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Hyborian Age & Conan: What Time Period?

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#1 Michael430

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Posted 29 February 2004 - 09:18 PM

"Kings of the Night" says that Kull and Brule lived a hundred thousand years ago (from the time of Bran Mak Morn). Did Howard ever pin down the time of the Conan stories? 10,000 BC is frequently mentioned but I've always thought this comes from De Camp and not
REH.

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#2 Orkin

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 05:14 AM

Yeah, I haven't come across that either in REH writings, unless some fellow took to The Hyborian Age and counted eras...

Big numbers give me head ache...
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#3 Bri

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 05:37 PM

Dale Rippke's essays do a wonderful job of "filling in the gaps", and since he bases his work on Howard, you'll find it in there if Howard said it.
http://www.dodgenet....musings.htm#REH

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#4 Orkin

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 12:17 AM

Dale Rippke's essays do a wonderful job of "filling in the gaps", and since he bases his work on Howard, you'll find it in there if Howard said it.
http://www.dodgenet....musings.htm#REH

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I have seen this site, and it is wonderful, but the issue of dating the Hyborian Age to 10,000 isn't answered. Maybe it was some idea of de Cramp?
? ?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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#5 Eldarion

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 05:38 AM

I've read the history of the Hyborian Age that Robert E. Howard wrote that is featured in "The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian." It is a very interesting read, though it is difficult to understand sometimes as there is so much to take in. One thing I am wondering, is where does Conan fit into the timeline? Does he come onto the stage at the end of the Hyborian Age? If not, how much longer after Conan's life does the Hyborian Age last? If I remember correctly, the more civilized areas were overrun by barbarians and natrual catastrophies reshaped the lands and sometime afterward recorded history begins.

#6 Kane

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 01:33 PM

Dale Rippke did an excellent job of establishing the time line of Howard's setting.
If you get the chance, pick up a copy of his collected essays, The Hyborian Heresies. You can get the ordering info here.

As to your question, the following info is an abridged timeline directly from the afore mentioned book.

38,000 BC = The Great Cataclysm
32,500 BC = Reign of King Conan
28,000 BC = Pole Shift Cataclysm
9,500 BC= Ice Age Ends
"I vanquished Law once, I'll conquer yet again--
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#7 Orkin

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 05:20 PM

This is at variance with the traditional 10,000 BC date. I think Rippke may have been trying to make the Hyborian Age fit our modern notions of the dates of the Ice Ages. Howard, however, may have been looking at 1920's science, which existed without carbon-dating and other such marvels.
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#8 Kane

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 05:44 PM

This is at variance with the traditional 10,000 BC date. I think Rippke may have been trying to make the Hyborian Age fit our modern notions of the dates of the Ice Ages.

Rippke mentions that he was unable to find anything where Howard states that the Hyborian Age was 10,000 years ago. He belives that it may have been an invention of De Camp's.
When he wrote up the timeline he used the years mentioned in the HA essay and the years stated in The Hour of the Dragon.
He does do some connection with what we currently know about the last ice age and makes a reference to the fact that the time for the Great Cataclysm does coincide with a time in human history when the human population may have droped to less then 10,000 people.
"I vanquished Law once, I'll conquer yet again--
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#9 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 10:52 PM

Dale Rippke's essays do a wonderful job of "filling in the gaps", and since he bases his work on Howard, you'll find it in there if Howard said it.
http://www.dodgenet....musings.htm#REH

-Bri

I have seen this site, and it is wonderful, but the issue of dating the Hyborian Age to 10,000 isn't answered. Maybe it was some idea of de Cramp?

Thanks for the nice words about my website. :D

As far as I've ever been able to determine, the 10,000 BC date first appeared in the introductions of the Lancer paperbacks, so DeCamp would be the logical suspect. Why? I haven't a clue.

The verse that begins "Phoenix on the Sword" places the age between the fall of Atlantis (9500 BC) and the rise of the sons of Aryas (roughly 1800 BC). Howard later wrote the "Hyborian Age" essay which places the era prior to the start of the last Ice Age (which was around 33,000 BC). In my book, THE HYBORIAN HERESIES, I speculated that Conan lived around 32,500 BC, for various reasons.

