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Risto

Ice and Fire animal project II: Lions

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Hello, again. Welcome to the second part of Ice and Fire animal project. After dealing with wolves in the first edition, time has come to deal with another vicious predator - lion.

The entire Animal project is envisioned to deal with one animal at the time, and that`s why we have separate threads for each one of them. These threads will deal with vast animal symbolism in ASOIAF, parallels with other literary work, mythology and cultural depictions. Also, our desire is to explore how biology, animal anatomy, psychology and behavior have influenced GRRM`s writing, and helped him in creating such magnificent world.

Like I said at the beginning of Wolf project, the contributors on this thread, including myself are neither animal nor literary experts. We do necessary research in order to present you with essays of best possible quality, but we make room that each essay can be amended with possible data or corrected where there is place for that.

Now, I have to say few words regarding organization of the thread. The opening project is consisted of 5 essays:

1. Cultural depictions of lion – part 1: Ancient cultures

2. Cultural depictions of lion – part 2: Medieval and modern depictions

3. Anatomy of the lions

4. Lion psychology and behavioral skills

5. Lions in the world of men

Essays will be posted once a week, so the readers would have easier access to the essays and easier reply on them.

Now, at the end, before we start, I would like to thank several members of this community. First, my deepest gratitude, for immense friendship and support they had given me, goes to 2 special ladies from From pawn to player thread – brashcandy and Rapsie. Without the two of you, nothing of this would ever be written, nor will I have ever found courage to write. Thanks to all contributors who donated their valuable time and help me tackle the wolf theme, and thanks to all of you who will by replying and commenting on what`s written here, enrich this thread. I hope all of you will help me in creating something we could all be proud of.

For those interested in my previous work, here`s Ice and Fire animal project: Wolves

So, welcome and I hope you`ll enjoy it. And now, opening project will begin with first essay.

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CULTURAL DEPICTIONS OF LION - PART 1: ANCIENT CULTURES

When we discuss lion in art and literature, it is always about praising the virtues of `King of beasts`. Throughout the centuries, lions have enjoyed positive depiction in almost all cultures of the world. As a universal symbol of pride, courage and nobility, lion in literature and art takes very special place. So it`s natural that lion found its place in culture, symbolism and mythology of ASOIAF.

From the earliest days of human civilization, men have been intrigued by lion`s strength and dominance in the jungle. The very first zoomorphic sculpture in the world was lion-headed ivory figure named Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel that is believed to be around 40 000 years old. And although we know nothing of this figurine, nor even whether it represents male or female lion, archeologists agree that most likely it represents some sort of deity and that it took special place in Aurignacian culture of the Upper Paleolithic.

In ancient Egypt, lion was figure that originated from Predynastic period, when tribal chiefs were hunting lions. Although lions migrated from Egyptian deserts to savanna, they remained both mythological and religious symbols of the Pharaonic period. Since lions live on edges of deserts, in Egyptian mythology they represented eastern and western horizons, and even sun itself was represented as lion.

"May I be granted power over the waters like the limbs of Seth, for I am he who crosses the sky, I am the Lion of Re, I am the Slayer who eats the foreleg, the leg of beef is extended to me..."

Many Gods of the Egyptian pantheon had been represented by lion: Aker, the Guardian and Gatekeeper of the Underworld, Sekhmet, Warrior goddess and Goddess of healing and Mihos, Son of Bastet. Lions in Egyptian culture represented mystical worlds, death and rebirth.

The most famous lion of Egyptian mythology is definitely Sphinx. Sphinx in Egyptian mythology is a creature with lion`s body and man`s face. Egyptian sphinx is a guardian of tombs, thus uniting the lion symbolism of death and rebirth, night and day. In Egypt, Sphinx is benevolent figure and very much respected cultural symbol.

