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REH: Savages Vs. Barbarians


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#61 WALKAN

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 06:52 PM

Can anyone say for sure wot is Civilized, Savage or Barbarian in the real world?


Well, that Morgan-Guy from the link above does. ;)

If you agree with him is another question!
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#62 Ironhand

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:32 AM

I finally arrived at my own definition of the difference between savages and barbarians. It is only MHO, and does not necessarily agree with professional anthropologists or even REH, for that matter, which I will deal with a little later.

According to me, the difference between savages and barbarians is:
Savages rarely survive contact with civilization. Instead, they succumb to culture shock, and either wither away, or are absorbed and assimilated by civilization. REH might not agree with that, if he insists that Picts are savages. But what if Picts are really barbarians?

Barbarians do survive contact with civilization. Not only do they survive, they adapt yet retain their identity. They milk the civilization for all they can get away with, and give it a run for its money, as did the Vikings to Western Europe, or the Native Americans to the most advanced civilization on Earth. Sometimes it's the civilization that doesn't survive contact with the barbarians, as witness the Goths, Huns, and Mongols, or the Picts with Aquilonia.

I once asked an archeology professor about the difference between savages and barbarians, and he seemed to think it was a nonsense question.

So if you come across an aboriginal tribe, and you are wondering whether they are savages or barbarians, you can try testing them to destruction by bringing them in contact with civilization. Come back two generations later, and if they have disappeared, they were savages. If they are sending their grandchildren to college, or selling drugs to your grandchildren, they were barbarians.
"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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#63 Kortoso

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:26 AM

Interesting observation, and thanks for dredging up the correct thread. :)

#64 Sharn

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 07:46 PM

Isn't this all a matter of perspective? Greeks called the Celts barbarians if only because Celts didn't speak Greek. Hell they considered the Persians to be barbarians. The word 'savage' is somewhat misleading in that it has nothing to do with cultural aspects of humanity. To make the Hyborian comparison, let's look at the Picts, then the Cimmerians, and finally any of the Hyborian kingdoms.

The Picts: Tribal society, very similar to historical South American Natives, little refined technology(if any), hardly anything to be considered agricultural(raise no crops), live by the hunt, raise no domestic beasts except dogs perhaps, little or no specialists in society(potters, bowyers, blacksmiths, etc.), No building or structures of any permanence.

The Cimmerians: Loose tribal affiliation with more complex clan structure, some technological innovation(use of metals, creation of trade goods from manufactured items,etc.), permanent to semi-permanent structures, raise crops, raise domesticated animals, Still live by the hunt to some extent, Some specialists(blacksmith, healers, bards, merchants, etc.), Similar to Celts,Vikings, etc.

Hyborian Kingdoms: Complex governmental and social structures , large amounts of specialists, very permanent architecture, advanced agricutlural production, large animal domestication, non-essential pastimes and goods, do not live by the hunt but for recreation, money systems and so forth.

Granted, REH described Conan running around in a panther skin clout, which makes one think of savages, yet the Greeks weren't much better. There is a fine line between the two social or cultural distinctions. Mostly farming and animal raising. Those historical peoples who are hunter/gatherers are what I would term savages as compared to a cultural that does raise some crops and depends heavily on herding animals for sustenance.

So there's my contribution.
- A long bow and a strong bow, and let the sky grow dark!
The cord to the nock, the shaft to the ear, and the king of
Koth for a mark -
- I remember, The dark woods, masking slopes of sombre
hills;
The grey clouds' leaden everlasting arch;
The dusky streams that flowed without a sound,
And the lone winds that whispered down the passes. -
(Cimmeria, REH)
- Every hour harms, it's the last one that kills -

#65 Kortoso

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 11:01 PM

Isn't this all a matter of perspective? Greeks called the Celts barbarians if only because Celts didn't speak Greek. Hell they considered the Persians to be barbarians. The word 'savage' is somewhat misleading in that it has nothing to do with cultural aspects of humanity. To make the Hyborian comparison, let's look at the Picts, then the Cimmerians, and finally any of the Hyborian kingdoms.

Okay, these terms are no longer used by historians and anthropologists. And this is beside the point; how did Howard use these terms???

#66 Sharn

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 02:08 AM


Isn't this all a matter of perspective? Greeks called the Celts barbarians if only because Celts didn't speak Greek. Hell they considered the Persians to be barbarians. The word 'savage' is somewhat misleading in that it has nothing to do with cultural aspects of humanity. To make the Hyborian comparison, let's look at the Picts, then the Cimmerians, and finally any of the Hyborian kingdoms.

