The Genetic Dynasty and the Cleon Complex

Medicine of technology-related diseases


The present paper deals with the biological basis and medical aspects of a social phenomenon, recently classified as the Cleon complex in contemporary psychoanalysis. Although not recognized as a diagnosable mental disorder, it is a neuro-psychological phenomenon, that could be traced throughout the history of multiple worlds and is virtually a characteristic of any ruling dynasty or autocratic regime of governing. However, the present study explores the purely biological and medical aspects of the strive for eternal rule, rather than the neurological and psychological side.

Cleon Complex – What Does It Mean?

Although only recently described in a brilliant paper in the Galactic Journal of Psychohistorical Research, the Cleon Complex is an old phenomenon. Broadly speaking, this is the conscious or subconscious striving to ensure the genetic uniformity of the ruling individual. Although argued, that this striving was employed by most, if not all, ruling dynasties through arranged marriages between closely-related heirs, the Cleon Complex involves not the simple succession of the throne by heirs but approaches for reaching a genetic identity of the ruling person. Some non-limiting examples include the immortalization of the ruler, incestuous (brother and sister) marriages, and the actual approach of the genetic dynasty – discontinuous cloning of the ruler.

The Immortal Kings

Immortal rulers are relatively common in various worlds. Apparently, being immortal, or at least with an extremely long lifespan would allow a king or emperor to rule for extremely long periods. For example, Gil-galad, one of the most renowned high kings of the elves ruled for 3 521 years [1] before being slain by Sauron. Another high king, Kallor Eiderann Tes’thesula, claimed to have lived for millennia and ruled an empire [2]. However, unlike elves, he seems to age and his immortality is not related to an apparent everlasting youth. His reign also ended due to his will – he personally destroyed his empire, and not because of external factors.

Clearly, these particular cases require special molecular mechanisms to overcome the natural causes, involved in the determination of a lifespan limit (Table 1). For example, the lifespan of a human being is constantly extended, benefiting by the progress in medicine, but still, it is hardly greater than 100 years and is associated with aging, caused by the accumulation of cell and tissue damage and also metabolic alterations. While some immortal species are aging very slowly or are not aging at all, others may have an unlimited lifespan but are still affected by aging, just like the high king Kallor, who looks extremely old.

Table 1. Natural causes of aging and lifespan and limit and molecular mechanisms, determining immortality and slow aging.

Natural process, limiting the length of life The molecular mechanism, superior in immortal species
Pathogen infections Immune system
Oxidative stress, causing molecular damages Antioxidant defense
Accumulation of mutations in the genome DNA repair mechanisms
Constant losses of differentiated cells and tissue damages Reserves of multipotent, pluripotent, and totimpotent cells
A limited number of cell divisions Active telomerase in somatic cells

However, naturally immortal rulers do not fall into the classification of the Cleon complex. For such to be defined, the ruler must be a mortal individual who has undergone any kind of manipulation to extend his lifespan. For example, King Huon, the Immortal, ruler of the Dark Empire of Granbretan has preserved most of his body for a life well over 2 000 years with the intention to live and rule forever [3]. He is said to preserve his highly deformed body in an amniotic fluid, which presumably contains nutrients and is a defensive medium. By living in such a simulation of the embryonic stage of development, however, there must be a switch to a fetal-like metabolism and gradual degeneration of various organs such as limbs and lungs.

In a high-technology world, immortality may not be a natural phenomenon, but a digital feature achieved through the transfer of mind/consciousness to a digital receptacle [4]. It is not easy to imagine how all the neuronal links, collectively building the human consciousness could be transferred into any kind of chip, but when successful, the digitalized mind could be implanted into another body (although strictly speaking this would mean a different genetic background), or function through an android or another kind of machine.

Keeping the Bloodline Pure

Marriages between close relatives are fairly common in ruling dynasties, thus, presumably preserving the bloodline pure. However, on a few occasions, this practice went beyond the commonly arranged marriages to brother-and-sister relations, considered a taboo in most, if not all cultures. This was reported in Ancient Egypt, where pharaohs were considered gods, but is also a common practice in several Valyrian dynasties, including the Targaryen ruling dynasty [5]. In such a way they preserve their pure blood and genetic background.

However, such incestuous marriages were argued to be highly detrimental because of inbreeding. In the process, many deleterious mutant alleles could combine in a homozygous state, leading to congenital disorders and a high percentage of spontaneous miscarriage. While true in a short term, the inbreeding may actually have the opposite effect in the long-term incestuous history of the Targaryens, as the individuals, homozygous by deleterious alleles would usually not reach adulthood and gradually only the “good” alleles would establish in the population. Speaking of genetic uniformity, or similarity, we could expect that through incestuous marriages through many generations they reached over 90% similarity between each other.

The Genetic Dynasty

Finally, it is the Genetic Dynasty [6], that actually gave the name of the Cleon Complex. It was initiated by Cleon I, emperor of the Galactic Empire as his approach to prevent possible problems with the succession of the throne and ensure a permanent ruling dynasty of genetically identical emperors. For this, he employed the well-known process of cloning, in which the genetic material of the donor (himself) is transferred via transplantation of the nucleus into an egg cell, which subsequently develops into an exact copy. Numerous such clones are constantly produced, and the embryos develop into artificial wombs. Then three clones at different ages are simultaneously living in order to ensure proper education and transfer of knowledge.

However, we must state that the clones are not exact phenotypic (or genetic) copies of Cleon I as numerous environmental conditions could affect the expression of the genetic material. Furthermore, mobile DNA elements (transposons), retroviral infections, and mutations during the first replication cycles of the zygote could affect the original genome, these changes being either obvious (with phenotypic expression) or hidden.

After the first clones were created using egg cells from different donors, it also became apparent that the mitochondrial DNA, inherited by the egg (or the mother) could also affect the overall genetics of the clones, especially when a batch with the mitochondrial disease Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, leading to gradual loss of vision was established. This was a major flaw in the cloning process, after which the whole procedure was significantly improved and the new clones were developed from somatic cells of the donor (Cleon III) through a process of induced totipotent-like stem cells. In fact, all subsequent emperors are exact clones of Cleon III, but not Cleon I, and the origin of the induced totipotent cells is the bone marrow of the rib, as a reminiscence to the Old Earth myth of human creation.

[1] J.R.R. Tolkien (ed. by Carl F. Hostetter). 2021. The Nature of Middle-earth. HarperCollins.

[2] Steven Erikson. 2001. Memories of Ice. Bantam.

[3] Michael Moorcock. 1979. The History of the Runestaff. Granada.

[4] Richard K. Morgan. 2002. Altered Carbon. Victor Gollancz Ltd.

[5] Elio Garcia, Linda Antonsson, George R.R. Martin. 2014. The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones. The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones.

[6] David S. Goyer, Josh Friedman. 2021. Foundation. Apple TV+.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *