Is Melisandre from 'GoT' a Hag or a Crone?
'Game of Thrones' revealed that Melisandre is old. Here's a brief history of hags and crones in folklore.
The Season 6 Game of Thrones premiere revealed that Melisandre is secretly very old. We’re not talking a few more laugh lines once she removes her makeup, either. She’s — technically, in literary terms — a hag or a crone (in addition to being a witch!) who ages hundreds of years once she removes her special necklace. She wears her youthful body as nothing more than a magical glamor. It might seem silly to debate the nuances of hag versus crone, but each title comes from a long tradition in folklore and you can bet George R.R. Martin and the Game of Thrones creators have thought about it.
Hags and Crones are both names you probably wouldn’t want to be called, but hags are generally worse. For example, the Furies from Greco-Roman muythologuy — female spirits of vengeance and torment who live in the Underworld — are typically described as hags. Hags are wicked, with their outer decay and proximity to death reflecting their inner natures.
Crones can be wicked too, but they can also be benign and wise. They’re typically goddesses like Elli in Nordic mythology — the goddess of old age — or figures with mysterious purpose like the Slavic Baba Yaga, who is sometimes seen as wicked, sometimes nurturing.
But then again, just to confuse you, the Gaelic Cailleach is often described as a “hag” and she’s a mysterious nature spirit figure. Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters, the famous witches in Macbeth.
When in doubt, a crone is a safe term when magic is involved. Melisandre is a crone, and that’s a good thing for the future of the story.