Jump to content


Photo

Conan In Sparta


  • Please log in to reply
67 replies to this topic

#21 Sermon Bath

Sermon Bath

    Member

  • Banned
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,918 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:tenn

Posted 14 October 2007 - 06:03 AM

judging from 300 I think conan might have been interested in their workout routine...those guys were pretty cut up...problem with the spartans were those wimpy persians they were battling........some assyrian chariot warriors would have been a tougher fight
I don't worry...I have to much on my mind

#22 Taranaich

Taranaich

    Metal Barbarian Dinosaur

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,932 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Bleak Moors of Scotland

Posted 14 October 2007 - 01:40 PM

I'd have to agree with Pictish Scout, Cimmeria and Sparta seem like rather different places to me.


Mostly what I was thinking with the contrast was those parts of Spartan culture that clashed with the elements REH "picked on" in his view of civilization vs. barbarism, as illustrated in typical Conan stories. I imagined that, for all the flaws he might see Sparta as having, Conan could respect *civilized* men who treated each other as equals (even if only a certain caste were "equal") and who were genuinely fit, powerful soldiers who didn't take crap from anyone.


Sounds like the Aquilonians to me: Howard (and Conan) spoke pretty well of them.

The legendary killing of the Persian messengers is a good example of this: where many other societies would have bowed and scraped, the Spartans committed an act that was considered utter blasphomy, tossing messengers into a well and taunting them even as they died. That reminds me of Conan--both entities simply refuse to be cowed or intimidated. They'll go down fighting before they'll spend one second submitting to another's will.


That always struck me as more pig-headed brutality than anything else, as most cases of shooting the messenger seem to be :P

Rather than being a sort of "barbaric civilization", I personally think Sparta had a lot of the decadence and hypocrisy rampant in other civilizations. The ritual killing of "imperfect children" is one such example: whilst the idea of Cimmerians leaving disfigured, disabled or even just "not quite right" children to die seems to conform with their savage ideals, I think the Cimmerians have enough problems without actively casting off children when they seem to have a hard enough time of it. Sparta, with it's lovely seaside location and plenty of crops, can afford to indulge in it's ubermensch culture, whereas the Cimmerians simply can't afford to play fast and loose with their resources, such as children. The Spartans maintained their high physical level through husbandry: the Cimmerians through their environment.

Apart from all that, considering the Cimmerians seem to have a dim view of slavery and hierarchy, I'd wager they'd dislike Sparta as much as any other civilized nation. The cruel existence of the Helots and their devotion to their king, society and phalanx would probably be anathema to the Cimmerians.

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

Sword & Sorcery! Posted Image Posted Image Historical Fiction!
Horror! Posted Image Posted Image Westerns!
Boxing! Posted Image Posted Image Conan!


#23 Kortoso

Kortoso

    -=Reiver of the Western Marches=-

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,400 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Northern California

Posted 14 October 2007 - 06:22 PM

Apart from all that, considering the Cimmerians seem to have a dim view of slavery and hierarchy, I'd wager they'd dislike Sparta as much as any other civilized nation. The cruel existence of the Helots and their devotion to their king, society and phalanx would probably be anathema to the Cimmerians.


We know that Conan was not happy with the concept of himself being enslaved, but that might be true of Leonidas as well. We don't know if Cimmerians kept slaves. Conan was not above stealing one from the market, but his relationship with that girl is unclear.


#24 Taranaich

Taranaich

    Metal Barbarian Dinosaur

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,932 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Bleak Moors of Scotland

Posted 15 October 2007 - 01:49 PM

We know that Conan was not happy with the concept of himself being enslaved, but that might be true of Leonidas as well. We don't know if Cimmerians kept slaves. Conan was not above stealing one from the market, but his relationship with that girl is unclear.


Entirely true: though there's no evidence that the Cimmerians didn't keep slaves, there's no evidence to the contrary either, so we have to guess a bit with the other things we know. We know they don't sell their children (if Conan is to be believed), and since I doubt *any* Cimmerian would suffer being a slave, who would be their slaves? Not the AEsir or Vanir who are just as ferocious and independent as they are. They certainly wouldn't suffer the Picts to be in the same room as them, the feeling entirely mutual. The Hyborians are possible, though I can't imagine the ancient Hyborians being less independently minded than the Nordics, and the later Hyborians would probably be too soft and fragile to be much use in the harsh Cimmerian hills.

And Conan, of course, is not a typical Cimmerian. ;)

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

Sword & Sorcery! Posted Image Posted Image Historical Fiction!
Horror! Posted Image Posted Image Westerns!
Boxing! Posted Image Posted Image Conan!


#25 Pictish Scout

Pictish Scout

    Mauler of Shadizar

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 503 posts

Posted 15 October 2007 - 03:13 PM

We know that Conan was not happy with the concept of himself being enslaved, but that might be true of Leonidas as well. We don't know if Cimmerians kept slaves. Conan was not above stealing one from the market, but his relationship with that girl is unclear.


Entirely true: though there's no evidence that the Cimmerians didn't keep slaves, there's no evidence to the contrary either, so we have to guess a bit with the other things we know. We know they don't sell their children (if Conan is to be believed), and since I doubt *any* Cimmerian would suffer being a slave, who would be their slaves? Not the AEsir or Vanir who are just as ferocious and independent as they are. They certainly wouldn't suffer the Picts to be in the same room as them, the feeling entirely mutual. The Hyborians are possible, though I can't imagine the ancient Hyborians being less independently minded than the Nordics, and the later Hyborians would probably be too soft and fragile to be much use in the harsh Cimmerian hills.

And Conan, of course, is not a typical Cimmerian. ;)


I do think Cimmerians like any other people in the Hyborian Age had some kind of servitude/slavery system. Vikings and Gauls even being "ferocious and independent" kept slaves and served as slaves to other people. The same with the africans that did keep slaves even before the advent of the first european. I think Cimmerians had a kind of small scale slavery like some west african cultures or the Gauls.
Slaves in Cimmeria could have been members of a rival clan or tribe or even criminals ( yes I think Cimmerians had a complex enough sociaty with some kind of laws and, off course, criminals).
Cimmerians living near the borders could have kept slaves out of captured picts and nordheimers and bought hyborians, also in a smaller scale. I can imagine southern Cimmerian chieftains showing of Aquilonian silk clothes over their loincloths and that aquilonian slave girl he brought from the southern border. I don't think Conan was the only Cimmerian to be atracted by the luxury of the civilization, so unlike Conan who had to leave to had a taste of sophistication, the Cimmerian elite could have had this luxury without leaving their land just because they were powerful enough to do so.

Picts could have captured slaves (rival tribes and other nations) for religious reasons, like human sacrifices. Vanir and Aesir could have kept slaves (rival tribes, Cimmerians and Picts) to trade with Hyperboreans, maybe.

I'm not sure if Cimmerians had some kind of agriculture like the Celts and Vikings, but it could be the case as they don't seam to be a nomadic nation in the Hyborian Age. Yet I don't see slaves working in Cimmerian plantations like the modern time slavery. Maybe there was a slave caste that were born, bought or captured in very small numbers, like 2 or 3 slaves per village who could help free Cimmerians in the fields or just a sign of prestige to the owner.

It doesn't metter if you are independently minded, I beleave Gauls, Vikings,Iberians, Greeks, Africans, Irish, etc, etc were free loving people and great warriors but sometime in their history they kept slaves and were also enslaved. Even the strongest minded man can be bent to the power of an opressive system. And slavery isn't only a by-product of civilization.

So even if Cimmerians kept slaves it has nothing to do with the "industrial" scale of the ancient Spartans, Romans, Turks, Western Europe, Americas and so many others even in our days. Slavery became illegal but not extinct.

