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Apes And Other Hyborian Age Hominids

apes apemen man ape hominid ape men thak gray ape grey ape monkey servant of bit yakin

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#1 Alhazred

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 07:14 PM

Apes seem to have been far more diverse and common in the Hyborian age. From the snow apes of the far north to the mysterious ape haunted jungles south of Stygia. They are chained to alters in the Pictich wilderness, and play pipes and dance in lost cities of Khitai. Man as REH tells it has risen from apedom and fell to it in a cyclic fashion, Perhaps some of these apes used to be races of men fallen back into beastiality for reasons of survival, sprouting fur and fangs in the manner of domestic hogs turning razorback. Perhaps some will become "men" in the future evolving into new and distinct races and raising kingdoms in the jungles and mountains. They vary from almost men to extremely beastial, some long for humanity while others seem to detest it. Some serve men loyally others not so much. They posess great strength and frightening intelligence making them a popular and dangerous foe. Snakes are the only other creatures to make so many a appearences in the Texans tales. In Howards time the gorilla was a near mythical beast surrounded by many legends and marked with false traits many of which can be found in certain Hyborian tales. It was told they attacked men, abducted women, that they crushed the skulls of lesser beast and ruled the forest as tyrants. Similar themes can be found in other works of this period, King Kong comes to mind. Another popular legend of Howards time was that of the Abomidable Snowman. Expeditions into the Himilayas were common and seeking these monster out right was not unheard of. REH was certaintly aware of this phenomenon and applied it to his fiction.

It brings to my mind some question.

How do you think a modern understanding of apes would have effected REH stories, if at all?

Did REH intend for his apes to evolve into people? If so then who?

Did REH intend for his manapes to be former races of men fallen back to beastdom? If so which races?

A gorilla can be identfied IMHO in BtBR under the title 'bull ape', but does any one identify any Hyborian apes with chimps, bonobos or orangutan? How about any known fossil apes or hominids?

I have more theories but that seems to be a nice start.
Under the caverned pyramids great Set coils asleep;
Among the shadows of the tombs his dusky people creep.
I speak the Word from the hidden gulfs that never knew the sun
Send me a servant for my hate, oh scaled and shining One!

#2 SlavicPaladin

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 07:45 PM

"Did REH intend for his manapes to be former races of men fallen back to beastdom? If so which race"
Some ideas from the Hyborian Age Essay
" Of the civilized races of the Thurian Continent, a remnant of one of the non-Valusian nations dwells among the low mountains of the southeast — the Zhemri. Here and there about the world are scattered clans of apish savages, entirely ignorant of the rise and fall of the great civilizations."

"The tale of the next thousand years is the tale of the rise of the Hyborians, whose warlike tribes dominate the western world. Rude kingdoms are taking shape. The tawny-haired invaders have encountered the Picts, driving them into the barren lands of the west. To the northwest, the descendants of the Atlanteans, climbing unaided from apedom into primitive savagery, have not yet met the conquerors"

The essay seems to suggest that many apes are the descendants of pre-cataclysmic civilization.

Edited by SlavicPaladin, 23 February 2013 - 07:45 PM.


#3 Ironhand

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 07:59 AM

A gorilla can be identfied IMHO in BtBR under the title 'bull ape', but does any one identify any Hyborian apes with chimps, bonobos or orangutan? How about any known fossil apes or hominids?

The "sad-eyed ape" that Conan encounteed in a cage might have been a chimpanzee.
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

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#4 Keith J Taylor

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 10:35 AM

Alhazred, you raise a mighty interesting topic there. REH seems to have thought -- or used as an idea in his Conan stories, anyhow -- that apes could advance to become men and men could regress to apes. He said of his fictional Picts that they were "apparently defying the laws of nature by neither advancing nor regressing." Or words very close to those. He had Conan encounter a murderuous huge ape in Taracus's dungeons when a captive in "The Hour of the Dragon", and another in the shorter yarn "Iron Shadows in the Moon", also published as "Shadows in the Moonlight". Voiceless man-eating apes were supposed to haunt the shores of the Vilayet Sea. Even in modern times, in "Three-Bladed Doom" El Borak encounters the same sort of creature, "a giant ape, as tall on its gnarled legs as a gorilla ... of a strange ashy grey ... the Snow-Ape, the Desert Man of forbidden Mongolia."

Whether REH ever read about it or not, Georgia in the Caucasus, the same region as prehistoric "Vilayet Sea" has seen the discovery of the remains of a curious and distinctive variety of anthropoid ape that has been given the name Udabnopithecus, from the Georgian word "udabno", meaning wilderness. Maybe Udabnopithecus was smaller than the monsters Conan and El Borak had to fight to the death -- but it might have been related to them.