Lion also had very special place in Chinese, Hindu and Mesopotamian mythologies. Lion had its place in Chinese art, and was the guardian of the Imperial palace. In India, lion is very common symbol in heraldry and inheritance. Due to numerous coat of arms and flags that have lion on them, some of the ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka and Southern India have been referred as `lion people`. In Babylon, most notable is `striding lion of Babylon`, a very common motif in Babylon`s architecture and art.

In all these cultures lion is symbol of strength and royalty, power, dominance and pride. It is highly respected and valued and unlike wolf`s, lion`s predatory skills are seen as strength, rather than savagery. Lion, unlike any other animal, had utmost highest place on hierarchy of animal world in art and symbolism.

The ASOIAF`s lion represents Lannisters of Casterly Rock. One of the Great Houses of Westeros, Old Kings of Rock, arguably the richest and most powerful family in Westeros, is the force to be reckoned with. Looking from outside, Lannisters are perfect as shining gold. Tywin is Great Lord, Warden of the West, man of great power and political influence. Cersei is the most beautiful woman in Kingdoms, Queen of Westeros and most powerful woman in all country, and Jaime is the member of the famous Kingsguard, one of the greatest knights in Westeros. The last one of them is Tyrion, black sheep of the family, with great intelligence that was for years spent on whoring and messing around. All in all, almost perfect family. But below shiny exterior, Lannisters are beasts capable of great crimes.

Deconstructing archetypes and stereotypes, cultural norms and symbols, using excessive knowledge of history and literature, GRRM presents us with totally new view on lions, such as we have rarely seen before. Tywin`s power came from ruthlessness and uncompromising way to handle things that have lead to many atrocities – destruction of Reynes of Castamere, savage murdering of Elia Martell and her children, and orchestrating the most heinous crime in recent Westerosi history – Red Wedding. Cersei and her twin brother Jaime, involved in incestuous relationship that produced three children, are everything but perfect. Cersei, despite incest, is a vain and proud woman, capable of atrocities just like her father and tragically unable to be as smart political player as he was. Jaime, the perfect knight, has killed the King he sworn to protect, betrayed other King by sleeping with his wife, tossed a kid off the window to cover up his relationship. And most interestingly, the abominate one, the infamous Tyrion, the Imp, had only one crime: he liked whores too much.

But deconstructing the popular opinion and ideals isn`t the only trick in Martin`s sleeves. He`s master of illusion, blurring the line between good and bad, making it so invisible to see, that makes you reexamine your morals and your view on life. Lannisters give us this great opportunity to see how, what we would call classic villains, think. Martin involves us in their stories so deep, that at the end you understand the reasoning of crime and you even see why it needed to be done. Sometimes we feel sorry for them. GRRM`s emotional rollercoaster he is taking us, while psychologically layering and deepening his characters is something so poetic and in a way immensely beautiful. If nothing, one thing is sure; rare are the authors who can tell their worst villains were understood in that manner.

As someone who has proven himself to be extraordinary writer, Martin also proved to be great psychologists, historian, architect, cook and even biologist. Martin`s knowledge about certain questions is so overwhelming that you can actually see it pouring out of his books. And if all writers can agree upon something, it is that great amount of themes can be found, not just in previous literary works, than in folklore, mythology and beliefs. And one of cradles of human civilization is Ancient Greece.

Discussing lions, we are going to focus on lions in Ancient Greek texts, most notably eposes by Homer and fables by Aesop, as also mythology about lions in Ancient Greece.

