The second in our series on the deeper meaning of the Game of Thrones house symbols: find out more about the Lannister crimson & gold, their motto, and their animal, the lion.
Works Cited & Consulted:
* Martin, George R.R. “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Bantam Books.
* freeguess. “An Analysis of House Words.” /r/asoiaf on Reddit, 5 Jan. 2013.
* Empower Yourself with Color Psychology
* Color Wheel Pro
* Color Meanings
* Harris, Elena. “Lion Spirit Animal.” Spirit Animal.
* “Symbolic Meaning of Lions.” Whats-Your-Sign.com.
* “Lion Symbolism & Meaning.” Universe of Symbolism.
* Parisien, Erin. “Game Of Thrones: 15 Things You Need To Know About House Lannister.” ScreenRant, 27 June 2016.
Transcript provided by Youtube:
The future of our family will be determined in these next few months.
We could establish a dynasty that will last a thousand years, or we could collapse
into nothing as the Targaryen’s did.
We talked about the overall significance of the house sigils in Game of Thrones
in our video about the Starks,
which you can watch by clicking on the “I” in the top right corner here or at the end of this video.
So, now let’s dig into the symbolism of the Lannister’s.
The Lannister’s sigil, a gold lion on a crimson field, projects royalty and nobility.
The symbols come from a centuries-old lineage but the current
image of the Lannister’s has been crafted by Tywin Lannister.
“It’s the family name that lives on. It’s all that lives on. Not your personal glory, not your honor, but family.”
Tywin’s own father, Tytos, was known as a weak man who was mocked and taken
advantage of by even his mistress.
“A weak man who nearly destroyed our house and name”
So proud, Tywin resolved to create a better reputation for his family and he
values that image and appearance of Lannister greatness above all else.
Key to the Lannister nature is that interplay between perfect outer
appearance and the uglier reality underneath.
“Everything they say is true about Jamie and me.”
“Your legacy is a lie.”
“No, I don’t believe you.”
The Lannister’s, as the house, embody pride
and the will of the self, or ego, which includes self-gain or selfishness,
self creation, and, as represented by incest between twins, self love.
“Everyone who isn’t us is an enemy.”
The official Lannister motto, “Hear Me Roar,” underlines
the Lion’s power, strength, and ferocity that the Lannisters want to project, but
this motto is rarely used. Behind closed doors the Lannisters are
defined by their unofficial saying, “A Lannister always pays his debts”
“And remind her that Lannister’s pay their debts”
“Tell him the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.”
“A Lannister always…” “Don’t say it. Don’t fucking say it.”
On one level the saying reminds everyone that the Lannisters are rich
their wealth defines them. They’re the haves and proud of it.
“More gold than you can spend if you lived a thousand years.”
The words position them almost as the bank of King’s Landing.
They understand that in their ultra-
political world, perception is everything. They can trade on their reputation for
having money and being reliable.
“I would be in your debt. I will owe you gold.”
On the literal level, ‘a Lannister always pays his debts’ means they can be trusted to
pay back favors or loans, but the motto has a dark flipside. If wrong a
Lannister will seek revenge and this reputation is also valuable.
“You’re going to die for quite a while.”
While the outer motto embodies the royal image the Lannisters
would like people to see, their true motto tells us what the Lannisters
really value most: their riches, their manipulative wits, and their vengeance
“I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met.”
The Lannister colors, gold and crimson, signal their desire to be royal. Gold is the color of a crown and the
color of the precious metal or money. So gold indicates sophistication, prosperity,
and rule. It’s an eye-catching color that demands
attention. We associate gold with being the best, as in a gold medal.
Just as the Lannisters see themselves as superior to everyone else,
Gold is linked to masculine energy, the power of the Sun, wisdom, and enlightenment.
We picture gold as illuminating its surroundings, as the
wealthy and cultured Lannisters might want to be seen, while in reality the
Lannisters expose who they actually are only in the shadows. Never out in the
open of golden daylight. The Lannisters picture-perfect looks and golden hair
likewise echo the sunny false appearance that couldn’t be further from their ruthless inner selves.
