LILITH the LEVIATHAN
Just how are Leviathan, comets, and breath connected in GRRM’s world? This is a theme we will read in Daenerys, Cersei, and even Euron plot lines, and is something GRRM first began developing back in the Tuf Voyaging series with The Plague Star.
- A Clash of Kings – Bran I
Bran asked Septon Chayle about the comet while they were sorting through some scrolls snatched from the library fire. “It is the sword that slays the season,” he replied, and soon after the white raven came from Oldtown bringing word of autumn, so doubtless he was right.
Though Old Nan did not think so, and she’d lived longer than any of them. “Dragons,” she said, lifting her head and sniffing. She was near blind and could not see the comet, yet she claimed she could smell it. “It be dragons, boy,” she insisted. Bran got no princes from Nan, no more than he ever had.
- A Clash of Kings – Prologue
The child had been plagued by nightmares as far back as Maester Cressen could recall. “We have talked of this before,” he said gently. “The dragons cannot come to life. They are carved of stone, child. In olden days, our island was the westernmost outpost of the great Freehold of Valyria. It was the Valyrians who raised this citadel, and they had ways of shaping stone since lost to us. A castle must have towers wherever two walls meet at an angle, for defense. The Valyrians fashioned these towers in the shape of dragons to make their fortress seem more fearsome, just as they crowned their walls with a thousand gargoyles instead of simple crenellations.” He took her small pink hand in his own frail spotted one and gave it a gentle squeeze. “So you see, there is nothing to fear.”
Shireen was unconvinced. “What about the thing in the sky? Dalla and Matrice were talking by the well, and Dalla said she heard the red woman tell Mother that it was dragonsbreath. If the dragons are breathing, doesn’t that mean they are coming to life?”
The red woman, Maester Cressen thought sourly. Ill enough that she’s filled the head of the mother with her madness, must she poison the daughter’s dreams as well? He would have a stern word with Dalla, warn her not to spread such tales. “The thing in the sky is a comet, sweet child. A star with a tail, lost in the heavens. It will be gone soon enough, never to be seen again in our lifetimes. Watch and see.”
Before we get too far into this parallelism with Daenerys, first let us check in with our author.
The most conspicuous aspect of the world of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire is the nature of the seasons, the long and random nature of the seasons. I have gotten a number of fan letters over the years from readers who are trying to figure out the reason for why the seasons are the way they are. They develop lengthy theories: perhaps it’s a multiple-star system, and what the axial tilt is, but I have to say, “Nice try, guys, but you’re thinking in the wrong direction.” This is a fantasy series. I am going to explain it all eventually, but it’s going to be a fantasy explanation. It’s not going to be a science-fiction explanation. — George R.R. Martin
Why does say? What are his intentions with the moon and comet (and sun, planet, and constellation) imagery in A Song of Ice and Fire?
Well, I cannot say for sure, so just a guess that much of what he is writing in ASOIAF is being retold from his high-SciFi days converted in to sword and magic fantasy. He seems to have a story he wants to tell and while it has come out in different ways in the past. ASOIAF is the only literary space to bring it all together and weave it in something perfect for him. Well, not perfect because nothing is, but more lie off-white. His past stories (SciFi or no) all had multiple references to moons, suns, planets, constellations and stars, but it is always about the story first, not the myth within. The myth within is just a support and way of providing information to the reader in a natural way. A creative way to provide exposition. What I am attempting here is to try and break down the symbolism to help understand the reason for certain exposition in this tale.
Sea Dragon Leviathan
Among some biblical scholars Leviathan is widely acknowledged to be another title for the Serpent of the garden. This acknowledgment is certainly what the kabbalistic rabbis did in construing Lilith’s fate after the garden. From Leviathan, many aspects of Lilith’s legend can be confirmed. Leviathan is described as a serpent fleeing from God. It dwells in the seas, and God shall crush its head in the great Day of Judgment. These facts confirm key aspects of Lilith’s legend. Namely, that she fled as a fugitive from the garden, that she came to inhabit the seas, and that in the Day of Judgment the promised seed of Eve would crush her head.
We already see Daenerys as a watery Leviathan in the books, as we do Euron. We could even include Cersei in a round abut way as she sits to rule on the Blackwater and she is the “commander” of the green fire (no, not Rhaegal).
