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#1 RJMooreII

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 05:35 AM

**************************************** ATTENTION: MOD EDIT **************************************************************

This might be a good time to review the forum guidelines. They can be found here: http://www.conan.com...?showtopic=3496

Limited discussions of world religions are generally allowed here on the REH Forum as long as they have some bearing on Robert E. Howard and his creations. However, those discussions should never be used to pontificate and they MOST DEFINITELY should not be used to denigrate the religious views of any particular group. This forum is read by people from all walks of life from all over the planet. Try to keep all discussions relatively neutral, on-topic and scholarly.

END EDIT

******************************************************************************************************************************************

Robert M. Price, who might be familiar to weird horror and Lovecraft fans as well as Biblical critics, talked a bit about sword & sorcery and specifically Conan on his podcast the June 25th.

http://recordings.ta...om/rss20430.xml

But instead of just putting this in the 'cool links' section I wanted to use it as a springboard: How many real-world Bible and Christianity references are there in the Hyborian age?

Obvious examples:
Conan's being crucified.
Asuras, who is persecuted under King Josiah.

Edited by deuce, 30 June 2012 - 08:59 PM.
Topic/Rules Clarification

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#2 deuce

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 09:24 AM

Robert M. Price, who might be familiar to weird horror and Lovecraft fans as well as Biblical critics, talked a bit about sword & sorcery and specifically Conan on his podcast the June 25th.

http://recordings.ta...om/rss20430.xml


I've studied my share of higher and lower biblical criticism. I've read some of Price's work and an old girlfriend got Ehrman to inscribe one of his books for me (she graduated from UNC in '09).

I'd hope several members of this board would be aware of RMP due to his editorship of Nameless Cults and his appearances in The Cimmerian Journal.



But instead of just putting this in the 'cool links' section I wanted to use it as a springboard: How many real-world Bible and Christianity references are there in the Hyborian age?

Obvious examples:
Conan's being crucified.
Asuras, who is persecuted under King Josiah.


My PC doesn't have audio. Does Price mention those two examples?

I don't see any particular similarity betwixt the two crucifixions, other than crucifixion. Conan isn't particulary "Christ-like". Instead of being crucified alongside two thieves, he's freed by four bandits.

Some people seem to have this idea that crucifixion was started by Rome and ended everywhere in the Old World when abolished by Constantine. Just not true.

"Crucifixion" seems to have evolved from impalement. This seems to have been what was referred to in accounts of crucifixions by Shalmaneser III and Darius I. From stories like Two Against Tyre (and other sources) we know Robert E. Howard studied the Assyrian and Persian empires.

The thing is, in Assyrian, Farsi and accounts by Greek historians, there is basically one word in each language to denote impalement AND "classic" crucifixion. The word in the Greek New Testament for "crucifixion" is the same as that for "impalement". In short, pre-Phoenician "crucifixion" seems to have been a continuum, the bottom line being that the body is suspended in some way by one or more pieces of wood (or a tree).

The way this relates to REH is that the fashion in which early accounts were translated into English (and other languages) was not consistent. Sometimes "crucify" was used, other times "impale". In fact, it's still being done that way in the 21st century. Howard could have VERY easily read about the Assyrians or the Persians "crucifying" prisoners.

The Phoenicians/Carthaginians seem to have perfected the "classic" method of crucifixion using two wooden poles/beams. They "standardized" it, using it consistently. I've never seen a Punic term for "crucifixion". Perhaps the only examples were lost when the Romans tossed the entire Library of Carthage to the Numidians. <_<

Anyway, the Romans didn't think much of the Library, but thought crucifixion was a GREAT idea. :)

Crucifixion didn't end with Constantine's edict. We know Saladin crucified Shia rebels in Cairo:

http://books.google.... shiite&f=false

Robert E. Howard would've certainly known this by reading of it in the works of Stanley Lane-Poole and Harold Lamb. In addition, we know that Howard believed crucifixion was practiced in the medieval Muslim world from Lord of Samarcand. Here's the excerpt:

"By God, I had not thought a bullock could survive that blow. Is he to be crucified--as he swore to deal with Timour thus?"
"Timour gave him good welcome and will do him no hurt," answered the courtier who brought the news. "The Sultan will sit at the feast."