Homer`s lion is the proud animal. Many times Homer uses lion to describe great heroes – Achilles, Menelaus, Hector etc. He described Menelaus` mood before dueling Alexandrus (Paris) with these words: `was glad as a hungry lion that lights on the carcass of some goat or horned stag, and devours it there and then`. The imagery here is very relatable with Lannisters, especially with Cersei, as lion that lights on carcass of horned stag. Stag is a sigil of House Baratheon, thus represents Robert and his brothers. Cersei who hated Robert for molestations and abuse, was the happiest widow ever known. She feasted on boar that killed Robert stating she had never eaten that well. Another very descriptive imagery about lions in Illiad is duel between Ajax and Hector. They then each of them drew out the spear from his shield, and fell on one another like savage lions or wild boars of great strength and endurance. Ajax and Hector were among the greatest warriors of the time, something like Brienne and Jaime. And the fight between Jaime and Brienne is one of the most memorable `songs of steel`. But, Homer surpasses the traditional meaning of lion symbolism; he uses it to describe something other than great valor, strength and nobility. He uses it to describe anger, blood thirst and brutality in battle. The lion isn`t just powerful and noble animal, it`s predator, beast you should be afraid of. Lion`s nobility is united with its primal instincts, its killing nature. Homer, just like Martin, shows two sides of an animal – the benevolent animal capable of feeling and experiencing deep emotions, and the beast animals can be. This symbolism based on biology and animal behavior is something Martin use quite well in describing his characters represented by `an animal on piece of cloth`.

But where in Ancient Greek`s literature, lion is very well represented are Aesop`s fables. Teaching us the simple, but very deep life truths, Aesop positioned himself as one of the most prominent fables writers in history of literature. So, it is quite normal to discuss his potential influence on GRRM`s writing and the characters he wrote so beautifully. So, in order to have a proper idea about Aesop`s influence, we`ll analyze some of his fables and see their relevance in ASOIAF.

The ass, the fox and the lion

The Ass and the Fox, having entered into a partnership together, went out into the forest to hunt. They had not proceeded far, when they met a Lion. The Fox approached the Lion and promised to contrive for him the capture of the Ass, if he would pledge his word that his own life should be spared. On his assuring him that he would not injure him, the Fox led the Ass to a deep pit, and contrived that he should fall into it. The Lion, seeing that the Ass was secured, immediately clutched the Fox, and then attacked the Ass at his leisure.

Moral of Aesops Fable: Traitors must expect treachery.

Aesop`s fables are meant to teach kids simple life truths, ideals and virtues. But when we transfer them to a grown-up world, we get something far more interesting. This is a very simple story about treason, and consequences of it. As the moral of this story is traitors must expect treachery. And Lannisters are champions in treason, but this story can be wonderfully related to the female triangle Sansa/Cersei/Margaery. Sansa was the poor naïve, in love girl. She wanted to be like Cersei, she admired her and she thought of her as basically second mother. All that trust was gone the moment Joffrey killed Ned. Sansa was betrayed by those whom she trusted the most. And after Battle of Blackwater Bay, she was exchanged for a more suitable bride – Margaery Tyrell. The lovely girl, beautiful as only rose can be, was a perfect bride for Joffrey. Except for one small fact, she and her grandmother killed him. Whether we believe in LF`s story that actually makes perfect sense, Cersei was betrayed by one whom she suspected the least at that moment. Cersei who betrayed Sansa in regard of her son, lived to see someone else betraying her quietly by killing Joffrey. Margaery may be rose, but rose has thorns and those proved to be as equally deadly as lion`s or wolf`s teeth.

The Fox and the Lion

When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony.

Moral of Aesops Fable: Familiarity breeds contempt

This fable wonderfully depicts war between Tywin Lannister and Robb Stark. Robb was a bit intimidated of Tywin, given his reputation and the fact Robb was only a boy. But, with every won battle, Robb matured, and his confidence grew, and he started a great chess game with Tywin. Robb demonstrated his power, and abilities and he was great opponent to Tywin. Until of course, he didn`t make mistake and trusted wrong people.

The Lion in Love

A Lion once fell in love with a beautiful maiden and proposed marriage to her parents. The old people did not know what to say. They did not like to give their daughter to the Lion, yet they did not wish to enrage the King of Beasts. At last the father said:

"We feel highly honoured by your Majesty's proposal, but you see our daughter is a tender young thing, and we fear that in the vehemence of your affection you might possibly do her some injury. Might I venture to suggest that your Majesty should have your claws removed, and your teeth extracted, then we would gladly consider your proposal again."