- A Game of Thrones – Daenerys I
There came a soft knock on her door. “Come,” Dany said, turning away from the window. Illyrio’s servants entered, bowed, and set about their business. …
They filled her bath with hot water brought up from the kitchen and scented it with fragrant oils. The girl pulled the rough cotton tunic over Dany’s head and helped her into the tub. The water was scalding hot, but Daenerys did not flinch or cry out. She liked the heat. It made her feel clean. Besides, her brother had often told her that it was never too hot for a Targaryen. “Ours is the house of the dragon,” he would say. “The fire is in our blood.”
- A Clash of Kings – Daenerys V
“As you wish,” said Arstan. “What names would you prefer?”
“Vhagar,” Daenerys told him. “Meraxes. And Balerion. Paint the names on their hulls in golden letters three feet high, Arstan. I want every man who sees them to know the dragons are returned.”
- A Storm of Swords – Daenerys I
No squall could frighten Dany, though. Daenerys Stormborn, she was called, for she had come howling into the world on distant Dragonstone as the greatest storm in the memory of Westeros howled outside, a storm so fierce that it ripped gargoyles from the castle walls and smashed her father’s fleet to kindling.
The narrow sea was often stormy, and Dany had crossed it half a hundred times as a girl, running from one Free City to the next half a step ahead of the Usurper’s hired knives. She loved the sea. She liked the sharp salty smell of the air, and the vastness of horizons bounded only by a vault of azure sky above. It made her feel small, but free as well. She liked the dolphins that sometimes swam along beside Balerion, slicing through the waves like silvery spears, and the flying fish they glimpsed now and again. She even liked the sailors, with all their songs and stories. Once on a voyage to Braavos, as she’d watched the crew wrestle down a great green sail in a rising gale, she had even thought how fine it would be to be a sailor. But when she told her brother, Viserys had twisted her hair until she cried. “You are blood of the dragon,” he had screamed at her. “A dragon, not some smelly fish.”
He was a fool about that, and so much else, Dany thought. If he had been wiser and more patient, it would be him sailing west to take the throne that was his by rights. Viserys had been stupid and vicious, she had come to realize, yet sometimes she missed him all the same. Not the cruel weak man he had become by the end, but the brother who had sometimes let her creep into his bed, the boy who told her tales of the Seven Kingdoms, and talked of how much better their lives would be once he claimed his crown.
- A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys VIII
“They are dragons, Quentyn.” Dany stood on her toes and kissed him lightly, once on each cheek. “And so am I.”
The young prince swallowed. “I … I have the blood of the dragon in me as well, Your Grace. I can trace my lineage back to the first Daenerys, the Targaryen princess who was sister to King Daeron the Good and wife to the Prince of Dorne. He built the Water Gardens for her.“
In addition to the clues in Euron’s chapters that he is destined to at least meet with Daenerys, this just adds to the bountiful foreshadowing of a Daenerys and Euron… interaction.
Leviathan Breathes Fire
The more learned scholar sees that there has to be much more to Leviathan than just a sea monster. The power ascribed to Leviathan is too great for a mere beast.
The Leviathan is the king of all sons of pride (Job 41:34) = The Khal of all Khals in ASOIAF.
The Leviathan breaths fire = fire breathing dragon if looked at as a “regular” animal leviathan. However, in human form this could be how Dany survived Drogo’s funeral pyre. She could breath fire in the figurative way that fire gods breathe fire. Here are a few quotes from the books that show how this symbolic fire-breather could happen on page in various forms, and the oral/mouth imagery that accompanies the flames:
- “He told me the moon was an egg, Khaleesi,” the Lysene girl said. “Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun. That is why dragons breathe flame. One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return.”
Cradling the egg with both hands, she carried it to the fire and pushed it down amongst the burning coals. The black scales seemed to glow as they drank the heat. Flames licked against the stone with small red tongues. Dany placed the other two eggs beside the black one in the fire. As she stepped back from the brazier, the breath trembled in her throat.
- There was only her and the dragon. Its scales were black as night, wet and slick with blood. Her blood, Dany sensed. Its eyes were pools of molten magma, and when it opened its mouth, the flame came roaring out in a hot jet. She could hear it singing to her. She opened her arms to the fire, embraced it, let it swallow her whole, let it cleanse her and temper her and scour her clean.
Dany took the torch from Aggo’s hand and thrust it between the logs. The oil took the fire at once, the brush and dried grass a heartbeat later. Tiny flames went darting up the wood like swift red mice, skating over the oil and leaping from bark to branch to leaf. A rising heat puffed at her face, soft and sudden as a lover’s breath, but in seconds it had grown too hot to bear.
