AGoT Eddard 1: what Robert Baratheon looks like

Robert is six and a half feet tall and overweight; he has gained at least eight stone (64 to 128 pounds, depending on the definition of a stone; 112 pounds by the most common definition) since he was in peak fighting condition. “A beard as coarse and black as iron wire covered his jaw to hide his double chin and the sag of the royal jowls, but nothing could hide his stomach or the dark circles under his eyes.” He was once muscular, wore an antlered helmet, carried a warhammer, and smelled of leather and blood. Now he gets out of breath from walking down stairs and wears perfume.

(I’ll have to start tracking perfume as a character signifier, as well as obesity.)

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4 responses to “AGoT Eddard 1: what Robert Baratheon looks like

  • scarlett45

    Obesity is an interesting character trait. It says much more about an individual in pre-industrial times than it does in the 21st century (I don’t know if you’re in the USA). Even a rich person in the middle ages had to WORK at getting fat. Of course women would put on a few pounds after child birth and people would be slightly plumper at middle age than they were at 18, but to put on 100lbs in 9yrs (given the time since the Greyjoy rebellion) and to be do out of shape says something about Robert’s unhappiness, character and lack of purpose. Without access to processed food, and forced exercise (even the rich rode horses) he must’ve been eating and drinking to huge excess. Additionally, we know he wasn’t ruling the kingdoms so he certainly had time to hunt, ride etc and burn some calories.

    I can’t remember the name of the Baratheon blacksmith that ended up on the wall with Jon, but he told Jon “Robert was like steel, went to rust when the fighting was done.” Sad.

    • scarlett45

      Also the perfume- its no secret that a heavy individual sweats between their rolls. Of course now we have hot showers, creams, anti-perspirent and lots of soap so it isn’t an issue, but given the bathing habits of even the upper class at this time Robert needed the perfume to hide his stench.

  • serpounce

    During this re-read I hope to look at the different ways Martin uses obesity: as a sign that a character has “fallen” from a higher state (Robert, Lysa); as a disguise for a character who’s shrewder than he looks (Varys, Illyrio, Manderly); as a sign of innocence and harmlessness (Tommen, to some extent Sam?); or just as an occasion for fat jokes (Fat Walda, Lollys, Hot Pie).

    It was indeed made pretty clear in the Dany chapter that Illyrio wears perfume to cover up body odor, and that it ain’t working. (Though there’s also the motif of Dany putting perfume on her private parts before being offered/offering herself to Drogo…)

  • AGoT Jon 4 « Another Song of Ice and Fire reread

    […] Meet Sam Tarly: “the fattest boy [Jon] had ever seen,” weighing “twenty stone” — that would be 160 to 320 pounds, 280 by the most common definition of “stone.” Here fat is associated with cowardice and (once again) with effeminacy, but there’s no hint of schemey-ness (fat as disguise) or fallen-ness (fat as outward sign of a decline in morality or dignity). […]

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