#5 deuce

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 11:17 AM

Alhazred, you raise a mighty interesting topic there. REH seems to have thought -- or used as an idea in his Conan stories, anyhow -- that apes could advance to become men and men could regress to apes. He said of his fictional Picts that they were "apparently defying the laws of nature by neither advancing nor regressing." Or words very close to those. He had Conan encounter a murderuous huge ape in Tarascus's dungeons when a captive in "The Hour of the Dragon", and another in the shorter yarn "Iron Shadows in the Moon", also published as "Shadows in the Moonlight". Voiceless man-eating apes were supposed to haunt the shores of the Vilayet Sea. Even in modern times, in "Three-Bladed Doom" El Borak encounters the same sort of creature, "a giant ape, as tall on its gnarled legs as a gorilla ... of a strange ashy grey ... the Snow-Ape, the Desert Man of forbidden Mongolia."


Quite right, Keith. B) Actually, I consider the El Borak yarns to be in the same "universe" as the Conan tales. That ape is one reason. It also raises the question as to whether there is some connection betwixt the apes and the priests of Erlik said to control "forbidden Mongolia".

Of course, there are also the "Almas" of Central Asia and the Caucasus:

http://cryptozoology...a.com/wiki/Alma


Whether REH ever read about it or not, Georgia in the Caucasus, the same region as prehistoric "Vilayet Sea" has seen the discovery of the remains of a curious and distinctive variety of anthropoid ape that has been given the name Udabnopithecus, from the Georgian word "udabno", meaning wilderness. Maybe Udabnopithecus was smaller than the monsters Conan and El Borak had to fight to the death -- but it might have been related to them.


Cool!

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#6 deuce

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:32 PM

Apes seem to have been far more diverse and common in the Hyborian age. From the snow apes of the far north to the mysterious ape haunted jungles south of Stygia. They are chained to alters in the Pictich wilderness, and play pipes and dance in lost cities of Khitai. Man as REH tells it has risen from apedom and fell to it in a cyclic fashion, Perhaps some of these apes used to be races of men fallen back into beastiality for reasons of survival, sprouting fur and fangs in the manner of domestic hogs turning razorback. Perhaps some will become "men" in the future evolving into new and distinct races and raising kingdoms in the jungles and mountains. They vary from almost men to extremely beastial, some long for humanity while others seem to detest it. Some serve men loyally others not so much. They posess great strength and frightening intelligence making them a popular and dangerous foe. Snakes are the only other creatures to make so many a appearences in the Texans tales.


A pretty good overview, Alhazred. B)

The "serpents" thread is here:

http://www.conan.com...=20#entry221157



In Howards time the gorilla was a near mythical beast surrounded by many legends and marked with false traits many of which can be found in certain Hyborian tales. It was told they attacked men, abducted women, that they crushed the skulls of lesser beast and ruled the forest as tyrants. Similar themes can be found in other works of this period, King Kong comes to mind.


Actually, long before King Kong was Tarzan and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Where are the gorillas with "false traits" that you see in "certain Hyborian {sic} tales"?

Another popular legend of Howards time was that of the Abomidable Snowman. Expeditions into the Himilayas were common and seeking these monster out right was not unheard of. REH was certaintly aware of this phenomenon and applied it to his fiction.


As Keith Taylor has noted, REH put an "Abominable Snowman" into an El Borak yarn.

It brings to my mind some question.

How do you think a modern understanding of apes would have effected REH stories, if at all?

I have more theories but that seems to be a nice start.


I'm not sure "modern science" would've changed Howard's views much. The thread concerning the intersection of REH's views and modern science can be found here:

http://www.conan.com...p?showtopic=313

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#7 Alhazred

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:49 AM

Excessive agression and killer instict I suppose. I'm not saying apes are completely devoid of these traits but certaintly not to the degree found in the fiction of the early 20th century. Man-eating in most definately a "false trait" of apes.

Edited by Alhazred, 26 February 2013 - 06:38 PM.

Under the caverned pyramids great Set coils asleep;
Among the shadows of the tombs his dusky people creep.
I speak the Word from the hidden gulfs that never knew the sun
Send me a servant for my hate, oh scaled and shining One!

