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REH: Savages Vs. Barbarians


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#21 Bri

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 08:45 PM

If Conan's grandfather was not the first man to bring metal working to his tribe, then he was most likely one of the first to bring iron/steel working to the tribe.

I'm no anthropologist, but I think there's a big difference in the learning curve from beating out native copper, to mixing it with tin to form the harder alloy brass, to smelting iron ore, and finally to discovering that adding charcoal to iron produces the harder-yet steel. There are certainly many many centuries separating the discovery of these processes, so I'd be careful to tie one of these metallurgical ages to the timeline of the Cimmerians. Otherwise, neat essay Kane.

And I also found this quote on the internet, make of it what you may, I don't quite agree with it. I did like Ironhand's definitions in the first post in this thread.

"Now man can be opposed to himself in a twofold manner: either as a savage, when his feelings rule over his principles; or as a barbarian, when his principles destroy his feelings. The savage despises art, and acknowledges nature as his despotic ruler; the barbarian laughs at nature, and dishonours it, but he often proceeds in a more contemptible way than the savage, to be the slave of his senses. The cultivated man makes of nature his friend, and honours its friendship, while only bridling its caprice."

-Bri

#22 DeathAdder

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 10:11 PM

That's a very profound and intriguing quote. Niiiice.

As for the the iron smelthing and etcetera, I believe Kane wrote that the guy brought it to the tribe rather than invented it for the tribe. Slight difference just like the whole topic.

Anyway, thanks for the quote.

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#23 blackjack

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 11:37 PM

I just re-read "They Hyborian Age" last night, and REH definiely uses "savage" and "barbarian" as if they are distinct levels of development, but doesn't really give any detail about what distinguishes them. "Savage" is just higher than "ape" and lower than "barbarian". The distinction between "apedom" and "savagry" seems to be the ability to speak.

#24 Ironhand

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 01:32 AM

"Now man can be opposed to himself in a twofold manner: either as a savage, when his feelings rule over his principles; or as a barbarian, when his principles destroy his feelings. The savage despises art, and acknowledges nature as his despotic ruler; the barbarian laughs at nature, and dishonours it, but he often proceeds in a more contemptible way than the savage, to be the slave of his senses. The cultivated man makes of nature his friend, and honors its friendship, while only bridling its caprice."

-Bri

I wonder when that quote was written? There is an accepted school of thought, and I think REH would have agreed, that it is the savage who "makes of nature his friend, and honors its friendship".

These recent posts are VERY interesting, and after I declared the subject closed, LOL! :D OK, I hereby declare ALL subjects closed, LOL. Now go to town, people! :lol:
"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

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#25 Bri

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 03:38 AM

I wonder when that quote was written?

http://www.bartleby.com/32/504.html

1909-14

#26 Ironhand

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 07:05 AM

1909-14? I think that was back when white men still thought that Indians were responsible for the diminished numbers of American bison.
"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

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#27 DeathAdder

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 05:25 PM

What?!? You mean they're not? :blink:

#28 Orkin

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 08:45 PM

I'm no anthropologist, but I think there's a big difference in the learning curve from beating out native copper, to mixing it with tin to form the harder alloy brass, to smelting iron ore, and finally to discovering that adding charcoal to iron produces the harder-yet steel. 

I don't know how I missed this one. :)

I am no more than a student of antholopogy in a broad sense, but I do know that American Indians in at least two areas (Wisconsin and Washington state) have been found to have worked native copper into tools. Since they did not smelt it, they are still considered to have been in the stone age, rather than the copper age (chalcolithic). Perhaps the Picts' copper weapons are in that category.
? ?When I can not stand alone, it will be time to die,? he mumbled, through mashed lips. ?But I?d like a flagon of wine.?
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#29 Ironhand

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 12:29 AM

This is far from my expertise, but very interesting. What is the transition point? The ability to melt copper and cast it?

I think that archeologists are now reporting that there were pre-literate, stone-age civilizations that built cities. But I don't know anything definitive about this.
"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

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#30 Orkin

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 07:08 PM

This is far from my expertise, but very interesting.  What is the transition point?  The ability to melt copper and cast it?

I think that archeologists are now reporting that there were pre-literate, stone-age civilizations that built cities.  But I don't know anything definitive about this.

