Category: Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Case of Daenerys Targaryen

The Case of Daenerys Targaryen


Having considered the legality, morality, and expediency of burning the Tarlys, we move from the act to the woman herself. The viewers of the show are unsure of her. No other character is so changeable, so unpredictable. Other characters have changed, and usually for the better, but Jaime and the Hound have changed slowly over a gradual arc. But Daenerys is noble and merciful one moment, cruel and murderous the next.

Daenerys is a killer but there are many killers on Game of Thrones and some are very popular. Bronn kills for money, and he’s made it quite clear he’d kill anybody for the right price. But he doesn’t make the viewers uneasy in the same way Dany does. He’s unrepentant but he doesn’t pretend to be anything he’s not. He has no illusions about being good and he doesn’t hide what he is. Like his double from Rome, Titus Pullo, he acknowledges that killing is a dirty line of work but it’s the one thing he’s good at.

Perhaps her killing troubles us because she’s a woman. Women bring forth life, they don’t take it. We may admire homicidal prowess in a man, but in a woman it’s an abomination, a violation of her sacred function. No, that’s not it. Maybe in the past, but no longer. Brienne of Tarth is hugely popular as is Lagertha from Vikings, and both these women have killed again and again.

We admire Brienne not only as a fighter but also as a person. She’s killed but she’s always killed armed antagonists in the course of a fight. And she’s never dispatched any of her opponents in a deliberately painful or grisly fashion. Arya took both of Meryn Trant’s eyes before she finished him, Lagertha cut off her enemy’s penis, and Sansa fed Ramsay Bolton to his own dogs. All three women killed men who were their enemies, men who’d tried to kill them, men they had every reason to hate. Their revenge, however gruesome, doesn’t seem to trouble the viewer. Some had begun to worry that Arya was going down a dark path but that was because she’ll travel the length and breadth of Westeros to hunt down old enemies but she gives no thought to searching for surviving members of her own family.

Daenerys has burned and buried her enemies alive but the others have taken their own dreadful revenge. But for the other women, that enemy was an individual a man they knew all too well, a man who’d attacked her, raped her, or killed those she loved. Daenerys counts as enemies men she’s never met, men she doesn’t know and isn’t even certain of their identities. For Daenerys an enemy isn’t a face but a group: the masters, the slavers, Robert’s assassins, anybody who opposes her claim to the crown. She’s allowed or ordered the execution of men she didn’t know to be guilty, former supporters, her own brother.


Brienne, Lagertha, and Daenerys are admired because they are women who can contend with men. All three women are redoubtable but Brienne and Lagertha are formidable because they are superb fighters while Daenerys is formidable because she has dragons. But in fairness to Daenerys, she has many great qualities, compassion, rectitude, integrity, warmth.

Viewers were thrilled when she walked out of the flames unburnt dragons perched on her shoulder, when she freed the slaves of Astapor, when she saw Gray Worm, Missandei, and Tyrion for who they were and raised them to positions of power. But they were appalled by her frequent rages, her ingratitude to Jorah Mormont, her pompous declamations. Why does she flash from such kindness to such cruelty? How can she have such laudable intentions but, when thwarted, fly into unthinking fury?

We don’t know whether to love or hate her because we’re brought to love or hate her in turns. We never know which Daenerys we’re going to get. Why does such a fine woman let her anger blaze into tantrums, tantrums that are terrifying because of her propensity for violence and the forces at her command, her host of Unsullied and her menagerie of dragons?

Daenerys is very much like Alexander the Great. The same Alexander who treated the defeated Porus with such magnanimity, murdered one of his best friends in a drunken rage. The same Alexander who showed such kindness to the Darius’ widow, razed Thebes and Tyre for the obstinacy of their opposition. Peter the Great brought Russia into the modern world but he also strangled how own son and heir.

Kings take themselves to be greater than other men but men nonetheless. Their blood and their crown make them special but kings die and princes are born. The King is dead; long live the King. Alexander came to believe himself something more than a man, something more than a king even. He came to believe himself a god.

As Oswald Spengler remarked, Alexander was a vain and silly boy. No man could have his head turned by the flattery of a pack of insinuating priests and fawning courtiers. Yet in the end, Julius Caesar, the same Caesar extolled by Spengler, took to wearing red shoes. When adulation turns into veneration, and veneration to worship, how can any man keep his head, let alone a mere child. In the movie The Man who would be King, a man just like Bronn, a jaded man, a man who’d seen it all and done most of it twice, a man who had no illusions, a man who knew himself and the world for what they were, succumbed to the same illusions.

Daenerys grew up in fear. As a girl she was warned to stay hidden, to trust no one, to watch for danger everywhere. She moved from hiding place to hiding place, sometimes borne off in the middle of the night, fleeing a menace she didn’t understand. She was sheltered but terrified, utterly reliant on those around her but told that every hand was against her. Had she been brought up coddled and spoiled and completely innocent of the world and its perils, it would have been a far better nursery for a queen. To fear without understanding, to depend without trusting is far worse than to grow up vain and selfish and spoiled, yet loved and trusting as Sansa did.

Priests told Alexander he was a god and he believed them. Priests told Peter the Great he was Emperor of a Third Rome, the ruler of the holy and he believed them as well. Daenerys had far more than the encouragement of priests. It was more than words, it was miracles that convinced her she was more than just a woman. She alone could survive the fire. She alone can touch her dragons.

Titles are most useful. Voltaire may sneer at the costly and lavish pageantry of royalty but it is far better to rule through veneration than through terror. We wish that Daenerys should show some hint, the smallest and briefest of smirks, that she knows this long and ever growing list of titles is helpful but faintly ridiculous. But to her these are more than titles. The likes of Tommen is given titles: Protector…Andals and the First Men…Seven Kingdoms…etc. Tommen is but a boy who wears a crown; she is far more than just a queen. Daenerys Stormborn, the Breaker of Chains, the Mother of Dragons, the Unburnt: these aren’t titles, they’re epithets.

The simplest solution to the world’s ills is a righteous ruler who will right wrongs, break chains, feed the poor, strike down the oppressors however powerful they may be. This simple solution has never proved to be a workable one. We check our worst impulses because we fear the retaliation of our fellows. And what if there are no fellows, no equals of any kind. What if there will be no retaliation. From the Squire of Gothos to the monstrous child from It’s a Good Life, the result is terrifying.

Men as intelligent as Beethoven and Hegel were sure that Napoleon was going to found a new order, that he was more than just a conqueror. Tyrion and Varys want to believe that Daenerys will break the wheel, that she’ll fix what is wrong with Westeros, that she’s something more, something better than Aegon the Conqueror.

The fate of the world can’t hang on the beating of one heart. Every Trajan, Charlemagne, Ashoka, Henry IV, is only a short respite from the carnage and chaos. Even if you find that one astounding personality wise and virtuous enough to hold their pride and temper in check, strong enough to curb the mighty and kind enough to succor the weak, that prodigy will get you only a few good years. Men and women, good and bad, come and go. They are born and they grow and they fade and they die, all in the blink of an eye. It’s offices and institutions that last. Tradition holds them up and constitutions set them together so they mutually check and support one another.

In the very attempt to place all our eggs in one fragile and short-lived basket, to center all power in one frame, the king-maker must tear down all of these offices and institutions. For every Trajan, there are a thousand Joffries. The search for a savior who will fix this world destroys the framework necessary to establish a workable and long-lasting government. The workings of such a government are slow, and halting, and prosaic, but every generation builds upon the achievements of the last and what is built endures.

Daenerys Targaryen Burns the Tarlys

Daenerys Targaryen Burns the Tarlys


After the Battle of the Gold Road, Daenerys Targaryen has the defeated and captured Lannister soldiers rounded up and delivers the following ultimatum:

I offer you a choice. Bend the knee and join me and together we will leave the world a better place than we found it or refuse and die.

Their plight and some admonitory roaring from Drogon convince all the Lannister men to bend the knee, except for Randyll Tarly and his son Dickon. Tyrion pleads for their lives, suggesting that they might be sent to the Wall. Randyll doesn’t refuse the offer but insists that because Daenerys isn’t Queen, she doesn’t have the authority to send him to the Night’s Watch.

Daenerys carries out her threat and Drogon roasts both Randyll and Dickon. The episode touched off a great deal of discussion about whether or not Daenerys was justified. Randyll wanted to make it very clear that he wasn’t defying the law but rather a foreign conqueror and her pet monster.

