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Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 15 Feb 2018 20:13
by Harkonnen Historian
"I have oftimes met your treachery and this all men know."

Duke Leto and the commentaries by the Princess Irulan would have us believe the Harkonnens were the only real darkness in the universe that Muad'Dib had to face aside from the Imperial House that used their ambition. Our lack of seeing other houses in detail makes it easy to assume House Harkonnen is the only one capable of the things we'd call evil that they did: Slavery, gladiatorial arenas meant to have victims drugged to die slowly of poisoning, and of course their masterful depth of treachey.

Despite that, the slave gladiatorial combat had frequent spectators and several houses minor attended without a hint of moral outrage at the idea of people as property executed for their amusement. Is there any evidence that other houses were any less prone to Harkonnen degrees of cruelty? Leto had no real support despite praise from other Houses, after all, but House Harkonnen had their allies and the Jihad of Muad'Dib wouldn't have so many worlds to depopulate if the Baron was the only leader practicing such methods that violated Paul's "Sense of rightness"

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 16 Feb 2018 09:56
by Serkanner
Paulus Atreides, Leto's grandfather, was killed by a bull in an arena. This type of entertainment wasn't only a Harkonnen thing.

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 17 Mar 2018 01:49
by distrans
I think that the empires feudal organization speaks to a populous which was accepting of inhumanities intolerable today

its a good question who it was that determined to fight the advance of pauls hordes

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 05 Apr 2018 10:14
by georgiedenbro
I don't think we're meant to believe that only the Harkonnens did terrible things. All major powers would need to use various instruments of force in order to rule. Leto himself employed devices such as propaganda and even mass murder to get the job done. By any modern definition every single power in the Dune universe is a fascist dictatorship. However what sets the Harkonnens apart is that for most other Great Houses the means are simply to achieve and end; the violence is necessary, even if not desired. But for the Harkonnens the violence is an end unto itself; they not only need to use violence, they enjoy it. Rather than being "Human" as the BG put it, they are basically savage animals that act by base instinct rather than calculated need.

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 13 Apr 2018 22:41
by distrans
ive reading the first book for the first time in probably 20 years

even leto make mention of house atreides perhaps becoming an evil think in order to retain control of arakkis

they talk alot about their manipulations of people and they even have their own ministry of propaganda!

id forgotten that but long suspected they wernt near as good as were lulled into believing simply because of the inherit nature of the system they were apart of at the time

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 11 Jun 2018 23:40
by pcqypcqy
I'd agree that all houses did questionable things to varying extents. Certainly the Fenrings didn't bat an eyelid when invited to witness Feyd's birthday.

For reasons of brevity, not many (or any?) of the other great houses even get a mention. I'm sure they all do what the need to do to stay in power.

Clearly though no one else other than the emperor had a prison planet, Count Fenring makes it clear that this would require the emperor's permission (and may just occasion a nice visit from your local Sardaukar legion).

Later on the series, it's made clear that at least Duncan Idaho considers the Harkonnen to be the worst of the worst. Though Moneo sets him straight on this.

"You'd rather she learned to love someone more gross and evil than any Baron
Harkonnen ever dreamed of being," Idaho said.
Moneo worked his lips in and out, then: "The Lord Leto has told me about that
evil old man of your time, Duncan. I don't think you understood your enemy."
"He was a fat, monstrous.. ."
"He was a seeker after sensations," Moneo said. "The fat was a side-effect, then
perhaps something to experience for itself because it offended people and he
enjoyed offending."
"The Baron only consumed a few planets," Idaho said. "Leto consumes the
universe."

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 15 Jun 2018 20:12
by Freakzilla
"If I find that you're worse than the Harkonnens, I'll turn against you."
How like a Duncan. They measure all evil against the Harkonnens. How little they know of evil.

~GEoD

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 18 Jun 2018 21:33
by pcqypcqy
This quote from HoD is a bit suggestive, seems that the BG certainly placed them towards the top (bottom?) of the list:

From HoD:
Teg did not much care for Gammu.
"I see that you already know this place was called Giedi Prime once. The
Harkonnens who ruled here taught us a few things. We have a better idea, thanks
to them, of how terrifyingly brutal humans can become."

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 19 Jun 2018 09:05
by distrans
was the god emperors quote about how little they know of evil to think the harkonnens were its epitomy know at that time?

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 20 Jun 2018 09:16
by Freakzilla
distrans wrote:was the god emperors quote about how little they know of evil to think the harkonnens were its epitomy know at that time?