- The cargomaster of the Myrish galley Silken Spirit opined that dragons were too dangerous at sea, where any stray breath of flame might set the rigging afire.
- “I have no magic, child. Only prayers. That first time, his lordship had a hole right through him and blood in his mouth, I knew there was no hope. So when his poor torn chest stopped moving, I gave him the good god’s own kiss to send him on his way. I filled my mouth with fire and breathed the flames inside him, down his throat to lungs and heart and soul. The last kiss it is called, and many a time I saw the old priests bestow it on the Lord’s servants as they died. I had given it a time or two myself, as all priests must. But never before had I felt a dead man shudder as the fire filled him, nor seen his eyes come open. It was not me who raised him, my lady. It was the Lord. R’hllor is not done with him yet. Life is warmth, and warmth is fire, and fire is God’s and God’s alone.”
- Melisandre of Asshai stood closer to the fire, the ruby at her throat pulsing with every breath she took.
- Sam sucked in air, and rolled feebly away. The wight was burning, hoarfrost dripping from his beard as the flesh beneath blackened. Sam heard the raven shriek, but Paul himself made no sound. When his mouth opened, only flames came out. And his eyes . . . It’s gone, the blue glow is gone.
She could feel the heat inside her, a terrible burning in her womb. Her son was tall and proud, with Drogo’s copper skin and her own silver-gold hair, violet eyes shaped like almonds. And he smiled for her and began to lift his hand toward hers, but when he opened his mouth the fire poured out. She saw his heart burning through his chest, and in an instant he was gone, consumed like a moth by a candle, turned to ash. She wept for her child, the promise of a sweet mouth on her breast, but her tears turned to steam as they touched her skin.
- Later in Daenerys’ final A Game of Thrones chapter, we see she does get the suckling babe[s]- The cream-and-gold dragon was suckling at her left breast, the green-and-bronze at the right. Her arms cradled them close. The black-and-scarlet beast was draped across her shoulders, its long sinuous neck coiled under her chin. When it saw Jorah, it raised its head and looked at him with eyes as red as coals.
“Could you bring back a man without a head?” Arya asked. “Just the once, not six times. Could you?”
“I have no magic, child. Only prayers. That first time, his lordship had a hole right through him and blood in his mouth, I knew there was no hope. So when his poor torn chest stopped moving, I gave him the good god’s own kiss to send him on his way. I filled my mouth with fire and breathed the flames inside him, down his throat to lungs and heart and soul. The last kiss it is called, and many a time I saw the old priests bestow it on the Lord’s servants as they died. I had given it a time or two myself, as all priests must. But never before had I felt a dead man shudder as the fire filled him, nor seen his eyes come open. It was not me who raised him, my lady. It was the Lord. R’hllor is not done with him yet. Life is warmth, and warmth is fire, and fire is God’s and God’s alone.”
Nevertheless, traditions concerning Leviathan are not entirely consistent. Some texts understand the creature as possessing multiple heads, others see it as having one. Sometimes it also is equated with a lion or a sea monster with lion-like features. Point being that the comparative mythology takes many forms and that is what matters here- the broad strokes that link the leviathan across time and space.
Take Queen Cersei, for example. We see Cersei breathe her furnace wind words as well. Remember, George RR Martin has said Daenerys and Cersei are meant to be parallels, giving reason to why Cersei is a fire-lion-sun figure, as Daenerys is the Lion of Night. Melara was killed by Cersei for desiring Jaime, Cersei’s incest obsession and male reflection. The same reason why Targaryens practiced incest which was to ‘control’ the blood of the dragon (moon blood?). Maggy the Frog is the equivalent to Mirri Maz Duur (Mirror Maze Door?) for Daenerys. Euron is also coming onto stage as a sea leviathan figure.:
A Clash of Kings – Tyrion XIII
A dozen great fires raged under the city walls, where casks of burning pitch had exploded, but the wildfire reduced them to no more than candles in a burning house, their orange and scarlet pennons fluttering insignificantly against the jade holocaust. The low clouds caught the color of the burning river and roofed the sky in shades of shifting green, eerily beautiful. A terrible beauty. Like dragonfire. Tyrion wondered if Aegon the Conqueror had felt like this as he flew above his Field of Fire.
The furnace wind lifted his crimson cloak and beat at his bare face, yet he could not turn away. He was dimly aware of the gold cloaks cheering from the hoardings. He had no voice to join them. It was a half victory. It will not be enough.
