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Arthur Dayne's famous last words are:

"and now it begins".

Ned Stark replies to this with:

"No. Now it ends."

What was Arthur referring to? What is the thing that is now beginning?

I'm fairly certain that The Sword of The Morning knew he was a dead man and wanted his last words to be meaningful.

It is clear to everyone that only one team is walking away from this fight. Arthur and Oswell(or Gerold whatever floats your boat) both seem very confident in their chances and rightly so.

However, Arthur wishes Ned 'Good fortune in the wars to come".

To me this seems to indicate that Arthur knew that Ned was going to survive the fight.

So what did Arthur's last words actually mean? I'm fairly sure we don't have concrete evidence so speculation is welcome.

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    w00t!!! What makes you think Arthur Dayne believed he would die. Did you see the way he fought & won & they got backstabbed literally – KharoBangdo Feb 21 '17 at 7:18
  • @KharoBangdo Everyone he swore to protect was dead and the Kingdom he had devoted his life to had fallen. An honourable death was all he had left. – Matthew Stevenson Feb 21 '17 at 7:25
  • @KharoBangdo Anyway that's my two cents on the whole thing. – Matthew Stevenson Feb 21 '17 at 7:27
  • He was a kingsguard just like Barriston Selmy who still served for Robert Baratheon – KharoBangdo Feb 21 '17 at 7:32
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    Open for interpretation. It could be meaningful. It could also simply be a play on words (Morning = Dawn = a beginning). Then again it could simply be a set up to give Ned an opportunity at a great line. – The Giant of Lannister Feb 22 '17 at 6:45
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Show Perspective

It was just something a warrior would say prior to the battle.

He said:

Now it begins

He meant that now their fight begins.

Ned replied:

No, Now it ends

Ned was here stating the obvious that this was the last battle of Robert's Rebellion and after it, the long war would end.

There is no special hidden meaning to what Arthur Dayne said.

And not all last words are meaningful. Remember Tyrion's "Last words" when he thought executioners had come for him at last?

As the keys rattled and the door to his cell pushed inward, creaking, Tyrion pressed back against the dampness of the wall, wishing for a weapon. I can still bite and kick. I'll die with the taste of blood in my mouth, that's something. He wished he'd been able to think of some rousing last words. "Bugger you all" was not like to earn him much of a place in the histories.

A Storm of Swords - Tyrion XI

Or the mostly absurd/meaningless last words here in this complete list of last words by GoT actors?

When he wished Ned luck in the wars to come, there are three possible reasons for it:

  1. Arthur Dayne was known as personification of chivalry. It was just a chivalrous gesture and sits well with his character.

  2. Arthur Dayne subtly implied that the war was far from over and eventually the exiled Prince Viserys and his unborn sibling (As Daenerys was not born then) would come back to retake their right.

  3. Arthur obviously knew that:

    The child in the tower, Jon, was Rhaegar's son and he was implying that war will continue when the boy or his uncle/aunt make their claim


Books Perspective

Not to mention, he never said that in the books. He was courteous, but he didn't say that "I wish you luck" thingie as it is, as you observed, tantamount to giving up.

They however must have known that they were going to be killed as they had decided that they were not going to flee. It was about Honor of Kingsguard and a Kingsguard doesn't flee and gives his life for those of the royal blood.

Full conversation:

“I looked for you on the Trident,” Ned said to them.

“We were not there,” Ser Gerold answered. “Woe to the Usurper if we had been,” said Ser Oswell.

“When King's Landing fell, Ser Jaime slew your king with a golden sword, and I wondered where you were.”

“Far away,” Ser Gerold said, “or Aerys would yet sit the Iron Throne, and our false brother would burn in seven hells.”

“I came down on Storm's End to lift the siege,” Ned told them, and the Lords Tyrell and Redwyne dipped their banners, and all their knights bent the knee to pledge us fealty. I was certain you would be among them.”

“Our knees do not bend easily,” said Ser Arthur Dayne.

“Ser Willem Darry is fled to Dragonstone, with your queen and Prince Viserys. I thought you might have sailed with him.”

“Ser Willem is a good man and true,” said Ser Oswell.

“But not of the Kingsguard,” Ser Gerold pointed out. “The Kingsguard does not flee.”

“Then or now,” said Ser Arthur. He donned his helm.

“We swore a vow,” explained old Ser Gerold.

Ned’s wraiths moved up beside him, with shadow swords in hand. They were seven against three.

“And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.

“No,” Ned said with sadness in his voice. “Now it ends.”

A Game of Thrones - Eddard X

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    Apparently Mance Rayder says the same thing, "i wish you good fortune in the war to come" youtube.com/watch?v=nMOTR74ihbs – Vishvesh Feb 21 '17 at 7:39
  • @Vishvesh Yes I noticed that when I was googling for transcript of dialogues. Here Doesn't seem relevant. It is just a trivial piece of dialogue – Aegon Feb 21 '17 at 7:40
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    It's not in the books. Anyway I agree with you, it does not add anything to the answer. Dialogue writer could not find anything cooler. – Vishvesh Feb 21 '17 at 7:43
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    @Vishvesh Yes I was just adding comments that it was not in the books. I agree, The writer must have thought that Oh that seems cool, let me add that – Aegon Feb 21 '17 at 7:45
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    @AnthonyGrist That is actually one of the best known passages from the books, I'd assumed that it would be obvious. In any case, it is from AGOT, Eddard X, The whole dialogue between KG and Eddard. – Aegon Feb 21 '17 at 10:21

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