The Lion was so much in love that he had his claws trimmed and his big teeth taken out. But when he came again to the parents of the young girl they simply laughed in his face, and bade him do his worst.

Moral of Aesops Fable: Love can tame the wildest

Despite Lannisters being ambitious, cruel and sometimes even cold, they are able of feeling deep emotions. The story of how lion lost his claws for love, reminds a lot about love story between Tywin and Joanna, when according to others Tywin was the happiest man. We have also seen how Tyrion can be made fool when he is in love, and Jaime`s infamous line `Things we do for love` can serve as perverse meaning of the Aesop`s moral.

The ass in the Lion`s skin

An Ass once found a Lion's skin which the hunters had left out in the sun to dry. He put it on and went towards his native village. All fled at his approach, both men and animals, and he was a proud Ass that day. In his delight he lifted up his voice and brayed, but then everyone knew him, and his owner came up and gave him a sound cudgeling for the fright he had caused. And shortly afterwards a Fox came up to him and said: "Ah, I knew you by your voice."

Moral of Aesops Fable: Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool

This fable I found particularly interesting in regard of Cersei`s and Tywin`s interaction. Tywin was one of the smartest men in the Game, ruthless leader that made Kings to rise and fall. His children obeyed him, feared him and very rarely they confronted him. They looked up to him. After his death, Cersei in all her vanity thought of herself as true heiress of her father. She believed she inherited her father`s intelligence, his ability to see beyond what his eyes met and undeniable talent for survival. Cersei may have bore her titles as proud lion her father was, but she was nothing but a fool. Cersei was a candle to Tywin`s sun. And her actions made out of false security and conviction she is as smart as her father, led to her utter ruin.

Lion also had very special place in Greek mythology. Three most notable lion creatures were Chimera, and her children Sphinx and Nemean Lion. Although the parentage of mythical creatures is rather dubious, especially in this case, one of the most common versions is that Sphinx and Nemean Lion are the children of Chimera and her brother Orthrus, two-headed dog.

Chimera was fire-breathing female monster composed of parts of three animals – lion, goat and snake. She is depicted as lioness with goat`s head at her back and snake`s head at the end of her tail. The triple nature of Chimera can be associated with Tywin`s power in War of 5 Kings. The lion represents Tywin and his force, the proud House with all its bannermen. The goat symbolizes Vargo Hoat and his Bloody Companions and snake represents Tywin`s viciousness and hidden moves against Robb Stark. On another level, chimera can represent Cersei and her pride and beauty, embodied in lioness, her ungodly relationship with Jaime embodied in goat, which is also Christian symbol for devil, and her conniving behavior and plotting embodied in snake`s head.

Unlike in Egyptian, in Greek mythology, Sphinx is represented with female face, eagle`s wings and more than that, she is malevolent figure. Sphinx had guarded the city of Thebes posing a riddle to anyone who wanted passage. Those who wouldn`t know the answer would be strangled to death. The riddle was:"Which creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?" and is one of the most famous riddles in history. One day, Oedipus solved the riddle and by legend Sphinx devoured herself.

The Nemean Lion is another mythological lion creature. Neman Lion was dangerous creature that lived in caves near Nemea and devoured people. According to legend, the pelt of Nemean lion was iron, bronze and stone proof. Killing Nemean lion was the first out of 12 tasks Heracles was posed by Eurystheus. After trying to kill the Nemean lion with all possible weapons, Heracles realizing it`s all futile, started wrestling with her and strangled her to death.

