Snake men in REH's original work?

René

Mongoose
A few weeks ago I finished a German translation of King Kull of Atlantis. I compared the content with a REH bibliography on the internet, so I think the book has all stories and fragments.

Only in 1 Kull-story there were Snake men and their planned annihilation by Kull mentioned. In the original REH Conan stories I found not even one Snake man (it's been a time I read them, so maybe I don't remember correctly).

So far as I see they are just mentioned for one time in Mongoose's Conan products (RoK: Vendhya).

I'm just wondering why these scaled guys are so popular in this forum (several threads)? Are there some REH-stories I'm missing?
 

Paluka

Mongoose
I would think they are popular because they fill a nice niche in a rpg campaign. There are no orcs to kill.
 

Faraer

Mongoose
The snake-people seen in "The Shadow Kingdom" are only in that story. De Camp and Carter had a remnant population survive into the Hyborian Age in "Shadows in the Skull". The 'Children of the Night', the small mongoloid snakelike humanoids of "Worms of the Earth", "The Little People", "The Children of the Night", and "The People of the Dark" (all historical-age stories) may possibly be descendants.

I haven't noticed any fixation on the snake-people here, and would probably find it dubious.
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
Snakemen are popular mostly because the bad guy in the 1st Conan Movie is one of them.
Moreover there is also a Kull fragment of Howard called "Black Abyss" that was completed by Lin Carter and where we can read that many reknown nobles of the court worship Set. Kull comes right in the middle of a ceremony where a girl was to be sacrificed to a huge snake.
 

Arkobla Conn

Mongoose
ah, but the bad guy in the first movie is very different than the books. Let us all remember that Conan's nemisis was Thoth Amon, not Kull's Thusa Doom...
 

The Warlord

Mongoose
There's an excellent SSoC story (#190-193?) where Thulsa Doom's skull tries to bring his snake men back into power from the time of Kull.

Sounds silly, I know, but my favorite SSoC story arch.
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
Arkobla Conn said:
ah, but the bad guy in the first movie is very different than the books. Let us all remember that Conan's nemisis was Thoth Amon, not Kull's Thusa Doom...
That's true but most fans know Conan from the Movie rather than form Howard's stories. The many pastiche works provided by Ace and then Tor books are a proof.
Most of Howard's stories (not only Kull's or Conan's) were out of print for a very long time and Sprague de Camp, however despised he may be, is the one responsible for the reknown of Howard's posthume works.

Conan doesn't have to fight the serpentmen in Howard's stories because Kull destroyed their civilization. The remnant were then later eradicated but the arrival of those who would become the Stygians. They nonetheless adopted the faith of the vanquished.

Anyway, Conan has no nemesis because the "chase" of Thoth Amon in Conan the Aquilonian is a bad (IMO) pastiche from Lin Carter. In the Hour of the Dragon, Thoth Amon isn't present (but could have profited from the whole mess provoked by the war between Nemedia and Aquilonia. But this is an idea I intend to developp someday for my campaign. :wink:
 
The King said:
The remnant were then later eradicated but the arrival of those who would become the Stygians. They nonetheless adopted the faith of the vanquished.

The survivors of the Lemurian uprising didn't conquer a race of snake-men. They conquered the Giant-Kings to found Stygia.

From Howard's 'Hyborian Age' : "Far to the south there was a mysterious civilization, unconnected with the Thurian culture, and apparently pre-human in its nature... Far to the east the Lemurians, leveled almost to a bestial plane themeselves by the brutishness of their slavery, have risen and destroyed their masters... The survivors of that civilization, who have escaped the fury of their slaves, have come westward. They fall upon that mysterious pre-human kingdom of the south and overthrow it, substituting their own culture, modified by contact with the older one. The newer kingdom is called Stygia..."

Then, in Howard's 'God in the Bowl': "Kallian Publico believed that it contained the diadem of the giant-kings, of the people who dwelt in that dark land before the ancestors of the Stygians came there."

There is other evidence in "The Hour of the Dragon" and other stories by Howard to show that the pre-human civilization was not serpent men or snake-men, but a pre-human race of white giants.

