The elephants are a political party in the Free City of Volantis. It is the party of the merchants and moneylenders, advocating trade. They are rivaled by the tigers, who advocate the sword.
While many free-born but not aristocratic merchants support the elephants, their actual candidates can only be from Old Blood aristocratic families that can trace their descent back to Valyria.
After the Doom of Valyria, during the Century of Blood, the Volantenes considered themselves the heirs to the Valyrian Freehold and rightful rulers of the world. Thus the militaristic tigers, supported by the Old Blood, held sway for almost a century, and led Volantis into conflict with the other Free Cities. This conflict would eventually involve all of the Free Cities except for (as far as is known) Lorath. At first, Volantis succeeded in their conquest. But an alliance of Tyrosh and Pentos resisted Volantis, and Myr and Lys rebelled. Volantis was further defeated by an alliance of Qohor and Norvos, by Dothraki, by Storm King Argilac Durrandon, and by Lord Aegon Targaryen of Dragonstone. In the end, the elephants, the faction favoring peace took power from the tigers, and the fighting was at an end. Their followers went on a rampage, knocking the heads from the statues of those they blamed for all the wars and deaths.
For the last three centuries, since taking power from the tigers, at least two of the three triarchs in power have been elephants. no more than one tiger has been named triarch at a time during this period. Some of the first elephants were women, one of whom, Trianna, was returned four times. Volantis hasn't had a female triarch for three hundred years.
A Dance of Dragons
Illyrio Mopatis of Pentos has paid Triarch Nyessos Vhassar, of the elephants, enough to own him eight times over.
The Kingfisher informs the crew of the Shy Maid that Volantis will go to war for "Nyessos and Malaquo go hand in hand, and the elephants show stripes".
Doniphos Paenymion, like the other two triarchs, is up for re-election and many believe he is unlikely to be re-elected, for he is one of the few who does not wish war between Volantis and Daenerys Targaryen, Queen of Meereen. According to Qavo Nogarys, Doniphos will not be returned as triarch as the city of Volantis thirsts for war. Nogarys also reports that Nyessos has also been bought by the Wise Masters.
The widow of the waterfront tells Jorah Mormont and Tyrion Lannister that even some elephants support going to war against Meereen. For example, Nyessos Vhassar owes much of his wealth to the slave trade.
- Trianna, Triarch during the Century of Blood, returned four times
- Vogarro, seven times elected
Tigers love to bare their claws, and even elephants will kill if threatened.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion IV.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Doom of Valyria.
- ↑ Elio Garcia, October 24, 2018.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 22, Tyrion VI.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion III.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 18, Tyrion V.