Under every code of law, threats made by private individuals under threat of force have no legal standing. If this were not so, every mugging would be a legal appropriation. For Daenerys’ ultimatum to be justified, she must be more than a private citizen; she must be a ruling sovereign.

A government may conscript its own citizens into the army. These measures are unpopular but they’re often regarded as legal and constitutional. Any citizen who refuses the conscription is breaking the law and is liable to legal penalties. Since Daenerys sees herself as the rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, she may conscript the men of Weseros into her army.

The Lannister soldiers are men of Westeros but they are also prisoners of war. Daenerys may counter that since she is the rightful Queen and they took up arms against her, they aren’t really prisoners of war but rebels and traitors. And from a strictly legal standpoint she may be correct.

The British Crown faced a much similar situation in regard to the prisoners of war taken during the American Revolution. They could never grant these captured men the status of prisoners of war because that would concede that the Colonies were a sovereign nation and these men were soldiers of that nation. Yet to deny that they were soldiers at all meant that they were rebels and traitors and their condign fate was execution in the gruesome fashion of the age. And to draw and quarter captured colonial troops would make any reconciliation with their lost colonies utterly impossible. The British simply ignored the whole question, neither according them the status of prisoners of war or punishing them as traitors. Although they didn’t execute the captured colonials, they kept them in conditions so appalling that a great many of them died anyway.

Throughout most of history, those captured in war were either slaughtered or enslaved. Those combatants who were taken didn’t enjoy any legal status as prisoners of war until the Napoleonic Wars. The Mongols and Tartars frequently butchered whole populations without bothering to consider whether this was lawful or just.

The samurai almost never kept prisoners. They believed that the losers of a battle should either die fighting or kill themselves out of shame. Any warrior so cowardly as to be taken alive didn’t deserve to live.


After the ghastly wars of religion between the Catholics and Protestants, echoes of chivalry still lingered in the secular wars between nations. A captured officer may give his parole, his most solemn word, that he will do nothing either to harm his captor or attempt to escape. His parole given, he was permitted to move about freely and even to go home to return at an appointed time with his ransom. The officer is still no less a prisoner but he is held by his honor rather than by bars and fetters. We may admire the humanity and gentility of such an arrangement, but we must remember that it was a courtesy extended by aristocrats to aristocrats.

Prisoners of war were sometimes permitted to change sides and enlist among their whilom captors. But they didn’t do this because they were threatened with death but to win their freedom and improve their condition. These defectors were rarely fully trusted. Having switched sides once, they might well do so again and they were often sent off to distant postings in order to free up more dependable troops for the main theater.

I have never heard of anybody forcing an entire body of prisoners to switch sides and fight for their cause under threat of death. In modern times, international law mandates that very soon after hostilities are ended, prisoners of war are to be released or repatriated.

Daenerys’ father was overthrown by a rebellion and he was killed as a direct result of that rebellion. Daenerys invasion may be regarded as the last act of a civil war. The Tarlys fought against the Targaryens during Robert’s rebellion.

Charles II returned to rule a kingdom that had risen against his father and deposed him. Some of the men who had overthrown his father later tried and executed him. His Restoration and Daenerys invasion share many points of similarity. Although the Tarlys fought to overthrow King Aerys, they had nothing to do with his death. Aerys was killed by Jaime Lannister and because his killing was neither planned nor even really political, it was a murder and not an assassination.

Charles I was tried and executed by a large body of signatories and many of them were still living and fell into his son’s hands after the Restoration. While many of these regicides were executed, those who simply fought against his father or were part of the government that replaced him were spared any punishment. Neither were they compelled to swear an oath of allegiance to the restored King.

After the American Civil War, the general populations of the seceding states weren’t forced to swear their allegiance to the Union. The most important and recalcitrant of the Confederates were barred from holding public office and voting, but they weren’t fined or imprisoned.

During the occupation and rebuilding of Germany, many former Nazis were imprisoned and punished. Some were executed after the Nuremberg Trials. Yet the Allies made a distinction between Followers, Lesser Offenders, Offenders, and Major Offenders. They held only some of those who were officially members of the Nazi Party responsible for the crimes of the Nazi state. Former Nazis may be barred from public office and the civil service but only the most culpable were punished for their country’s crimes.

The defeated can scarcely help but admit they’ve lost. Yet to force them to declare that they were wrong ever to have fought in the first place is another thing entirely. Few conquerors have ever been so arrogant or foolish as to wring such a fruitless and costly admission from the vanquished.