Dale Rippke wrote an excellent essay explaining all of this very well.
http://www.rehupa.com/rippke_stygia.htm
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
VincentDarlage said:
The King said:
The remnant were then later eradicated but the arrival of those who would become the Stygians. They nonetheless adopted the faith of the vanquished.

The survivors of the Lemurian uprising didn't conquer a race of snake-men. They conquered the Giant-Kings to found Stygia....
Yes, sorry for that mistake. Those survivors were called the kharis, weren't they?
Then the giant-kings were those who destroyed the serpent-men before they settled there. Why then would Set be worshipped there?
Comparing the Thurian continent to the Hyborian continent, we see that the cataclysms changed the ground totally.
It is probable that the Giant-kings were forced to move and probably seceded in at least two groups. I believe they are the Zhemris and adhere to the idea of Sprague de Camp in his "Thing in the Crypt" where he describes the momified skeletton as that of a giant.
 
The King said:
Yes, sorry for that mistake. Those survivors were called the kharis, weren't they?

Yes, the Khari, although I am unsure of the source of that name.

The King said:
Then the giant-kings were those who destroyed the serpent-men before they settled there.

I am pretty sure Kull destroyed the serpent-men. Any remnants (as supposed by L. Sprague de Camp) would be a very small, hidden culture and not a full-blown kingdom of any reckoning. Of course there are the serpent things such as in "The God in the Bowl."

The King said:
Why then would Set be worshipped there?

Perhaps the Giant-Kings got the information from other sources. In real life, did the ancient Egyptians get Set worship from snake men? What about the various snake cults throughout the world and history? There are even Christian denominations that use snakes in their worship. Men in history have worshipped snakes because of whatever symbolism they have about the snake. The worship of Set by the Giant-Kings could have alternative sources and does not have to derive from snake-people. Of course, the thing described in "The God in the Bowl" could have originated the worship if you insist on having such a source.

The King said:
Comparing the Thurian continent to the Hyborian continent, we see that the cataclysms changed the ground totally.
It is probable that the Giant-kings were forced to move and probably seceded in at least two groups.

The Giant-Kings became the Acheronians and Stygian royalty in all likelyhood. See http://www.rehupa.com/rippke_migration.htm for this argument.

The King said:
I believe they are the Zhemris and adhere to the idea of Sprague de Camp in his "Thing in the Crypt" where he describes the momified skeletton as that of a giant.

The Zhemri are not Giant-Kings. The Zhemri are a human civilization. They are non-Valusian, but that does not mean pre-human. They are the ancestors of the Zamorians.

"Of the civilized races of the Thurian Continent, a remnant of one of the non-Valusian nations dwells among the low mountains of the southeast – the Zhemri… To the southeast the descendants of the Zhemri, given impetus by new blood resulting from admixture with some unclassified tribe, are beginning to seek to revolve some faint shadow of their ancient culture…. Southeast of Hyperborea a kingdom of the Zhemri has come into being, under the name of Zamora." (Robert E. Howard, The Hyborian Age)
 

Faraer

Mongoose
I don't know where 'Khari' is from either. Dale says 'apocryphal', so some pastiche or other.

The Zhemri may be related to Zarfhaana.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I seem to remember that King Kull had to deal with a pretty serious infestation of serpent people in one of his stories, and the world of Kull was the more distant past of Conans Hyboria. de Camp merely filled in a blank by using them in one of his Conan stories. There is also the connection with Lovecraft. Who knows, since REH exchanged correspondence with Lovecraft, perhaps he eventually would have written stories featuring them (serpent people) himself. The movie? Who knows what they had in mind. It was all over the place, and never really bore much resemblance to Conan, really. It was a sort of patch-work with a bit from here and a bit from there. I'm currently re-reading the REH Conan stories and the character in the movie has very little to do with the real deal, in my mind...but don't get me wrong, I definitely think the first Conan movie, at least, was one of the best attempts at a fantasy movie up until that time. Arnold just was not Conan. Though he did come close a couple of times.
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
VincentDarlage said:
I am pretty sure Kull destroyed the serpent-men. Any remnants (as supposed by L. Sprague de Camp) would be a very small, hidden culture and not a full-blown kingdom of any reckoning. Of course there are the serpent things such as in "The God in the Bowl."?
Considering the ability of the serpent men to infiltrate the human society it could be reasonnable to think some of them survived. I don't believe however they created a kingdom as is stated in Conan the Aquilonian.