The Zuagirs with Olgerd weren't surprised to see a man crucified. Most of Constantius' troops were Shemite asshuri. The Zuagirs and the asshuri were ancestors of the Phoenicians, the Arabs and Assyrians (according to REH).

Like I said, I don't see the biblical reference/symbolism. REH simply inflicted a horrible form of execution upon the Cimmerian that wasn't necessarily fatal (unlike impalement or beheading).
Is every beheading in the Conan yarns an obscure reference to John the Baptist?


Cool thread. B)

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#3 Amra_the_Lion

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 01:53 PM

At last she decided that it was worth even one of Zaporavo's whipping to play truant, and with no more ado she kicked of her soft leather sandals, slipped out of her kirtle and stood up on the deck naked as Eve. - The Pool of the Black One


If life is an illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. Queen of the Black Coast 1934 Robert E. Howard

 

Amra's The Chronicles of Conan The Cimmerian: Determining the chronological order of Howard's Conan Tales


#4 deuce

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 08:20 PM



But instead of just putting this in the 'cool links' section I wanted to use it as a springboard: How many real-world Bible and Christianity references are there in the Hyborian age?

Obvious examples:
Conan's being crucified.
Asuras, who is persecuted under King Josiah.


My PC doesn't have audio. Does Price mention those two examples?

I don't see any particular similarity betwixt the two crucifixions, other than crucifixion. Conan isn't particulary "Christ-like". Instead of being crucified alongside two thieves, he's freed by four bandits.

Like I said, I don't see the biblical reference/symbolism. REH simply inflicted a horrible form of execution upon the Cimmerian that wasn't necessarily fatal (unlike impalement or beheading), one which also had an ancient tradition in the historical Middle East and whose use possibly persisted until the modern era in the Muslim world. Is every beheading in the Conan yarns an obscure reference to John the Baptist?

Cool thread. B)


My apologies, RJM. I didn't read your post closely enough. You were asking simply for REFERENCES (such as AtL provided). That's much more solid ground for discussions on this forum than "reading between the lines".

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#5 deuce

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 08:57 PM

The initial post has been modified. The relevant points are quoted below. All posters should stay on topic. Restrict discussion to REFERENCES. If there isn't a pretty obvious "one-to-one" correlation (like "naked as Eve"), then it belongs elsewhere. "Insights" that aren't easily verifiable should go elsewhere. We really don't care what "Secret Masters" told someone in a dream, nor what somebody read in another chat-room.


**************************************** ATTENTION: MOD EDIT **************************************************************

This might be a good time to review the forum guidelines. They can be found here: http://www.conan.com...?showtopic=3496

Limited discussions of world religions are generally allowed here on the REH Forum as long as they have some bearing on Robert E. Howard and his creations. However, those discussions should never be used to pontificate and they MOST DEFINITELY should not be used to denigrate the religious views of any particular group. This forum is read by people from all walks of life from all over the planet. Try to keep all discussions relatively neutral, on-topic and scholarly.

END EDIT

******************************************************************************************************************************************

But instead of just putting this in the 'cool links' section I wanted to use it as a springboard: How many real-world Bible and Christianity references are there in the Hyborian age?


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#6 deuce

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 09:24 PM

Salome in AWSbB is a "biblical reference". REH comes right out and says it:

"‘Every century a witch shall be born.’ So ran the ancient curse. And
so it has come to pass. Some were slain at birth, as they sought to
slay me. Some walked the earth as witches, proud daughters of Khauran,
with the moon of hell burning upon their ivory bosoms. Each was named
Salome. I too am Salome. It was always Salome, the witch. It will
always be Salome, the witch, even when the mountains of ice have
roared down from the pole and ground the civilizations to ruin, and a
new world has risen from the ashes and dust--even then there shall be
Salomes to walk the earth, to trap men's hearts by their sorcery, to
dance before the kings of the world, to see the heads of the wise men
fall at their pleasure
."

Howard's "Baal-Pteor" seems to have been influenced by "Baal-Peor".

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#7 Pictish Scout

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 04:23 AM

If there wasn’t a Salome on the story, and no connection to the biblical Salome, I wouldn’t see the crucifixion as a biblical reference. I don’t think Conan is a “Christ figure” or even messianic. I think that if Howard wanted to use a crucifixion scene he wouldn’t need biblical sources.

