An Excerpt From Bluetiger’s Aenar’s Aeneid, Part II – “Of Arms and the Man I Sing”, Published in Polish at FSGK on June 29, 2019
Translated and Published Here As:
The Name “Valyria”
From Chapter III: “Targaryens were rightly regarded as being closer to gods than the common run of men”
Aeneas’ wife Creusa was Cassandra’s sister, daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. Yet the hero’s connections to the Trojan royal family go deeper than that, for Aeneas descended from a cadet branch of that dynasty. His father Anchises was the son of Themiste, aunt of King Priam, and Capys, who was the brother of Priam’s grandsire, Assaracus.
Perhaps we see a reference to this genealogy when it is mentioned that the Targaryens were one of the lesser houses of dragon lords. There were no kings in Valyria, thus George R.R. Martin could not present Aenar as a scion of some offshoot branch of the reigning dynasty; so he made the Targaryens into an insignificant house, which was, however, still numbered among the dragon lords.
We may find more curious parallels between Aenar and Aeneas when we look at the later’s mother, the goddess Aphrodite (who in Vergil’s epic bears the name Venus) – this parentage makes our hero a demigod. Are passages such as this referring to this fact?
On Dragonstone, where the Targaryens had long ruled, the common folk had seen their beautiful, foreign rulers almost as gods. —The World of Ice and Fire—
Upon Dragonstone, (…) Targaryens were rightly regarded as being closer to gods than the common run of men. —The Princess and the Queen—
Aeneas was a demigod, Aenar and his descendants were considered gods… is this a mere coincidence, or a deliberate reference on George R.R. Martin’s part?
The author of A Song of Ice and Fire leaves his readers with another clue as to whom the dragon lords thought themselves to be, and what others thought of them, in the very word he uses for their nation and state: the Valyrians and Valyria. Within the secondary universe, the word valar means people, men, as demonstrated by the saying valar morghulis, valar dohaeris – all men must die, all men must serve. However, the term Valar is well-known outside the fictional setting of Westeros. There is no doubt that George R.R. Martin is referencing the Valar from The Silmarillion and J.R.R. Tolkien’s other literary works:
The Great among these spirits [the Ainur, ‘Angels’; Bluetiger’s note] the Elves name the Valar, Powers of Arda, and Men have often called them gods. —J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Valaquenta—
By using the word Valar; which in High Valyrian signifies people (initially it probably denoted only the Valyrians), and the echoes of which we can hear in words such as Valyrians and Valyria; the author shows his readers that Valyrians believed they were equal to the gods (or at least “The Powers of the World”, “gods”, i.e. the Tolkienic Valar). Perhaps George R.R. Martin went a bit further and made use of the close relation of two Quenya words – Valar and Valaraukar, the later being the name of the fire demons which in the Sindarin tongue are known as the Balrogs. If GRRM had these Tolkienic meanings in mind, this makes his Valyrians concurrently “the Valar” and “the Balrogs”, superhuman and dreadful lords of fire. Both images fit the dragon lords perfectly.
It is worth to mention that in House Targaryen itself appear names such as Valarr and Valerion, which strongly evoke the Valar.