VincentDarlage said:
The Giant-Kings became the Acheronians and Stygian royalty in all likelyhood. See http://www.rehupa.com/rippke_migration.htm for this argument.."

I read the articles of Dale and in REHUPA #171 (Age of Acheron), we learn that Giant-kings had serpent-like visages (among other things) and the innate ability to use black magic.
In the story "Shadow Kingdom", we learn that the serpent men can tear apart the soul of a man let to wander for eternity (example: when Kull see the ghost of King Eallal who lived 1000 years before Kull). If that act is not the blackest of all magic...

The origin of the giant-kings is unknown because there is no information about them in the age of Kull. But they are clearly a race of conquerors as they create later two of the greatest sorcerous kingdoms when humans couldn't prevail against them.
In chapter 3 of the Shadow Kingdom, we learn that "men weren't always governed by men" and then we have a long explanation of the ancestral fight between the serpent-men and mankind where the latter race was enslaved aeons ago by the former before men could rebell against their oppressors.
Isn't that exactly what the Empires of Acheron and Stygia did? (or began to do because both kingdoms were destroyed before they could enslave mankind again).

I believe that the giant-kings are also an interbreed. The proof is evident: they have innate abilities of dark magic and everyone knows that mankind doesn't possess such power because all human sorcerers need books and spell components as a substitute. Moreover the magical language isn't of human origin because if it were almost all humans able would be magicians.

Mankind is the result of a long development from the almost animal-like condition. Howard himself says that "civilization is not natural and that barbarism is the natural condition of mankind and will always prevail".

Considering that humans were enslaved long ago and lived under such a harsh treatments that they have an ancestral fear and innate memory of that time (cf. The Shadow Kingdom and this also explains why Conan has an incomprehensible fear of all things magical), all those who use sorcery without fear are either non humans or tainted in their soul.

VincentDarlage said:
The Zhemri are not Giant-Kings. The Zhemri are a human civilization. They are non-Valusian, but that does not mean pre-human. They are the ancestors of the Zamorians.

I'am not so sure the Zhemri aren't affiliated with the giant-kings: they are dark of heart. Howard says it's an evil race. Wouldn't it be possible they intermixed with humans? Here my explanation:
Kull eradicated almost all of the serpent men. As all races are characterized by a strong survival instinct wouldn't it be possible that the serpent men understood they could only survive by intermixing with humans?
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
Faraer said:
I don't know where 'Khari' is from either. Dale says 'apocryphal', so some pastiche or other.
I don't know if De Camp invented the word or found it in Howard's papers.
 
Anonymous said:
I seem to remember that King Kull had to deal with a pretty serious infestation of serpent people in one of his stories, and the world of Kull was the more distant past of Conans Hyboria.

The story is "The Shadow Kingdom" wherein Kull uncovers (with Pictish help) the growing power of the Serpent Folk who are replacing important men (even Kings) in Valusia with Serpent Men in magical disguise. The story indicates that Kull will attempt to eradicate the menace once and for all.
There are a couple of points to ponder -
First, several of the Kull stories were essentially first drafts for later Conan tales, perhaps if Howard had lived we may have seen a story in which Conan confronts the Serpent Folk.
Then there is the Lovecraft/Mythos connection - as has already been mentioned in this thread Howard's "People of the Dark" and "Worms of the Earth " indicate the survival of the Serpent People (at least in degenerate form) to "historical" times.
So, it seems quite reasonable to assume that Kull did not succeed in totally wiping out the Serpent Men (maybe he only managed to clean out Valusia).
With the worship of Set still so prevalent in some areas it's, perhaps, not too outrageous to suggest that remnant Serpent Folk populations survived, maybe they learnt to be even more subtle in their interaction with humankind...
 

AD

Mongoose
I think one of the reasons why the snakemen appear popular is because people seem to interprate REH as fantasy when i dont think it is.

You could see it as a fantasy real with real world elements, or a real world with fantasy rarely cropping up.

Like the giant-kings. What about if they just appeared to be giants? Gods amongst men?


*cowers at his only recent uptake in RPG's in general*
 
Top