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Etymology and language findings


Sandy Clegg
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4 hours ago, SaffronLady said:

I totally do not follow this jump from fish and fishing allusions to greenseer implications. Was there even any indication that any Tully was a greenseer?

Fair question. I got a bit ahead of myself there. But check out this post on my blog if you're interested. It's about Catelyn's contribution to the powers her children have. 

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While Jacinth is a synonym for blue in older dictionaries, according to Merriam-Webster it is

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a gem more nearly orange in color than a hyacinth

And its associations with the color blue actually come from the hyacinth, which was believed to be sapphires on occasion.

I dunno how useful it is, but a description of the modern use of jacinth here:

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Jacinth is a traditional term for yellow, orange or red-brown zircon. Although the term jacinth is no longer much used in the gem trade, it is an important part of the history of gemstones. It dates back to one of the most important historical gemstone references, the description of the breastplate of Aaron in the Old Testament

None of this has much input on ASOIAF itself, just thought similar words that have drastically different meanings is a running theme.

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I've been wondering, what with George's love of Scots history, whether we shouldn't be looking at some older Scots meanings of words? This website is an excellent resource, simply fantastic: https://dsl.ac.uk

I was looking at Reek and found that it can also mean 'SMOKE' as in the famous nickname for Edinburgh, Auld Reekie. But it also came up with this:

REEK, n.2 Also reik, reak. A wild irresponsible trick, a subterfuge, an artifice (Rxb. 1968). Obs. in Eng. since 17th c. Gen. in pl.

Ramsay, as Reek, does obtain Theon's trust through subterfuge initially.

Edited by Sandy Clegg
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Stark has its origins as a much more 'deathly' meaning than I had thought, with the connotations of 'bare or barren' only coming  in 200 years ago. Essentially the origin is 'stiff' - as in corpses ... ?

stark (adj.)

Old English stearc

  •  stiff, strong, rigid (as in death), obstinate;
  • stern, severe, hard;
  • harsh, rough, violent

The meaning "utter, sheer, complete" is recorded by c. 1300, perhaps from the notion of "strict," or "all-powerful" or by influence of the common phrase stark dead (late 14c.), with stark mistaken as an intensive adjective.

The sense of "bare, barren" is from 1833. In Middle English also "stiff with fear or emotion," also, of buildings, etc., "strongly made." As an adverb from c. 1200, "firmly, strongly." 

https://www.etymonline.com/

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  • 3 weeks later...

Howling Dog = Fire (according to Norse legend)

"... the references to Grendel in Beowulf further suggest that the dogs or wolves who guard or bar the way to the underworld are themselves warg.

There are two more things to note before we can progress further. One is an interesting kenning in another Eddic poem, Helreith Brynhildar: this is hrot-garmr, 'howling dog', which stands for fire, and in this case refers specifically to Brynhild's funeral pyre. The other is the wall of fire that surrounds Mengloth's Lyfjaberg. This is paralleled in several other medieval Norse texts by walls of flame that surround otherworld realms. The two ideas could be linked: after all, cremation is itself a wall of fire that is a boundary between this world and the next."

http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/hellhnds.htm

This link between dogs/wolves as underworld guardians and fire ... it's something worth exploring, perhaps. The Hound is a symbolic dog who is afraid of fire, and he acts as psychopomp figure to Arya when taking her across the Trident. The howling of wolves also accompanies the burning of the Winterfell library just before Bran's attempted murder:

Robb went to the window, but as he reached for the shutters another sound was added to the mournful howling of the direwolves. "Dogs," he said, listening. "All the dogs are barking. They've never done that before …" Catelyn heard his breath catch in his throat. When she looked up, his face was pale in the lamplight. "Fire," he whispered.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

Some thoughts on House Hunter

In today's crossword the word 'hunter' came up as a synonym for the word 'watch' so I took a look at the dictionary and found this:

huntˈer noun

  1. A person or animal that hunts (fem. huntˈress)
  2. A horse used in hunting, esp. fox hunting
  3. watch whose face is protected with a metal case

This immediately took me back to a half-theory I had been wondering about a while ago, regarding the sigil of House Hunter. It looks like 'five silver arrows, fanned, on brown' as you can see here:

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/House_Hunter

I had always wondered whether this sigil  was coincidentally representing a clock-face, or had GRRM wanted to make a direct link? This unexpected meaning of the word 'hunter' basically confirms to me that this is no accident. The Old Lord Hunter was even named Eon - a name that has 'time' connotations in itself.