When I saw the crucifixion scene on Conan the Barbarian (a decade before I read the original story) I didn’t see it as a biblical reference at all, even though there was a religious context (Doom cultist calling Conan “infidel”, etc) and the resurrection scene.

But when I read “A Witch Shall be Born” I wondered about “biblical influences” on Howard when he wrote this story.

I mean: Salome and a crucifixion scene on the same story.

The crucifixion scene is very strong and I like to think that Howard used it on purpose to play with this particular theme. A theme (Jesus crucifixion) that I think was a very important cultural element to Howard’s readers.

Basically, the only reason that makes me wonder about a biblical reference/influence is the presence of Salome(a clear biblical reference) and Conan’s crucifixion on the same story.

Personally I am not a religious person although I find the biblical stories very interesting.

#8 deuce

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 05:37 AM

If there wasn’t a Salome on the story, and no connection to the biblical Salome, I wouldn’t see the crucifixion as a biblical reference. I don’t think Conan is a “Christ figure” or even messianic. I think that if Howard wanted to use a crucifixion scene he wouldn’t need biblical sources.

When I saw the crucifixion scene on Conan the Barbarian (a decade before I read the original story) I didn’t see it as a biblical reference at all, even though there was a religious context (Doom cultist calling Conan “infidel”, etc) and the resurrection scene.

But when I read “A Witch Shall be Born” I wondered about “biblical influences” on Howard when he wrote this story.

I mean: Salome and a crucifixion scene on the same story.

The crucifixion scene is very strong and I like to think that Howard used it on purpose to play with this particular theme. A theme (Jesus crucifixion) that I think was a very important cultural element to Howard’s readers.

Basically, the only reason that makes me wonder about a biblical reference/influence is the presence of Salome(a clear biblical reference) and Conan’s crucifixion on the same story.

Personally I am not a religious person although I find the biblical stories very interesting.


I don't recall Salome of Judea being connected (even tangentially) with The Crucifixion.

I can see your point, Scout, but I find it hard to agree. There simply aren't any congruences between the two crucifixions. The circumstances/characters are utterly unlike (except for Salome). In fact, REH's crucifixion scene doesn't even work as an "inversion" or parody.

A rough analogy would be if Dumas (or whoever) had written a story in which an English lawyer falls in with French revolutionaries and is there when the decision is made to behead Louis XVI. The lawyer would be named John Bradshaw.

As an aside, there are passages in the Torah/Old Testament (regarding punishment) which have been translated several times into English in which the Hebrew word was rendered as "crucify" or "crucifixion" in English. If anything, I'd say REH might've been referencing that, rather than "The Crucifixion". Once again, "crucifixion" as an ancient practice in the Levant.

Howard never discussed AWSbB in his letters. So, we have no idea what he was thinking. This isn't a clear-cut "biblical reference" at all. It's speculation. The longer we keep chasing our tails on this, the more likely it is to goad a member into posting something that will get them warned/banned. I've seen it plenty of times (in fact, it's already happened on this thread). . If "somebody being crucified" counts as a "biblical reference", then "nomadic barbarians subjugating a civilized people" does too. When the parameters of the discussion are that nebulous, [anything] is a "biblical reference" to [anything].

All I've done is point out that there was PLENTY of non-biblical historical precedent to inspire REH. In addition, it was a form of slow execution that Conan could plausibly survive (with help).

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#9 deuce

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 07:20 AM

The crucifixion scene is very strong and I like to think that Howard used it on purpose to play with this particular theme.


The thing is, as I've pointed out before, most of the "strength" of that scene is from Tarzan the Untamed.

Click on the link below, click "Blog" and then click "A Mouthful of Feathers".

http://www.charlessaunderswriter.com/

Rather than putting Conan on "The Cross", REH (basically) put Tarzan on a cross. :)

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#10 deuce

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:18 AM

To try and get away from AWSbB (which is getting tedious), here is a passage from Phoenix on the Sword:

The steps were carven each with the abhorrent figure of the Old Serpent, Set, so that at each step he planted his heel on the head of the Snake, as it was intended from old times.

Juxtapose that with Genesis 3:14-15 (KJV):

And the Lord God said unto the serpent (...)
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.


