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Cthulhu is a fictional cosmic entity created by horror author H. P. Lovecraft in 1926. The first appearance of the entity was in the short story "The Call of Cthulhu" published in Weird Tales in 1928.

Cthulhu is one of the central Great Old Ones of the Lovecraft Mythos. It is often cited for the extreme descriptions given of its hideous appearance, its gargantuan size, and the abject terror that it evokes. Cthulhu is often referred to in science fiction and fantasy circles as a tongue-in-cheek shorthand for extreme horror or evil.

After its first appearance in "The Call of Cthulhu", Cthulhu makes a few minor appearances in other Lovecraft stories.[1] August Derleth, a correspondent of Lovecraft's, used the creature's name to identify the system of lore employed by Lovecraft and his literary successors, the Cthulhu Mythos.

Spelling and pronunciationEdit

Cthulhu has also been spelled as Tulu, Clulu, Clooloo, Cthulu, C'thulhu, Cighulu, Cathulu, Kathulu, Kutulu, Kthulhu, Q’thulu, K'tulu, Kthulhut, Kulhu, Kutunluu, Cuitiliú, Thu Thu,[2] and in many other ways. It is often preceded by the epithet Great, Dead, or Dread.

Lovecraft transcribed the pronunciation of Cthulhu as "Khlûl'-hloo" (Template:IPA-en ?).[3][4] S. T. Joshi points out, however, that Lovecraft gave several differing pronunciations on different occasions.[5] According to Lovecraft, this is merely the closest that the human vocal apparatus can come to reproducing the syllables of an alien language.[6] Long after Lovecraft's death, the pronunciation Template:Respell (Template:IPA-en) became common, and the game Call of Cthulhu endorsed it.

Physicality and originsEdit

While the birthplace of Cthulhu is not definitively established, it is suggested that it is the planet Vhoorl, with his advent somehow connected with supernovae: "I learned whence Cthulhu first came, and why half the great temporary stars of history had flared forth."[7] It is also suggested in both “At the Mountains of Madness” and “The Whisperer in Darkness” that Cthulhu is made up of some unknown and foreign matter.

The most detailed descriptions of Cthulhu appear in the short story "The Call of Cthulhu", and are based on the statues of the creature. One, constructed by an artist after a series of baleful dreams, is said to have "yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature.... A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque scaly body with rudimentary wings."[8] Another, recovered by police from a raid on a murderous cult, "represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind."[9]

When the creature finally appears, the story says that the "thing cannot be described", but it is called "the green, sticky spawn of the stars", with "flabby claws" and an "awful squid-head with writhing feelers". The phrase "a mountain walked or stumbled" gives a sense of the creature's scale.[10]

Cult of CthulhuEdit

Cthulhu is depicted as having a worldwide doomsday cult centered in Arabia, with followers in regions as far-flung as Greenland and Louisiana.[11] There are leaders of the cult "in the mountains of China" who are said to be immortal. Cthulhu is described by some of these cultists as the "great priest" of "the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky."[12]

Template:Wiktionary The cult is noted for chanting the phrase "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn", which translates as "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."[13] This is often shortened to "Cthulhu fhtagn", which might possibly mean "Cthulhu waits", "Cthulhu dreams",[14] or "Cthulhu waits dreaming." [15]

One cultist, known as Old Castro, provides the most elaborate information given in Lovecraft's fiction about Cthulhu. The Great Old Ones, according to Castro, had come from the stars to rule the world in ages past.

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Castro points to a "much-discussed couplet" from Abdul Alhazred's Necronomicon:

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Castro explains the role of the Cthulhu Cult, stating that when the stars and the earth "might once more be ready" for the Great Old Ones, "some force from outside must serve to liberate their bodies. The spells that preserved Them intact likewise prevented them from making an initial move."[16] At the proper time,

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The character goes on to report that the Great Old Ones are telepathic and "knew all that was occurring in the universe". They were able to communicate with the first humans by "moulding their dreams", thus establishing the Cthulhu Cult, but after R'lyeh had sunk beneath the waves, "the deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through which not even thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse."[17]

Additionally, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" establishes that Cthulhu is also worshipped by the nonhuman creatures known as Deep Ones.[18]The Whisperer in Darkness” establishes that Cthulhu is one of many deities worshiped by the Mi-Go.

Star-spawn of CthulhuEdit

Though not extensively described in Lovecraft's works, the star-spawn of Cthulhu (or Cthulhi) are depicted as sharing physical characteristics similar to those of Cthulhu himself, although their overall size is far smaller. The narrator of At the Mountains of Madness notes that the Cthulhu spawn "seem to have been composed of matter more widely different from that which we know than was the substance of the Antarctic Old Ones. They were able to undergo transformations and reintegrations impossible for their adversaries, and seem therefore to have originally come from even remoter gulfs of cosmic space".

While the particulars of their relationship with Cthulhu are unknown, it is clear that they arrived on Earth with him, where they constructed the city of R'lyeh. Although it is said that they continue to dwell in the sunken city of R'lyeh, some of Lovecraft's stories include rumors that a few of them escaped this city's fate, and can be found in hidden places on Earth.