From Alayne's chapter in AFFC:

Young Lord Hunter's ermine cloak confused her till she spied the brooch that pinned it, five silver arrows fanned. Alayne would have put his age closer to fifty than to forty. His father had ruled at Longbow Hall for nigh on sixty years, only to die so abruptly that some whispered the new lord had hastened his inheritance. Hunter's cheeks and nose were red as apples, which bespoke a certain fondness for the grape. She made certain to fill his cup as often as he emptied it.

I don't quite know how to connect all the dots, but the fanned arrows do look remarkably like a clock-face, or perhaps a compass. The way they fan, going back and forth, suggests a dynamic process.

And the apples mentioned in connection with young lord hunter remind me of Alleras and her arrows/apples. Is GRRM planting some symbolic gardening seeds which may point to clues regarding time  ... going back and forth?

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On 2/10/2024 at 3:52 PM, Sandy Clegg said:

I had always wondered whether this sigil  was coincidentally representing a clock-face, or had GRRM wanted to make a direct link? This unexpected meaning of the word 'hunter' basically confirms to me that this is no accident. The Old Lord Hunter was even named Eon - a name that has 'time' connotations in itself.

At first glance, the name Eon could simply be a reference to Old Hunter's long rule as head of his house - 60 years or so, probably rivalled only by Walder Frey. 

Your find has me thinking however. If the author has planted a clue by associating House Hunter with time, what could the connection be? How how about this: in mythology and ancient tradition, the hunter is closely linked to the horned god. This is confirmed in the story through Robert B, a horned-lord archetype and a man who loved to hunt. The horned lord is of course intimately linked to time, to the seasonal cycle. In view of this, it's interesting that Eon is rumored to have been killed by his youngest son. This actually makes sense because horned lords are supposed to die at the end of a season. They aren't supposed to be living on for decades on end. In fact they have to die so the season can come to a close, thus making way for the lord's rebirth and resurrection that ushers in a new season. So, perhaps House Hunter + sigil offers clues to the quirky seasons. 

Further research also threw up another possibility: the "Arrow of Time," also known as "Time's Arrow." This is a scientific concept:

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Time appears to have a direction, to be inherently directional: the past lies behind us and is fixed and immutable, and accessible by memory or written documentation; the future, on the other hand, lies ahead and is not necessarily fixed, and, although we can perhaps predict it to some extent, we have no firm evidence or proof of it. Most of the events we experience are irreversible: for example, it is easy for us to break an egg, and hard, if not impossible, to unbreak an already broken egg. https://www.exactlywhatistime.com/physics-of-time/the-arrow-of-time/

 

As it happens, there are two novels titled "Time's Arrow." Both might be relevant, especially in view of the notion of a time-travelling Bran. The first is by Arthur C. Clarke, and involves time-travel:

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"Time's Arrow" is a science fiction short story by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 1950 in the first issue of the magazine Science Fantasy. The story revolves about the unintended consequences of using time travel to study dinosaurs. Time's Arrow (short story) - The New Wiki

 In this story, the scientist who goes back in time and ends up being trampled by the dinorsaur.

The second novel put me in mind of Bran's series of visions which he experiences as going backwards in time:

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Time's Arrow: or The Nature of the Offence (1991) is a postmodern novel by English novelist Martin Amis (1949-2023). The story is told from the perspective of an undefined entity inhabiting a German-American doctor's body. The entity gains awareness at the moment of the doctor's death and observes the events of the man's life unfold backwards.

Time's Arrow, summary

 

I mentioned Walder Frey earlier. Incidentally, a member of the Hunter family, Janyce Hunter, is wed to Edwyn Frey, the oldest son of Ser Ryman Frey. Their daughter Walda Frey (not Fat Walda) is now second in line to inherit the twins. This seems somehow significant. When you think of Walder Frey in terms of a fertility god/horned god (think also of Norse god Frey, god of fertility and prosperity), besides his Garth image, it's obvious he's been in power for far too long. 

