Design a site like this with
Get started


Caligula with his crown of seafood he ‘took from Neptune (the god of the sea)’, and Euron with his driftwood crown.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about the probable influence(s) on the pirate image of Euron Greyjoy, while in this post I will talk a bit about the probable Martin’s influence for the ‘sexual molester and kinslayer in the family’ and ‘wants to be a god’ part of Euron Greyjoy’s character.

Martin has an arguable fondness for I Claudius (1976), a brilliant ‘historical’ drama series about the Roman Julio-Claudian dynasty. This fondness is most clearly felt, I think, in his repurposing of the line “You know what they say
about the tree of the Claudians? It bears two kinds of fruit – the sweet and the bad.”
(I Claudius: Zeus, by Jove!), in the Targaryen bit “Madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land.” (A Storm of Swords). However, the influence of I Claudius in Martin’s writing is not only limited to the Targaryens.

Another very probable influence of I Claudius is the character of Euron Greyjoy, especially the molester, kinslayer and wanting to be a god aspects of him (that is, the part that reflects the Greyjoy’s family profound dysfunction).

Caligula in I Claudius has, since he was a boy, slept with all three of his sisters, or as he says it: “And whereas Jove only slept with one of his sisters, I’ve slept with all three of mine – all had a god in their beds.” (Zeus, by Jove!) Euron, of course, as we learn in the Forsaken chapter repeatedly raped his brothers Aeron and Urrigon when they were children, and now, just as Caligula wants his sister Drusilla to accept him as the god Zeus, Euron wants from his brother Aeron similar worship: “Pray to me.” (The Forsaken, The Winds of Winter).

I Claudius’s Caligula killed his father when he was only a boy, and let all of his brothers (two of them) and his mother be killed by his uncle Tiberius, and was not upset about it at all, while Euron killed three of his brothers and will probably kill in time all five (Aeron and Victarion are yet to die in The Winds of Winter, but both seem pretty doomed, and I really doubt we will even have more Aeron chapters after The Forsaken). In this context it is also interesting the repetition of number three in relation to Caligula’s sisters and the number of Euron’s killed brothers: “How is it that your Drowned God allows that when I have killed three brothers?” Aeron could only gape at him. “Three?”).

Also, Caligula ate his child from the womb of his pregnant sister so that it doesn’t become “greater than Zeus (that is, himself)”, while Euron impregnates Falia Flowers so he can sacrifice her and their unborn child for blood magic. Caligula does this while drinking a drug-potion and after having Drusilla drink it too, while Euron does this while drinking nightshade, another drug-potion, which he forces Aeron to drink. We actually know that Drusilla and Caligula are drugged, and not just drunk because of this bit:

Claudius: You’re drunk. Drusilla: No. My husband found this wonderful potion which we take. It makes you feel as if you’re riding through the air!

I, Claudius: Zeus, by Jove!

This potion is probably Martin’s inspiration for nightshade (although nightshade, of course, is not just a drug, but can actually give visions of the future). And this is where another Euron’s characteristic (and one that might prove meaningful for his future development as a character) begins to come into play.

Because, while Euron is evil to the core, he doesn’t really seem ‘mad’, at least not in the ineffectual sense. His nightshade (we know, as it was used by other characters as well) is real. It actually works. Blood magic, he seems to be dabbling in (or even perhaps is a master of, since in The Forsaken we see he has imprisoned and tortured powerful warlocks), works in this world. He seems like a guy with practical plans, one who is ready for conquest and warfare. However, his textual ties to Caligula invite us to rexamine this assumption.

In Hail Who?, the 9th episode of I, Claudius, Caligula comes back from a military campaign on the Rhine but with no military victories. Instead, he claims he has “defeated Neptune” (the Roman god of the sea), his real enemy. He requests a triumph and brings to Rome chests full of worthless seashells as bounty:

Now, at the Kingsmoot Euron empties before the Ironmen coffers of real treasure.

However, it would be good, because of Euron’s numerous ties to Caligula to look at another man who empties his chests full of ‘treasure’ at the Kingsmoot. That is Gylbert Farwynd, who first makes the claim for the driftwood crown, and who gives the Ironborn worthless trinkets: “The offerings that his men spilled out before the kingsmoot included sealskins and walrus tusks, arm rings made of whalebone, warhorns banded in bronze. The captains looked and turned away, leaving lesser men to help themselves to the gifts.” (A Feast for Crowns)

This chapter is from Aeron’s point of view, and he too dismisses Gylbert as a fool. Special emphasis is put on Gylbert’s eyes, which are “now grey, now blue, as changeable as the seas. Mad eyes, he thought, fool’s eyes. The vision he spoke of was doubtless a snare set by the Storm God to lure the ironborn to destruction.” Aeron sees that actually only Gylbert’s family support him (and not even all of them), an isolated, “queer” bunch, from “far way”, perhaps even skinchangers.

Aeron is blind that all of this also applies to Euron, and the Greyjoys, as the dysfunctional family they are.

Euron comes from faraway (like Farwynd, he’s an outsider who has been away for two years), he has changeable eyes (which he hides – one eye blue, and one black), also marking him in this universe as a skinchanger. He has arguably come to lure the Ironborn to destruction with his tall tales (explained more in yesterday’s post). Gylbert’s banner is a “a great black longship against a setting sun”, reminiscent of the personal banner Euron unfurls in The Forsaken – a black banner with a red eye (supported by crows), and metaphorically marking the sunset of the Ironborn with the Silence at the front.

Gylbert is Euron’s textual double in The Feast for Crows – and a step between Euron and Caligula, put there to hide, and yet to foreshadow the nature of Euron’s madness.

The thing is, we are led to believe, mainly through the point of views of his traumatized family members (Aeron whom he raped, and Victarion whose salt wife he had raped) that Euron is not only to be feared, but a force to be reckoned with. And while Euron is very, very scary and an incredibly dangerous person to be around, he might not actually be as effective as his family think.

You see, just as Gylbert’s queer family are the only ones to support his claim, so do Aeron and Victarion in particular enable Euron to sit on throne, while he actually has a pretty weak claim as someone who has been banished, was away for long and is surrounded by outsiders. Not to mention his strange and suspicious timing after Balon’s death. Aeron himself puts the driftwood crown on Euron’s head, just as Claudius’s family (not least of all Claudius) crown Caligula because of their own traumas. Drusilla says it the best:

Claudius: Why do you play up to him like this? Drusilla: Why do you? You play the clown, I play the goddess.

I, Claudius: Zeus, by Jove!

Fittingly, the Kingsmoot chapter ends with Aeron having a flashback to a ‘scream’ of a rusted hinge, which we know from The Forsaken is the sound which heralded Euron’s nightly rapes.

The Greyjoy’s family traumas and brainwashed mentality makes them unable to see what is right in front of them – a bona fide lunatic. One who brings doom, not wonderous success, and not only to those around him, but to himself too.

How else can a competition with gods end (if you’re not Kratos, that is)? We know how I, Claudius’s Caligula ended, we are yet to see how Euron’s story ends. But it probably won’t be happy even for just him.

In conclusion, it is primarily family dysfunction that put complete madmen on the throne in these two cases.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: