We continue our series on the deeper meaning of the Game of Thrones house symbols with a look at the Targaryens.
Works Cited & Consulted:
* Martin, George R.R. “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Bantam Books.
* Empower Yourself with Color Psychology
* Color Wheel Pro
* Color Meanings
* “Dragon Symbolism & Meaning.” What Is My Spirit Animal.
* “Dragon Totem.” What’s Your Sign.
* “Dragon Spirit Animal.” Spirit Animal.
* “Dragon Symbolism.” Ancient-Symbols.com.
* Russo, James. “15 Things You Didn’t Know About House Targaryen.” ScreenRant, 5 Mar. 2017.
* freeguess. “An Analysis of House Words.” /r/asoiaf on Reddit, 5 Jan. 2013.
Transcript provided by Youtube:
In Game of Thrones, the Targaryens bring the magic and the fury.
They represent a vitality and a mystery both inspirational and terrifying.
The Targaryen sigil is a red three-headed dragon on a black field.
Like their bold colors, the Targaryens are raw and ruthless.
Like their dragons, they are larger-than-life, connected to the essential
mysteries and powers of life itself.
The Targaryens ruled the seven kingdoms for centuries, until the Baratheons seized power
in Robert’s Rebellion, and the long Targaryen rule was terminated.
Just as many believed dragons to be extinct, they wrongly believed the Targaryens to be
out of the picture after this point.
So the appearance of Daenerys and her dragons signals the rebirth of the Targaryen House,
a drastic upheaval of the current world order, and the return of magic itself to Westeros.
Overall the Targaryens represent mythic power, inner-vitality, destiny, leadership
the interconnectedness of creation versus
destruction, and madness.
The Targaryen motto, “Fire and Blood,” evokes powerful, intimidating and violent imagery.
Blood pumping through our veins keeps us alive, but the word “blood” makes us think of
bloodshed — something the Targaryens won’t shy away from in the name of their cause.
Fire is likewise a symbol of vitality and survival, but it’s equally as deadly and
extremely difficult to control.
A contained fire is inner life and a powerful spirit, but a rapidly spreading wildfire symbolizes
the Targaryen madness, a destructive force that’s not in control of itself.
Fire is the life force, the antidote to ice or the anti-winter.
So while the show continues to warn that Winter is Coming — and the White Walkers with it
Daenerys’ Targaryen fire may be the harbinger of Summer that is needed
to counter, or balance, that cold.
But fire also burns so hot that it’s hardly a precise instrument targeting only the
guilty or the intended enemies. A fire-breathing dragon can easily
destroy many innocent bystanders in the vicinity.
Like fire, Daenerys herself is not a person of middle ground — she is all or nothing.
Fire and blood are also the ingredients that make Dany’s dragons come to life.
Her eggs hatch thanks to the combination of fire from the funeral pyre and the organic
life matter (or blood) of the bodies of Drogo, and the witch who performed blood magic on him.
The blood of their motto can also refer to how the Targaryens keep their bloodline pure
Pure Targaryen blood allows them to connect with dragons, but centuries of incest mean
that they’re prone to Madness.
In the books, many state of Targaryan rulers,
“madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin”.
The Targaryens reflect this
duality of the life cycle: creation as much as destruction.
Their ancestor, Aegon Targaryon — also
known as Aegon the Conqueror and Aegon the Dragon — united six of the seven kingdoms
of Westeros (except for Dorne, which joined later),
while Daenerys’ father the Mad King wanted to “burn them all.”
This duality is in our minds as we watch Dany. Driven by an inner fire to champion oppressed
peoples, she seems to represent a purity of purpose and a solid moral code that departs
from the usual selfish ambition that drives most of Westeros.
Yet that same fire drives her also to claim the Iron Throne
that she views as her destiny and inheritance.
So we have to wonder whether her noble mission can remain pure or selfless, or whether her family’s
madness and inner-destructiveness will overcome her like it eventually did her father.
The raw, primal Targaryen red and black — in comparison to the more muted Stark grey and
white or the noble Lannister crimson and gold — represent straightforward power and vitality,
a strong, ruthless enemy with its own unbending rule of law.
Daenerys’ basic red and black threaten to tear down the more ornate artifices that houses
like the Lannisters have built.
Red is a warm and bold color associated with action, passion, and the will to survive.
It signifies leadership, determination, ambition and empowerment.
This is symbolic of the transformation we witness in Daenerys:
She begins as a meek and
unobtrusive character, not one we’d immediately predict would dominate.