#8 Alhazred

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:34 PM

Shadows in the Moonlight

The Gray Man-Ape

Out of the shadows of the cliffs moved a monstrous shambling bulk--an anthropomorphic horror, a grotesque travesty of creation.
In general outline it was not unlike a man. But its face, limned in the bright moonlight, was bestial, with close-set ears, flaring nostrils, and a great flabby-lipped mouth in which gleamed white tusk-like fangs. It was covered with shaggy grayish hair, shot with silver which shone in the moonlight, and its great misshapen paws hung nearly to the earth. Its bulk was tremendous; as it stood on its short bowed legs, its bullet-head rose above that of the man who faced it; the sweep of the hairy breast and giant shoulders was breathtaking; the huge arms were like knotted trees.
The moonlight scene swam, to Olivia's sight. This, then, was the end of the trail--for what human being could withstand the fury of that hairy mountain of thews and ferocity? Yet as she stared in wide-eyed horror at the bronzed figure facing the monster, she sensed a kinship in the antagonists that was almost appalling. This was less a struggle between man and beast than a conflict between two creatures of the wild, equally merciless and ferocious. With a flash of white tusks, the monster charged.
The mighty arms spread wide as the beast plunged, stupefyingly quick for all his vast bulk and stunted legs.
Conan's action was a blur of speed Olivia's eye could not follow. She only saw that he evaded that deadly grasp, and his sword, flashing like a jet of white lightning, sheared through one of those massive arms between shoulder and elbow. A great spout of blood deluged the sward as the severed member fell, twitching horribly, but even as the sword bit through, the other malformed hand locked in Conan's black mane.
Only the iron neck muscles of the Cimmerian saved him from a broken neck that instant. His left hand darted out to clamp on the beast's squat throat, his left knee was jammed hard against the brute's hairy belly. Then began a terrific struggle, which lasted only seconds, but which seemed like ages to the paralyzed girl.
The ape maintained his grasp in Conan's hair, dragging him toward the tusks that glistened in the moonlight. The Cimmerian resisted this effort, with his left arm rigid as iron, while the sword in his right hand, wielded like a butcher-knife, sank again and again into the groin, breast and belly of his captor. The beast took its punishment in awful silence, apparently unweakened by the blood that gushed from its ghastly wounds. Swiftly the terrible strength of the anthropoid overcame the leverage of braced arm and knee. Inexorably Conan's arm bent under the strain; nearer and nearer he was drawn to the slavering jaws that gaped for his life. Now the blazing eyes of the barbarian glared into the bloodshot eyes of the ape. But as Conan tugged vainly at his sword, wedged deep in the hairy body, the frothing jaws snapped spasmodically shut, an inch from the Cimmerian's face, and he was hurled to the sward by the dying convulsions of the monster.
Olivia, half fainting, saw the ape heaving, thrashing and writhing, gripping, man-like, the hilt that jutted from its body. A sickening instant of this, then the great bulk quivered and lay still.
Conan rose and limped over to the corpse. The Cimmerian breathed heavily, and walked like a man whose joints and muscles have been wrenched and twisted almost to their limit of endurance. He felt his bloody scalp and swore at the sight of the long, black red-stained strands still grasped in the monster's shaggy hand.
"Crom!" he panted. "I feel as if I'd been racked! I'd rather fight a dozen men. Another instant and he'd have bitten off my head. Blast him, he's torn a handful of my hair out by the roots."
Gripping his hilt with both hands he tugged and worked it free. Olivia stole close to clasp his arm and stare down wide-eyed at the sprawling monster.
"What--what is it?" she whispered.
"A gray man-ape," he grunted. "Dumb, and man-eating. They dwell in the hills that border the eastern shore of this sea. How this one got to this island, I can't say. Maybe he floated here on driftwood, blown out from the mainland in a storm."
"And it was he that threw the stone?"
"Yes; I suspected what it was when we stood in the thicket and I saw the boughs bending over our heads. These creatures always lurk in the deepest woods they can find, and seldom emerge. What brought him into the open, I can't say, but it was lucky for us; I'd have had no chance with him among the trees."

This ape and his mainland kin I would consider closer to a man than a modern ape, not only because its bipedal but also due to its malice and savagery. Cannibalism if unknown amoung modern apes however strong evidence suggest it was practiced by early humans.

Beyond the Black River

The Bull Ape

Behind the altar was an idol, dim, indistinct, bestial, yet vaguely man-like in outline. Then fresh horror choked Balthus as the shape heaved up suddenly with a rattle of chains, lifting long, misshapen arms in the gloom.
Conan's sword flailed down, crunching through flesh and bone, and then the Cimmerian was dragging Balthus around the altar, past a huddled shaggy bulk on the floor, to a door at the back of the long hut.

"But what was that--that thing you killed in the altar-hut?" asked Balthus, with a shiver at the memory of the dim-seen horror.
"One of Zogar's gods. One of Jhebbal's children that didn't remember and had to be kept chained to the altar. A bull ape. The Picts think they're sacred to the Hairy One who lives on the moon--the gorilla-god of Gullah.

This gorilla may have been slain out of hand. However there is the possibility Conan did the beast a service as I imagine death is preferable to a life in chains.


Queen of the Black Coast

Sad-eyed Ape

And once an inhuman voice was lifted in awful
mockery the cry of an ape, Belit said, adding that the souls of evil
men were imprisoned in these manlike animals as punishment for past
crimes. But Conan doubted, for once, in a gold-barred cage in an
Hyrkanian city, he had seen an abysmal sad-eyed beast which men told
him was an ape, and there had been about it naught of the demoniac
malevolence which vibrated in the shrieking laughter that echoed from
the black jungle.


Perhaps REH had a better grasp on apes than I accredited him. Menagerie animals were not well kept before modern times a condition that would be apparent on thier eerily human faces. As with the bull ape I feel pity for this creature. I could see this animal as being a chimpanzee, orangutan or a close relative.

