In episode S02E04 of Game of Thrones we (and Tyrion) learn that Cersei Lannister has an affair with Lancel Lannister. Seeing that she doesn't seem to get any advantage out of this apart from the obvious (rather on the contrary, he actually becomes a security vulnerability for her when Tyrion blackmails him into spying on her), I wonder why she did so?

Did she want anything else from Lancel than mere sexual enjoyment? Was it a retaliation for her real love Jaime, whom she seemed to hold responsible for his absence (as we learn in S04E01)? Or maybe it even was a "payment" for Lancel's contribution in Robert Baratheon's death. If she didn't want anything from Lancel in particular, then why him? Was this just a question of availability or did she have a deeper reason for this choice, like an inherent attraction to her own kin out of some kind of narcissism or whatever? So, why did Cersei sleep with Lancel?


4 Answers 4


Cersei as a character is obsessed with sex as a controlling mechanism. In the show, we only see Lancel Lannister. He is a weak willed character and easily bullied and manipulated. He is also very cowardly. Someone like him would never have had the courage to participate in the plot to kill King Robert. So Cersei uses her sex appeal to subjugate him to her will. It doesn't hurt that he is good looking and (in the books at least) somewhat resembles Jaime who is languishing in a dungeon away from a very lonely Cersei.

In the books universe we see a few other cases of Cersei using sex as a means of control. Needless to say, book spoilers ahead:

Ser Osney Kettleblack implicated Margaery Tyrell in a sex scandal in return for sleeping with Cersei. She also has a sexual episode with Lady Taena of Myr, although she is not attracted to her in the least just to get a feel to how controlling a male can be on his female sexual partner.


To begin with, Cersei was never very loyal to Jaime, or considered him "the one". I say so because Cersei was quite taken with being the Queen and quite readily agreed to marry Robert. Now, don't picture the fat Robert showcased in the TV Series. In his prime, Robert was a famed and very handsome warrior.

From A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4

In his youth he was described as tall, broad shouldered and muscled like a maiden's fantasy. He kept himself clean shaven. However, after winning the crown he became overweight from excessive feasting and drinking, eventually gaining over eight stone in weight and growing a beard to hide his multiple chins.

Her infatuation with Robert ended quite soon when on their wedding night, Robert came on top of her whispering "Lyanna" in her ears. She was also smitten with Rhaegar Targaryen at one point of time.

From A Feast for Crows, Chapter 24

When she had been presented to him, Cersei had almost drowned in the depths of his sad purple eyes. "He has been wounded," she recalled thinking, "but I will mend his hurt when we are wed." Next to Rhaegar, even her beautiful Jaime had seemed no more than a callow boy.

What I am trying to establish here is that Cersei didn't have eyes only for Jaime, something which the TV series might have led you to believe. But she did choose Lancel because he is said to closely resembled Jaime with his green eyes and sandy hair. There are other factors like repaying him for what he did to Robert, however, at the end it boils down to just good plain old lust!

  • 1
    "What I am trying to establish here is that Cersei didn't have eyes only for Jamie, something which the TV series might have led you to believe." - Well, rest assured that I'm not completely blue-eyed about her treatment of Jamie either, given that it's still Cersei we're talking about. It wasn't that the possibility of an affair was completely unlikely for me, just that I didn't know which of all the possible reasons was the most likely. But thanks for the answer.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 19, 2014 at 17:50
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    And as a side note, the characterization of young Robert and his "mental betrayal" of her in their wedding night is also adressed in the TV-show, in her conversation with Ned in S01E07 to be precise.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 19, 2014 at 17:53
  • @NapoleonWilson: Yes, I remember that being shown in the first season. I was making a point that Cersei is more promiscuous than the TV Series portrays. And her promiscuity was the prominent reason behind her affair with Lancel.
    – Sayan
    Jun 20, 2014 at 7:34
  • @KeyBrdBasher 1/2 This is incorrect, Cersei is very-much infatuated with Jamie. She sees him as her other half, in more ways than one. She says to Ned: "Jaime and I are more than brother and sister. We are one person in two bodies. We shared a womb together. He came into this world holding my foot, our old maester said. When he is in me, I feel... whole." She believes that they will die together as they were born together.
    – Möoz
    Mar 16, 2015 at 22:07
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    @Mooz: BTW who in seven hells is Bobby?? :D Do you mean Robert by any chance.....
    – Sayan
    Mar 17, 2015 at 7:31

This is, for me, the combination of a number of factors, each one beneficial to Cersei:

  • Leverage

Cersei weaponizes her sexuality, but only privately (unlike say Margeary Tyrell, who is more openly sexual and seductive). By engaging in a tryst with Lancel, she is able to manipulate and control him, guiding his actions. Boys are obviously notorious for thinking with their penises at Lancel's age.

  • Loyalty

By becoming Lancel's lover, she is indicating (or mimicking) a level of trust in him, which his loyalty and chivalry dictates must be reciprocated. As Lancel is naive, he is unaware this is another form of manipulation.

  • Boredeom

Cesei is naturally incredibly promiscuous, and is highly sexed. Her high sex drvie could be perhaps attached to something more than her empowering herself and being comfortable with her sexual identity: it could almost be perceived as undiagnosed nymphomania, or hypersexuality. These can be linked to Bipolar disorder, and incest is more common among nymphomaniacs.

  • Substitution of Taboo

Part of the sexual rush Cesei seems to experience with Jaime could derive from its incestious nature. Perhaps engaging in this taboo with Lancel is a form of familiarity, trying to recapture this compulsion.

  • Reassurance

Any doubts or uncertainty Cersei may hold about her incestious dispositions are divested when she finds another cousin who is equally open to the notion of it. She can re-assure herself that it is not such an unnatural proposition.

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    Interesting answer. Yet, Cersei doesn't come across to me as overly promiscuous and at least in the TV show Lancel seems to be her only (or at least only obvious) affair. Her relationship with Jaime seems to be driven by more than just sexual attraction and I would have thought her to be at least a bit faithful and caring to him, even if not as much as Jaime is to her. But that might also just be naivity/optimism on my (and Jaime's?) part.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 18, 2014 at 20:04
  • @NapoleonWilson Commenting on Cercei's and Jaime's views on faithfulness would be spoilers for the books and maybe (depending on the writing) the series. Needless to say, assume things about their psychology at your own risk of learning otherwise later. Jun 18, 2014 at 20:52
  • @SevenSidedDie Well, their relationship has always fascinated me, but not just because of the taboo of incest, but because Cersei was certainly right when she told Ned that being twin siblings makes them somehow predestined for each other. It seems to give their love a very true and inexorable nature, more so than all those other rather forced weddings of that world, especially since they're both not the most shiny of characters (well, who is in GoT anyway?). Eager to see how it develops in the upcoming seasons.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 18, 2014 at 21:20
  • @NapoleonWilson You might consider reading the novels in that case. They reveal far, far more psychological detail with all the major characters. Cercei and Jaime are fascinating, but I'm dubious that the show will/can ever do them as much justice as the novels do. Jun 18, 2014 at 21:48
  • @SevenSidedDie Well, I'm admittedly not an avid reader in the first place and already have so much other stuff on the list. Apart from that I'd rather first give the TV show its own merit and let it unfold its own impression. So if I ever read it, I'd rather wait for after the end of the TV show. Was the same with LotR, only got to it by the movies, but then deliberately waited till the movies were finished before touching the books.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 18, 2014 at 21:56

Mainly, so she could manipulate him. She's a pro at manipulating guys through sex (considering she can be quite stupid in politics, sex is actually her best weapon), just think about the Kettlebacks. She got Lancel (a silly boy who wanted to be Jaime) to muorder Robert - that was the main goal. Then, of course, he has the plus of being similar to Jaime. Though I really disagree when people are saying that it is about pure lust and that Jaime has never really been "the one" for her, etc. In AFFC we get to read her thoughts as she thinks that sex was ever only good with Jaime (not with Robert, not with Lancel, not with any of the Kettlebacks, not with her friend Taena). And about her infatuation on Rhaegar, it is unfair to judge her feelings towards Jaime because of what she thought when both she and Jaime were only 10 years old if I recall correctly: of course she would think Jaime a callow boy in comparison to a 17-year-old beautifull guy like Rhaegar.

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