#26 BIFlight

BIFlight

    Adventurer

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 267 posts

Posted 15 October 2007 - 03:34 PM

Wow, I started a thoughtful topic for once. Thanks for the great posts, folks!
www.thelonelywinds.com/library.php

#27 Taranaich

Taranaich

    Metal Barbarian Dinosaur

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,932 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Bleak Moors of Scotland

Posted 15 October 2007 - 04:52 PM

It doesn't metter if you are independently minded, I beleave Gauls, Vikings,Iberians, Greeks, Africans, Irish, etc, etc were free loving people and great warriors but sometime in their history they kept slaves and were also enslaved. Even the strongest minded man can be bent to the power of an opressive system. And slavery isn't only a by-product of civilization.

So even if Cimmerians kept slaves it has nothing to do with the "industrial" scale of the ancient Spartans, Romans, Turks, Western Europe, Americas and so many others even in our days. Slavery became illegal but not extinct.


I was going to edit my post with a caveat on the differences of slavery in modern and ancient societies, but you did it nicely.

I agree with your post, but the Cimmerians were a very different animal from later barbarians, even their own descendants in the Gaels. Cimmerians seem the folk who would just lash out rashly against capture, who would escape or die in the attempt. This would seem foolhardy or pointless bravado to a Gaul or Iberian, but the Cimmerian's fatalist, near-psychotic national culture seem to imply that. Taking thralls from rival clans or Nordic raiders seems somewhat plausible, but the Cimmerians don't seem forgiving enough to grant such men and women their lives.

Hyborian slaves seem a possibility though. Quite why the Cimmerians would bother with them is another matter: with their dour pastimes of chanting funereal dirges and drinking water, it seems odd to imagine them purchasing a nubile Aquilonian girl or lavish Ophirean silk.

The Cimmerians must have had some sort of social construct (they have kings and blacksmiths), but I don't think there'd be criminals. Mostly because if you commit a crime in Cimmeria, you'd end up either dead or out of the country. Hence, a population with 0% criminal. :P

I don't recall the AEsir in Valley of the Worm or Marchers of Valhalla taking slaves, but I could be mistaken, I'll have another look.

The Picts did have slaves though, as according to the Conan stories and The Hyborian Age. Howard seems to make a distinction between barbarians and savages though, hence how "barbaric" peoples such as the Picts and Kush ites can have slavery.

As always, I could be wrong though. :D

Another important aspect is Howard's own thoughts on slavery. Slavery may not be a by-product of civilization, but did Howard see it that way? Did Howard view slavery as one of the distinctions between barbarism and civilization?

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

Sword & Sorcery! Posted Image Posted Image Historical Fiction!
Horror! Posted Image Posted Image Westerns!
Boxing! Posted Image Posted Image Conan!


#28 Kortoso

Kortoso

    -=Reiver of the Western Marches=-

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,400 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Northern California

Posted 15 October 2007 - 05:03 PM

I think that we are venturing into Rorschach inkblot territory. We all have our ideas about how Cimmerian society was structured, and Howard's strategic broad brush allows us to fill it in with our imaginations. Generally, that's of the "Noble Savage" variety, regardless of what we know from history or anthropology.

#29 Taranaich

Taranaich

    Metal Barbarian Dinosaur

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,932 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Bleak Moors of Scotland

Posted 15 October 2007 - 05:50 PM

I think that we are venturing into Rorschach inkblot territory. We all have our ideas about how Cimmerian society was structured, and Howard's strategic broad brush allows us to fill it in with our imaginations. Generally, that's of the "Noble Savage" variety, regardless of what we know from history or anthropology.


You're absolutely right, I was getting ahead of myself there. :P

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

Sword & Sorcery! Posted Image Posted Image Historical Fiction!
Horror! Posted Image Posted Image Westerns!
Boxing! Posted Image Posted Image Conan!