Hour of the Dragon

Grey Dungeon Ape

Somewhere behind him something was moving--something bulky and stealthy that padded on feet which were not human feet. He was looking down the long row of cells, before each one of which lay a square of dim gray light that was little more than a patch of less dense darkness. But he saw something moving along these squares. What it was he could not tell, but it was heavy and huge, and yet it moved with more than human ease and swiftness. He glimpsed it as it moved across the squares of gray, then lost it as it merged in the expanses of shadow between. It was uncanny, in its stealthy advance, appearing and disappearing like a blur of the vision.
He heard the bars rattle as it tried each door in turn. Now it had reached the cell he had so recently quitted, and the door swung open as it tugged. He saw a great bulky shape limned faintly and briefly in the gray doorway, and then the thing had vanished into the dungeon. Sweat beaded Conan's face and hands. Now he knew why Tarascus had come so subtly to his door, and later had fled so swiftly. The king had unlocked his door, and, somewhere in these hellish pits, had opened a cell or cage that held some grim monstrosity.
Now the thing was emerging from the cell and was again advancing up the corridor, its misshapen head close to the ground. It paid no more heed to the locked doors. It was smelling out his trail. He saw it more plainly now; the gray light limned a giant anthropomorphic body, but vaster of bulk and girth than any man. It went on two legs, though it stooped forward, and it was grayish and shaggy, its thick coat shot with silver. Its head was a grisly travesty of the human, its long arms hung nearly to the ground.
Conan knew it at last--understood the meaning of those crushed and broken bones in the dungeon, and recognized the haunter of the pits. It was a gray ape, one of the grisly man-eaters from the forests that wave on the mountainous eastern shores of the Sea of Vilayet. Half mythical and altogether horrible, these apes were the goblins of Hyborian legendry, and were in reality ogres of the natural world, cannibals and murderers of the nighted forests.
He knew it scented his presence, for it was coming swiftly now, rolling its barrel-like body rapidly along on its short, mighty, bowed legs. He cast a quick glance up the long stair, but knew that the thing would be on his back before he could mount to the distant door. He chose to meet it face to face.
Conan stepped out into the nearest square of moonlight, so as to have all the advantage of illumination that he could; for the beast, he knew, could see better than himself in the dark. Instantly the brute saw him; its great yellow tusks gleamed in the shadows, but it made no sound. Creatures of night and the silence, the gray apes of Vilayet were voiceless. But in its dim, hideous features, which were a bestial travesty of a human face, showed ghastly exultation.
Conan stood poised, watching the oncoming monster without a quiver. He knew he must stake his life on one thrust; there would be no chance for another; nor would there be time to strike and spring away. The first blow must kill, and kill instantly, if he hoped to survive that awful grapple. He swept his gaze over the short, squat throat, the hairy swagbelly, and the mighty breast, swelling in giant arches like twin shields. It must be the heart; better to risk the blade being deflected by the heavy ribs than to strike in where a stroke was not instantly fatal. With full realization of the odds, Conan matched his speed of eye and hand and his muscular power against the brute might and ferocity of the man-eater. He must meet the brute breast to breast, strike a deathblow, and then trust to the ruggedness of his frame to survive the instant of manhandling that was certain to be his.
As the ape came rolling in on him, swinging wide its terrible arms, he plunged in between them and struck with all his desperate power. He felt the blade sink to the hilt in the hairy breast, and instantly, releasing it, he ducked his head and bunched his whole body into one compact mass of knotted muscles, and as he did so he grasped the closing arms and drove his knee fiercely into the monster's belly, bracing himself against that crushing grapple.
For one dizzy instant he felt as if he were being dismembered in the grip of an earthquake; then suddenly he was free, sprawling on the floor, and the monster was gasping out its life beneath him, its red eyes turned upward, the hilt of the poniard quivering in its breast. His desperate stab had gone home.
Conan was panting as if after long conflict, trembling in every limb. Some of his joints felt as if they had been dislocated, and blood dripped from scratches on his side where the monster's talons had ripped; his muscles and tendons had been savagely wrenched and twisted. If the beast had lived a second longer, it would surely have dismembered him. But the Cimmerian's mighty strength had resisted, for the fleeting instant it had endured, the dying convulsion of the ape that would have torn a lesser man limb from limb.

This is clearly described as the same variety of beast from SitM or at very least a close relative.

Jewels of Gwahlur

Servants of Bit Yakin

"Oh, I nearly fainted when I saw! They are not humans! They are gray, hairy devils that walk like men and speak a gibberish no human could understand. They stood there and seemed to be waiting, and once I thought I heard somebody trying the door. Then one of the things pulled a metal lever in the wall, and something crashed on the other side of the door.
"Then they carried me on and on through winding tunnels and up stone stairways into this chamber, where they chained me on the knees of this abominable idol, and then they went away. Oh, Conan, what are they?"

