Azathoth

Azathoth is a deity in the Cthulhu Mythos and Dream Cycle stories of writer H. P. Lovecraft and other authors. He is the ruler of the Outer Gods.

Azathoth
Cthulhu Mythos character
Azathoth
Artist's depiction of Azathoth
First appearance"Azathoth"
Created byH. P. Lovecraft
Information
SpeciesOuter God
TitleNuclear Chaos
Daemon Sultan
Blind Idiot God
ChildrenNyarlathotep (son)
Nameless Mist (offspring)
Darkness (offspring)
RelativesYog-Sothoth (grandson)
Shub-Niggurath (granddaughter)
Nug (great-grandchild)
Yeb (great-grandchild)
Wilbur Whateley (great-grandson)
Cthulhu (great-great-grandson)
Tsathoggua (great-great-grandson)

H. P. Lovecraft

Inspiration

The first recorded mention of Azathoth was in a note Lovecraft wrote to himself in 1919 that read simply, "AZATHOTH—hideous name". Mythos editor Robert M. Price argues that Lovecraft could have combined the biblical names Anathoth (Jeremiah's home town) and Azazel—mentioned by Lovecraft in "The Dunwich Horror".[1] Price also points to the alchemical term "Azoth", which was used in the title of a book by Arthur Edward Waite, the model for the wizard Ephraim Waite in Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep".[2]

Another note Lovecraft made to himself later in 1919 refers to an idea for a story: "A terrible pilgrimage to seek the nighted throne of the far daemon-sultan Azathoth."[3] In a letter to Frank Belknap Long, Lovecraft ties this plot germ to Vathek, a novel by William Beckford about a supernatural caliph.[4] Lovecraft's attempts to work this idea into a novel floundered (a 500-word fragment survives, first published under the title "Azathoth"[5] in the journal Leaves in 1938),[6] although Lovecraftian scholar Will Murray suggests that Lovecraft recycled the idea into his Dream Cycle novella The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, written in 1926.[7]

Price sees another inspiration for Azathoth in Lord Dunsany's Mana-Yood-Sushai, from The Gods of Pegana, a creator deity "who made the gods and thereafter rested." In Dunsany's conception, MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI sleeps eternally, lulled by the music of a lesser deity who must drum forever, "for if he cease for an instant then MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI will start awake, and there will be worlds nor gods no more." This oblivious creator god accompanied by supernatural musicians is a clear prototype for Azathoth, Price argues.[8]

Fiction

Aside from the title of the novel fragment, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath was the first fiction by Lovecraft to mention Azathoth:

[O]utside the ordered universe [is] that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.[9]

Lovecraft referred to Azathoth again in "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1931), where the narrator relates that he "started with loathing when told of the monstrous nuclear chaos beyond angled space which the Necronomicon had mercifully cloaked under the name of Azathoth".[10] Here "nuclear" most likely refers to Azathoth's central location at the nucleus of the cosmos and not to nuclear energy, which did not truly come of age until after Lovecraft's death.

In "The Dreams in the Witch House" (1932), the protagonist Walter Gilman dreams that he is told by the witch Keziah Mason that "He must meet the Black Man, and go with them all to the throne of Azathoth at the centre of ultimate Chaos.... He must sign in his own blood the book of Azathoth and take a new secret name.... What kept him from going with her...to the throne of Chaos where the thin flutes pipe mindlessly was the fact that he had seen the name 'Azathoth' in the Necronomicon, and knew it stood for a primal horror too horrible for description."[11] Gilman wakes from another dream remembering "the thin, monotonous piping of an unseen flute", and decides that "he had picked up that last conception from what he had read in the Necronomicon about the mindless entity Azathoth, which rules all time and space from a curiously environed black throne at the centre of Chaos".[12] He later fears finding himself "in the spiral black vortices of that ultimate void of Chaos wherein reigns the mindless daemon-sultan Azathoth".[13]

