It is often said that a man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his own ambitions. The Lord of the Tides and the Master of Driftmark wanted to conquer the world. From the very first episode of “House of the Dragon,” it was clearly established that Lord Corlys wanted power. But the Sea Snake’s quest was a little different from his counterparts. Lord Corlys was not a usurper. He was not a dishonest man. He was only trying to make strategic alliances that had the potential to take him closer to the Iron Throne. But somewhere down the line, he became obsessed with his ambitions, and his wife, Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, could clearly see it. She didn’t say much at first, but she knew that this heedless desire would become the reason for his downfall. It was killing her to just stand and see his obsession ruin everything that came their way. She realized that it was an infinite loop and that somebody had to make it end. The motive of this article is to examine two specific scenes and the events around them, which made us privy to what was going on inside the mind of Lord Corlys and also demonstrated how his ideologies went through a metamorphosis of sorts.
Daemon was not the only one who was sidelined by Otto Hightower. Corlys Velaryon was also among the list of people who felt a strong animosity towards the Hand of the King. Corlys wanted his daughter to marry King Viserys Targaryen. Laena was only 13 at the time. Rhaenys, being her mother, might have felt a bit uncomfortable with the age gap, but she was well aware of the reality. She knew that women were often sacrificed and made political pawns in the war of power. This offer of marriage also made us aware of the kind of desperation that existed inside Lord Corlys. But once again, Otto got the better of him, and Lord Corlys had to leave the King’s landing in search of other potential allies. After the death of Laena Velaryon, Rhaenys felt compelled to have a conversation with her husband. She wanted to show him a mirror and urge him to stop before they lost everything they had. But Lord Corlys still held onto his beliefs. He was not ready to look beyond his own desires. As a matter of fact, Corlys was not ready to accept that his motivations were driven by his own ambitions. He was delusional enough to believe that whatever he was doing was for his family. He wasn’t ready to agree that they were paying the cost of his ambitions and insatiable pride. It was then that Corlys Velaryon lifted the veil and gave a glimpse of what exactly was going on in his mind. The pursuit of legacy gave him a sense of purpose. For him, mortal life didn’t hold any meaning without it. Rhaenys wanted Driftmark to pass to Laena’s daughters, but Corlys felt that it would discredit their son, Laenor. Corlys said that history remembers names and not blood. It is here that he proved that whatever Rhaenys said was actually true. He was not trying to seek justice for his wife. He was not trying to secure his family. He was only trying to fulfill his own ambitions.
After Laenor escaped Driftmark, the Velaryons were left without an heir. They believed that their son had died. Corlys felt scattered and didn’t know what to do with his life. He knew that without an heir, there was no point in chasing the dream. He lost the purpose that had driven his motivation till then. Unable to make peace with the circumstances and accept reality, he went to Stepstones to fight the Triarchy. He was so self-absorbed at that moment that he left his wife all alone to fend for herself. It was a very selfish thing to do, but he didn’t do it consciously. He had an incessant urge to embark on a mission and do something that gave meaning to his life. He got gravely injured during the battle and got a fever, which made things worse. People felt that he was not going to survive, but Corlys was a fighter. He didn’t give up. When he woke up, Rhaenys told him what had transpired in his absence. She told him that there was still time and that they could make things right. She pleaded with him to put an end to his pursuit before it destroyed whatever was left.
Maybe the near-death experience had changed something inside him. Maybe the grief-laden eyes of his beloved wife compelled him to look beyond his own ambitions. Lord Corlys realized that maybe he had reached too far. He had always believed that only the fulfillment of his goals would lead him to a state of contentment. But what’s the point of reaching the mountain top if you don’t have anybody standing beside you to share the view? He finally said the words that Rhaenys was longing to hear. He said that his pursuit of the Iron Throne was at an end. He felt relieved. He felt as if a burden had been lifted from his own shoulders. If it hadn’t been for Rhaenys, this transformation wouldn’t have been possible. Corlys knew that he was alive because his wife hadn’t given up on him. He decided to fight alongside Rhaenyra. For the first time, his intentions were not driven by his own selfish desires. For the first time, he wanted to do the right thing, irrespective of the ramifications it had. Sea Snake was an enterprising man who always sought adventure. He was one of those few people who had real war experience. Fighting the war against the Greens helped him find that lost sense of purpose. His presence lifted the morale of all the others, especially the newly crowned Queen. The Blacks had a genuine chance now to overpower the Hightowers, as they had the true master of the tides by their side and his fleet of ships at their disposal.