Valar Morghulis & Memento Mori

One of the most powerful and often quoted catch phrases from Game of Thrones has to be “valar morghulis” – a mantra that closely resembles a memento mori. In the Middle Ages, art depicted reminders of our mortality – skulls and other symbols of death. Artists intended these symbols to remind their audience of the fleeting vanities of wealth and other earthly pursuits. A Latin phrase – memento mori, or “remember that you have to die” – came to encapsulate this mortal reflection….

Read More

The Origins of Chivalry, Knights Beating Maidens

I only just discovered that, for the next four days, the Getty museum in Los Angeles, California has an exhibit about chivalry. It ends on November 30th, 2014. The museum created two videos for the exhibit, which made me reflect on the origins of chivalry. If you love knights and all things martial, definitely check out the combat demonstrations in the first video. It brings to life the fighting styles in the Italian manuscript The Flower of Battle (Il Fior di Battaglia) c. 1410. Both videos are embedded…

Read More

A cursed match? Botticelli & the Purple Wedding

Many A Song of Ice and Fire fans have a bone or two to pick with the Game of Thrones TV show. They feel the television show is adulterating the beloved novels. And, that’s fair. The television adaptation can be omissive and sometimes alters the original storyline. But it is worth pointing out that film is not an inferior medium to literature: film is not the ugly red-haired step-child of the literary world. Film conveys its artistic worth through different channels: costume, music,…

Read More

All that Glitters is Not Gold: The Lannisters, Gold, and their Empty Mines

The Lannisters are broke, and the Iron Bank of Braavos will get its due one way or another. The Lannister wealth originally came from its gold mines, but the vein ran dry over three years ago. This article looks at some of the Lannister’s golden goods and their relationship to history. The Lannister Gold Mines Casterly Rock© HBO, via Wikia Map of Roman Britain showing the Dolaucothi mine in what is modern-day Wales. Image: Via Wikimedia Commons.   On the Westeros…

Read More

GoT Art? Part 1

As an adaptation, Game of Thrones has significant, often overlooked artistic merit that is distinct from the novels, including what may be allusions to works of art. Former Game of Thrones production designer Gemma Jackson mentioned in this video that they “search for images from all around the world”; presumably they are constantly looking at paintings, sculpture, friezes, and other art for ideas. As as result, I thought it might be fun to look at some places in Game of…

Read More