The very distinguished motif in both of these myths is strangulation. In ASOIAF, Cersei received a prophecy by Maegi that `the valonqar will wrap his hands about her pale white throat and choke the life from her. ` The motif was clearly taken from the myth of Nemean lion where the lion was killed by son of a God – Heracles. Since we have more than enough candidates for the job, given the vague nature of the prophecy, we can discuss who it`ll be. From Jaime and Tyrion, to Stannis, Jon and Hound, the identity of potential killer is pretty difficult to determine. But, given what we know about myth of Nemean lion, and that Gods` son killed it, my person of choice, mirroring the myth, would be Jon, who comes from 2 very powerful bloodlines. But, as I said, person of interest here is difficult to determine.

From the very first lion figurine to its depictions in ancient civilizations of the world, lion had very distinguished place. As deity, benevolent symbol of strength and nobility, courage and pride, lion had been respected as not only the King of Beasts, than as also something mystical and powerful. And the symbol remained throughout the history, evolving as civilization adding the new imagery to lion.

Martin`s lion isn`t benevolent figure like the lion usually is. It surpasses the title of King of beasts and wild predator, and is transformed into something much deadlier and dangerous. Martin humanized lion, and has given him the human brain and imagination. And with lion`s strength and human intellect, the Lannister beast is practically indestructible, and it would take all hero`s strength to destroy it, just like all the myths of malevolent lion taught us.

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Great post! The lions have always had a powerful correlation to power,glory and kingship, so they are especially apropiated to a project like that.Good work, and please, continue to give us this deep analysis.

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Nice job, Mladen.

When Ned comes to KL, the doors to the royal court are flanked by a pair of sphinxes with human heads and lions' bodies; representing Cersei's power and influence at court. The sphinx symbolized the "terrible mother": the monster of death bringing extreme bad luck, and the perversion of the intellect, womanhood, and power, and Cersei fits all descriptions.

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Excellent Post Mladen :thumbsup: , nice comparison with Cersei as the lion that lights on carcass of horned Stag, your PoV regarding the Lannisters and their depiction was astute and very good, also liked all the Aesop tales which I am familiar with, interesting that the Lion is benevolent in mythology and culture but GRRM has depicted the lions of Castely Rock as Malevolent and he does exactly the opposite with wolves who are depicted as Malevolent in cultures and mythology but GRRM has depicted them as Benevolent.

Love can tame the wildest

Again an excellent and astute comparison to Tyrion, Shae does make a fool of him in the end, Tyrion's hunger for love blinds him, in fact Tyrion strikes me as a character always hungry for love and in need of it till he kills Tywin, (although he is still in search of Tysha) when he confronts Tywin why he can't have Castely Rock, that hurt him as well. I think he also secretly hungered to be acknowledged by his father, like a pat on the back and Tywin saying "well done, son."

Regarding Volanqar, can we consider Tyrek as an candidate? He was Robert's squire, but from the information we have from the books, it was only Lancel in league with Cersei, the bonds between Squires and the knights/lords/king they serve can be strong, also Tyrek might want vengeance for Cersei killing Robert, his king, we already know Lancel is feeling guilty about giving the strong wine to the king.

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Thanks, everybody.

When Ned comes to KL, the doors to the royal court are flanked by a pair of sphinxes with women's heads and lions' bodies; representing Cersei's power and influence at court. The sphinx symbolized the "terrible mother": the monster of death bringing extreme bad luck, and the perversion of the intellect, womanhood, and power, and Cersei fits all descriptions.

It`s a great analogy. Thanks for adding it. Here`s another with Dany and her hrakkar`s skin:

She called her people together and mounted her silver mare. Her hair had burned away in Drogo’s pyre, so her handmaids garbed her in the skin of the

hrakkar Drogo had slain, the white lion of the Dothraki sea. Its fearsome head made a hood to cover her naked scalp, its pelt a cloak that flowed across her shoulders and down her back. The cream-colored dragon sunk sharp black claws into the lion’s mane and coiled its tail around her arm, while Ser Jorah took his accustomed place by her side.

