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Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 18:56
by Séamus
One thing that has always made me scratch my head a bit, why did the Emperor consider House Atreides such a threat to his rule? I realize that there are several small explanations as to Shaddam's distrust and dislike of Leto, but nothing that seems to warrant such desperate measures. Should I just chalk it up as a character flaw in Shaddam, a necessary plot device, or am I missing something entirely. Please use kid gloves, this is my second post.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 19:05
by zacher2005
I always thought it was because of how popular the Duke was an dhe felt threatened by that.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 19:47
by SandRider
I think that's the basic plot-point device; specifically, Leto's popularity in the Landsraad

Thufir Hawat, his father's Master of Assassins, had explained it: their
mortal enemies, the Harkonnens, had been on Arrakis eighty years, holding the
planet in quasi-fief under a CHOAM Company contract to mine the geriatric spice,
melange. Now the Harkonnens were leaving to be replaced by the House of Atreides
in fief-complete -- an apparent victory for the Duke Leto. Yet, Hawat had said,
this appearance contained the deadliest peril, for the Duke Leto was popular
among the Great Houses of the Landsraad.
"A popular man arouses the jealousy of the powerful," Hawat had said.


there was also some mumbo-jumbo about the Atreides building a secret army,
using a technique unknown to us, a technique involving sound....

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 20:18
by A Thing of Eternity
SandRider wrote:there was also some mumbo-jumbo about the Atreides building a secret army,
using a technique unknown to us, a technique involving sound....


Now now SR, it's not nice to mess with people!

The Duke's popularity definitely had a big part in it, a dictator would be pretty right to be afraid of potential competition from someone loved by many.

Also, my memory could be shady, but the Emperor seemed to have a pretty good relationship going with the Harkonnens, and Leto being their arch enemy, in combination with the first point about his popularity, could be enough to do it.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 20:37
by Séamus
Not that I'm a mentat by any means, but the risk/reward for eliminating a nominal threat by risking all (if the rest of the Landsraad caught wind of the emperor lending 5 legions of Sardukar ) seemed like a piss poor plan. What would have happened if all the Atreides were killed but word of the emperor's complicity in their deaths was discovered by the other Great Houses? Could it be that that Herbert was implying that the Imperium wasn't in fact as static and stagnant as it appeared? How does the possibility of the Imperium plunging into civil war affect Leto II's pursuit of the Golden Path? Am I over thinking a plot device? Why is a noob asking these questions?http://www.jacurutu.com/posting.php?mode=reply&f=21&t=2757&sid=0ccbe9ccb86157d31c772c6eda3439ec#

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 21:35
by Omphalos
The Atreides would still have been wiped out, and the balance of power would still have shifted to Shaddam.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 23:37
by merkin muffley
In Dune, when Hawat is talking to the Baron, explaining to him why the Fremen are a threat to the Emperor...

The Padishah Emperor turned against House Atreides because the Duke's Warmasters Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho had trained a fighting force - a small fighting force - to within a hair as good as the Sardaukar. Some of them were even better. And the Duke was in a position to enlarge his force, to make it every bit as strong as the Emperor's.


The Duke provided moral leadership to the Landsraad, and threatened to focus the power of the houses into a threat to the Emperor. Towards the beginning of Dune, when the Atreides are in council...

Halleck stirred, said: 'I think what rankles, Sire, is that we've had no volunteers from the other Great Houses. They address you as 'Leto the Just' and promise eternal friendship, but only as long as it doesn't cost them anything.'
'They don't know yet who's going to win this exchange,' the Duke said. 'Most of the Houses have grown fat by taking few risks. One cannot truly blame them for this; one can only despise them.' (that's one of my favorite lines in the book).


Without the leadership of someone like the Duke, the Landsraad doesn't pose a threat. The Emperor does run the risk of uniting the Landsraad against what he's done to the Atreides, but he's obviously confident that he won't be exposed.

It makes sense to me that Shaddam would think that letting the Duke's power grow poses the greatest risk.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 10 Apr 2011 00:41
by SandChigger
Séamus wrote:Could it be that that Herbert was implying that the Imperium wasn't in fact as static and stagnant as it appeared? How does the possibility of the Imperium plunging into civil war affect Leto II's pursuit of the Golden Path?

Um, aren't you getting ahead of yourself here, bringing up Emperor Leto (II) and the Golden Path while discussing Duke Leto I and his dealings with Shaddam IV, the Harkonnens and the Landsraad?