In "At the Mountains of Madness" the spawn of Cthulhu wage a great war against the Elder Things after arriving on Earth.

Elsewhere in Lovecraft's fictionEdit

Cthulhu is mentioned elsewhere in Lovecraft's fiction, sometimes described in ways that appear to contradict information given in "The Call of Cthulhu". For example, rather than including Cthulhu among the Great Old Ones, a quotation from the Necronomicon in "The Dunwich Horror" says of the Old Ones, "Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can he spy Them only dimly".[19] Different Lovecraft stories and characters use the term "Old Ones" in widely different ways.

For example, in his 1931 novellaAt the Mountains of Madness”, the “Old Ones” refers to a species of extraterrestrials also known as the Elder Things. In this piece, a group of human explorers discover a lost city of the Elder Things deep in the Antarctic mountains. Within this ancient city, a series of hieroglyphic murals depict a great conflict between the Elder Things and the star-spawn of Cthulhu:

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As the narrator of “At the Mountains of Madness” notes, "the Old Ones might have invented a cosmic framework to account for their occasional defeats."[20] This “cosmic framework” serves as an important element of other stories written by Lovecraft. In "The Whisperer in Darkness", for example, one character refers to "the fearful myths antedating the coming of man to the earth--the Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu cycles--which are hinted at in the Necronomicon".

According to correspondence between Lovecraft and fellow author James F. Morton, Cthulhu's parent is the deity Nug, itself the offspring of Yog-Sothoth and Shub-Niggurath. Lovecraft includes a fanciful family tree in which he himself descends from Cthulhu via Shaurash-ho, Yogash the Ghoul, K'baa the Serpent, and Ghoth the Burrower.

August Derleth & the Cthulhu mythosEdit

August Derleth, a literary protégé and founder of the publishing house that first printed Lovecraft's works, wrote several stories in the Cthulhu Mythos (a term he coined) that dealt with Cthulhu, both before and after Lovecraft's death. In "The Return of Hastur", written in 1937, Derleth proposes two groups of opposed cosmic entities,

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According to Derleth's scheme, "Great Cthulhu is one of the Water Beings". Derleth indicated that "the Water Beings oppose those of Air"—a departure from traditional elemental theory, in which water and fire were opposed—and depicted Cthulhu as engaged in an age-old arch-rivalry with a designated Air elemental, Hastur the Unspeakable, whom he describes as Cthulhu's "half-brother".[21]

Based on this framework, Derleth wrote a series of stories, collected as The Trail of Cthulhu, about the struggle of Dr. Laban Shrewsbury and his associates against Cthulhu and his minions, culminating, in "The Black Island" (1952), with the atomic bombing of R'lyeh, which Derleth has moved to the vicinity of Ponape. Derleth describes Cthulhu in that story as

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Derleth's interpretations are not universally accepted by enthusiasts of Lovecraft's work, and indeed are criticized by many for injecting a stereotypical conflict between equal forces of objective good and evil into Lovecraft's strictly amoral continuity. [22]

Artistic imageryEdit

Cthulhu has served as direct inspiration for many modern artists and sculptors. Prominent artists that produced renderings of this creature include Paul Carrick, Stephen Hickman, Kevin Evans, Dave Carson, Francois Launet, John Kovalic, Stephen Fleishacker, and Ursula Vernon. Multiple sculptural depictions of Cthulhu exist, one of the most noteworthy being Stephen Hickman's Cthulhu Statue which has been featured in the Spectrum annual,[23] and is exhibited in display cabinets in the John Hay Library of Brown University of Providence. This statue of Cthulhu often serves as a separate object of inspiration for many works, most recent of which are the Cthulhu Worshiper Amulets manufactured by a Russian jeweler. For some time, replicas of Hickman's Cthulhu Statuette were produced by Bowen Designs.

Similar FictionEdit

Cthulhu mythos and Robert E.HowardEdit

Many of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories were attempts at writing stories in H. P. Lovecraft's unique horror style. Howard eventually assimilated the artistic influence of Lovecraft, and was able to include Lovecraftian elements in his Conan stories without aping his Providence colleague. The Lovecraftian monster in "The Phoenix on the Sword" is a perfect example, as is the fact that the published version's discreet reference to the "Nameless Old Ones" replaced the first draft's "Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Yog-Sothoth, and the Nameless Old Ones."[24] Some have noted the existence of a minor "Old One" possessing an elephant's head named Chaugnar Faugn created by Frank Belknap Long, however it's improbable that this was a primary source for Yag Kosha, given the latter's entirely benevolent nature and the fact that Ganesh is such a potent icon of Hindu folklore that a reader so avid for tales and wonders of the Asia as Howard was would have surely heard it mentioned long before knowing (if he ever did) of the Chaugnar Faugn short story.