Yet she perseveres and gains confidence
to become a passionate and motivating leader
undergoing empowerment until she embodies the red dragon.
Meanwhile, red is also a ruthless and aggressive color.
While Dany is merciful towards the innocent, she is unforgiving of the harsh masters
that commit wrongdoings.
Black also indicates intimidation and power.
And it relates to the unknown and the mysterious — what can’t be seen, or is in the dark
— which is what Daenerys is in Westeros, a mystery to the other players in the game of thrones.
Black suggests the hidden power of death and destruction
that she may rain down on her enemies.
In the history of A Song of Ice and Fire, the Targaryens weren’t the only family who
could control dragons, but they’re the last family of dragon-riders to
survive the Doom of Valyria.
It is said that Targaryens have “the blood of the dragon,” an animal that breathes fire.
Aegon established the ruling Targaryen dynasty in 1 AL or 1 AC, standing for After Landing or After Conquest,
which suggests in this world he’s the equivalent of a Jesus Christ figure.
He forged the Iron Throne was from swords of his enemies, heated with Dragon fire.
The elements of the throne symbolically link the Dragon and fire — and thus the Targaryens — to power itself.
The throne reminds us that power is never secure and should never become complacent,
just as no one can ever sit comfortably on the swords of the Iron Throne.
It’s key that, while the Targaryens possess superhuman strengths, their power has limits.
They can’t fully control either their fire or their dragons.
They are personally fire-resistant (and we’ve seen Daenerys live through some fire), but,
according to George RR Martin, they’re not totally immune.
Likewise, the dragons may submit to their dragon-riders, but the animals are still their
own beings who may act in their own interest.
But these forces that aid the Targaryens aren’t enslaved, and the Targaryens aren’t guaranteed
to remain master of them.
Thus the House embodies a key truth about power and its boundaries: every person who
rules must remember that power is not absolute or infallible.
It’s subject to consent and respect, and only lasts as long as one’s subjects, the
gods and/or fate will allow.
The three heads of the dragon on the sigil symbolize Aegon the Conqueror
and his two sisters (who were also his wives). Aegon broke with Targaryen tradition
by marrying not just one of his sisters but both.
The prophecy of the dragon who has three heads,
suggests there must be three dragon-riders
to take back the Iron Throne for the Targaryens together.
Speculations about these three riders include Dany, Jon and potentially someone else, like
Tyrion has a connection with the dragons, which some interpret as a sign
of Targaryen blood. And the Mad King may have taken liberties with his mother, Joanna.
But, according to the books, one can still be a dragon-rider even without Targaryen blood.
Continuing on this theme of three, Daenerys receives three dragon eggs
as a wedding gift. And while the dragons aren’t three-headed, she does have three of them
Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion.
All three are named after men in Danny’s life,
and the colors and characteristics of each dragon, like the Starks’ direwolves, are indicative of their namesakes.
Drogon, who is named after Dany’s late husband, Khal Drogo, is black with red markings, the
The largest, most aggressive, and most fiercely protective, he is the dragon Dany rides.
Drogon has the most personality of the three, just as — of the three men after whom Daenerys
named her dragons — Khal Drogo was her closest bond.
Viserion and Rhaegal were named after Dany’s two brothers — Viserys and Rhaegar.
Viserion has cream and gold colored scales with red-orange wings.
The cream coloring is symbolic of the Valyrian features, characterized by very fair skin
and silver hair, while his gold coloring symbolizes the way Viserys died.
Rhaegal’s green and bronze coloring is also indicative of how his namesake was killed
Robert Baratheon killed Rhaegar on the green banks at the Battle of the Trident
While we think of Game of Thrones as a fantastical world, it’s notable that, when we first
enter it, telling one of the Lannisters in King’s Landing about dragons sounds crazy
The revelation that magic exists is just as shocking to them as it would be to us
Daenerys’ dragons, as well as the Valyrian steel and the children of the forest
prove that magic is still there, lurking and ready to rise again.
After Drogo dies and Danny hatches the eggs, she awakens to a key piece of herself
and claims her right as the heir to the once-great house Targaryen.
She begins to understand her own power.
The Ultimate Targaryen, Daenerys inspires viewers.
She’s a self-empowered beacon of strength who stands for justice, beautiful noble power
and a pure sense of purpose.
Yet we’re always aware of the threat that the other side of her Targaryen nature will rear its
This post was previously published on Youtube.
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Photo credit: Screenshot from video