The 100,000 year old date for Kull's Thurian Age is given twice in "Kings of the Night". I also saw a paper written by Robert Howard that was published in a REHupa mailing several years ago by Glenn Lord. It contained a list of the dates when several of his characters lived their lives and Kull's date was given as 100,000 BC. Unfortunately, this list was written prior to Conan's creation, so he didn't make it on. This date actually makes sense in context with Kull's history, since the Thurian Age was the first great age of modern man (humans) on the Earth. There were also remnants of an Elder Race of man living concurrently with the humans. Modern man first appeared in the real world about 120,000 years ago, so Kull's age fits there pretty well. Unfortunately, the dates given in the "Hyborian Age" essay seem to make this dating untenable.

So to answer your question; no, Howard never pinned down the Hyborian Age to a specific date.
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#10 Kortoso

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 09:16 PM

Dale, love the Charles Fort quotation. :)

Another wrinkle in this: In Howard's day, what was the estimated date of the end of the last Ice Age? I have a feeling that it may have been different than what we know think we know. ;)

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#11 Taranaich

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 04:04 AM

Wow, Dale Rippke himself! I'm such a gigantic fan! :D

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#12 glagnar

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 04:46 AM

What year was conan borned and when he became king? like in 347BC type of timeline. I searched here and could'nt find my answer.

Edited by glagnar, 30 July 2007 - 04:47 AM.


#13 deuce

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 06:20 AM

Hey Glagnar! Welcome to the forum. Also, thanks for searching the boards first. :) The reason why you can't find out the exact year of Conan the Cimmerian's birth is that Robert E. Howard only gave a rough idea of when that happened. "Five hundred years before the beginning of the last Ice Age" is about as close as you can get. Hope that helps. :)

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#14 glagnar

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 07:06 AM

That helps alot since been reading his books and had me thinking of that.

#15 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 03:20 PM

The reason why you can't find out the exact year of Conan the Cimmerian's birth is that Robert E. Howard only gave a rough idea of when that happened. "Five hundred years before the beginning of the last Ice Age" is about as close as you can get. Hope that helps. :)

Actually, that is one of the biggest mis-perceptions attributed to Howard's THE HYBORIAN AGE essay. Within the context of Howard's essay, the "500 years" in question actually refers to the length of time that the Hyborian civilization remained at its apex before it fell into ruin. Conan's birth could have happened at ANY time during that period.

The reason for this mistaken impression can be placed squarely at the feet of Lancer Books (and L. Sprague DeCamp). The first Conan book in the Lancer series places the first two/thirds of Howard's HYBORIAN AGE essay before the Conan fiction begins and a line is inserted onto the end of the essay that essentially states "This is the age of Conan".
The bulk of the Conan series occurs and finally in CONAN THE AVENGER comes the last third of the essay, starting with the line "Five hundred years later the Hyborian age was swept away." This leads to the mistaken impression that 500 years after Conan's life the Hyborian Age is upended. In other words, it gives an entirely different context to the passage than Howard intended.

To my way of thinking (and this is an opinion that I've formed pretty recently) is that Conan's lifetime took place towards the end of that 500 year period, and may indeed have been the transition point between the apex of Hyborian civilization and its fall into ruin. I've got a couple of reasons for this view, mostly dealing with the context of the series. ;)
"Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right." - Stephen Jay Gould

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"There never was an explanation which didn't itself need to be explained" - Charles Fort

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#16 Rusty Burke

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 07:56 PM

To my way of thinking (and this is an opinion that I've formed pretty recently) is that Conan's lifetime took place towards the end of that 500 year period, and may indeed have been the transition point between the apex of Hyborian civilization and its fall into ruin. I've got a couple of reasons for this view, mostly dealing with the context of the series. ;)


Bran = Last king of a dying race, fighting battles in a war he knows he must ultimately lose; and we know that when he fell in battle, the remnants of the Pictish nation fell apart.

Kull = king of a decadent (decaying?) Valusia, a barbarian usurper who may be able to impose his will for the time being, but whose efforts are probably in vain against the weight of thousands of years of entrenched tradition

Any reason to think that Conan's kingship would be decidedly different?

"He was, I think, king of Aquilonia for many years, in a turbulent and unquiet reign, when the Hyborian civilization had reached its most magnificent high-tide, and every king had imperial ambitions."

This would seem to suggest that, as you say, Conan's reign represents the transition point between the apex and the beginning of the fall of Hyborian civilization.