Cthulhu, also known as Cthulhutl, Ktulu, Kthulhut, Tulu, Kutulu and Q'Talu. High priest of the Great Old Ones and one of the most infamous of those alien beings. He is said by some to resemble a huge, bloated humanoid with an octopoid head, claws, and great bat-like wings. Cthulhu is more or less immortal, capable of reforming after any attack (even a nuclear explosion) and is possessed of great powers that resemble magic. Still Yag Kosha seems to share similarities,such a large animal head-Cthulhu-an octopus,with tentacles,hanging from chin and Yag Kosha-an elephants,with a long trunk.Both also have large,elephant like ears and wings-although Cthulhu often is shown with green batlike demon like wings and Yag Kosha,with angelic bird like wings.Both are very old ancient beings,from somewhere in outer space

Still Yag Kosha seems to share similarities,such a large animal head-Cthulhu-an octopus,with tentacles,hanging from chin and Yag Kosha-an elephants,with a long trunk.Both also have large,elephant like ears and wings-although Cthulhu often is shown with green batlike demon like wings and Yag Kosha,with angelic bird like wings.Both are very old ancient beings,from somewhere in outer space

Cthulhu is said to have come to Earth some 350 million years ago from the star Xoth,as Yag Kosha comes from the green planet of Yag,that ever circles somewhere in the outer fringes of the cosmos.


Yag-kosha or Yogah of Yag was worshipped by an ancient race. Yag-kosha had an idyllic existence where apes danced and he was a god to kindly jungle-folk. REH has Yag-kosha mention that he saw the rise of man from apes. Once again establishing the bond between humans and animals. Then Yara tricked him and imprisoned Yag-kosha for Yara’s personal gain. Yag-kosha bids Conan to cut out his heart. It is both a form of euthanasia and a means of revenge. Conan “shank with shame, as if the guilt of a whole race were laid upon him.”.Generally,it a lesser written story,Yag Kosha would have the monster to slain ,because he other worldly and the human Yara presented in some way,human and deserving of living.But Howard twists things.Although Yag Kosha might inspired by Cthulu,much ends there beyond a few superficial appearences and origins.Whereas the Cthulu is evil.like the devil,out to cause nothing but death and destruction for humanity,Yag Kosha is somewhat presented as a kindly,fallen angel,who was tricked and abuised by humanity

This is obviously not racial guilt. Cimmerians weren’t responsible for Yag-kosha’s misery. Conan is feeling the guilt of the “human” race. Conan is human, Yag is not. I believe REH is juxtaposing a western view of animals here with the eastern view. Western civilizations mercilessly exploit non-humans, like Yara has done with Yag-kosha. Eastern religion, represented by Yag-kosah, recognizes more of a universal kinship between man and animal.

The Elephant ManEdit

There is some speculation that Yag Kosha-as being with a large,elephant head,might inspired by the real Elephant,known as John Merrick.



Joseph Carey Merrick (5 August 1862 – 11 April 1890) was an Englishman who became known as "The Elephant Man" because of his physical appearance caused by a congenital disorder. Because of his condition, he garnered the sympathy of Britain during the Victorian era. A number of sources incorrectly give his name as John Merrick.It has speculated that Howard might heard of the famous Elephant Man -a torchured kind soul and mixed with elements of Lovecrafts Cthulu Mythology and the East Indian deity og Genesh,but Bob Howard never spoke of this connection in letters or words,so it is some only speculated among Howard scholars and fans alike.

ParodiesEdit

Call of Cthulhu fictionEdit

The character of Cthulhu and the mythos that surrounds him has come to inspire a great number of works, some of which are listed below.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. "Cthulhu Elsewhere in Lovecraft," Crypt of Cthulhu #9.
  2. Harms, "Cthulhu," "PanChulhu," The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, p. 64.
  3. http://www.forvo.com/word/cthulhu/
  4. Lovecraft said that "the first syllable [of Khlûl'-hloo is] pronounced gutturally and very thickly. The u is about like that in full; and the first syllable is not unlike klul in sound, hence the h represents the guttural thickness." H. P. Lovecraft, Selected Letters V, pp. 10 – 11.
  5. S. T. Joshi, note 9 to "The Call of Cthulhu", The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
  6. "Cthul-Who?: How Do You Pronounce 'Cthulhu'?", Crypt of Cthulhu #9
  7. Template:Cite web
  8. H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 127.
  9. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", p. 134.
  10. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", pp. 152-153.
  11. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", pp. 133-141, 146.
  12. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", p. 139.
  13. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu," p. 136.
  14. Will Murray, "Prehuman Language in Lovecraft", in Black Forbidden Things, Robert M. Price, ed., p. 42.
  15. Marsh, Philip "R'lyehian as a Toy Language — on psycholinguistics"
  16. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named call140
  17. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", pp. 140-141.
  18. Lovecraft, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", pp. 337, 367.
  19. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 170.
  20. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness, p. 68.
  21. Derleth, "The Return of Hastur", pp. 256, 266.
  22. Bloch, Robert, "Heritage of Horror", The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre
  23. Burnett, Cathy "Spectrum No. 3:The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art"
  24. Patrice Louinet. Hyborian Genesis: Part 1, pages 436, The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian; 2003, Del Rey.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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