Plenty of room for speculation :D

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Fascinating insights on the Hunter sigil. 

12 hours ago, Evolett said:

in mythology and ancient tradition, the hunter is closely linked to the horned god. This is confirmed in the story through Robert B, a horned-lord archetype and a man who loved to hunt. The horned lord is of course intimately linked to time, to the seasonal cycle. In view of this, it's interesting that Eon is rumored to have been killed by his youngest son. This actually makes sense because horned lords are supposed to die at the end of a season. They aren't supposed to be living on for decades on end. In fact they have to die so the season can come to a close, thus making way for the lord's rebirth and resurrection that ushers in a new season. So, perhaps House Hunter + sigil offers clues to the quirky seasons. 

I would bet that GRRM wants us to examine all of the hunting symbolism in this context. 

Ramsay Snow hunts women. I bet he is killing each Spring, leading to the endless winters that throw the seasons out of balance. Probably the Maidenpool legend is the antidote to Ramsay's Maiden Slaughter, with a champion who judiciously uses a sword provided by the archetypal maiden. 

Or maybe the maiden herself slays the season: Brienne picks up a would-be suitor, Ser Hyle Hunt, on her journey through the Riverlands. She meets up with him at Maidenpool, iirc, where he has been sworn to the service of Randall Tarly (whose sigil is a huntsman). He is released from that service and becomes part of Brienne's quest to find the high-born maid of three and ten. (Is that another clock reference?)

Although Ser Hyle has been shadowing her, though, he doesn't appear until Dick Crabb has been slain. Maybe Ser Hyle represents the new season in Brienne's arc and Nimble Dick is the old season that needed to be laid to rest at his ancestral home. (New thought: In The Odyssey, dawn is always referred to as "rosy-fingered dawn." The rosy fingers might explain why crab claws are persistent imagery in ASOIAF. Maybe GRRM uses crab claws as a symbol for sunrise, similar to Homer's rosy fingers. Interesting that Nimble Dick is going home [Homer wordplay?] and that he is incapacitated by a morning star before he is killed by the fool Shagwell.)

Ser Hyle's sigil is a dead deer - I always assumed this was symbolic of Renly, and that Ser Hyle might be a "Renly's Ghost" figure, guiding Brienne. But maybe it's less specifically focused on Renly and more of a reference to the death of the archetypal horned lord and the need for a rebirth.

It may be wishful thinking, but I also note that the five fanned arrows in the House Hunter sigil leave out the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock arrows. The horizontal brown bar across the House Hunt sigil might provide the completion of the clock face.

Meanwhile, the highborn maid of three-and-ten is serving wine to the always-thirsty Young Lord Hunter, who has apple cheeks. (This service by the maiden fits with the observation that the young lord might represent the new season who has slain the old Horned Lord.) I believe one of the first apple associations is King Robert telling Ned to hold a feast and serve up the boar that killed him with an apple in its mouth. This forum has made note that boars are usually present at the death of kings, but also the presence of Fossoways of various kinds when a new king or dynasty is in the making - most notably in The Hedge Knight, but also with the introduction of the "brown apple Fossoways" in the Young Griff arc. We also see characters such as Jon Snow and Ser Davos and Littlefinger eating apples, and Jon Snow stepping on rotten apples at the ruined inn near Queenscrown.

If the apple cheeks of Lord Hunt are part of the symbolism, this would add some insight to the shooting of apples in the preface of AFfC: this activity would also be part of the "changing the seasons" symbolism. The hapless Pate wants nothing more than to spend his life with Rosy - the expensive virgin up for sale in the nearby brothel (and likely a part of the Rosy-Fingered-Dawn symbolism). Instead, this keeper of the ravens is apparently killed. We don't know what will happen to Rosy. 

We have all been focused on the symbolism of the three swords because of the Azor Ahai story. I bet we need to find four swords because of the four seasons. Septon Chayle tells Bran that the comet is the sword that slays the season. 

And then Septon Chayle is apparently slain but he reappears at The Wall - apparently now part of The Watch. (I know people think GRRM made a mistake putting Chayle at the Wall, but I don't think GRRM makes mistakes like that.)