#30 Sermon Bath

Sermon Bath

    Member

  • Banned
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,918 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:tenn

Posted 15 October 2007 - 05:53 PM

I think that essentially Cimmeria is based loosely on the culture of the vikings, danes, and of course the Gaels.........its a matter of history that the vikings rounded up massive numbers of folk from the british isles...britons, picts, angles, celts, saxons...etc. and sold them off as slaves in the east........one of the ironies of civilization is that in many cases people who claimed to be free and loved that freedom often held slaves......including the british and americans........in the usa even free black men owned black slaves!!!!!!!! crazy stuff huh?

Edited by xssurdinynexes, 15 October 2007 - 05:54 PM.

I don't worry...I have to much on my mind

#31 Pictish Scout

Pictish Scout

    Mauler of Shadizar

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 503 posts

Posted 15 October 2007 - 06:11 PM

I think that we are venturing into Rorschach inkblot territory. We all have our ideas about how Cimmerian society was structured, and Howard's strategic broad brush allows us to fill it in with our imaginations. Generally, that's of the "Noble Savage" variety, regardless of what we know from history or anthropology.


You're absolutely right, I was getting ahead of myself there. :P



Yeah me too. I was trying to compare Cimmeria ( not to Sparta) but to other non civilized cultures both in Europe and Africa and the way they interected with slavery. I'm not sure about the ancient celts of the British Isles but like other nations they did fight against the romans to keep their freedom like the Cimmerians did to the Aquilonians. But it doesn't mean these "freedom loving" cultures hadn't their own slaves. Even the Africans who were victims of the greatest slave trade of all time were sold and captured by other Africans who did sell them to the Europeans. Freedom Loving cultures doesnt necessarily love the freedom of another culture.
The Portuguese did fight hard to keep his independence from the other Spanish kingdoms, to keep their freedom, but didn't care much for the freedom of their slaves. The same goes to every slaver nation in history and ( I think) Hyborian Age too. It is a matter of Power more than a matter of necessity, I think.

What use had the Vikings, Gauls, Huns, Mongols to their slaves?

#32 Sermon Bath

Sermon Bath

    Member

  • Banned
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,918 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:tenn

Posted 15 October 2007 - 10:59 PM

probably for sex, work, trade....etc
I don't worry...I have to much on my mind

#33 Ironhand

Ironhand

    The Mad Playwright

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,612 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Saint Louis, MO, USA

Posted 16 October 2007 - 09:09 AM

In his poem "Thor's Son", REH tells the story of a Viking who is enslaved by other Vikings, and then sold to the Byzantine Greeks, from whom he eventually escapes and regains his freedom.
"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

#34 Kortoso

Kortoso

    -=Reiver of the Western Marches=-

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,400 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Northern California

Posted 16 October 2007 - 05:41 PM

How many of you saw Last One Standing (or for the Brits Last Man Standing)?

In the initial episode the westerners were sent to rassle with a tribe of Amazonian Indians. We were quickly treated the a sight of these "individualistic" tribal warriors marching in a straight line (boys on the right, girls on the left) singing the same song together, wearing exactly the same outfits. We didn't see much room for individuality there.



#35 Xaltotun

Xaltotun

    Undead Cadaver

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 459 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gerald, MO, USA

Posted 16 October 2007 - 07:36 PM

Conan=individualism, independence, wanderlust, self-determination.

Sparta=group over individual, no individuality, one's own needs non-existent with regard to the needs of the state, life-course determined before birth.

My two coppers. :D

#36 Ironhand

Ironhand

    The Mad Playwright

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,612 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Saint Louis, MO, USA

Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:57 PM

How many of you saw Last One Standing (or for the Brits Last Man Standing)?

In the initial episode the westerners were sent to rassle with a tribe of Amazonian Indians. We were quickly treated the a sight of these "individualistic" tribal warriors marching in a straight line (boys on the right, girls on the left) singing the same song together, wearing exactly the same outfits. We didn't see much room for individuality there.