Okay, these terms are no longer used by historians and anthropologists. And this is beside the point; how did Howard use these terms???


I suppose if the gentrified intellectuals decide they are 'non-terms' that is fine for them. Howard used these terms almost as fluidly as he did his terms for weaponry. I once lamented the fact that REH used anachronistic terms for weapons and armor...which I still feel is a stumbling block but not enough to throw me off of Conan stories. Same situation for these terms. That is how I see it.

Edited by Sharn, 29 December 2011 - 04:26 AM.

- A long bow and a strong bow, and let the sky grow dark!
The cord to the nock, the shaft to the ear, and the king of
Koth for a mark -
- I remember, The dark woods, masking slopes of sombre
hills;
The grey clouds' leaden everlasting arch;
The dusky streams that flowed without a sound,
And the lone winds that whispered down the passes. -
(Cimmeria, REH)
- Every hour harms, it's the last one that kills -

#67 RJMooreII

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:07 AM

This is based on some use of the terms by Howard and my general view on it. Barbarians are those still recently arisen as a distinct nation. Savages are the last of the stone-age men.

I think the difference between Savages and Barbarians has to do with evolution. Savages still remain close to the ape, or have reverted back to that type. They share many physical and social traits with barbarians; but barbarians tend to have a more advanced culture and have an understanding (if not a deep interest in) the civilized arts. Barbarians may adopt certain skills from their civilized neighbours (metalurgy, improved bows, use of armor) but they adopt these as a way that congrues with their semi-nomadic lifestyle (which, again, is similar to that of savages).

Savages tend to be deeply superstitious, barbarians seem to have a more assertive position toward the supernatural.

Savages tend to be stupider, but clever and wily. Barbarians are more rational, but not rationalistic - as the savage, they live in a semi-perpetual wariness like a cat.

I imagine that, to a barbarian, both savages and civilized men seem like lunatics. Barbarians aren't quite in-between, they're almost an alternate type (which tends to degenerate if induced to sedentary lifestyles).

Barbarians = non-Greek speaker = shorthand for uncultured. Savage = wild. There is a difference, even in the literal etymology. Savages are as much beast as man.

As to demographics, I tend to think that barbarians are far more the common type once a civilizational structure arises. Savages are confined to the inaccessible (or worthless) reaches of the Earth (as Bran Mak Morn laments).

Edited by RJMooreII, 18 April 2012 - 12:17 AM.

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#68 thatericn

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:56 PM

Oh, and to clarify a nine-year-old posting, Schiller died in 1805. The book that qouted him was written in the 1909-14 time frame listed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schiller

I think Sharn is just about dead on target -

Isn't this all a matter of perspective? Greeks called the Celts barbarians if only because Celts didn't speak Greek. Hell they considered the Persians to be barbarians. The word 'savage' is somewhat misleading in that it has nothing to do with cultural aspects of humanity. To make the Hyborian comparison, let's look at the Picts, then the Cimmerians, and finally any of the Hyborian kingdoms.

The Picts: Tribal society, very similar to historical South American Natives, little refined technology(if any), hardly anything to be considered agricultural(raise no crops), live by the hunt, raise no domestic beasts except dogs perhaps, little or no specialists in society(potters, bowyers, blacksmiths, etc.), No building or structures of any permanence.

The Cimmerians: Loose tribal affiliation with more complex clan structure, some technological innovation(use of metals, creation of trade goods from manufactured items,etc.), permanent to semi-permanent structures, raise crops, raise domesticated animals, Still live by the hunt to some extent, Some specialists(blacksmith, healers, bards, merchants, etc.), Similar to Celts,Vikings, etc.

Hyborian Kingdoms: Complex governmental and social structures , large amounts of specialists, very permanent architecture, advanced agricutlural production, large animal domestication, non-essential pastimes and goods, do not live by the hunt but for recreation, money systems and so forth.

Granted, REH described Conan running around in a panther skin clout, which makes one think of savages, yet the Greeks weren't much better. There is a fine line between the two social or cultural distinctions. Mostly farming and animal raising. Those historical peoples who are hunter/gatherers are what I would term savages as compared to a cultural that does raise some crops and depends heavily on herding animals for sustenance.

So there's my contribution.


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