The Imperium as a whole couldn't plunge into anything without the complicity of the Guild. The only reason why Paul succeeded & the Fremen Jihad became possible at all was the grip on the throat of the Guild that the ability to destroy spice production forever afforded him & them. Otherwise the Guild would have laughed at them and let the Emperor and other Houses enjoy their feeding frenzy.

Later it was Leto II controlling the access to the spice upon which the Guild depended, so they were at his beck and call as well. The Scattering became possible only because the invention of the Ixian Navigation Devices gave humanity an alternative to the Guild and its Navigators, thus breaking their monopoly on transportation.

Am I over thinking a plot device? Why is a noob asking these questions?

There are no stupid honest questions. :)

[Edit: typo]

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 10 Apr 2011 00:50
by SandRider
Séamus wrote:Not that I'm a mentat by any means, but the risk/reward for eliminating a nominal threat by risking all (if the rest of the Landsraad caught wind of the emperor lending 5 legions of Sardukar ) seemed like a piss poor plan. What would have happened if all the Atreides were killed but word of the emperor's complicity in their deaths was discovered by the other Great Houses? Could it be that that Herbert was implying that the Imperium wasn't in fact as static and stagnant as it appeared? How does the possibility of the Imperium plunging into civil war affect Leto II's pursuit of the Golden Path? Am I over thinking a plot device? Why is a noob asking these questions?http://www.jacurutu.com/posting.php?mode=reply&f=21&t=2757&sid=0ccbe9ccb86157d31c772c6eda3439ec#


why are you posting a link (that won't hot-link unless it is separated) to the reply box for this thread ?

I jumped in on this >> {and I usually don't for awhile on Dune101, or even some of the advanced discussion;
told y'all along time ago, and I wasn't kidding, that I've talked Dune to Death over the years ... but I
certainly have enjoyed some of the extended thinking that goes on around here; some of it I follow, some
I don't ... I'm especially gratified, tho, when I'm skimming over some td;iatc (too deep;it ain't that complicated)
and realize that I had either been mis-remembering something and it got stuck in my head, or, even better,
I realize I didn't fucking understand it in the first place, and never did, might not have even noticed the point,
in all the Dune-Death talking)(and I'm really not here to discuss Frank's Dune, anyway, I'm here to
amuse myself and Hate-on-Keith} >> because after I read the OP, and my first re-action was what I posted,
but even before I posted it, I thought: yeah, but ....
there's bound to more to it
... or atleast, the way you people think and peck shit to death,
there's got to be some good discussion and speculatin' to be done.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 10 Apr 2011 02:06
by A Thing of Eternity
I think the problem lies with assuming the Emperor is making good decisions. In hindsight, sure it may have been risky - but we're not necessarily talking about a nominal threat to his power here, at least not from his point of view. He may have just been choosing the risky path over the path of near certain failure. Leaders are known to make some sketchy decisions when it comes to perceived threats to their power. Our own history is rife with examples.


And yeah, that golden path stuff doesn't really make sense, kinda like asking how some Pharoah's conquests are going to effect the upcoming elections. :wink:

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 10 Apr 2011 02:10
by SandRider
^^ >> continued ...

all the posts after support the main idea, that Shaddam thought Leto was a serious threat ...

but, as Seamus points out, what is the balance of the threat of Leto versus the threat of the Houses
discovering the Emperor's Hand in the Harkonnen's total destruction of House Atreides ?

one the one hand: yes, it is just a plot-device, the set-up for the Story Frank wanted to Tell ...
the quote I gave above is about a page or so into the book; right after that is Mohiam's statement
about the Butlerian Jihad; in fact, that could be an interesting discussion - how much basic information
about the "universe" did Frank pass out in the first ten pages or so? what I mean is, how far in do
you have to go, knowing what we all know now as the "facts" of the story, before a(n)(intelligent)
reader would have all the necessary framework to understand what was going on?

I'd also like to point out here that in this, Frank was as clumsy as anybody else of his caliber;
{nice caveat, SandRider}[well, thank you, sometimes folks don't fully understand what I'm saying]
{maybe you ought to try a little plainer English ?}[naw, fuck that ... BTW, I think the better word-choice
woulda been "disclaimer" instead of caveat]{Hmmm ... maybe you're right; but neither seem to be
the exact right-word}[I know, I know ... shit like that happens all the time ...]

"The Great Revolt took away a crutch," she said. "It forced human minds to
develop. Schools were started to train human talents. "
"Bene Gesserit schools?"
She nodded. "We have two chief survivors of those ancient schools: the Bene
Gesserit and the Spacing Guild. The Guild, so we think, emphasizes almost pure
mathematics. Bene Gesserit performs another function."