"At first he fought on the defensive, but I am of the opinion that at last he was forced into wars of aggression as a matter of self-preservation. Whether he succeeded in conquering a world-wide empire, or perished in the attempt, I do not know."

It's hard for me to imagine a Howard series with an entirely happy ending. Bittersweet is the best that might be hoped for.

Rusty

#17 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 02:57 AM

There are several reasons why I think that Conan's life was the end of the five hundred years. One is the one you mentioned; Howard's letter where he suggests that Conan started Aquilonia on the path to empire. The fall of the Hyborian Age begins with Aquilonia on a serious empire building phase, so that could be the end of a process that Conan began during his rule.
The Aquilonian empire-building also coincides with an invasion of Hyboria by the Hyrkanians (Turanians) that Howard describes as ""their first real thrust at the western world". The Devil in Iron portrays Turan's Yezdigerd as man whose armies are raiding the eastern Hyborian lands, as well as Shem and Stygia. I feel that Yezdigerd's plundering raids into Hyboria set the stage for the actual Hyrkanian invasion years later. Howard is foreshadowing the Hyrkanian invasion he envisioned in The Hyborian Age.
Howard also foreshadows the devastating Pictish invasion in Beyond the Black River. The Picts reclaiming Conajohara feels a whole lot like the first act in the retaking of the Westermark that occurs during the close of the Hyborian Age. Now with the Aquilonians using Pictish mercenaries, as well as their toying with playing the Picts off against the Cimmerians, it really doesn't sound like something that Conan would do as king, but something that comes later.
The way it just seems to me is that Conan's life and his kingship came near the end of the five hundred year period, because events are sliding into place to set up the end scenario. I just don't see Conan's life occurring 500 years prior to the ending of Hyboria.

One other thing that I noticed reading the Conan series is that Howard treats the Hyborian race differently in The Hyborian Age essay than he does in the stories. The Hyborians of the essay are such a virile race that they are able to civilize any savage tribes that they contact. The Hyborians of the series are corrupt, tending towards degeneracy. This once virile race is reduced to men whose necks would snap like rotted string. The Hyborians may well be at the high-tide of their civilization but the stories makes the race feel like it's on a downward trajectory. Conojohara was lost to the Picts and the Hyborians never got it back...

Anyways, that enough for tonight. ;)
"Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right." - Stephen Jay Gould

"A man receives only what he is ready to receive. . . .
The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest of what he has observed, he does not observe.
" - Henry D. Thoreau


"There never was an explanation which didn't itself need to be explained" - Charles Fort

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." - Oscar Wilde

#18 zingar

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 11:14 PM

Very interesting the posts of Dale about the situation of Conan's life in the timeline of the Hyborian Age. By my side Ihave a doubt about the year of the Cataclysm, I've seen sources with year 18000 BC (and I always see the year 10000 BC as the Conan time) for this event, but reading the essay and adding the periods of time reflected on it I obtain 4000 years

What is the correct amount?

Thanks

#19 Fernando

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 01:57 AM

Very interesting the posts of Dale about the situation of Conan's life in the timeline of the Hyborian Age. By my side Ihave a doubt about the year of the Cataclysm, I've seen sources with year 18000 BC (and I always see the year 10000 BC as the Conan time) for this event, but reading the essay and adding the periods of time reflected on it I obtain 4000 years

What is the correct amount?

Thanks


Hi, zingar! :)

I've only saw your post today, almost 3 months later... But, about your question, take a look in http://www.mongoosep...v...sc&start=15

I hope you enjoy it. :)

#20 Fernando

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 02:19 AM

There are several reasons why I think that Conan's life was the end of the five hundred years. One is the one you mentioned; Howard's letter where he suggests that Conan started Aquilonia on the path to empire. The fall of the Hyborian Age begins with Aquilonia on a serious empire building phase, so that could be the end of a process that Conan began during his rule.


In his letter to P.S. Miller, REH says: "Whether he [Conan] succeeded in conquering a world-wide empire, or perished in the attempt, I do not know"

In The Hyborian Age is said: "Wishing to extend their [Aquilonian] empire, her kings made war on their neighbors. Zingara, Argos and Ophir were annexed outright".

So, could it means Conan died during a conquering battle for extend Aquilonian borders? The expression "her kings", in spite of "her king", seems to point it.