Tobho Mott has turned Ice into two swords. I bet the sword made by Gendry is the third. I wonder which is the fourth sword needed to rebalance the seasons? I wouldn't be surprised if it is Heartsbane, the Tarly family sword. Or maybe Longclaw, bringing us back to Crackclaw and the rosy fingers. 

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12 hours ago, Evolett said:

Your find has me thinking however. If the author has planted a clue by associating House Hunter with time, what could the connection be? How how about this: in mythology and ancient tradition, the hunter is closely linked to the horned god. This is confirmed in the story through Robert B, a horned-lord archetype and a man who loved to hunt. The horned lord is of course intimately linked to time, to the seasonal cycle. In view of this, it's interesting that Eon is rumored to have been killed by his youngest son. This actually makes sense because horned lords are supposed to die at the end of a season. They aren't supposed to be living on for decades on end. In fact they have to die so the season can come to a close, thus making way for the lord's rebirth and resurrection that ushers in a new season. So, perhaps House Hunter + sigil offers clues to the quirky seasons.

You've sent me down a rabbit hole :) Yeah, the Horned Lord is also known as Cernunnos who is a kind of psychopomp figure of the underworld as well as being connected with the seasons. Another name connected with him is Bran:

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The leader of the Hunt also varies. In Celtic Britain it is usually led by Cernunnos, the horned god. In Wales it is led by Gwyn ap Nudd, and sometimes Bran. After the Anglo-Saxons had settled in England, Cernunnos became Herne the Hunter.

https://hunter-ash.livejournal.com/18607.html

Cernunnos ...  "has also been portrayed as a god of travel, commerce and bi-directionality; or associated with crossroads, the underworld and reincarnation, symbolizing the cycle of life and death." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cernunnos

Bi-directionality and crossroads seem to be themes at the very heart of Bran's story, with him potentially having the power to revisit the past and affect the present. 

12 hours ago, Evolett said:

Time's Arrow: or The Nature of the Offence (1991) is a postmodern novel by English novelist Martin Amis (1949-2023). The story is told from the perspective of an undefined entity inhabiting a German-American doctor's body. The entity gains awareness at the moment of the doctor's death and observes the events of the man's life unfold backwards.

Time's Arrow, summary

I read this when it came out, in my uni days! Cracking novella and should have won the Booker Prize in my opinion. Amis was not a sci-fi writer but used this conceit of the 'entity that watches from within' very well. It's an eerie idea that he gets a lot of comic mileage out of (think the 'Backwards' episode of Red Dwarf).

Mild spoilers if you wanna read the book I guess, but .... As the book continues, however, the 'host' body gets younger and younger until we find ourselves in Germany during WWII. That's when things turn rather sinister. Amis's other book on the Holocaust, The Zone of Interest, has just been made into a film actually. I feel that Time's Arrow would be unfilmable tbh, but anyway - the concept of a 'mind passenger' is very much within GRRM's wheelhouse, with wargs and skin-changers inhabiting his ASOIAF universe. And 1991 is, of course, around the time when he first got the idea for ASOIAF.

The arrows that Alleras shoots may have more to do with Time/Skinchanging themes than we first thought?

Edited by Sandy Clegg
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33 minutes ago, Seams said:

Ser Hyle's sigil is a dead deer - I always assumed this was symbolic of Renly, and that Ser Hyle might be a "Renly's Ghost" figure, guiding Brienne. But maybe it's less specifically focused on Renly and more of a reference to the death of the archetypal horned lord and the need for a rebirth.

Hyle Hunt is certainly meant to be associated with Cernunnos (and associated deities) somehow. 

Cernunnos or Carnonos is a god depicted with antlers, seated cross-legged, and is associated with stags, horned serpents, dogs and  bulls. He is usually shown holding or wearing a torc and sometimes holding a bag of coins. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cernunnos

When Brienne comes across Hyle in AFFC, he also has his legs crossed:

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Laughter sounded from behind them. She ripped Oathkeeper from her sheath and whirled, expecting more Bloody Mummers . . . but it was only Hyle Hunt atop the crumbling wall, his legs crossed. "If there are brothels down in hell, the wretch will thank you," the knight called down. "Elsewise, that's a waste of good gold." - Brienne IV, AFFC

Is it noteworthy that this cross-legged Curnunnos figure is atop a crumbling Wall? Does the Wall have any connection with the out-of-kilter seasons? Perhaps ... if the return of the Horned, Green Man, Nature figure means a return to natural cycles. Possibly something for more mystically-attuned minds than my own to ponder. I'll stick to word games :) 

26 minutes ago, Seams said:

Great minds think alike!