The altar was laved in the glow now, and the astounded features of Gorulga stood out in sharp relief. Then the mysterious space behind the altar swam into the widening illumination. And slowly with the crawling light, figures became visible, like shapes growing out of the night and silence.
At first they seemed like gray stone statues, those motionless shapes, hairy, man-like, yet hideously human; but their eyes were alive, cold sparks of gray icy fire. And as the weird glow lit their bestial countenances, Gorulga screamed and fell backward, throwing up his long arms in a gesture of frenzied horror.
But a longer arm shot across the altar and a misshapen hand locked on his throat. Screaming and fighting, the high priest was dragged back across the altar; a hammer-like fist smashed down, and Gorulga's cries were stilled. Limp and broken he sagged cross the altar; his brains oozing from his crushed skull. And then the servants of Bit-Yakin surged like a bursting flood from Hell on the black priests who stood like horror-blasted images.
Then there was slaughter, grim and appalling.
Conan saw black bodies tossed like chaff in the inhuman hands of the slayers, against whose horrible strength and agility the daggers and swords of the priests were ineffective. He saw men lifted bodily and their heads cracked open against the stone altar. He saw a flaming torch, grasped in a monstrous hand, thrust inexorably down the gullet of an agonized wretch who writhed in vain against the arms that pinioned him. He saw a man torn in two pieces, as one might tear a chicken, and the bloody fragments hurled clear across the cavern. The massacre was as short and devastating as the rush of a hurricane. In a burst of red abysmal ferocity it was over, except for one wretch who fled screaming back the way the priests had come, pursued by a swarm of blood-dabbled shapes of horror which reached out their red-smeared hands for him. Fugitive and pursuers vanished down the black tunnel, and the screams of the human came back dwindling and confused by the distance.

He had no desire to encounter the hellish servants of Bit-Yakin. His glimpse of them in action had dispelled any illusion concerning their fighting ability. Why they had waited so long before striking at the invaders he was unable to say. What human could guess the motives or thoughts of these monstrosities? That they were possessed of craft and intelligence equal to humanity had been demonstrated. And there on the cavern floor lay crimson proof of their bestial ferocity.

Half-way across the upper span he saw a gray deformed shape. One of the servants of Bit-Yakin was on his trail. There was no doubt that the brute had seen them and was following them. Conan did not hesitate. It might be easier to defend the mouth of the tunnel--but this fight must be finished quickly, before the other servants could return.
He ran out on the span, straight toward the oncoming monster. It was no ape, neither was it a man. It was some shambling horror spawned in the mysterious, nameless jungles of the south, where strange life teemed in the reeking rot without the dominance of man, and drums thundered in temples that had never known the tread of a human foot. How the ancient Pelishti had gained lordship over them--and with it eternal exile from humanity--was a foul riddle about which Conan did not care to speculate, even if he had had opportunity.
Man and monster, they met at the highest arch of the span, where, a hundred feet below, rushed the furious black water. As the monstrous shape with it leprous gray body and the features of a carven, unhuman idol loomed over him, Conan struck as a wounded tiger strikes, with every ounce of thew and fury behind the blow. That stroke would have sheared a human body asunder; but the bones of the servant of Bit-Yakin were like tempered steel. Yet even tempered steel could not wholly have withstood that furious stroke. Ribs and shoulder-bone parted and blood spouted from the great gash.
There was no time for a second stroke. Before the Cimmerian could lift his blade again or spring clear, the sweep of a giant arm knocked him from the span as a fly is flicked from a wall. As he plunged downward the rush of the river was like a knell in his ears, but his twisting body fell half-way across the lower arch. He wavered there precariously for one blood-chilling instant, then his clutching fingers hooked over the farther edge, and he scrambled to safety, his sword still in his other hand.
As he sprang up, he saw the monster, spurting blood hideously, rush toward the cliff-end of the bridge, obviously intending to descend the stair that connected the arches and renew the feud. At the very ledge the brute paused in mid-flight--and Conan saw it too--Muriela, with the jewel chest under her arm, stood staring wildly in the mouth of the tunnel.
With a triumphant bellow the monster scooped her up under one arm, snatched the jewel chest with the other hand as she dropped it, and turning, lumbered back across the bridge. Conan cursed with passion and ran for the other side also. He doubted if he could climb the stair to the higher arch in time to catch the brute before it could plunge into the labyrinths of tunnels on the other side.
But the monster was slowing, like clockwork running down. Blood gushed from that terrible gash in his breast, and he lurched drunkenly from side to side. Suddenly he stumbled, reeled and toppled sidewise--pitched headlong from the arch and hurtled downward. Girl and jewel chest fell from his nerveless hands and Muriela's scream rang terribly above the snarl of the water below.

I don't even know where to start with these mysterious "things".

Tower of the Elephant

Dancing Apes!

'We saw men grow from the ape and build the shining cities of Valusia, Kamelia, Commoria and their sisters.

'He brought me up from the lost jungles of Khitai where the gray apes danced to the pipes of the yellow priests, and offerings of fruit and wine heaped my broken altars. No more was I a god to kindly jungle-folk--I was slave to a devil in human form.'

