Conan, the Snake and the Cosmogonic Duel

Conan the Thunderer?

There has never been such movie. If this was the first thought that came to your mind after reading the above heading, then – well – you are basically right.
Actually, the post’s title image comes from the movie “Conan the Barbarian“.
In my opinion one of the most influential pieces of motion picture fantasy ever made.
What is more, if you are familiar with Robert E. Howard’s work, then you know that he did not write a single story of such title.


You might also be familiar with the Indo-European mythology. And if so, at this point you already know that “Conan the Thunderer” could have replaced the original title and there would be absolutely nothing wrong with that.
And how is this possible? Just take some time to read the following Encyclopaedia entries.



Cosmogonic Duel

And how this relates to the movie?

Thulsa Doom

Wizard, the highest priest and personification of Set – the Serpent God.
With his ability to transform into a huge python he is definitely the Snake.


Son of a Blacksmith (“priest of steel” among the Cimmerians) who taught him the Riddle of Steel. Cimmerians worshipped the god Crom. Although there is no mention about Crom as a lightning-wielding god of thunder, the fact that he seemed to be the god of warriors, strength and courage who resided on the mountain top within the clouds, made him quite similar to the main Indo-European deity. In the movie, Conan was the hypostasis of Crom. So he would play the Thunderer in the Cosmogonic Duel. This was confirmed by his choice of weapons: both axe and sword were the “culturally materialized” lightnings.

And what about the Cosmogonic Duel?

How is it similar to the struggle of Conan against Thulsa?

The main motive of the Conan’s actions was vengeance and his father’s sword didn’t seem to fit the role of a typical subject of mythical dispute. However, there is a clear pattern that makes the movie a reflection of the ancient myth.

  • The direct cause that let Conan meet his arch-enemy was a woman. King Osric’s daughter, who was manipulated by Thulsa Doom to join the ranks of his followers. Our hero set off to recover her.
  • The first encounter ended almost fatally for Conan. Thulsa captured him, taught a lesson on the power of flesh and crucified on the Tree of Woe.
  • Only the help from Subotai, Valeria and the Wizard of the Mounds saved the hero for the next attempt.
  • After defeating Thulsa’s lieutenants, Conan finally met him on “equal” terms and the steel won over the flesh. The princess could wake from the Snake’s charm and returned to Osric.

Yes, it was that simple. But I must confess that the first ten (or maybe more) times I’ve watched Conan the Barbarian I had no idea on how closely it was related to the ancient myths.



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