Talk: Melisandre

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Melisandre's arrival on Dragonstone

Previous text in the article mentioned that Melisandre had traveled to Dragonstone a few years before the start of ASoIaF. The reference was A Clash of Kings-Chapter 15, in which it's said that "Varys told us some years past that Lady Selyse had taken up with a red priest". It's not possible, however, to know or say if this person was Melisandre, given that a "priest" is mentioned and not a "priestess". Also, in A Game of Thrones-Chapter 69, Tywin tells us that "Varys hears his whispers. Stannis is building ships, Stannis is hiring sellswords, Stannis is bringing a shadowbinder from Asshai. What does it mean? Is any of it true?" All of these things seem recent rumours, including the bringing of a shadowbinder from Asshai. Given the impossibility to ascertain when exactly Melisandre arrived, I think it's best not to mention a date categorically in the article. Felipe Bini (talk) 20:34, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

Considering that Melisandre is the only priest(ess) of R'hllor who has been on Dragonstone, or so it seems, and Varys's report from a few years before the start of the series is a fact, and not a rumor that his birds have picked up, would suggest that Melisandre indeed had arrived on Dragonstone a few years before ACOK. (Keep in mind that technically, that could mean that she arrived on Dragonstone in late 297 AC, as Viserys is considered to have been "dead for years" in the early months of 300 AC, even though he died in the second half of 298 AC, roughly some 1,5 years before). That Tywin reports on a rumor Varys heard about a "shadowbinder" should not be any reason to doubt that. Melisandre came to Dragonstone as a red priestess, and I would assume that she would have emphasized that during the first months or so that she was there. But she also is a shadowbinder, and that becomes more and more important when Stannis begins to prepare for battle. Perhaps changing it to "Several years before the start of A Clash of Kings would be more accurate? --Rhaenys Targaryen (talk) 21:24, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for the answer! I'm not sure if "several" would be accurate, because the indetermination persists. The point I was trying to make when bringing up Tywin's report is not the simple mention of a "shadowbinder" (which is certainly Melisandre, it's too correct to be a wild guess), but the fact that he cites Varys as saying that Stannis "is bringing" the shadowbinder. It'd be strange for Varys to say it like this (mentioning the fact along with Stannis building ships and hiring sellswords, which are recent events) if the shadowbinder in question was the same red priest he had known about since "some years past" (about which he informed the Council about). This report to the Council didn't mention where Selyse had taken up with the red priest, if it was on Dragonstone and if he remained there, and thus it seems that the fact that a "priest" is mentioned is still relevant. The general "feeling" in Cressen's prologue is also one of Melisandre's presence and influence being a very recent thing, not one that was established for "some years". Although I believe myself that this was all lack of attention to details on GRRM's part when writing (even more so because it was in the first books), I say the matter is too open for debate for a date to be canonically established. A World of Ice and Fire doesn't specify a date for her arrival either. Felipe Bini (talk) 03:28, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
I have to disagree :) The literal quote is

Varys told us some years past that Lady Selyse had taken up with a red priest

so using "some years" (or "several years", as it has the same meaning), would be the most accurate that we can be, without more information, as that is literally what is being said. Regarding the use of "priest" instead of "priestess"... It seems clear to me that no red priest was on Dragonstone before Melisandre came there, and it was through Selyse that Melisandre established her position there. By the start of Clash, we see that Melisandre's hold over Selyse is already rather strong, so from that, we can conclude that Melisandre has been there for a while, by now. And the term "red priests" is often used to refer to all servants of R'hllor in general, where the priests/priestesses are concerned (likely because there are more priests than priestesses).
Additionally, the word "priest" can be used for both men and women, it seems (although I think the latter use is less common, it is a correct use). After all, a priestess is simply a female priest. Wikipedia states "The feminine English noun, priestess, was coined in the 17th century, to refer to female priests of the pre-Christian religions of classical antiquity. In the 20th century, the word was used in controversies surrounding the ordination of women. In the case of the ordination of women in the Anglican communion, it is more common to speak of "priests", regardless of gender." So "priest" can still refer to Melisandre, and I don't think we have any reason to assume that it doesn't. --Rhaenys Targaryen (talk) 18:27, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
There is more information - other than the council report - regarding a person that can be identified as Melisandre, and her arrival: the report given by Tywin, which mentions Stannis bringing a shadowbinder. The verb tense indicates an ongoing or very recent event, the rumour is not that "Stannis has brought a shadowbinder". It is also mentioned on a list together with other known recent events (building ships and hiring sellswords), and Varys doesn't relate it with the previous report made by him some years prior. In fact, this report may very well be true and not contradict the one made before.
It's not being argued that a red priest or priestess settled his or herself on Dragonstone before Melisandre. The literal quote of the council report only says that Selyse started to associate herself with a red priest some years past. It doesn't mention where the fact happened, what became of the red priest in question, or if Selyse remained in contact with the priest. It is entirely possible that it happened in some other place, or even on Dragonstone, in passing, and that Selyse didn’t pursue the contact further. A first contact with a R'hllor priest could even explain how she became such a staunch supporter of Melisandre in such a small period afterwards.
While the word "priest" can technically be used to refer to both sexes in English, in every mention of such a person in the books (be it Melisandre or others), the gender-specific words "priest" or "priestess" are used: (233 instances of priest, including gender-neutral plurals, and none referring to a female and 45 mentions of 'priestess', all referring to females. Referring to a female as "priest" would be an exception.
I'm not saying I believe or want any of the points to be true, just that they can be logically argued and not categorically dismissed, and as such I think there’s still doubt on the matter and that a canonical date is not certain. But it seems we won’t be agreeing on this. :) Felipe Bini (talk) 00:27, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
I guess not :) Perhaps someone else will add their opinion on the matter. But if not, I think we should at least add that Melisandre possibly arrived on Dragonstone "some years" before Clash (if neccesary, with a footnote explaining the possibly). --Rhaenys Targaryen (talk) 10:59, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

I've found a quote which might shed some more light on the topic: "She had come from Asshai in the east, she had come to Dragonstone and won Selsye and her queen’s men for her alien god, and then the king, Stannis Baratheon himself." (A Storm of Swords, Chapter 5, Davos I). According to Davos, Selyse had only converted to R'hllor after Melisandre arrived on Dragonstone, implying that Selyse had no association with a previous red priest(ess), and therefore implying that the Varys quote from ACOK is referring to Melisandre. --Rhaenys Targaryen (talk) 20:22, 15 April 2017 (UTC)

Hm, indeed it sheds more light, but I don't think that conclusion can be literally inferred from the quote. It's obviously possible, even probable, but not the only one. Melisandre winning Selyse and her coverting to R'hllor after Melisandre's arrival doesn't mean she didn't have a previous encounter with a red priest. It would be possible that Selyse had "taken up" with some other priest in the past but not converted to R'hllor at the time, which would also explain why she was the first supporter of Melisandre and R'hllor afterwards. Again, not what I necessarily believe in, but a possibility. Anyway, I won't pursue this matter further. :) Felipe Bini (talk) 13:44, 12 May 2017 (UTC)