Could these be relatives of the apes of the Vilayet region or yet another gray ape species.

Rogue in the House

Thak

And before one doorway which was not curtained, sat a bulky black object that contrasted grotesquely with the richness of the chamber.
Murilo felt his blood freeze again as he looked at the horror which seemed to be staring directly into his eyes. Involuntarily he recoiled from the mirror, while Conan thrust his head truculently forward, till his jaws almost touched the surface, growling some threat or defiance in his own barbaric tongue.
"In Mitra's name, Nabonidus," gasped Murilo, shaken, "what is it?"
"That is Thak," answered the priest, caressing his temple. "Some would call him an ape, but he is almost as different from a real ape as he is different from a real man. His people dwell far to the east, in the mountains that fringe the eastern frontiers of Zamora. There are not many of them; but, if they are not exterminated, I believe they will become human beings in perhaps a hundred thousand years. They are in the formative stage; they are neither apes, as their remote ancestors were, nor men, as their remote descendants may be. They dwell in the high crags of well-nigh inaccessible mountains, knowing nothing of fire or the making of shelter or garments, or the use of weapons. Yet they have a language of a sort, consisting mainly of grunts and clicks.
"I took Thak when he was a cub, and he learned what I taught him much more swiftly and thoroughly than any true animal could have done. He was at once bodyguard and servant. But I forgot that being partly a man, he could not be submerged into a mere shadow of myself, like a true animal. Apparently his semi-brain retained impressions of hate, resentment, and some sort of bestial ambition of its own.
"At any rate, he struck when I least expected it. Last night he appeared to go suddenly mad. His actions had all the appearance of bestial insanity, yet I know that they must have been the result of long and careful planning.
"I heard a sound of fighting in the garden, and going to investigate--for I believed it was yourself, being dragged down by my watchdog--I saw Thak emerge from the shrubbery dripping with blood. Before I was aware of his intention, he sprang at me with an awful scream and struck me senseless. I remember no more, but can only surmise that, following some whim of his semi-human brain, he stripped me of my gown and cast me still living into the pits--for what reason, only the gods can guess. He must have killed the dog when he came from the garden, and after he struck me down, he evidently killed Joka, as you saw the man lying dead in the house. Joka would have come to my aid, even against Thak, whom he always hated."
Murilo stared in the mirror at the creature which sat with such monstrous patience before the closed door. He shuddered at the sight of the great black hands, thickly grown with hair that was almost furlike. The body was thick, broad and stooped. The unnaturally wide shoulders had burst the scarlet gown, and on these shoulders Murilo noted the same thick growth of black hair. The face peering from the scarlet hood was utterly bestial, and yet Murilo realized that Nabonidus spoke truth when he said that Thak was not wholly a beast. There was something in the red murky eyes, something in the creature's clumsy posture, something in the whole appearance of the thing that set it apart from the truly animal. That monstrous body housed a brain and soul that were just budding awfully into something vaguely human. Murilo stood aghast as he recognized a faint and hideous kinship between his kind and that squatting monstrosity, and he was nauseated by a fleeting realization of the abysses of bellowing bestiality up through which humanity had painfully toiled.

"There is naught we can do, except watch him. As long as he is in that chamber, we dare not ascend the stairs. He has the strength of a true gorilla and could easily tear us all to pieces. But he does not need to exert his muscles; if we open that door he has but to tug that rope, and blast us into eternity."

Outside the chamber of horror Thak was leaping up and down in brutish glee, tossing his long hairy arms on high.