Bells, Runways, Stark Reunions, and Love Scenes

Bells, Runways, Stark Reunions, and Love Scenes


Nearly all of us, whether in television or in a movie, have watched a situation in which two actresses are running lines from a love scene, and after uttering professions of passion, devotion, and everlasting fidelity, one or both of them will collapse into laughter. Shaking her head, and finally catching her breath after her fit of giggling, she wonders what sort of imbecile can write such nonsense and how they can possibly recite such drivel in front of an audience without ruining their careers. I remember one scene just like this from one of the later seasons of Mad Men in which Don Draper’s second wife, an aspiring actress, mocks the pages she’s been sent and despairs of ever performing anything so ridiculous?

Going through these derided scenes, word by word, line by line, what exactly is so terrible? Show, don’t tell is one of the few really useful maxims applied to writing, so are these passages are full of adjectives like: steely, piercing, ravishing, or irresistible. No, in the instance just mentioned and most others, the prose is quite lean. Furthermore, there are no obvious solecisms or mistakes in usage. Then what is it that is so mediocre or contemptible in these scenes that the actresses shudder to perform them? In every case, the scene is read all by itself, and it consists of two names, names without faces, names of complete strangers, names that don’t bear the weight of any regret, pain, loss, or confusion. These two phantoms sigh out their passion, swear to be true forever, weep to be parted, and every word of it is dreary.


Tender love scenes, sweet reunions, and anguished partings don’t twist and tear our hearts because of the beauty and precision of the language. There are no insights into the human condition, no observations on love, no profound wisdom in what the characters are saying. Nothing needs to be said. When Jon Snow walks out and sees Sansa Stark standing in the courtyard, he rushes down the stairs and she runs to him, throwing herself in his arms. As Jon picks up his sister and holds her, grown men and their less stoic wives and girlfriends alike weep together. We are so deeply moved by what is happening only because what has already happened. We have seen these two mocked, held captive, manipulated, beaten, stabbed, fleeing from certain death. We have seen them suffer so much that if they somehow live, they may survive but they can never again find happiness. That hug lasts for only a few seconds. It takes fifty some hours of superb storytelling to buy those few seconds.

A story needs to build up an enormous emotional charge to allow such a huge, and yet brief release. That flash of joy is the result of hours of despair, fatigue, pain, grief, loss, regret, and every other shadow that has ever darkened the human soul. Has anything ever been more silly and mawkish than the ending to It’s a Wonderful Life? It should be laughable but instead it’s devastating. That ending exhilarates us because of the dark story that’s just unfolded. The film has its lighter moments, high school seniors jump into a swimming pool, Donna Reed huddles naked in a bush, Sam Wainwright can’t refrain from incessantly blatting ‘hee-haw’.

Yet there is far more darkness than light, and the most frivolous and light-hearted moments are haunted by death. One moment, George is holding an empty bathrobe, relishing a very interesting situation, the next he’s rushing to his father’s deathbed. One moment, children are sledding on a hill, the next one of them nearly drowns in an icy pond. We sometimes forget that a grief-stricken pharmacist nearly poisons innocent children. We forget George Bailey shaking his uncle by the collar, berating him, shrieking about prison and ruin and scandal. We forget George’s smoldering resentment, his dreams relinquished for the sake of a town remarkable only for its ingratitude, a town that George both loves and hates. Frank Capra’s shading is impeccable. He can’t make Bedford Falls into a Gomorrah but he makes sure that there are almost no profusions of gratitude to take away from the ending. George gives up college to run the Building and Loan and the sacrifice is mentioned only right before he’s called upon to make a second terrible sacrifice. He gives away the money for his honeymoon to once again save the Building and Loan, and the depositors seem quite pleased by the deliverance, but they don’t bother to thank their deliverer. Capra doesn’t want to make his characters monsters of ingratitude, and Martini and Gower are sincerely grateful and loyal to George, but he’s sparing with the appreciation holding nearly everything back for the ending. Because It’s a Wonderful Life is a story about poverty and loss, dreams deferred and then destroyed, that beautiful ending is overwhelming.

Think back to Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman standing on the runway as the propellers that will carry her away forever splutter to life behind them. The words he speaks, by themselves are quite ordinary, and if read aloud by someone who’d knew nothing about the movie, they’d seem unremarkable.

