At the end of Children of Dune Leto married

his twin sister Ghanima.

Due to his beginning

metamorphosis into a sandworm and his therefore expected longevity

it is clear that they won't have any joint children. And even if they had those children would never inherit his throne because of

his expected longevity.

These would in my opinion rule out political or genetical reasons for this marriage. This leads me to the question: what was the purpose of this marriage?

  • 1
    blogs.ucl.ac.uk/researchers-in-museums/2018/08/16/…; "practice was even used by King Ptolemy II as “a major theme of propaganda, stressing the nature of the couple, which could not be bound by ordinary rules of humanity” + "ther reasons might have motivated this practice. It has been argued that this was done for economic reasons as endogamy could have been a means to keep the estate undivided and/or avoiding paying bride price."
    – Valorum
    Jul 20, 2020 at 1:43

3 Answers 3


It's been a number of years since I last read Children, but bear in mind that well before the end of the book Leto has already embraced the Golden Path (to preserve the future of humanity). So any action that Leto takes is primarily intended to further that.

Also, Leto is already beginning his transformation, so it's highly unlikely he could have children of his own. By marrying Ghanima, he makes her children (by whatever father, most likely Farad'n but it doesn't really matter) officially his. In doing so he removes the chance of a blood heir of Paul, but not Leto, arising who might challenge Leto's rule.

(Note that in the Dune universe it is clear that marriage is a purely political union, distinct from whom one might love and even who one's official heir might be. Paul's marriage to Irulan was political; he loved Chani and she bore his heir. Paul in turn was the heir of Leto I, even though Jessica was the Duke's consort.)

  • I need to dig up my copy to check, but I recall it being pretty clear in the scene where Leto triggers the return of Ghanima's true memories that he feels protective of her and a bit guilty about her needing to believe she was alone. So by marrying her he guarantees her both protection and a permanent place.
    – DavidW
    Jul 18, 2020 at 19:01
  • In doing so he removes the chance of a blood heir of Paul, but not Leto, arising who might challenge Leto's rule. This makes perfect sense. Jul 19, 2020 at 8:58
  • If I remember correctly, Leto himself said he mutated before maturing which made him infertile.
    – PTwr
    Jul 19, 2020 at 13:10
  • 1
    @einpoklum Politics. In hereditary monarchy your origin really matters - this was a reason Paul married Irulana instead of just taking over: he became a legal heir instead of usurper. Leto's children will be official heirs to his throne (after his death) - all they have to do is (in theory) wait. In contrast, his nephews/nieces would be a threat, as they could be used by claiming that they have as much right to the throne as Leto, because they are direct descendants of Paul. In feudalism, going against your father/grandpa is a bad taste, but brothers and uncles are fair game.
    – Yasskier
    Jul 19, 2020 at 21:20
  • 2
    @einpoklum That's the point: if there would be nephews, they are threat. If they are his sons they are not (or much lesser one). By marrying his sister, her children will be HIS children, not his nephews. It is a matter of legality not the biological origin.
    – Yasskier
    Jul 19, 2020 at 22:24

But it is for political reasons, like everything else the Atreides do. With either of them unmarried, there would be pressure from ambitious Houses to marry their children. In particular Ghanima would be a target since any children she had could be a political threat. And don't forget that at this point no one really believes that Leto will live for thousands of years.

  • But won't any children she would be a political threat regardless?
    – einpoklum
    Jul 19, 2020 at 16:18
  • @einpoklum No, these were his pet Atreides like Moneo - he had (and needed!) total control over their reproduction to ultimately make them "invisible" to guys like him.
    – Mithoron
    Jul 19, 2020 at 20:59
  • I don't see how the change in their formal status would make them so much less of a threat.
    – einpoklum
    Jul 19, 2020 at 22:19
  • 2
    @einpoklum Ghanima's husband would have a good claim to the throne, because now he is on equal status with Leto (as in the genealogical distance to Paul Atreides). After marrying Leto, Ghanima's children are heirs, but they have to wait for their's "father" death (which won't happen any time soon). The claim of their children will be weaker and it will weaken with each generation, leaving the immortal Leto's rule undisputed.
    – Yasskier
    Jul 19, 2020 at 22:53

Agree with previous answers that it was definitely for political reasons, as Leto II hardly thinks about anything but politics and his Golden Path (clearly intertwined) by this point in the book. It was definitely due to a mixture of political motives, many of which have already been mentioned. I'd add that it was also was an attempt to appease the Bene Gesserit, who ultimately wanted them to have children together. By marrying Ghani, they'll have a hard time telling him to do something he's "already done".

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