He led them back to the curtained doorway, and peered into the great chamber in time to see Thak emerge from the opposite doorway. It was apparent that the beast-man had suspected something. His small, close-set ears twitched; he glared angrily about him and, approaching the nearest doorway, tore aside the curtains to look behind them.
Nabonidus drew back, shaking like a leaf. He gripped Conan's shoulder. "Man, do you dare pit your knife against his fangs?"
The Cimmerian's eyes blazed in answer.
"Quick!" the Red Priest whispered, thrusting him behind the curtains, close against the wall. "As he will find us soon enough, we will draw him to us. As he rushes past you, sink your blade in his back if you can. You, Murilo, show yourself to him and then flee up the corridor. Mitra knows, we have no chance with him in hand-to-hand combat, but we are doomed anyway when he finds us."
Murilo felt his blood congeal in his veins, but he steeled himself and stepped outside the doorway. Instantly Thak, on the other side of the chamber, wheeled, glared, and charged with a thunderous roar. His scarlet hood had fallen back, revealing his black misshapen head; his black hands and red robe were splashed with a brighter red. He was like a crimson and black nightmare as he rushed across the chamber, fangs bared, his bowed legs hurtling his enormous body along at a terrifying gait.
Murilo turned and ran back into the corridor and, quick as he was, the shaggy horror was almost at his heels. Then as the monster rushed past the curtains, from among them catapulted a great form that struck full on the ape-man's shoulders, at the same instant driving the poniard into the brutish back. Thak screamed horribly as the impact knocked him off his feet, and the combatants hit the floor together. Instantly there began a whirl and thrash of limbs, the tearing and rending of a fiendish battle.
Murilo saw that the barbarian had locked his legs about the ape-man's torso and was striving to maintain his position on the monster's back while he butchered it with his poniard. Thak, on the other hand, was striving to dislodge his clinging foe, to drag him around within reach of the giant fangs that gaped for his flesh. In a whirlwind of blows and scarlet tatters they rolled along the corridor, revolving so swiftly that Murilo dared not use the chair he had caught up, lest he strike the Cimmerian. And he saw that in spite of the handicap of Conan's first hold, and the voluminous robe that lashed and wrapped about the ape-man's limbs and body, Thak's giant strength was swiftly prevailing. Inexorably he was dragging the Cimmerian around in front of him. The ape-man had taken punishment enough to have killed a dozen men. Conan's poniard had sunk again and again into his torso, shoulders, and bull-like neck; he was streaming blood from a score of wounds; but, unless the blade quickly reached some absolutely vital spot, Thak's inhuman vitality would survive to finish the Cimmerian and, after him, Conan's companions.
Conan was fighting like a wild beast himself, in silence except for his gasps of effort. The black talons of the monster and the awful grasp of those misshapen hands ripped and tore at him, the grinning jaws gaped for his throat. Then Murilo, seeing an opening, sprang and swung the chair with all his power, and with force enough to have brained a human being. The chair glanced from Thak's slanted black skull; but the stunned monster momentarily relaxed his rending grasp, and in that instant Conan, gasping and streaming blood, plunged forward and sank his poniard to the hilt in the ape-man's heart.
With a convulsive shudder, the beast-man started from the floor, then sank limply back. His fierce eyes set and glazed, his thick limbs quivered and became rigid.
Conan staggered dizzily up, shaking the sweat and blood out of his eyes. Blood dripped from his poniard and fingers, and trickled in rivulets down his thighs, arms, and breast. Murilo caught at him to support him, but the barbarian shook him off impatiently.
"When I cannot stand alone, it will be time to die," he mumbled, through mashed lips. "But I'd like a flagon of wine."
Nabonidus was staring down at the still figure as if he could not believe his own eyes. Black, hairy, abhorrent, the monster lay, grotesque in the tatters of the scarlet robe; yet more human than bestial, even so, and possessed somehow of a vague and terrible pathos.
Even the Cimmerian sensed this, for he panted: "I have slain a man tonight, not a beast. I will count him among the chiefs whose souls I've sent into the dark, and my women will sing of him."

Thak is my favorite. He reminds me of reports in modern media of chimpanzees who have out grown captivity and lash out at their owners. Its really a cautionary tale in that way. He seems to differ from the gray man-apes of other tales but hails from a near by region. Maybe his differences can be attributed to his youth and the fact he was reared by men.
Under the caverned pyramids great Set coils asleep;
Among the shadows of the tombs his dusky people creep.
I speak the Word from the hidden gulfs that never knew the sun
Send me a servant for my hate, oh scaled and shining One!

#9 Alhazred

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 08:39 PM

Pease feel free to add anything I have forgotten :D


Under the caverned pyramids great Set coils asleep;
Among the shadows of the tombs his dusky people creep.
I speak the Word from the hidden gulfs that never knew the sun
Send me a servant for my hate, oh scaled and shining One!

#10 theagenes

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 10:14 PM

Alhazred, this past year I wrote a multi-part article on REH's use of hominins in his works for REHupa. My plan is to revise it for wider publication, probably in TGR or TDM. I stayed away from apes and focused only on "ape-man" and compared his descriptions to the sources that would have been available to him on human evolution. In particular I was interested in whether it could be determined if he was refering to any particular hominins with his descriptions. There were some interesting choices available to him at the time, incluing Piltdown Man, which of course was later shown to be a hoax.

 

To add to the crypto-zoological side of things, there is a Breck story, "The Haunted Mountain," about an expedition into the wilderness to find a "wildman." This was a term used out west in the late 19th and early 20th century to refer to creatures we would call Sasquatch or Bigfoot today. In the story Breck gets into a fight with the "wildman" in a cave, but it turns out to be a grizzly bear.


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#11 constantine

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 05:00 PM

Apparently, the Conan stories include grey apes, plus a couple of man-ape types. The latter seem to be products of human devolution. But where would the grey man-ape of the Vilayet come from?



#12 svent13

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 05:05 PM

With the prevalence of apes of various sorts in Howard's tales, I picture a scene, if someone were to do a Mel Brooks type parody of REH's stories, where you see several men in a camp, and one of them suddenly looks up and says "Hmm...time for an ape attack" and then have one of the grey apes or man apes come charging in.  That scene would of course be repeated numerous times.  :D


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#13 deuce

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 08:03 AM

Pease feel free to add anything I have forgotten :D

 

 

A great list. B)

 

However, as I noted before, there is also the chakan of Wolves Beyond the Border.