Indeed!

Edited by Sandy Clegg
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@Sandy Clegg and @Seams: great thinking!

6 hours ago, Seams said:

I would bet that GRRM wants us to examine all of the hunting symbolism in this context. 

Indeed! I've spent quite a bit of time examining the horned-lord archetype but the hunter aspect kind of passed me by. 

 

6 hours ago, Seams said:

Ramsay Snow hunts women. I bet he is killing each Spring, leading to the endless winters that throw the seasons out of balance.

Love this insight. I'm reminded of the song Tyrion sings frequently - Seasons of my Love. The lyrics:

I loved a maid as fair as summer
with sunlight in her hair.

I loved a maid as red as autumn
with sunset in her hair.

I loved a maid as white as winter
with moonglow in her hair.

You'll notice the Spring Maiden is missing.

Building up on your idea, it's significant Ramsay kills northern maidens (winter maidens) who would otherwise "bloom" in the followup spring season. Also, I've always been convinced of a distinct parallel between Ramsay's hunting habits and Old Nan's tale about the Others hunting maidens through the forest:

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All the swords of men could not stay their advance, and even maidens and suckling babes found no pity in them. They hunted the maids through frozen forests, and fed their dead servants on the flesh of human children.

 The idea is particularly apt regarding the Others. As the source of a generation long winter, their hunting /killing maidens to prevent spring makes sense. 

I think Alys Karstark is also important in this regard. She flees from a marriage to her great-uncle's son with her great-uncle in pursuit, seeking refuge at Castle Black and arriving there as the "grey girl on a dying horse" from Melisandre's vision. Prior to this, her father Rickard Karstark promises her hand to whoever captures the kingslayer. Vargo Hoat, another horned-lord archetype, maims and captures Jamie with the intention of marrying Alys to become Lord of Karhold. Initially Alys was betrothed to Daryn Hornwood, late son of the unfortunate Lady Hornwood. House Hornwood's sigil depicts a moose - hinting at another horned-lord association. My feeling is that Ramsay officially becomes a dark aspect of the horned-lord archetype after marring Lady Hornwood. 

 

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Probably the Maidenpool legend is the antidote to Ramsay's Maiden Slaughter, with a champion who judiciously uses a sword provided by the archetypal maiden. 

You mean Florian and Jonquill? I can see this being the case. Perhaps it takes a certain kind of fool to rescue the maiden as seen in Sansa/Dontos. Patchface may also be in this category. When Davos returns to Dragonstone after surviving the Battle of the Blackwater, he meets Shireen, Patches and Edric Storm in Aegon's garden. They are playing Monsters and Maidens:

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The boy took him at his word. “We were playing monsters and maidens,” he explained. “I was the monster. It’s a childish game but my cousin likes it. 

So Edric plays the monster, Shireen is the maiden, leaving Patches the fool as the knight who rescues the maiden. With his attachment to the Baratheons and his antlered hat, Patchface is another archetypical horned-lord figure.  

 

Yes, I've pondering Sam Tarly of the huntsman sigil as a possible "antidote" as well. Jon insists Sam become proficient in bowmanship, something Sam finds difficult but he practices nevertheless. He defends Gilly and her baby against the wights and kills an Other, the embodiment of a long winter. 

 

6 hours ago, Sandy Clegg said:

read this when it came out, in my uni days! Cracking novella and should have won the Booker Prize in my opinion

I've added it to my reading list.

Edited by Evolett
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  • 3 weeks later...

Has anyone else ever delved into the meaning of the name Tom/Thomas? Apparently Thomas (Greek) is of Aramaic origin, meaning .... twin.

https://www.etymonline.com/word/Thomas

Could this be something GRRM was aware of and wove into his story? According to the wiki ...

Tom is a given name in Westeros. Characters named Tom include:

See also

Not to mention Tommen, and the one-eared black Tom (cat) that Arya tries to catch.

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