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys IX
“No” was all that she had time to say. No, not me, don’t you know me? The black teeth closed inches from her face. He meant to tear my head off. The sand was in her eyes. She stumbled over the pitmaster’s corpse and fell on her backside.
Drogon roared. The sound filled the pit. A furnace wind engulfed her. The dragon’s long scaled neck stretched toward her. When his mouth opened, she could see bits of broken bone and charred flesh between his black teeth. His eyes were molten. I am looking into hell, but I dare not look away. She had never been so certain of anything. If I run from him, he will burn me and devour me. In Westeros the septons spoke of seven hells and seven heavens, but the Seven Kingdoms and their gods were far away. If she died here, Dany wondered, would the horse god of the Dothraki part the grass and claim her for his starry khalasar, so she might ride the nightlands beside her sun-and-stars? Or would the angry gods of Ghis send their harpies to seize her soul and drag her down to torment? Drogon roared full in her face, his breath hot enough to blister skin. Off to her right Dany heard Barristan Selmy shouting, “Me! Try me. Over here. Me!”
In the smoldering red pits of Drogon’s eyes, Dany saw her own reflection.
A Feast for Crows – Cersei VIII
“I get three questions too,” her friend insisted. And when Cersei tugged upon her arm, she wriggled free and turned back to the crone. “Will I marry Jaime?” she blurted out.
You stupid girl, the queen thought, angry even now. Jaime does not even know you are alive. Back then her brother lived only for swords and dogs and horses . . . and for her, his twin.
“Not Jaime, nor any other man,” said Maggy. “Worms will have your maidenhead. Your death is here tonight, little one. Can you smell her breath? She is very close.”
“The only breath we smell is yours,” said Cersei. There was a jar of some thick potion by her elbow, sitting on a table. She snatched it up and threw it into the old woman’s eyes. In life the crone had screamed at them in some queer foreign tongue, and cursed them as they fled her tent. But in the dream her face dissolved, melting away into ribbons of grey mist until all that remained were two squinting yellow eyes, the eyes of death.
[and then in the next Cersei chapter]
“The maegi.” The words came tumbling out of her. She could still hear Melara Hetherspoon insisting that if they never spoke about the prophecies, they would not come true. She was not so silent in the well, though. She screamed and shouted. “Tyrion is the valonqar,” she said. “Do you use that word in Myr? It’s High Valyrian, it means little brother.” She had asked Septa Saranella about the word, after Melara drowned.
Storm God’s Breath
And then we see a watery version of this “kiss of life” in the Ironborn religion of the Drowned God and his watery halls, (which GRRM has said is just CPR). In this case, the kisser and the returned breathe the god’s salty sea water, like a leviathan would, rather than fire like a storm god dragon would.
A Feast for Crows – The Prophet (Aeron Greyjoy)
He growled a brusque command, and his drowned men seized the dead boy by his arms and legs to carry him above the tideline. The priest followed, naked but for a sealskin clout that covered his private parts. Goosefleshed and dripping, he splashed back onto land, across cold wet sand and sea-scoured pebbles. One of his drowned men handed him a robe of heavy roughspun dyed in mottled greens and blues and greys, the colors of the sea and the Drowned God. Aeron donned the robe and pulled his hair free. Black and wet, that hair; no blade had touched it since the sea had raised him up. It draped his shoulders like a ragged, ropy cloak, and fell down past his waist. Aeron wove strands of seaweed through it, and through his tangled, uncut beard.
His drowned men formed a circle around the dead boy, praying. Norjen worked his arms whilst Rus knelt astride him, pumping on his chest, but all moved aside for Aeron. He pried apart the boy’s cold lips with his fingers and gave Emmond the kiss of life, and again, and again, until the sea came gushing from his mouth. The boy began to cough and spit, and his eyes blinked open, full of fear.
Another one returned. It was a sign of the Drowned God’s favor, men said. Every other priest lost a man from time to time, even Tarle the Thrice-Drowned, who had once been thought so holy that he was picked to crown a king. But never Aeron Greyjoy. He was the Damphair, who had seen the god’s own watery halls and returned to tell of it. “Rise,” he told the sputtering boy as he slapped him on his naked back. “You have drowned and been returned to us. What is dead can never die.”
“But rises.” The boy coughed violently, bringing up more water. “Rises again.” Every word was bought with pain, but that was the way of the world; a man must fight to live. “Rises again.” Emmond staggered to his feet. “Harder. And stronger.”