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#14 constantine

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 06:47 AM

From the recollections I have of ''The Jewels of Gwahlur'' I wouldn't be hasty to term the servants of Bit-Yakin apes or something similar. They appear as a different sort of hominids/humanoids.



#15 Ironhand

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 11:18 AM

I always had the impression there was something supernatural about the SoBY.

 

I think they were actually able to write, were they not?  Not very apelike.


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#16 Alhazred

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 06:39 PM

Wolves Beyond the Border

 

Chakan

 

I awakened suddenly and sat up in bed. My window was open, both shutters and pane, for coolness, for it was an upstairs room, and there was no tree near by which a thief might gain access. But some noise had awakened me, and now as I stared at the window, I saw the star-lit sky blotted out by a bulky, misshapen figure. I swung my legs around off the bed, demanding to know who it was, and groping for my hatchet, but the thing was on me with frightful speed and before I could even rise something was around my neck, choking and strangling me. Thrust almost against my face there was a dim frightful visage, but all I could make out in the darkness was a pair of flaming red eyes, and a peaked head. My nostrils were filled with a bestial reek.

I caught one of the thing's wrists and it was hairy as an ape's, and thick with iron muscles. But then I had found the haft of my hatchet and I lifted it and split that misshapen skull with one blow. It fell clear of me and I sprang up, gagging and gasping, and quivering in every limb. I found flint, steel and tinder, and struck a light and lit a candle, and glared wildly at the creature lying on the floor.

In form it was like a man, gnarled and misshapen, covered with thick hair. Its nails were long and black, like the talons of a beast, and its chinless, low-browed head was like that of an ape. The thing was a Chakan, one of those semi-human beings which dwell deep in the forests.

 

There carne a knocking on my door and Hakon's voice called to know what the trouble was, so I bade him enter. He rushed in, ax in hand, his eyes widened at the sight of the thing on the floor.

'A Chakan!' he whispered. 'I have seen them, far to the west, smelling out trails through the forests - the damned bloodhounds! What is that in his fingers?'

A chill of horror crept along my spine as I saw the creature still clutched a neckcloth in his fingers - the cloth which he had tried to knot like a hangman's noose about my neck.

'I have heard that Pictish shamans catch these creatures and tame them and use them to smell out their enemies,' he said slowly. 'But how could Lord Valerian so use one?'

'I know not,' I answered. 'But that neck cloth was given to the beast, and according to its nature it smelled my trail out and sought to break my neck. Let us go to the gaol, and quickly.'

Hakon roused his rangers and we hurried there, and found the guard lying before the open door of Valerian's empty cell with his throat cut. Hakon stood like one turned to stone, and then a faint call made us turn and we saw the white face of the drunkard peering at us from the next cell.

'He's gone,' quoth he; 'Lord Valerian's gone. Hark'ee; an hour agone while I lay on my bunk, I was awakened by a sound outside, and saw a strange dark woman come out of the shadows and walk up to the guard. He lifted his bow and bade her halt, but she laughed at him, staring into his eyes and he became as one in a trance. He stood staring stupidly - and Mitra, he took his own knife from his girdle and cut his throat, and he fell down and died. Then she took the keys from his belt and opened the door, and Valerian came out, and laughed like a devil out of hell, and kissed the wench, and she laughed with him. And she was not alone, for something lurked in the shadows behind her - some vague, monstrous being that never came into the light of the lanthorn hanging over the door.



 


Under the caverned pyramids great Set coils asleep;
Among the shadows of the tombs his dusky people creep.
I speak the Word from the hidden gulfs that never knew the sun
Send me a servant for my hate, oh scaled and shining One!

#17 deuce

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 09:26 PM

Excessive agression and killer instict I suppose. I'm not saying apes are completely devoid of these traits but certaintly not to the degree found in the fiction of the early 20th century. Man-eating in most definately a "false trait" of apes.

 

 

A brand-new book that deals (at least tangentially) with that topic:

 

http://www.amazon.co...e/dp/0385534221


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#18 Fernando

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 07:48 PM

I perhaps didn't state myself clearly. My point was that I saw the Zemba as the ancestral form of the Servants. By "atavistic" I meant "ancestral". By "degenerate" I meant that perhaps the Zemba was a descendant of the Servants which had "degenerated" to an "ancestral" form. Howard had other hominids/humans/humanoids "degenerate/devolve" into "apes", why not the Servants? You'll notice that I posited the Zemba as being a survival, possibly used by the Servants in some fashion in the Hyborian Age. It would be very hard to state categorically what role/status the Zemba enjoyed in the Hyborian Age, IMO. 

 

 

Bringing back the "Zemba discussion", why couldn't the Zembas (as depicted in Moon of Zambebwei) be used by black people in Hyborian Age in the same manner the (apparently) last one was in MoZ? And what about De Albor's circlet "forged in Atlantis"?


Edited by Fernando, 10 November 2013 - 07:49 PM.