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(10208-10516) Remembered as "Our Lady and Mother Ghanima" was the twin sister and nominal wife of Leto II, daughter of Paul Atreides and Chani Kynes.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

The twins were born thin, but healthy-looking. Their first few minutes of life were spent crying and sipping at the Water of Conception by their godmother, Harah.[1]

Paul disappeared into the desert in 10209 AG, and with the twins still too young to effectively rule, remained under Naib Stilgar/DE and Harah's guardianship in Sietch Tabr/DE. Their aunt Princess Alia Atreides became the Imperial Regent.[2] She and Leto shared both their external and internal environments, often emulating the lives of their real parents, a "possession" game they eventually found difficult to control. During one of these possessions Ghanima established the bond with her mother that would become so important to her welfare.

Irulan was the twins' tutor and tried in her own way to show them affection. But when Ghanima began speaking with the persona of her mother, she soon learned the part that Irulan had played in Chani's death. When Ghanima was young the Chani-persona still wished to be with Muad'Dib. After an initial period of conflict the two women formed a coalition of support which lasted Ghanima's lifetime.

The children were labeled "abominations" by the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, and though Ghanima was fearful of possession by one of the memory lives she retained mastery of her own personality all her life. According to Jessica's report to the Sisterhood, when Ghanima was under stress, she could establish a state of constant hypnotic suppression through the intercession of her mother, who leads the mohalata which protects Ghanima.

Ghanima had loved Harah, but Alia, jealous of their relationship, separated them when Ghanima was 3.

With Jessica Atreides in Castle Caladan, and Stilgar content to defer to her, Alia was in complete control of her twin nephews. They were pre-born like her, they knew their capabilities and what large doses of melange had done to their aunt and avoided it at all costs, fearing the effects of the spice-trance. However she encouraged them otherwise, hoping they would share with her the visions of prescience they could tap into. Their lack of cooperation puzzled, annoyed and infuriated Alia.[2]

Their childhood was tumultuous and included assassination attempts kidnappings, threats of possession, and threats of obliteration whenever Ghanima disagreed with her Aunt.

Leto was presumed dead, and Ghanima who would ascend the throne, was to be engaged to Farad'n Corrino.[2]

Jessica, Leto, Ghanima, Farad'n, even Duncan Idaho and Gurney Halleck planned against Alia in 10220. Idaho's death forced Stilgar to flee to the desert with Irulan and Ghanima.[2]

Imperium[edit | edit source]

Her primary function in Leto's empire was to begin a breeding program which united Houses chosen by Leto for their genetic characteristics: House Atreides, House Corrino, House Harkonnen, House Fenring, and Liet-Kynes.

Ghanima settled into what some historians refer to as "a relatively normal adult existence." She nominally married her brother at Sine, and then resumed her studies under the tutelage of the Atreides scribe and former Corrino prince Harq al-Ada, her future loving companion. From him she learned academic disciplines (neglected by both Alia and Irulan Corrino in their instructions), and gained a love of history and philosophy, arts and science which would sustain her throughout her long life.

Both she and al-Ada became patrons of the Imperium's leading poets, musicians, dramatists, and artists, establishing a renaissance in culture for Leto's empire. In 10278, they discovered the work of Harq al Harba and became his patrons for the next 30 years. Ghanima particularly liked his comedies, while al-Ada served as consultant for the histories, and Leto eventually declared him "Dramatist Laureate" for the Imperium. Leto also initially participated frequently in family events, until he removed himself to separate living quarters during his transformation, but the family retained a large gathering hall in which Leto could join them.

With Farad'ni Ghanima had 10 children: The oldest was Trebor, followed by the boys Lliwis, Regor, Tisamenus and Boris. The years she was working with the Voices, she gave birth to 3 children, Eleanor, Helene and Elaine, and as she found out much later, all were named after the persona of her grandmother. Jeunne was named for Farad'n's sister, and the last was named Noree, after a figure that haunted his dreams, hoping to exorcise her.

The children were trained in academic disciplines and in prana-bindu control. In Leto's peaceable kingdom, Ghanima and al-Ada feared a recurrence of assassination attempts and wanted the children prepared to defend themselves: The boys were given training in sword and knife attack and defense while the girls were trained in the Bene Gesserit weirding way of hand-to-hand combat. To balance their martial training, the children also perfected various creative talents and skills, with family evenings of music and drama.

Death[edit | edit source]

In her final years she understood what Farad'n meant that he was tired. She felt a stranger to Leto's world, and she felt more distant to him, and doubted about his Golden Path, although she still believed in it. She finally decided to join her ancestors and be submerged in someone else's consciousness; frightening, but better than her life.

At her death, Leto declared a period of Imperial mourning, and from the urn holding her water, he caused the voices of the Atreides to speak, convincing the multitude of his godhead.

Relationships[edit | edit source]

Farad'n Corrino[edit | edit source]

With al- Ada she shared the children, their mutual work, and a highly satisfactory relationship as friends and lovers.

