing of book characters described as kinslayers, while some cases could be argued about, out of main characters Euron and Tyrion are the only ones for whom we know for certain that they purposely killed close family members.

There are probably multiple layers of symbolism attached to the chimeric eyes, including the connection to kinslaying. The mismatched eyes also seem to point to a duality intrinsic to the character, especially so for Tyrion and Euron:

Quote

According to Euron's nephew, Theon Greyjoy, the patch conceals a "black eye shining with malice".[8] His right eye is as blue as summer sky and is regarded as his "smiling eye".

Euron  shows his "smiling eye" when he seeks to draw the Ironborn captains to his side or tasks Victarion with bringing him Daenerys. It is bright with amusement or mockery. Though his "smiling eye" hardly suggests positive attributes, his patched black eye is even darker. 

Tyrion is a dwarf who is sometimes a giant as well. Maester Aemon is quite serious about Tyrion being a "giant," referring presumably to his intelligence. Underscoring this duality is a dream he has of a battle in which he participates:

Quote

In the dream he had two heads, both noseless. His father led the enemy, so he slew him once again. Then he killed his brother, Jaime, hacking at his face until it was a red ruin, laughing every time he struck a blow. Only when the fight was finished did he realize that his second head was weeping.

The fact that the dream featuring a laughing and a weeping head is set in a battle scenario suggests two opposing natures or personalities warring within him (and involves kinslaying as well). His twin siblings, Cersei and Jamie could be part of this duality too - the unbending warlike Cersei versus the remorseful / reflective Jamie - two separate opposing personalities, yet twins to one another, that come together in Tyrion. 

 

Edited by Evolett
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59 minutes ago, Evolett said:

There are probably multiple layers of symbolism attached to the chimeric eyes, including the connection to kinslaying. The mismatched eyes also seem to point to a duality intrinsic to the character, especially so for Tyrion and Euron:

Euron  shows his "smiling eye" when he seeks to draw the Ironborn captains to his side or tasks Victarion with bringing him Daenerys. It is bright with amusement or mockery. Though his "smiling eye" hardly suggests positive attributes, his patched black eye is even darker. 

Tyrion is a dwarf who is sometimes a giant as well. Maester Aemon is quite serious about Tyrion being a "giant," referring presumably to his intelligence. Underscoring this duality is a dream he has of a battle in which he participates:

The fact that the dream featuring a laughing and a weeping head is set in a battle scenario suggests two opposing natures or personalities warring within him (and involves kinslaying as well). His twin siblings, Cersei and Jamie could be part of this duality too - the unbending warlike Cersei versus the remorseful / reflective Jamie - two separate opposing personalities, yet twins to one another, that come together in Tyrion. 

Of course, there is dualism in the very word "kin" and "slaying". All though there are some noticable differences Tyrion although deeply flawed man has profound competing desires to do the right thing and to be loved. Euron concerns himself with no such triffles, his desires are for men to do the best thing for Euron and to be feared (smiling eye of master manipulator and malicious black eye signaling infinite capacity for cruelty. 

P.S. As I know you like comparative linguistics and we know Martin takes extra care crafting names, it should be pointed out that naming suffix "ron" comes into English from Hebrew and means "song" in both. Now we know the centrality of the term "song" in the books, after all it is right there in the title. Now in this case it is combined with one of the most famous prefixes, which comes into English from Greek, "eu" meaning good. Kind of funny the most evil character in the series A Song of Ice and Fire is named "good song".

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