I would think this would have already been covered in Paul's education, and that
Frank could have found a subtler way to inform us about the "ancient schools" ...

maybe it's overlooked on a first-read; I don't know, now ...
because now, after reading this first chapter so many times (I think it's my favorite;
I know I've marveled at how almost-perfect it is, the sheer quantity of things that
are introduced, mostly well-done, with a few rougher patches, like this one) I find
this one little exchange grating - almost like a cliched sci-fi gush of information...

on the other hand, before that:
"He's awake and listening to us," said the old woman. "Sly little rascal."


"Sleep well, you sly little rascal," said the old woman. "Tomorrow you'll
need all your faculties to meet my gom jabbar."


Is a gom jabbar something of Arrakis I must know before we go there? he
wondered.
He mouthed her strange words: Gom jabbar . . . Kwisatz Haderach.
There had been so many things to learn.



Paul sat up, hugged his knees. "What's a gom jabbar?"
Again, the training she had given him exposed her almost invisible
hesitation, a nervous betrayal he felt as fear.
Jessica crossed to the window, flung wide the draperies, stared across the
river orchards toward Mount Syubi. "You'll learn about . . . the gom jabbar soon
enough," she said.
He heard the fear in her voice and wondered at it.
Jessica spoke without turning. "Reverend Mother is waiting in my morning
room. Please hurry."



this was excellent, and how it's done; a strange non-English word, a tension-building,
a secret, a secret laced with fear and apprehension ... and in the overall context, the
gom jabbar would not have been something Paul could have known about; not from
Thufir or Duncan or Yueh ... and I think Jessica would have had little to no reason to
tell him about it at this stage of his training; in fact, altho Mohaim tells Jessica "You
know it must be done.", I've always had the feeling that Jessica believed it could have
been done later, after she had further trained Paul; or possibly, depending on the future
unknowns ... not at all ...

but also, does Paul's age, fifteen, have something to do with it ?
if so, then Jessica might have known that day was coming, and prepared Paul as much as she could;
and here is another example of Frank's set-up, establishing Paul's age by Mohiam's comment on how
small he is ... we are informed by the appropriate dialog between characters ...

and again : "If only she 'd borne us a girl as she was ordered to do!"
without yet fully understanding the Bene Gesserit Breeding Program, we understand right here
the Witches issue orders to their people regarding the sex of their children, and also, that
Jessica refused that order ... and that the Bene Gesserit took this disobedience in stride ...
possibly ... atleast we know the baby boy Jessica birthed wasn't killed right off, nor was Jessica herself ...
because of her status and the baby boy's feudal rights as a Duke's Son, or because the Bene Gesserit
just don't operate like that ? .... or now ... 15 years later, and we soon learn that the gom jabbar is
potentially fatal, and Jessica shows real fear for her son's life and relief when she re-enters the
room ( My son lives ...), could the entire "human or animal" rationale for the test be subterfuge
to allow The Emperor's Truthsayer inside the Atreides defenses and hold a poisoned needle
to the neck of the Ducal Heir ? (and where the fuck was Hawat when all this was discussed ? is that old
bastard even aware Mohiam is on Caladan ? does he have any idea who Mohiam is ?)

and so on and so forth ...

so ... have a sorta-idea about how Frank thought and worked, I'm thinking that while he straight-out
tells us atleast one of the motivations for Shaddam's desire to destroy Leto, I think he held the
general over-all ideas in his mind so deeply that they "creep out" in the dialog, maybe not even in his
conscious intentions ... I also think Frank liked to fuck with people - how many re-reads did it take
for you to catch that :

"The original Bene Gesserit school was directed by those who saw the need of a thread of continuity in human affairs. They saw there could be no such continuity without separating human
stock from animal stock -- for breeding purposes."
The old woman's words abruptly lost their special sharpness for Paul. He
felt an offense against what his mother called his instinct for rightness. It
wasn't that Reverend Mother lied to him. She obviously believed what she said.
It was something deeper, something tied to his terrible purpose.


was the foreshadowing of the reason for the Jihad, a breaking of the Bene Gesserit's
hold on human genes, the "mingling" that itself is never directly spelled out, but only implied ?

there is no way, in the first few pages, to understand the significance of this passage,
unless you are a Top-Notch Intellect with Total and Complete Recall Memory and Extraordinary
Comprehension to reach back to here, in the midst of all the other themes and ideas flying at you,
and remember, oh yeah, Paul thought the Breeding Program was Bogus from day One ...

or some shit like that there ...

anyway, I think this topic can be beat to death and re-animated and beat on some more;
for some reason, it catches my attention on several levels ... and will require an assemblage
and analysis of every passage in the first book even remotely related ... and there's alot of
flashback and whatever in Messiah and Children ... Leto II had some opinions, too ...