In spite of their love for each other, Ghanima and al-Ada also established separate sleeping quarters, owing to their different backgrounds. Ghanima's quarters resembled Sietch Tabr with rugs and pillows that brought claustrophobia to Farad'n, and incense that made him sneeze; al-Ada himself was more comfortable among the antiques of his youth, old furniture with wood, glass and prickly embroideries, which Ghanima found cold and sterile. Their rooms were adjoined by then-mutual library and work rooms and separated from the nursery and schoolroom areas by the general living and dining rooms. They often retreated to Jessica's arboretum.

Leto[edit | edit source]

Ghanima shared a unique relationship with Leto. As children they spent hours trying to come to terms with their overwhelming abilities.

During Leto's transformation he stopped participating to their family activities and afterwards could join them in the family's large gathering hall. She was sympathetic to Leto's sacrifice which she would not dare to follow, and worried about his suffering and attachment to Harum. The only person who could give the love and compassion he so desperately needed as he gradually lost the sensations of his human body, and spent many nights sitting with him in his tower as when they were young. During her final years Leto wanted her with him but she felt that they had less to speak of and felt that he was gone and replaced by an ambitious entity she did not know.

Chani[edit | edit source]

The only other family woman whom Ghanima trusted besides Elaine seems to have been the memory-persona of her mother Chani After an initial period of conflict when Ghanima was young and the Chani-persona still wished to be with Muad'Dib, the two women formed a coalition of support which lasted Ghanima's lifetime, and protected her from being possessed by other memories.

Children[edit | edit source]

Probably the fact that neither Ghanima nor al-Ada had lived secure childhoods led them to develop a close family framework in which their children could flourish. For aristocrats, Ghanima and al- Ada spent a unusually considerable amount of time with their children.

Though Ghanima enjoyed a loving relationship with all of the children, her favorite was Trebor, who reminded them the lighthearted childhood they never had, and her most frequent companion was Elaine.

Alia[edit | edit source]

Alia like Irulan had vied for control of the young Ghanima. Ghanima had loved Harah, her surrogate mother, but Alia, jealous of their relationship, separated them when Ghanima was 3. Ghanima was both terrified of and empathetic to Alia, seeing her as a mirror of the possessed soul Ghanima could so easily become, and in vain Alia attempted to persuade the twins to enter spice trance and share visions.[2]

Though the rest of the family refused to speak of Alia after her waters had been emptied on the sand, Ghanima taught her children about their aunt to show them the problems and the pain of being human and in contact with one's active past.

Irulan[edit | edit source]

Irulan was the twins' tutor and tried in her own way to show them affection, until Ghanima (through knowledge from her mother) learned the part that Irulan had in Chani's death, and later was suspicious of her connections with the Bene Gesserit ties and with Wensicia's assassination plot. Even Farad'n seems to have had little affection for his aunt. Generally she felt compassion for her frustrations and fantasies. She did join the family for dinners and often accompanied the group to picnics at Sietch Tabr. She remained friendly with Irulan for some 20 years, and encouraged her in her literary pursuits.

However Ghanima would not allow her to tutor the children, stay out of her work room, and have living quarters separate from the family. The break came when Ghanima learned of Irulan's attempt to seduce the 16-year-old Trebor.

She considered that Paul couldn't stay with her more than a few minutes, and she wrote stories for idiots about their love, while her lectures were ridiculous. When Irulan retired to Wallach IX/DE both Ghanima and al-Ada were relieved.

Jessica[edit | edit source]

Her grandmother Jessica Atreides/DE, was a rather remote figure who Ghanima saw rarely. Farad'n's respect and affection for Jessica helped to strengthen Ghanima's relationship with her grandmother, but Jessica spent most of her later life on Caladan.

Harq al-Harba[edit | edit source]

Al-Harba enjoyed the help and the company of the royal family, but felt somewhat out of place at court. Ghanima attended his rehearsals, and al-Harba let the royal children play walk-on parts occasionally, much to their delight; she even offered him a suite of rooms, which al-Harba refused.

A rumor says that Ghanima persuaded Harq al-Harba to write a masque which the family produced privately for the court, each person proudly playing his or her own role. Leto appeared, appropriately enough, as the voice of God. As the text of this masque was not preserved, Harban scholars have argued that the story is merely apocryphal.

Works[edit | edit source]

In her later life, Ghanima worked actively with her inner voices, producing the extensive history of the Bene Gesserit, The Book of Voices, as well as an appendix, a collection of songs and poems from various Voices throughout history. In the process of this work, Ghanima discovered the identity of her paternal great grandmother — Gaius Helen Mohiam/DE — though recent discoveries show the information was probably suppressed by Leto II for political and personal reasons. At the instigation of Harq al- Ada she also contacted philosophers from her past and, while he worked with the men, she produced a comprehensive overview of women philosophers, The Women Who Knew the Good. Later in her life she also produced her Commentaries to the Voices, incisive analytical reactions to the historical overview which she had developed during her original investigations. Some of the poetry included in this work appears to be her own.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Centuries later Ghanima was mainly a matter of legend, and the materials found at Dar-es-Balat, were concrete proof that Ghanima existed.

Of the many documents dealing with Ghanima, The Book of Ghanima reveals the most intimate record of her daily life. Recent linguistic and philological analyses indicate that Volume One of the memoirs is in Ghanima's voice while Volume Two is her daughter Elaine's.

References and notes[edit source]

  1. Atreides, Chani
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Atreides, Alia
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