IH, all I know about this I read in the final chapter ("Pre-Conquest America") of Swords and Hilt Weapons.

The author suggests that smelting is the barrier. ;)

Literacy and city-building appear to go hand-in-hand historically. The Incas and Aztecs had their rudimentary record-keeping, as did Mesopotamia.
? ?When I can not stand alone, it will be time to die,? he mumbled, through mashed lips. ?But I?d like a flagon of wine.?
- Rogues in the House

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#31 alex

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Posted 02 May 2003 - 09:01 PM

What we need here is for man to figure the lost secret of good Damascus blades! Not that they haven't tried.

Not an expert. Just something interesting I read.
What do I know of cultured ways, the gilt, the craft and the lie?
I, who was born in a naked land and bred in the open sky.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs - I was a man before I was a king.

- "The Road of Kings"

#32 Ironhand

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 12:03 AM

This is far from my expertise, but very interesting.  What is the transition point?  The ability to melt copper and cast it?

I think that archeologists are now reporting that there were pre-literate, stone-age civilizations that built cities.  But I don't know anything definitive about this.

IH, all I know about this I read in the final chapter ("Pre-Conquest America") of Swords and Hilt Weapons.

The author suggests that smelting is the barrier. ;)

Literacy and city-building appear to go hand-in-hand historically. The Incas and Aztecs had their rudimentary record-keeping, as did Mesopotamia.

One might imagine that a pre-literate city/state is possible, where record-keepers memorize their information like bards memorized poetry. (Don't knock it. We have no conception of the feats of memory that pre-literate bards were capable of.) But a pre-literate city is probably doomed to a short life-span, as information multiplies beyond the ability of even teams of memorizers to keep their data straight.

Define "smelting".

I had occasion to talk to a professional archeologist the other night, and asked him to compare savages and barbarians. He said that's a 19th century concept, and archeologists don't think in those terms anymore. He said savages tend to be migratory, with ephemeral architecture and primitive technology. Barbarians have metal-working, and maintain larger societies. But it's a 19th century distinction. For instance, all North American Indians were considered savages, even though some of them (the Mound Builders) built cities, practiced agriculture, and worked metal. Since the 19th century was marked by imperialism, I wonder if the distinction was concocted to justify subjugating savages, while feeling proud of our own barbarian ancestors.
"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

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#33 Orkin

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 06:07 PM

I would define smelting as heating an ore until it melts, separating out inpurities. The Indians that we mentioned only hammered the ore.

Though it seems the Aztecs knew gold smelting, and in fact did a little bronze, but not for weapons or any tools.

The bottom line is, if we are to work usefully with Howard's terminology, we must "dumb down" to Victorian scientific assumptions. No? After all, our science will be a laughingstock come next century...

Did Amra not have an article about a political definition of barbarian, ie, where are one's loyalties: tribe, nation, family, individual?
? ?When I can not stand alone, it will be time to die,? he mumbled, through mashed lips. ?But I?d like a flagon of wine.?
- Rogues in the House

-=The Free Companions=-
Hyborian re-enactment Yahoo group

#34 Ironhand

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Posted 07 May 2003 - 01:27 AM

Did Amra not have an article about a political definition of barbarian, ie, where are one's loyalties: tribe, nation, family, individual?

I don't know what Amra says, but my own humble opinion is that a savage's highest loyalty may be to his tribe or his family, while a barbarian's highest loyalty may be to an individual leader. This may sound like a feudal concept, but feudalism was invented by barbarians.

This may seem paradoxical: the civilized nation loyalty of the Roman Empire succeeded by the barbaric concept of personal loyalty. It's not necessarily a step backward. Feudalism solved problems generated by the disintegration of the civilized Roman Empire.
"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

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#35 IcEdMoJo

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Posted 07 May 2003 - 03:58 PM

I think that Barbarian would be the next step up from Savage , just think about it a Savage is oviously a Savage but a Barbarian is a Barbarian .A savage is a raw meat eating trogadite who would not even had the brain to brew a blooming vat of rotten apple ,but a BArbarian on the other hand ...........do i need to say more ?