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 22:13
by SandRider
I, the SandRider wrote:if the plot had failed, and Duke Leto survived with clear evidence of the emperor
bringing sardaukar into a house kanly, also being the rightful duke of arrakis,
with the "popularity" in the landsraad he already had, and rallied all the houses
to war against the emperor, who would have had the most money ?

so I'll ride with the opinion that the emperor was taking a helluva chance
to rid himself of a bothersome duke ... and the real question remains, was
Duke Leto that much of a threat to the emperor for such a risk ?

did the emperor think his plan was infallible ?
poor dumb fucker trusted vladimir harkonen,
so maybe his judgement is suspect ....

hubris ?
and I mean "hubris" in the classical greek sense, of an arrogant pride
that always brings a downfall ?


this is out-of-context of the discussion, but the point I was making
is that if the scenario in the first paragraph was played out, and
the Guild would provide troop transport to the highest bidder, would
the wealth of the combined Houses outweigh the wealth of Emperor ?

somebody dig up some CHOAM figures for me, too, I'm sure that's relevant ...
I have stuck in my head that the Emperor is the majority stock holder .... ?

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 22:21
by SandRider
on the above:

for my own reasoning, I need to beat on that a little,
because I think are two questions here - what level of threat
was Leto the Just to the emperor (in real terms and in the paranoia
of Shaddam) and did this threat (real or imagined) justify the risk
Shaddam took by setting the "Arrakis Trap" ....?

there is a third question on my mind as well:
how did I get sucked into thinking this hard and this long
about a minor plot point from the very first pages of Dune ?

I think maybe I've been hanging around here too long, and all that
"Dune-scholar" horseshit has rubbed off on me ... about all the
intellectual exertion I can handle these days is the coin-toss over
putting in Spring Cotton this late in the game, with the drought continuing ...

(the thunderstorm last night was purty with lights and stuff in the sky, but
the actual rainfall was less than .05", and fell so sparsely and lightly, the
crickets and grasshoppers sucked it all up before it ever touched the soil ...)

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 23:52
by A Thing of Eternity
I think I'm in the camp that it wasn't really a necessary risk, but Shaddam thought it was (and had a reasonable enough base for his concern) and that's all we need for for the story to move forward. Leaders like their paranoia - and the more powerful they are the more paranoid they seem to become (can think of a few examples in the world right now).

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 23:56
by D Pope
The SandRider wrote:somebody dig up some CHOAM figures for me, too, I'm sure that's relevant ...
I have stuck in my head that the Emperor is the majority stock holder .... ?

This almost sounds like what you wanted;
Dune, ch.3, Mohiam to Jessica wrote: "The Emperor and his friends now command fifty-nine point six-five per cent of the CHOAM directorship's votes. Certainly they smell profits, and likely as others smell those same profits his voting strength will increase. This is the pattern of history, girl."

I remember that a CHOAM directorship was one of the carrots held out as bait in the Arrakis trap, can't find the ref just now.
It doesn't seem to be a stockholder type setup from this quote and the "and his friends" skews the number. However, Mohiam says that monetary gain was a motivator as well though I don't remember it coming up again.
Does anyone know if Directorships are given only by the Emperor?

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 08:32
by Lundse
merkin muffley wrote:In Dune, when Hawat is talking to the Baron, explaining to him why the Fremen are a threat to the Emperor...

The Padishah Emperor turned against House Atreides because the Duke's Warmasters Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho had trained a fighting force - a small fighting force - to within a hair as good as the Sardaukar. Some of them were even better. And the Duke was in a position to enlarge his force, to make it every bit as strong as the Emperor's.


This is the rub, I believe.

Leto suspected the fremen would be a force to be reckoned with. A natural ally. Desert power. Holding that sort of power on Arrakis (I do not think Leto thought beyond the immediate planet, few did) would make the fiefdom nigh-unassailable. A good position to bargain from, Arrakis...

Leto may even have had the same basic game plan as the Baron: 1) Set a liberator up after the beast is deposed of 2) Win the loyalty of the people 3) Profit!!!

Maybe he was even thinking of a future grab for emperor, with the Fremen taking the role of the Sardukar... Who knows...?


Anyway, the one guy to see this plan from a mile away would be the Emperor - he knew how the Sardukar were formed (others, even Hawat, only suspected). He was happy with the Harkonnen's kill-the-rabble-attitude - he would not have been happy with the Atreides making friends.