“I will hurt you for this. A day will
come when you think you’re safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in
your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.”
Meanwhile, the golden hair and green eyes typical of the Lannisters appearance
remind us of their money and greed. Thinking of oneself as gold, as the best,
and focusing on amassing gold are deeply egotistical behaviors.
Cersei’s character embodies the Lannister narcissism. She loves only herself, her twin Jamie, and
her offspring, all extensions of self.
Crimson, too, indicates nobility and status
This upscale red is infused with the royalty of purple.
In the Elizabethan era in Britain, only royalty and the wealthy were allowed to wear the color.
The Greeks and Romans used crimson for military robes, yet the Lannisters aren’t
true royalty. They grasp that power. Each one gains power through social climbing
and proximity to royalty. Tywin was the hand of the king, Jaime was in the King’s
Guard, and Cersei married King Robert Baratheon and destined her children to be kings.
“Long may he reign”
Even while maintaining their pure Lannister blood.
“My brother’s worth a thousand of your friend.
“Your brother, or your lover.”
So the Lannisters noble colors tell us not who the Lannisters
really are, but who they want to be and be seen as.
“You’re talking to a king”
The crimson and gold reflect the Lannister’s desire to rule and their
fierce will to dominate over others.
“A house that puts family first will always defeat
the house that puts the whims and wishes of its sons and daughters first.”
The lion on the Lannister sigil shows the family likes to imagine themselves as
the rulers of the kingdom.
“The lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of a sheep.”
The kings of the jungle, lions symbolize
wisdom, power, dignity, and like the Lannister colors, royalty.
To others, the crafty Lannisters might be better represented by a snake.
Yet the Lannisters
truly have created their house into something strong and majestic like a lion.
No animal on earth can rival a lion, but in Westeros there are also
dragons, and the biggest threat to the Lannisters comes from the mythical
superhuman power of Targaryen blood.
The Lannister who truly doesn’t fit the house personality is Tyrion.
“I would let myself be
consumed by maggots before mocking the family name and making you heir to Casterly Rock”
Hated by his father and sister, Tyrion copes with his situation of being wealthy and privileged, yet despised,
with wine and a cynical wit.
“The proud Lannister children: the dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness”
But now that he’s found Daenerys, unlike the other
Lannisters, he’s found a greater purpose to live for,
I name you hand of the queen”
and started to believe in a deeper magic than wealth or power.
A long-running fan theory believes Tyrion is also a Targaryen, that the Mad
King may have impregnated his mother Johanna. But either way, it’s safe to say
he’s not a Lannister in the mold of his father, at heart.
“You’re no son of mine.”
“I am your son. I have always been your son”
In recent seasons, Jaime has shown an un-Lannister, chivalrous side.
“Thank you, for my life.”
While Cersei’s youngest child, Tommen, actually seems to
have the potential to be a good and kind king.
“What kind of king do you think you’ll be?
“A good king”
“I think so as well”
But, spoiler alert, this goodness of
Tommen’s isn’t rewarded or allowed to exist in the Lannister world.
Cersei’s love for Jaime and even her children can’t overrule her own egotistical agenda.
“I choose violence”
Altogether, the Lannister symbols
represent a duality; their outer image signifies noble blood, royalty, and
legitimate rule, yet their inner world foils down to money, secrets, grudges,
illegitimacy, and power plays in the shadows.
“House Lannister has no rival”
After the Lannister family line is weakened by the end of season six,
the image of Cersei on the iron throne, a childless mother with no future to her
bloodline, represents more acutely than ever, the symbolism of the ego trying to
dominate for its own sake with no greater purpose.
The Lannister self will
never back down in its mission to win, to rule, and to shine.
“There are no men like me. Only me.”
This post was previously published on Youtube.
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Photo credit: Screenshot from video