Head, heel and serpent. "From old times".

"Old Serpent, Set" would seem to be taken from Revelations 20:2 (KJV)

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

*This also impacts upon Mitra worship in the Hyborian Age in regards to Set. In addition, Epemitreus "bound Set" (to one degree or another) "a thousand and five hundred years" (slight paraphrase) before Conan. All of this needs discussed on other threads, however, since it doesn't really involve "biblical references". :)

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#11 constantine

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:01 PM

From TPotBC:

On the tower appeared a single figure, lifting a ten-foot bronze horn. Its strident bellow roared out across the echoing slopes, like the blare of trumpets on Judgement Day.

Should this be considered a biblical reference or is it for another thread? The above points about Set certainly show biblical influences on REH and parts of his work.

BTW, if I recall my ancient Greek correctly, there must have been different words for crucifixion and impalement respectively.

#12 deuce

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:26 PM

From TPotBC:

On the tower appeared a single figure, lifting a ten-foot bronze horn. Its strident bellow roared out across the echoing slopes, like the blare of trumpets on Judgement Day.

Should this be considered a biblical reference or is it for another thread?


It certainly fits with the Book of Revelations. Some actual quotes would be nice, but I'm convinced, at least. If you look for quotes, it's always best to use the KJV, since that was what was taught when Howard attended a Baptist church.


BTW, if I recall my ancient Greek correctly, there must have been different words for crucifixion and impalement respectively.


I'm sure you know your ancient Greek better than I. From what I remember reading (back in college), there was one word (or perhaps two, closely related) which was applied to both.

However, my main point was that in English language translations over the last few centuries, "crucify" and "impale" have been used somewhat interchangeably, depending on the translator. This goes not just for Greek sources, but for Assyrian and Persian. Therefore, it's quite likely Howard read of Assyrians and Persians "crucifying" prisoners. It's almost certain he read of the Phoenicians/Carthaginians doing so, since they actually DID, in the strict sense.

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#13 RJMooreII

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 02:09 AM

I don’t think Conan is a “Christ figure”

He certainly is if you take Christ the way Nietzsche did, as an ubermensch who transvalues values.

As regards crucifixtion, there is actually only one piece of archeological evidence we have for Roman practices of crucifixion (an ankle-bone nailed to a piece of wood); everything else is based on inferences from classical textual sources.

As regards the crucifixion of Conan being Biblical it is a tale akin to the 'harrowing of Hell', which is a universal feature of Indo-European mythology. The fact that Conan is crucified, 'left for dead' and then returns with full vigor is both akin to Jesus Christ and the various storm gods who fight a death-monster (Mot in the case of Ba'al, or Doomsday in the case of Superman) and are seemingly eaten and then return. Where Conan's crucifixion does not fit is that he was never buried, and thus never went into the deeps of the Earth/the subterranean ocean of Tehom. This element occurs at other points, such as The Scarlet Citadel where Conan descends into the underworld and makes his way out again, alive despite his expected death. Granted this may not be a Biblical reference per se, but it is akin to it through comparative mythology.

Price mentions also how the story in A Witch Shall Be Born mirrors elements in the John the Baptist narrative where Herod's step-daughter demands John's death.

Things like the battle with the death/chaos monster, descent into the underworld, the 'sins of the warrior' (Dumezil) are a constant factor in most fantasy (think of the guy who went into Angband to get the Silmaril from Melkor's crown). Fantasy and comic books really are modern mythology; not just like mythology but really an actual mythology. One need not believe in a mythos to use it as one (take, for example, Athenian playwrites and their impious use of the gods).

Edited by RJMooreII, 08 July 2012 - 02:19 AM.

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#14 monk

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 03:45 AM

well Hell is referenced quite a lot, probably innumerably...
"I live, I BURN WITH LIFE, I love, I slay, and am content."
"Here's to brother Painbrush, we drink to his Shade..."
"All Art Is Martial"- RZA

"Our basic purist premise:
ROBERT E. HOWARD, ENTIRELY ALONE, WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM ANY OTHER PERSON, CREATED THE CHARACTER CONAN OF CIMMERIA. NO OTHER PERSON OR PERSONS SHOULD BE INTRUDING THEIR WORK INTO THE VOLUMES OF HOWARD'S CONAN STORIES.
In essence, we believe that the work of any creative artist -- writer, painter, illustrator, musician, what-have-you -- is a unique expression of an artistic point of view. It should not be appropriated or altered by others without the artist's consent. No other writer has Robert E. Howard's unique point of view, and no other writer knows what Howard would have done with his character had he lived. Upon his death, his canon, the expression of his artistic vision, became fixed. Tampering with it now is desecration."