#36 aguaman

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Posted 14 May 2003 - 01:23 AM

"Barbarism" or "barbarian" is a word that is indeed ambiguous. Generally, the term denotes either a foreigner or a person who is not civil -- meaning not in accordence with civilization or civilized mores, standards, values, positions, etc. (and, of course, as you know specifics depend upon the particular society making the judgement call).

"Barbarism," as Robert E. Howard used it, does not refer to "the noble savage." Nor does it refer to a certain society or government form. It's focus is the individual placed in contrast to the group... and the group REH was thinking of to juxtapose his heroes against was late 19th century or early 20th century America. To be sure, a barbarian has some proactive characteristics, but for the most part the idea is formed as a negative concept... defined not as what it is but rather as what it is not -- as the non-civilized. This does not mean unsocial, by the way, nor independent. Merely uncivilized.

To understand what "barbarism" means in relation to the works of Conan, one must seek to understand what Robert E. Howard meant, not what Webster's Dictionary or the etomology of the word says it means or did mean. Authors SPEAK to people through their work. They COMMUNICATE ideas, THEIR ideas to readers. If one finds that the text of the work is insufficient to derrive a solid meaning with any certainty, then one must learn more about the author in order to discover the meaning of his words.
Explore The Barbarian Keep-- The infamous Conan and Robert E. Howard web site

#37 DeathAdder

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Posted 14 May 2003 - 05:26 PM

Define the word 'define' for me please. I can't read a dictionary too well... :P

#38 Kane

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Posted 14 May 2003 - 05:38 PM

Define the word 'define' for me please.  I can't read a dictionary too well...  :P

Maybe you need to confir with former President Clinton about that. :D
"I vanquished Law once, I'll conquer yet again--
And force upon Mankind the Freedom he fears--
And dead gods I will again defy?"

#39 mindquake

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Posted 15 May 2003 - 09:03 PM

I like htis thread after reading over the Essay again and seeing what races fell at the Cataclysm and re-evolved.

Picts are the best examples of savages after the Catacysm they haven;t returned to there former glory and never will.

The Cimmerians Evolved and reached a point, they are continuing to grow.

I agree with Blackjack Svavge is definitely differant and below Barbarian.

Aquaman is right to Websters definition doesn't matter so much as the implied meaning REH used, extrapulated thought the stories.

It isn;t so much a love of nature and has littel to do with it. If Conan loved nature he would never had sought out the easy treasure the soft southeners had and spent more time travelling and living by his sword and have all these great adventures.

But he is the enigma.

So how do Cimmerians defer then Picts rudimentry technology, more of a trading society. Above the Hunter Gatherers of the Picts.

But I can;t totally disregard Websters or all these lovely posts about what the Romans reffered to as Barbarians. Those that were not of there society.

We can;t deny that the Germans and all the other tribes of the North during the Roman exspansion were completely savage like a Pict. I just saw a TLC movie recently about a German who worked and betrayed a Roman legion and the battle site was uncered. Literally miles of dead bodies thought the woods. Interesting movie.

I would think civilisation denotes who is a Barbarian. The Romans called the men of the North Barbarians.

I still think the enigma of Conan represents well what REH meant. How often did he not fit in Society. They called Barbarian and uncivilised but thats the trick. He was note bound by there Mores or Social Standards, but he was civilized. His Values were alot differant then those he met in the south. Or is it less Values (Sicne we could say that he only valued Battle, Women and Wine, and gold since it brought all of those easily to him). Or focus on his value to be free, at any cost.

I need to ponder this more.
So if we did an REH Darwin man ape into man.
Ape- Great Ape- MAn Ape- Pict -Cimmerian -Hyperborean - etc etc.

This was a good question

#40 aguaman

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Posted 16 May 2003 - 05:03 AM

I need to ponder this more.
So if we did  an REH Darwin man ape into man.
Ape- Great Ape- MAn Ape- Pict -Cimmerian -Hyperborean - etc etc.

Ah... but don't forget Howard's famous quote at the end of "Beyond the Black River":

"Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is UNNATURAL. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph."

Howard's conception of barbarism did NOT refer to societies. To view the question of the barbarian as an evolutionary construct of social groups is an error. Meaning, barbarism is somewhere between savagery and civilization. No. Only on the surface does this appear to be true. Dig deeper, and you'll discover more...
Explore The Barbarian Keep-- The infamous Conan and Robert E. Howard web site