Here she cloaks with lion pelt, thus symbolizing the plot armor she has. Just like the skin of Nemean lion was proof against any weapon, Dany cloaked in hrakkar`s skin is also protected from any harm. And we see that pelt reappearing over the course of entire series.

Excellent Post Mladen :thumbsup: , nice comparison with Cersei as the lion that lights on carcass of horned Stag, your PoV regarding the Lannisters and their depiction was astute and very good, also liked all the Aesop tales which I am familiar with, interesting that the Lion is benevolent in mythology and culture but GRRM has depicted the lions of Castely Rock as Malevolent and he does exactly the opposite with wolves who are depicted as Malevolent in cultures and mythology but GRRM has depicted them as Benevolent.

This is something GRRM does the best. He plays with symbols, creating astonishing web of stories and myths from variety of cultures. But as you said, he is subverting the roles animals have in our imagination, breaking the long-established opinions about positive and negative conotations about animals.

Excellent Post Mladen :thumbsup: , nice comparison with Cersei as the lion that lights on carcass of horned Stag, your PoV regarding the Lannisters and their depiction was astute and very good, also liked all the Aesop tales which I am familiar with, interesting that the Lion is benevolent in mythology and culture but GRRM has depicted the lions of Castely Rock as Malevolent and he does exactly the opposite with wolves who are depicted as Malevolent in cultures and mythology but GRRM has depicted them as Benevolent.

Love can tame the wildest

Again an excellent and astute comparison to Tyrion, Shae does make a fool of him in the end, Tyrion's hunger for love blinds him, in fact Tyrion strikes me as a character always hungry for love and in need of it till he kills Tywin, (although he is still in search of Tysha) when he confronts Tywin why he can't have Castely Rock, that hurt him as well. I think he also secretly hungered to be acknowledged by his father, like a pat on the back and Tywin saying "well done, son."

Tyrion`s desire for love, and its epic fails are both sad and funny. The smart man he is, in the Game where only few can survive, he allowed himself to be cheated on the worst way. Also, that desire led him having hopes about Sansa. From the very first night, until the Joffrey`s wedding, he was trying that marriage to work, but she was, as he stated `cold like the Wall`. It`s interesting to see him talking to Sansa about Free cities or CR, and even more interesting that he believes Sansa has betrayed him. On a different level, Tyrion, just like Jaime, is in pursuit for love. Like Jaime said, he always chased her. It`s a nice parallel with Tyrion`s attempts to break Sansa`s shield.

Regarding Volanqar, can we consider Tyrek as an candidate? He was Robert's squire, but from the information we have from the books, it was only Lancel in league with Cersei, the bonds between Squires and the knights/lords/king they serve can be strong, also Tyrek might want vengeance for Cersei killing Robert, his king, we already know Lancel is feeling guilty about giving the strong wine to the king.

I said, the list is long and many characters fit it, so I wouldn`t discard anyone. I was just making analogy eith the myth where lion was stranggled to death by a son of a God, a hero. And in ASOIAF, the closest we have to hero is Jon, who also fits in the role of `valonqar`

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I’ve always considered the use of the lion as the sigil of house Lannister to be strange. As you demonstrate very well in your post, the lion is traditionally associated with courage, heroism, and honor. The Lannisters lack all of these characteristics, however not in the way you might suggest. It is not so much that the Lannisters resemble a strong predator, that is strong, amoral killers. Rather, house Lannister strength and hallmark has been trickery and cleverness. Consider the following characters:

Lan the Clever: the originator of the House, who tricked the Casterlys out of Casterly Rock. Literally the house is founded on trickery.

Tywin: Tywin is said to have a great reputation for military strategy. However, nowhere is this in evidence. He only wins one large, important battle in the series, the Battle of the Blackwater. His victory here was not due to outfighting a foe in open combat, but purely to trickery. He launched a sneak attack on Stanis’ rear, while he was busy assaulting KL. Rather Tywin’s greatest victory was the Red Wedding. Luring all of one’s foes to a wedding and killing them is victory through trickery at its highest (and bloodiest).