PS: I am aware that the Emperor could just as easily have not offered the Duke Arrakis. Possibly, the move was preemptive and he foresaw the possibility that the Atreides would rise in popularity and power (to the detriment of the Harkonnens) and he might be forced into giving them Arrakis (the most lucrative and prestigious fief, one can safely assume).

PPS: The Bene Gesserit wanted an Atreides daughter interbred with Feud. They may have worked behind the scene to either: 1) Have the Harkonnen defeat the Duke on Arrakis, after Alia was born (setting the heir up for a throne on Dune, not a bad position for their puppet KH. Or 2) Have the Atreides killed off entirely in the bloodbath we saw, and start over a few generations back. Or 3) Hope that Jessica would have been taken (by Vries?), her daughter born and taken as a concubine (to put it mildly) Feud as an affront to the Atreides legacy (stealing away the babe at night, or convinced Feud to grab power at that point). Guesswork, I know...

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 08:54
by inhuien
Assuming the Atreides move to Arrakis was all the result of Bene Gesserit machinations then the destruction or at least dissolution of House Atreides had to be a part of their breeding plan. But what of House Harkonnen, they were at their zenith of political activities.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 10:00
by Lundse
inhuien wrote:Assuming the Atreides move to Arrakis was all the result of Bene Gesserit machinations then the destruction or at least dissolution of House Atreides had to be a part of their breeding plan.


Exactly. The original plan of having a female heir fits frighteningly well with the relatively similar ages of Paul and Feud. This theme is even echoed in the Barons thoughts of Paul - something went very wrong indeed...

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 10:22
by D Pope
Lundse wrote:Anyway, the one guy to see this plan from a mile away would be the Emperor - he knew how the Sardukar were formed (others, even Hawat, only suspected). He was happy with the Harkonnen's kill-the-rabble-attitude - he would not have been happy with the Atreides making friends.

The reasons for Shaddam throwing in with the Baron have always eluded me, untill now. I think you're right, the Harkonnens were as predictable and agressive as junk yard dogs- far more attractive to a paranoid power broker than an intelligent and popular man.

From the Emperors point of view, all he has to do is lend a few of his indestructable troops to the plan and he has the double victory of eliminating a Great House and severly weakening another. Remember that Vlad had to cover the cost of the venture, a number slightly larger than 60 years of the gross profits from Arrakis. The reason this surprise attack worked, and it did work, is because the sheer cost put it outside the realm of possibility. Scooping out a big chunk of the Barons bank is a fine way to bring him to heel, giving Shaddam time to figure out how to apply better control later. The fact that Leto was popular and had a well trained army only served as justifications for this action, icing on the cake, if you will.

Don't overplay the Fremen. Until Duncan, no one knew there were enough Fremen for much of anything. I think the whole 'send Duncan as ambassador to the Fremen' thing was Letos way of securing his position on the planet. A Fremen security force would pay a double advantage; troops already trained for 'Desert Power,' and having a force of 'locals' would only hasten his acceptance on this new fief.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 13:38
by SandRider
inhuien wrote:Assuming the Atreides move to Arrakis was all the result of Bene Gesserit machinations ....


I don't think I'd assume anything like that at all ...

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 13:42
by Freakzilla
I think a came up with something like that a while back and everyone poo-pooed on it.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 13:54
by D Pope
I've always thought that the BG, or Mohiam at least, had an inflated view of their involvement. That whole, "What can be done, has been done...for the father, nothing!" bit seems like she's trying to take more credit than she deserves.


Just my opinion, I guess it's possible that the BG made Shaddam think it was all his own idea.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 14:47
by inhuien
D Pope wrote:I've always thought that the BG, or Mohiam at least, had an inflated view of their involvement. That whole, "What can be done, has been done...for the father, nothing!" bit seems like she's trying to take more credit than she deserves.


Just my opinion, I guess it's possible that the BG made Shaddam think it was all his own idea.
That was all I was getting at, re your "What can be done, has been done...for the father, nothing!" she is simply be referring to the Missionaria Protectiva activities on Dune.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 15:04
by Freakzilla
But Mohiam being the Emperors truthsayer could have whispered the idea in his ear and made him think it was all his idea, to get rid of a potential rogue KH and BG.

Re: Why were the Atreides such a threat?

Posted: 12 Apr 2011 15:15
by inhuien
Freakzilla wrote:But Mohiam being the Emperors truthsayer could have whispered the idea in his ear and made him think it was all his idea, to get rid of a potential rogue KH and BG.
It's not impossible, but it does seem like overkill and it would also be the end of that bloodline, Alia remaining unconceived at this time.