Rick: I’m saying it because it’s true.  Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor.  You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going.  If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with it you’ll regret it.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Ilsa: What about us?

Rick: We’ll always have Paris.  We didn’t have-we lost it-we lost it until you came to Casablanca.  We got it back last night.

Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you…

Rick: And you never will.  I’ve got a job to do too.  Where I’m going, you can’t follow.  What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of.   I’m no good at being noble but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.  Someday you’ll understand that.  Not now.  Here’s looking at you kid.    

These words are meaningful because of the themes of duty, sacrifice, and the clash of good and evil so masterfully evoked in what has come before. Their idyllic yet perhaps selfish tryst in Paris, the figure of Victor Laslow, the Marsellaise out-throating Die Wacht am Rhein in the cafe. Every line, every image, every scene has led up to this goodbye. Two people who love one another, and whom we love, must give up their lives together and their happiness to do the right thing.

As a fan of Joss Whedon, I can’t help but close with Buffy and Angel. We have seen Buffy and Angel fight together and fight one another. We have seen her run a sword through him and hurl him into hell to save the world. Every great joke, every brilliant line, every superb scene from the first episode to this, has brought them closer and closer together, and bonded us to them as well. That narrative momentum makes the simplest declarations of love heart-rending.

Angel: No matter what, I’ll always be with you.

Buffy: How am I supposed to go on with my life, knowing what we had, what we could have had?

Buffy: I felt your heart beat.

Angel: I love you.

Buffy: I love you.

Angel: Nothing will ever change that.  Not even death.

The words themselves are short, often used, and unremarkable. The sentences are simple, with none of the mirroring, balancing or antitheses of the rhetorical arts. But these words are now imbued with an immense force, and all Joss Whedon must do is not to ruin the effect he’s labored season after season to create. It may seem a thankless chore that it costs him thousands and thousands of words carefully chosen and perfectly arranged to make a few dozen resound, but these fleeting outpourings of grief or joy are earned only by hard work, sweat, and pages and pages of stupendous story-telling. Joss Whedon’s a writer and that’s the price every writer must pay, but I’m sure he feels such moments are worth that price.

X Men, Avengers, and Titus Pullo

X Men, Avengers, and Titus Pullo


In the 2016 film X Men Apocalypse, the villain, actually named Apocalypse, recruits a cadre of disgruntled mutants to destroy the world. As anyone may guess, the X Men set out to stop him and there follows a climactic battle between disgruntled and gruntled mutants. Apocalypse is enormously powerful, as are the mutants arrayed against him, and he easily disposed of the world’s nuclear arsenals and then nearly wipes out all life on the planet. This plot has become a familiar one, but this movie in question is a particularly blatant example. The scale and the stakes involved are ramped up to the highest level possible. The issue is the eradication of all life on the planet, and yet the struggle is kept between the two parties of mutants alone. Despite facing their own extinction, none of the leaders, governments, or armies of humankind take any part in the fight, and stopping Apocalypse is left to the superheroes. Everybody who isn’t enhanced is strangely and unpardonably passive throughout. This passivity shows itself in the X Men and the Avengers movies, and it has become one of the principal features of the whole genre. These movies make it clear that ordinary humans are hopelessly overmatched and it’s best for everyone that the world’s militaries and law enforcement agencies stay out of the fray and leave the work to beneficent superhumans.

In the final acts of these films, the laws, courts, governments, and armies of mankind disappear for all narrative purposes, while the demigods fight it out. The stage is emptied of everything except famous monuments which are left to be wrecked in computer generated spectacles. This void is conspicuous and it precludes any interactions between the superheroes and their ordinary allies. The series of Marvel comics shows on Netflix seem aware of this drawback and they try to avoid setting their final acts in a global vacuum. To keep some sort of context, they’ve scaled back the scope of the conflict and the stakes involved. The amphitheater is now one neighborhood in New York rather than the entire globe, and the villains aren’t out to destroy the world. Kingpin wants to run Hell’s Kitchen, not unleash Armageddon. KIllgrave wants to eat at fancy restaurants and play house with Jessica Jones. This allows the show writers to keep the institutions, players, and settings of ordinary life: courts, politicians, lawyers, journalists, prions, and they all can play an integral role in the story, which can then be more complex and be made up of more moving parts. Kingpin’s empire is threatened by a newspaper reporter. Jessica Jones can’t simply assassinate Killgrave because she needs to exculpate the girl he made kill her own parents. Netflix has cut down the stories and made them smaller, but by doing so, they can tell stories where crooked politicians, district attorneys, cops, journalists, and lawyers can be prominent in the action. The whole world doesn’t need to vanish during the final act, and the ending can unfold in the same world we ourselves inhabit.

