who r u anon…
Finn’s comment about the perception of Loras through Sansa’s eyes is giving me fucking life and I really just want to talk about how fucking spot on he is about that. GRRM has continually said that one should be wary of how we view a character that has no POV, as there is always going to be biases present within the text. Where one character might see someone as bold and arrogant, another might see them as gentle and kind. It’s all about perception, and GRRM was warned us to keep these things in mind while we read. This is the case with Loras, particularly with regards to Sansa and Cersei.
Sansa projects her fantasies of the fairytale knight upon Loras. She first sees him when he’s playing the role of the ideal knight— wearing glittering, expensive armour, perfectly styled, handing out roses to beautiful girls, and winning his joust before going on to win the tournament. She sees Loras, and she sees what she expected she would see when she came to King’s Landing. She automatically makes Loras into this perfect persona, and continues to see him as such even as events unfold and he proves to be anything but the perfect, chaste, gentle knight she desperately wants him to be. Finn uses the word ‘fangirl’ to describe her vision of him, and I don’t think that is very far off. Knights of Loras’ calibre were like the celebrities of their time, and people back then, as they do now, saw them through a skewed lens. They are a fantasy— they fill a role in the viewer’s mind, and anything that is contrary to that view is either ignored or excused.
Such is the same with Loras and Sansa. Loras cheats to win at his tournament, using a mare in heat against the mountain that rides. Still, Sansa sees him as this glorious, blameless knight. Later on, he forgets who she is, and yet she still desperately clings to the rose that he had given her. Even after growing short with her and acting rude, she fantasies about what it would be like to marry him and have sex with him. It is not until much later, when at the Eyrie, she recognizes that Loras is probably not the man she thought he was, and that he was not going to rescue her. There is no such thing as a ‘true’ knight like the ones she had read about in books.
And I think that is the point of Loras. GRRM loves to write tropes and then completely switch them around. Loras, to Sansa, represents the perfect knight. We see him as a teenage girl would see someone she admires; blameless, sweet, gentle, heterosexual, and chivalrous. But Loras is anything but. He kills two innocent men; he is brash and arrogant at times; he is vain; he is in love with another man; he is short and terse with others, and deeply critical (as is the case with Brienne). He has a narrow focus, seeing only his family and his own ambitions.
On the flip side we have Loras in the eyes of Cersei. Overly critical and mistrusting of the Tyrells, Cersei views Loras accordingly. He is to be mistrusted because of his sexuality; he is trying to steal her son away; he is arrogant and stupid; he needs to be taught a lesson. He needs to be gotten rid of, essentially. Cersei has nothing flattering to say about Loras, just as Sansa is far too flattering.
I think the best view we have of Loras comes from Catelyn and Jaime. While Catelyn has her biases, there seems to be no malice behind her negative view of Loras, unlike Cersei. She sees a man enamoured with the idea of glory. A man completely devoted and blinded by his devotion. A man who thinks very little before reacting. A man who thinks more with his heart than with his head. He is a summer child in her eyes— naive and rambunctious, eager to prove himself and make a name for himself beyond his tournament glory. She sees him as a young knight not yet come into his own. We then have Jaime, the only person Loras has ever opened up to. Jaime sees himself in Loras. Both brash, young, arrogant and full of ‘empty chivalry’. While perhaps Jaime projects a little too much of his disenchanted world view upon Loras, it would appear as if he is not far off. Loras speaks of his grief for Renly; he describes the ease at which he killed two men, and then later struggles with the knowledge that they were most likely innocent; he tells Jaime where he buried Renly, and that his loyalties would always lie with a dead man. He also reveals he has a bit of a dirty mind, having enjoyed flipping through Renly’s book of sex.
The preconceptions, desires, and life experiences of different characters are always important to keep in consideration when reading about another character. Loras is no different. Sansa glorifies him and projects her wishes for a true, beautiful knight upon him, while Cersei demonizes him because he is a Tyrell. Jaime sees himself in Loras, but perhaps projects too much upon the young man, while Catelyn cannot help but hold him up to the high standards at which she views her son.
We do not know who the real Loras is, and we may never really get to learn who he is behind closed doors. One thing is for certain, however. GRRM does not write tropes, and Loras is no exception.
And here we are— my Achilles tattoo. Done by James at Enso Tattoo.
A bit of background for you all: When I was a kid my mom gave me a book of Greek and Roman myths. It was written for kids, the language simple and the myths made more ‘kid friend’. Sex scenes were omitted or vaguely referenced to, and gruesome deaths were toned down so as not to frighten kids. But despite this, the stories remained much the same. I remember the first story was that of Pyramus and Thisbe, as originally told by Ovid. From that story I was hooked, and poured over the tales, finding myself more drawn to these stories than any other ones I had read. Near the end there were select books from the Iliad, once again toned down for kids, but featuring the same storyline with the same characters and the same outcomes. One of the books was book 23— Patroclus’ Funeral Games.
That was where I first ‘met’ Achilles. I remember being deeply moved by the story, and despite being only ten years old, I was immediately drawn to Achilles and who he was. What had made him so sad? Why did his best friend have to die? Why were they holding such elaborate games for the dead? Who was Hector? What was going to happen to everyone? From then on I was obsessed with the Iliad. I wanted to know more, and got my hands on a simple, prose version of the Iliad. I read it, but I struggled with the language. Instead, my mom gave me some books written by a modern writer for a modern audience, set during the events of the Iliad, but featuring their own ‘original’ characters. When I wasn’t reading these books I was playing make-believe in the backyard, pretending to be an Achaean or a Trojan. Sometimes I’d pretend to be a Gladiator.
Fast forward to my graduation from High School. I went in to University immediately, but originally entered in the Education department. I took one class and immediately dropped, instead choosing to pick up history. It felt better to me, and I knew my passion lay in Greek and Roman history. I still hadn’t been able to get rid of that deep fascination I had with the Greeks, and I hadn’t been able to forget about Achilles. From that change pretty much my entire university career dealt with Achilles in some capacity. I began to focus in on male same-sex relations, masculinity, and male warrior bonding. Achilles, and his relationship with Patroclus, had a huge impact on my interests and my decisions to continue forward with this area of study.
I wrote about Achilles in any paper I could fit him in. From papers directly about him, such as ‘Friendship and the Heroic Narrative in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Iliad’, to papers far removed from the times of the ancient Greeks, like ‘Homosexuality and Masculinity in Nazi Germany within the Wehrmacht’. If Achilles was involved, you can bet I included him. I was just drawn to Achilles and what he represented, and how he influenced and inspired countless generations from countless cultures. His representation of the young, idealistic soldier ruined by war and loss touched me, and encouraged me to study combat PTSD and the history of it, as well as to support and aid local veterans in Canada suffering from the same mental illness that Achilles suffered from.
Achilles became my history muse. He became the reason I do what I do; why I study what I study. Why I care about what I care about. In June 2014 I graduated with a double degree in the Classics and History. My area of interest and expertise was in male same-sex relations and masculinity, with a keen focus on military units. The Greeks, the Romans, knights and lords, soldiers and commanders— I study these men, I tell their stories, and I get invested all because of one character. One broken soldier who loved too much and fought to hard from the very beginning. Achilles.
And so I tattooed him on my body. A physical reminder of my passion and my drive. A reminder of why I do what I do. Achilles has always been with me since I was a kid, and he’ll continue to be with me as I work on my Masters, my PhD, and my career.
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε…