The TV series Game of Thrones has gained a huge following since it first aired in 2011. Set in a mythical land the tales of swords and treachery have struck a chord with a viewer-base hungry for stories which were once the domain of fantasy-fiction fanatics and Games Workshoppers, such as Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.
Although the series is set in a mythical land, it’s obvious GoT creator George RR Martin has an interest in historical, and pre-historical tales, and its well known that he has taken some of the major plot-lines from real events, the war of the roses being an obvious one. Lets take a look at a few that viewers may not know about.
The Number Seven.
Revered throughout time by every human group around the world the number seven is featured heavily in the series. ‘The Faith of the Seven is the principal religion of the Seven Kingdoms. It is little-practiced beyond its borders. The Faith of the Seven is dominant in the south of Westeros.’ But also in our world, the number seven is seen as special. it is a magical number and is associated with luck, the heavenly bodies (five visible planets plus the Sun and the Moon), the days of the week, and the menorah, the Jewish ritual candelabra; there are seven heavens and seven hells in the Islamic faith; there are said to be seven colours in the rainbow and there are over 700 mentions of the number seven in the Bible. So not only is it implicit in the religious stories of Westeros, its also an integral part of the human experience, even today.
The Wall, and the Wildlings beyond.
Of course, the Wall is a reference to Hadrian’s wall, in the North of England. Hadrian’s Wall (Latin: Vallum Aelium) was a defensive fortification in Roman Britain, begun in AD 122 during the rule of emperor Hadrian. In addition to its military role, gates through the wall served as customs posts.
Although he was Roman emperor, Hadrian was in fact Spanish, and had the wall built for his Italian masters, presumably to protect their assets from the ‘uncivilised’ and unrulable Picti in Caledonia, modern-day Scotland. As well as the controlling Roman army, the wall was most likely manned by up to 10, 000 English slaves and criminals, much like the Wall in Game of Thrones. Later, the wall was manned by the toughest in the land, to help protect what was left of the country after its Roman masters left. This is more than likely the reason for the Geordies of the Newcastle having a reputation for being tough people, which still persists to this day.
Beyond the wall the Picti (and modern day Scots) were known for their red hair and ‘painted’ skin. The Latin word Pict has the same root as pixel or picture, so it may not be that these wildlings were painted with blue woad, as is popularly believed, but that they were overwhelmingly freckled, which could have caused the Mediterranean Romans to declare them ‘painted’ or ‘pixelated’.
Dothraki, horse-riders of the curved blade.
Like the Dothraki in Game of Thrones, the Scythians were a cultural group of equine-obsessed warriors, said to be born, to live and to die on the saddle. they were famed for their ability to fire arrows backwards from horse-back, using the scythian bow, and for their ferocious techniques in battle. Their name may have come from their use of scythes, as ‘according to Jack Herer and “Flesh of The Gods” (Emboden, W.A., Jr., Praeger Press, NY, 1974.); the ancient Scythians grew hemp and harvested it with a hand reaper that we still call a scythe.’
‘Their historical appearance coincided with the rise of equestrian semi-nomadism from the Carpathian Mountains of Europe to Mongolia in the Far East during the 1st millennium BC. The “classical Scythians” known to ancient Greek historians were located in the northern Black Sea and fore-Caucasus region.’
The Dacians were neighbours to the Scythians, who also rode horse-back and were fames for their skill in battle. the Dacians also carried the curved blade like the Dothraki. this blade, known as a sica was used with devastating effect by the Dacians, much like the Dothraki.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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