This restriction in scale seems to be worth the sacrifice if the payoff is a more complex and interesting narrative. Yet is the reduction really necessary? Must the setting become parochial, and the struggle lessened in its importance? Can’t a larger superhero story keep its human context and not become a saga of titans battling in an empty firmament? There is an approach that will achieve all of this but the narrative vehicle isn’t found in comics but instead in the HBO series Rome. Like Matt Murdoch and Jessica Jones, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo are formidable without being invulnerable or all-powerful. Yet the actions is spread over a wider scene, and Caesar, Pompey, and Mark Antony are fighting for control of the entire known world. And like their Marvel counterparts, they must contend with rules, laws, and figures of authority. And like their Marvel counterparts, they’re citizens rather than demigods. Matt Murdoch went to university, took and passed the bar exam, argues cases in a court of law, rents offices in one building an apartment in another. Jessica Jones is arrested by the police and is held pending trial. They have Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, credit histories, bank accounts, and the myriad other connections with the organizations and institutions of the modern world.

Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo are members of the Thirteenth Legion, and as such they are subject to military discipline and regulations. On the social ladder, they sit near the bottom and they are far below many of the other characters. Not only in their dealings with Julius Caesar, but even in interactions with lesser characters, they must remain deferential and obedient. Dangerous men and capable killers, they are nevertheless figures of little importance. In the very first episode, they come to the rescue of a very creepy Octavian, a boy with the mind of Tywin Lannister in the body of Joffrey, winning themselves the gratitude and patronage of his reptilian mother, Atia who herself closely resembles Cersei. When taken out of the urban setting and marooned in the wilderness, these constraints of caste and birth are removed. Pompey is surpassingly and unquestionably their social superior, but far from Rome, away from its mores and its laws, acting on their own, they kill his captors and set him free. Yet once they return to the world and report back to Caesar, they must confess their effrontery in taking it upon themselves to save and then release his archrival and suffer the consequences. In their lowly station, they must be humble and biddable, doing as Atia bids and defying her only at the behest of someone yet more powerful than she.

Not only must they obey their aristocratic betters, the two men are also at the mercy of forces more powerful than they are. Vorenus follows Mark Anthony out of duty but he’s incapable of deciding or even of significantly influencing their shared fate. He sees his leader giving way to dissipation, losing his fighting skills, and leading them both down a path that will end in their death but he’s powerless to do anything about it. He doesn’t have the rank or the power to alter the outcome and he can only keep his word and faithfully attend his master as Anthony sets about getting them both killed. Neither he nor Pullo are in control and they’re borne along by irresistible tides of history and destiny. They aren’t strong enough to save the world all on their own.


They’re not simply spectators, but they’re also actors in the greatest events of their time. They stand at the elbow of the high and mighty, and they are pulled into the biggest happenings of their age. In this respect, they’re much like Forrest Gump. Like the affable Alabaman, they’re in the right place at the right time, or in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they’re in the thick of things as history is made all around them. They encounter and serve JFK, John Lennon, LBJ, Elvis, Octavian, Caesar, Cicero, and Pompey. Rome shows us both ends of the social spectrum, queens, imperators, and consuls, and their lowborn bodyguards and assassins.

One of the earlier episodes is entitled “How Titus Pullo brought down the Republic” and it recounts how one small action of Pullo’s has enormous repercussions. Pullo didn’t set out to bring down the Republic but he inadvertently touches of a series of events that change the world forever. He doesn’t turn the course of history because he has godlike powers, but through the butterfly effect. One step leads to a cascade of mistakes, chances, and accidents which results in the collapse of the Republic. This was one deed of one small actor among many, rather than the colossal heroics of a tiny number of nearly omnipotent saviors. Titus Pullo inadvertently destroyed a system of government, and in much the same manner a protagonist might save a life, avert a disaster, or diffuse a crisis and end up saving a country or the world.