You mean the one I posted a couple of comments up?

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 20 Jun 2018 10:08
by georgiedenbro
Freakzilla wrote:
distrans wrote:was the god emperors quote about how little they know of evil to think the harkonnens were its epitomy know at that time?


You mean the one I posted a couple of comments up?


I think it's this one:

"If I find that you're worse than the Harkonnens, I'll turn against you."
How like a Duncan. They measure all evil against the Harkonnens. How little they know of evil.


distrans, are you asking whether at the time of the Harkonnense they were, indeed, the worst thing to date, but that later on Leto II would see things much worse (such as himself)?

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 20 Jun 2018 21:29
by distrans
actually I was first wondering did he make that comment to himself or to someone?
recall which chapter?

its amazing he managed to maintain as good of a relationship to the duncans as he managed concidering how far he'd outgrown them

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 21 Jun 2018 10:28
by georgiedenbro
distrans wrote:he'd outgrown them


How so?

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 22 Jun 2018 18:03
by distrans
simply by possessing knowledge he must keep from them in order to preserve their psyche

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 28 Jun 2018 11:44
by georgiedenbro
distrans wrote:simply by possessing knowledge he must keep from them in order to preserve their psyche


You mean he was beyond them? But he was beyond everyone, so that's no surprise. But it seems to me that really needing someone, as he needed Duncan, is the opposite of having outgrown them.

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 30 Jun 2018 21:10
by distrans
in all honesty ive always found it far fetched to think that paul or leto
or reverend mothers for that matter

would give much of a damn about the present after gaining other memories

even with letos lifespan the present and future would be a drop in the bucket compared to to the past

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 03 Jul 2018 09:27
by georgiedenbro
distrans wrote:in all honesty ive always found it far fetched to think that paul or leto
or reverend mothers for that matter

would give much of a damn about the present after gaining other memories

even with letos lifespan the present and future would be a drop in the bucket compared to to the past


Here are a few Dune quotes:

The differences in the ways he comprehended the universe haunted him -- accuracy matched with inaccuracy. He saw it in situ. Yet, when it was born, when it came into the pressures of reality, the now had its own life and grew with its own subtle differences. Terrible purpose remained. Race consciousness remained. And over all loomed the jihad, bloody and wild.

And then what Paul said once he had drunk the water of life:

"You have seen the future, Paul," Jessica said. "Will you say what you've seen?"
"Not the future," he said. "I've seen the Now." He forced himself to a sitting position, waved Chani aside as she moved to help him. "The Space above
Arrakis is filled with the ships of the Guild."


The entire point is that seeing future and past gives a stronger sense of the "now", not a lesser. And the idea of being lost in OM is a danger rather than a good thing. Getting lost in OM would basically be abomination, and in any case it's not something a KH would likely do since the future sight would show the effects of dwelling too much on the past.

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 04 Jul 2018 03:02
by distrans
I don't think my positions involves on being consumed by other memories in any way it has been presented to us in text frank authored

I suggest that other memories offers such a staggering volume of data that the near presents available informations would pale in comparison to it and that notions such as the honors and objectives the house attredies and even the bene gesserit had to offer couldn't much more compulsion than that of notice of an ants turn left or right in the farm between sheets of glass on my table could compel me to care on bit more about these ants than the spiders I come across at home that I choose not to squash on the spot...

Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Posted: 04 Jul 2018 10:10
by georgiedenbro
distrans wrote:I don't think my positions involves on being consumed by other memories in any way it has been presented to us in text frank authored

I suggest that other memories offers such a staggering volume of data that the near presents available informations would pale in comparison to it and that notions such as the honors and objectives the house attredies and even the bene gesserit had to offer couldn't much more compulsion than that of notice of an ants turn left or right in the farm between sheets of glass on my table could compel me to care on bit more about these ants than the spiders I come across at home that I choose not to squash on the spot...


We do have a textual example of someone overwhelmed by both OM and prescient visions - Alia. We're shown not so much that she finds the present irrelevant, but that she's unable to get her head out of both the past and the future in such a way as to see present reality clearly. It's not a matter of her level of interest, but her level of ability, and I think that would be the most relevant factor. Don't forget that BG (and by extension, KH's who have BG memories) are trained to focus on the present and not to allow OM to take over and become one's entire reality. To suggest that they would cease caring about the present when awakened is sort of like saying BG training is useless - which I hardly think is in evidence.