The crushing of its head in the end-times at the hand of God is the ultimate demonstration of God’s power. According to Isaiah, its role in the end-times is as prevalent as the Serpent. God will judge with the sword all the mighty and wicked upon Leviathan.
If you were to ask me, I do not think we are going to see Daenerys with her head crushed in, maybe just a mental war with Bran out on that Darkling Stream. We already had a case for that with baby Aegon. I also do no think we are going to see this physically happen to any dragon, either. Instead, what I think is going to happen will be the mind control battle we will see between Daenerys and Bran. These two are destined to battle it out, as Bran drank from the cup of ice while Daenerys drank from the cup of fire, in addition to the new battle on the Trident (or God’s Eye) in the Dance of Dragons V 2.0 that has been foreshadowed and mentioned by the author himself. But, I could be wrong about Bran, as I could be wrong about anything.
LILITH the ASTEROID
Turns out there is, indeed, a connections to Lilith and the dragon harboring comet in ASOAIF. Again, Martin uses various comet-like objects he uses across his works.
1181 Lilith, provisional designation 1927 CQ, is a metallic asteroid from the middle region of the asteroid belt, approximately 23 kilometers in diameter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1181_Lilith
- Though Old Nan did not think so, and she’d lived longer than any of them. “Dragons,” she said, lifting her head and sniffing. She was near blind and could not see the comet, yet she claimed she could smell it. “It be dragons, boy,” she insisted. Bran got no princes from Nan, no more than he ever had. The way she said it made him shiver, and when he asked what the comet meant, she answered, “Blood and fire, boy, and nothing sweet.”
- The Dothraki named the comet shierak qiya, the Bleeding Star. The old men muttered that it omened ill, but Daenerys Targaryen had seen it first on the night she had burned Khal Drogo, the night her dragons had awakened. It is the herald of my coming, she told herself as she gazed up into the night sky with wonder in her heart. The gods have sent it to show me the way.
- Rhaegar was certain the bleeding star had to be a comet. What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame.
- “We follow the comet,” Dany told her khalasar. Once it was said, no word was raised against it. They had been Drogo’s people, but they were hers now. The Unburnt, they called her, and Mother of Dragons. Her word was their law.
George has used this astronomical element providing, or enhancing, power to nearby “sensitives” on passing planets before. In his story Nightflyers, this is the result of some force called the volcryn that travels space. Here is the opening to Nightflyers:
When Jesus of Nazareth hung dying on his cross, the volcryn passed within a light-year of his agony, headed outward.When the Fire Wars raged on Earth, the volcryn sailed near Old Poseidon, where the seas were still unnamed and unfished. By the time the stardrive had transformed the Federated Nations of Earth into the Federal Empire, the volcryn had moved into the fringes of Hrangan space. The Hrangans never knew it. Like us they were children of the small bright worlds that circled their scattered suns, with little interest and less knowledge of the things that moved in the gulfs between.War flamed for a thousand years and the volcryn passed through it, unknowing and untouched, safe in a place where no fires could ever burn. Afterwards the Federal Empire was shattered and gone, and the Hrangans vanished in the dark of the Collapse, but it was no darker for the volcryn.When Kleronomas took his survey ship out from Avalon, the volcryn came within ten light-years of him. Kleronomas found many things, but he did not find the volcryn. Not then did he and not on his return to Avalon a lifetime later.When I was a child of three, Kleronomas was dust, as distant and dead as Jesus of Nazareth and the volcryn passed close to Daronne. That season all the Crey sensitives grew strange and sat staring at the stars with luminous, flickering eyes.When I was grown, the volcryn had sailed beyond Tara, past the range of even the Crey, still heading outward.And now I am old and the volcryn will soon pierce the Tempter’s Veil where it hangs like a black mist between the stars. And we follow, we follow. Through the dark gulfs where no one goes, through the emptiness, through the silence that goes on and on, my Nightflyer and I give chase.
*more Nighflyer quotes on their way!
The main difference between asteroids and comets is their composition, as in, what they are made of. Asteroids are made up of metals and rocky material, while comets are made up of ice, dust and rocky material. So while there is a technical real world difference, people on Planetos may not know this. I mean, we already have several different in-world reasons or meanings of what the comet means. The key thing to keep in mind is the in-story description of Dawn.
Work in progress page.
It is just I, the sole Fattest Leech, who writes on this blog and sometimes I get distracted by other shiny story details elsewhere. If there is are any other book quotes that you would like to see, or questions you have, please ask.