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.
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?
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?