Jaime: Jaime starts off as more of a true lion: a great fighter, proud, and without honor. One he gets his hand cut off, however, he begins to change, and, in my opinion, becomes more Lannister-esque. For example, the way he deals with ending the siege at Riverrun was a great work of getting what you want by trickery.

Tyrion: Need I say more.

Cersei: In this view, Cersei is a failed Lannister. She thinks that she is very clever, but actually screws stuff up repeatedly. All of her schemes end up backfiring on her.

Thus the characterization of the house completely goes against their reputation and sigil. The other characters expect a strong proud house represented by a lion, but in fact deal with a crafty bunch, whose sigil would better be a fox.

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Lion Cannibalism is well documented,That could tie in with Tyrion's kinslaying he's trying to take over the pride so to speak.

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Thus the characterization of the house completely goes against their reputation and sigil. The other characters expect a strong proud house represented by a lion, but in fact deal with a crafty bunch, whose sigil would better be a fox.

Although GRRM has broken the mold of lion symbolism in his books, he has also given Lannisters many characteristics other lions in literature and art have. First is definetaly the pride. No matter which Lannister we talk about, their pride is undesputable. Even Tyrion is extremly proud person. Second, their courage. You can`t despute Tyrion`s courage to fight in Battle of Blackwater Bay, or Cersei`s to kill Robert and play dangerous game. Jaime is courageous as both knight and person. Also, their strength and power is also very known. Lannisters are not maybe positive figures in ASOIAF, but they are also not the great villains. And Martin pushed them as family with their sigil outside the box lion usually is, and gave them some new attributes.

Lion Cannibalism is well documented,That could tie in with Tyrion's kinslaying he's trying to take over the pride so to speak.

That is something we`ll talk about when Lion behavior essay is posted.

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Although GRRM has broken the mold of lion symbolism in his books, he has also given Lannisters many characteristics other lions in literature and art have. First is definetaly the pride. No matter which Lannister we talk about, their pride is undesputable. Even Tyrion is extremly proud person. Second, their courage. You can`t despute Tyrion`s courage to fight in Battle of Blackwater Bay, or Cersei`s to kill Robert and play dangerous game. Jaime is courageous as both knight and person. Also, their strength and power is also very known. Lannisters are not maybe positive figures in ASOIAF, but they are also not the great villains. And Martin pushed them as family with their sigil outside the box lion usually is, and gave him some new attributes.

This would probably be talked about when you speak of the middle ages, but the Lannisters and the westerlands are based on England, whose sigil was... The Lion.

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This would probably be talked about when you speak of the middle ages, but the Lannisters and the westerlands are based on England, whose sigil was... The Lion.

I`ll talk about lions in heraldry, Henry the Lion, Richard Lionheart, Lion in medieval culture like the novel about Yvain and more...

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Although GRRM has broken the mold of lion symbolism in his books, he has also given Lannisters many characteristics other lions in literature and art have. First is definetaly the pride. No matter which Lannister we talk about, their pride is undesputable. Even Tyrion is extremly proud person. Second, their courage. You can`t despute Tyrion`s courage to fight in Battle of Blackwater Bay, or Cersei`s to kill Robert and play dangerous game. Jaime is courageous as both knight and person. Also, their strength and power is also very known. Lannisters are not maybe positive figures in ASOIAF, but they are also not the great villains. And Martin pushed them as family with their sigil outside the box lion usually is, and gave him some new attributes.

Firstly let me say that I'm a real Lannister fan. Being clever is a lot more entertaining than being honorable. And also the 'wickedness' of the Lannisters is a little over stated, in my opinion. Really the only villainous character is Tywin, because he so brutal. Cersei is merely inept and uncaring.