#15 deuce

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 07:37 AM

well Hell is referenced quite a lot, probably innumerably...


Yep. "Devils" as well. Even Crom has devils. It's not even restricted to the Hyborian Age. "Hell" is also referenced in the Kull tales. Apparently, there's always a "Hell". That's very Howardian, IMO. Not particularly Biblical, though, since several "real" religions have a place of torment for the dead.

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#16 RJMooreII

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 09:55 AM

Hell/Sheol is not intrinsically a place of torment. It's just a place under the Earth with dead people in it. The modern idea of 'Hell' is more akin to Tartarus.

As far as 'devils', the word has the same denotation as Deus; just a different connotation in modern times. Both words come from the same Indo-European base word. Likewise 'divine'. Comparative phenomena would be 'virtu', 'aristoi', and 'noble', which essentially mean efficacy or power in an amoral and even martial sense.

Perhaps this should be titled 'Conan in Comparative Mythology', since the subjects overlap so much.

Think about this: halo, hallowed, holy all come from the same word and are a word which basically means 'sun'. Sacred, chakra, sacrifice derive from an IE word for 'pact'. The Celtic word 'iron' derives from the same root word for 'holy' in Greek, and both literally mean 'strong' or 'powerful'.

Conan is much closer to pre-Axial mythology. Holy, sacred, iarn, etc. all refer to the 'otherness' and power of a deity. It is only with the axial age that it gets moralized. At their roots, all gods were conceived as 'gods' because they were powerful superhumans. By ancient Norse or Persian standards Superman or Vulcans would be as fully a god as Indra.

Edited by RJMooreII, 09 July 2012 - 10:01 AM.

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#17 constantine

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 04:22 PM

I'm quite certain that 'devil' does not have the some connotation as deus, say, from an IE connection. It is most probably a corruption of the word 'diabolos' (also the origin of diabolism etc.).

#18 RJMooreII

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 04:28 PM

I'm quite certain that 'devil' does not have the some connotation as deus, say, from an IE connection. It is most probably a corruption of the word 'diabolos' (also the origin of diabolism etc.).

That's a common etymology, and it might be right; but it's a heck of a coincidence that the Sanskrit word for Devil is exactly the same and it is derived from Deus via a tribal reversal of their competing god-sets.
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#19 deuce

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 03:15 PM

Hell/Sheol is not intrinsically a place of torment. It's just a place under the Earth with dead people in it. The modern idea of 'Hell' is more akin to Tartarus.



I'm quite aware of the original concept of "Sheol". :) However, just about everything indicates that Robert E Howard DID have some kind of a "modern idea of Hell" in mind, complete with devils. Of course, this thread was never really about what Howard thought or wrote, was it?

As far as 'devils', the word has the same denotation as Deus; just a different connotation in modern times. Both words come from the same Indo-European base word. Likewise 'divine'.


:blink: Where do you find this stuff? The same place where you heard there was a connection between "asuras" and "asherah"? Like Constantine pointed out, the word is from the Greek and it's not from the same root as PIE deiw- . I just checked my AHD Glossary to be sure.

Perhaps this should be titled 'Conan in Comparative Mythology', since the subjects overlap so much.



Perhaps it just should've been titled "Comparative Mythology" and been in a different sub-forum. You've yet to come up with one quote from Robert E. Howard or his Conan yarns to back up anything. You have brought up Nietsche, whom REH held in slight regard, no matter what Milius or anybody else has tried to say.

All of this could've been covered on the actual discussion threads for the various REH Conan stories. A whole bunch of it's already been done in one fashion or another. Kortoso did a succinct Campbellian analysis of The Hour of the Dragon over on (you guessed it) the HotD thread. He didn't have to use parts of one yarn and then pull a chunk out of another to pull it off. Of course, using your method (and citing philosophers that REH disliked), anything's possible. :)

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