Primitive does not necessarily = individualism. In a wild environment, the dangers of a tribe fracturing into smaller elements too small to support themselves are so menacing that the tribe evolves powerful mechanisms to enforce and encourage tribal cohesion. Or, to put a survival of the fittest angle on it, those tribes that did not evolve such mechanisms aren't around any more; they either died out, or were subsumed by more successful tribes.
"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

#37 jak

jak

    Adventurer

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 320 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Raleigh, NC

Posted 16 October 2007 - 09:16 PM

Conan=individualism, independence, wanderlust, self-determination.

Sparta=group over individual, no individuality, one's own needs non-existent with regard to the needs of the state, life-course determined before birth.

My two coppers. :D


Full agreement. I'll see those two coppers and toss in a half penny.

Where's the party in Sparta? Conan was first and foremost an adventurer. Great fighter, but could take life as a rank and file warrior for only so long. He'll lead an army, but doesn't want it day after day. Conan needs more "me" time than any rigid society will allow.

John A. Karr

 

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ


#38 jak

jak

    Adventurer

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 320 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Raleigh, NC

Posted 16 October 2007 - 09:19 PM

My own opinion only, but I think what that means, is that Conan might have respected individual Spartan warriors, but he wouldn't have respected the Spartan system. And if he saw a phalanx of Spartans fighting together, he might have perceived them as clockwork toys, or fighting robots. Certainly their collective, rigidly controlled fighting style absolutely wasn't his style.



With you on that as well, Ironhand

John A. Karr

 

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ


#39 vetrebond

vetrebond

    Spear Carrier

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 62 posts

Posted 17 October 2007 - 01:16 PM

The major reason the 300ish Spartans were able to hold off so many was because the persian tacticians were total retards. Any tactician would know that the small pass would render numbers obsolete, and that the few could hold off many for a very long time, and it would be a costly adventure. A wise(yet ruthless) tactician would send in a wave to fight, forcing the Spartans into their Phalanx formation, and THEN rain arrows down upon them. Sure, the arrows would hit both armies, but it would force the spartans to drop their phalanx and defend against the arrows, allowing the advancing persian toops to break the lines, or they would maintain the phalanx, and the arrows would cause casualties in the lines, also breaking the formation.

The problem wasn't a matter of strength of arm, but a major deficiency of intelligence on the side of the Persians. Why does it always seem that the Persians are always getting their butts kicked by smaller armies ?

Also, as for the gaysex among the greek armies. I was under the impression that the sex between soldiers was encouraged for two reasons. 1) it cuts down on raping the local pesantry girls, and 2) it creates a very strong bond between the two, and they would fight even harder to protect the men they'd loved. I may be wrong, but that's just the impression that i get.

#40 Pictish Scout

Pictish Scout

    Mauler of Shadizar

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 503 posts

Posted 17 October 2007 - 02:53 PM

The major reason the 300ish Spartans were able to hold off so many was because the persian tacticians were total retards. Any tactician would know that the small pass would render numbers obsolete, and that the few could hold off many for a very long time, and it would be a costly adventure. A wise(yet ruthless) tactician would send in a wave to fight, forcing the Spartans into their Phalanx formation, and THEN rain arrows down upon them. Sure, the arrows would hit both armies, but it would force the spartans to drop their phalanx and defend against the arrows, allowing the advancing persian toops to break the lines, or they would maintain the phalanx, and the arrows would cause casualties in the lines, also breaking the formation.

The problem wasn't a matter of strength of arm, but a major deficiency of intelligence on the side of the Persians. Why does it always seem that the Persians are always getting their butts kicked by smaller armies ?

Also, as for the gaysex among the greek armies. I was under the impression that the sex between soldiers was encouraged for two reasons. 1) it cuts down on raping the local pesantry girls, and 2) it creates a very strong bond between the two, and they would fight even harder to protect the men they'd loved. I may be wrong, but that's just the impression that i get.

Persians won that battle outflanking the greeks and shooting arrows at them, and almost won that war too. They did invade Greece and campaigned there of an year or more, and even took Athens, if I remember well. And there wasn't only 300 greeks in that battle.