Pride is definitely consistent with Lannister's being lions. Also courage. None of them shy away from a fight. Like you said, even Cersei has the courage to try for something big. However, I think they would all agree (except for the clueless Cersei) that discretion is the better part of valor. And it's better to try and trick your way out of a tough spot then fight. In fact this is a big part of Jaime's 'redemption arc'. Once he lost his hand he had to start thinking his way out of things (often asking himself what would Tyrion do), and in doing so become more Lannistery.

You put your finger right on my point, though. You'd think the house with a lion sigil would be a bunch of tough fighters. More the archetypal warrior. But rather than portray the lions as strong and powerful, honorable or not, GRRM portrays them as clever tricksters, subverting the archetype. Maybe this is kind of like what you said in your wolf post. How normally wolves are villains in stories, but GRRM made them the good honest house's sigil.

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Firstly let me say that I'm a real Lannister fan. Being clever is a lot more entertaining than being honorable. And also the 'wickedness' of the Lannisters is a little over stated, in my opinion. Really the only villainous character is Tywin, because he so brutal. Cersei is merely inept and uncaring.

Oh, I love them too. They are delicious characters, and have so many great lines. Even Tywin with his cruelty makes perfect villain. But, Lannisters in general, as I see them, are Martin`s way to say that gold doesn`t shine that bright. He used intentionally lion symbolism to depict them, but he surpassed that, and twisted it into something new. Martin`s lion isn`t all bad, it`s just not as noble and honorable as archetypal lion usually is. Martin humanized lion and gave him great array of human emotions, both good and bad.

You put your finger right on my point, though. You'd think the house with a lion sigil would be a bunch of tough fighters. More the archetypal warrior. But rather than portray the lions as strong and powerful, honorable or not, GRRM portrays them as clever tricksters, subverting the archetype. Maybe this is kind of like what you said in your wolf post. How normally wolves are villains in stories, but GRRM made them the good honest house's sigil.

They are fighters, in a way. Not the way we often imagine fighters, but they have their own battles. This playing and twisting the nature of symbol is something Martin does very well. But more than that, in his version of lion, he sublimed the ideal of perfect imagery with deep perverse human emotions. Villains and heroes, those aren`t GRRM`s lions. GRRM`s lions are somewhere between with all virtues and flaws both men and lions have.

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'Super sized lions' roamed UK in ice age

However comparisons between the skulls of modern big cats and the fossilised remains of their ancestors revealed the animals found in the British Isles, Europe and North America as recently as 13,000 years ago were more like lions.

Dr Ross Barnett, who conducted the work at Oxford University's Department of Zoology, said the extinct species were "supersized lions" that hunted giant deer and woolly mammoth in a frozen landscape.

"These ancient lions were like a supersized version of today's lions, up to 25 per cent bigger than those we know today and, in the Americas, with longer legs adapted for endurance running.

"What our genetic evidence shows is that these ancient extinct lions and the lions of today were very closely related. Meanwhile, cave art suggests that they formed prides, although the males appear not to have had manes."

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This would probably be talked about when you speak of the middle ages, but the Lannisters and the westerlands are based on England, whose sigil was... The Lion.

The English football and cricket teams still wear 3 Lions on the badge. The OP has obviously put a lot of thought into GRRM and Lions. Maybe too much?

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The English football and cricket teams still wear 3 Lions on the badge. The OP has obviously put a lot of thought into GRRM and Lions. Maybe too much?

Maybe I have. Perhaps you would like to give me example where exactly have I overanalyzed symbolism of lions.

And for the further notice, when you criticize someone`s work, do that with arguments... That way you wouldn`t sound so...

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Brilliant, brilliant post. As I've been frequenting this board more and more, I'm starting to view you as one of the best board members, Mladen, and stuff like this only cements that feeling.

Any ideas on the Reyne's taking up a reversed Red Lion (two tailed at that) on a Gold Field? Also, I am sincerely wondering if you plan on placing any significance on a Lion's barbed penis? Because, you know, I take a rather odd joy in reading potentially absurd goodies.

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