The poet Edward Pickman Derby, the protagonist of Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep", is a poet whose collection of "nightmare lyrics" is called Azathoth and Other Horrors.[14]

The last major reference in Lovecraft's fiction to Azathoth was in 1935's "The Haunter of the Dark", which tells of "the ancient legends of Ultimate Chaos, at whose center sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demonic flute held in nameless paws".[15]

In a letter to a friend who jokingly claimed descent from Jupiter, Lovecraft drew up a detailed genealogy charting his and fellow novelist Clark Ashton Smith's shared descent from Azathoth, through Lovecraft's creation Nyarlathotep and Clark-Smith's Tsathoggua, respectively. As nowhere stated in Lovecraft's published work, primordial Azathoth here is made ancestor, through his children Nyarlathotep, "The Nameless Mist," and "Darkness," of Yog-Sothoth, Shub-Niggurath, Nug and Yeb, Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, several deities and monsters unmentioned outside the letter, and a few of Lovecraft's and Ashton-Smith's fancifully-posited human forbears.[16]

Other writers

August Derleth

Many other Mythos writers have referred to Azathoth in their stories. August Derleth, in his novel The Lurker at the Threshold, depicts the entity as a leader in a cosmic upheaval akin to Lucifer's rebellion in Christian mythology. In a passage attributed to the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred, Derleth writes:

(T)hose daring to oppose the Elder Gods who ruled from Betelgueze, the Great Old Ones who fought against the Elder Gods...were instructed by Azathoth, who is the blind idiot god, and by Yog-Sothoth....[17]

In another passage, Derleth quotes a prophecy:

(Y)e blind idiot, ye noxious Azathoth shal arise from ye middle of ye World where all is Chaos & Destruction where He hath bubbl'd and blasphem'd at Ye centre which is of All Things, which is to say Infinity....

The Elder Gods punished Azathoth by rendering him mindless and blind, according to Derleth.

Ramsey Campbell

In "The Insects from Shaggai", Ramsey Campbell describes the extraterrestrial creatures of the title as worshippers of "the hideous god Azathoth", practicing "obscene rites" that involved "atrocities practiced on still-living victims" in Azathoth's conical temple. After fleeing from the destruction of their home planet of Shaggai, the insects teleported the temple across the universe, eventually ending up in a forest near Campbell's fictional town of Goatswood.[18]

Ronald Shea, the narrator of Campbell's story, enters the temple after visiting the forest and discovers a twenty-foot idol that "represented the god Azathoth—Azathoth as he had been before his exile Outside":

[I]t consisted of a bivalvular shell supported on many pairs of flexible legs. From the half-open shell rose several jointed cylinders, tipped with polypous appendages; and in the darkness inside the shell I thought I saw a horrible bestial, mouthless face, with deep-sunk eyes and covered with glistening black hair.[19]

At the story's climax, Shea catches a glimpse of "what the idiot god might now resemble":

I saw something ooze into the corridor—a pale grey shape, expanding and crinkling, which glistened and shook gelatinously as still-moving particles dropped free; but it was only a glimpse, and after that it is only in nightmares that I imagine I see the complete shape of Azathoth.[20]

In "The Mine on Yuggoth", Edward Taylor had found Azathoth's other name, N______ (not given in full) in the Revelations of Glaaki. If one is confronted by a mythos being, the name, if spoken, will scare it away. Edward Taylor fails to use it.

Gary Myers

Gary Myers makes frequent mention of Azathoth in his stories, both those set in the Lovecraftian Dreamlands and those set in the waking world. In "The Snout in the Alcove" (1977), the dreamer protagonist is distressed to find himself in the Dreamlands to which he had vowed never to return. He had made his vow because of a prophecy which said that:

[P]resently the benign Elder Ones would be deposed by infinity’s Other Gods, who would drag the world down a black spiral vortex to the central void where the demon sultan Azathoth gnaws hungrily in the dark....[21]

In "The Last Night of Earth" (1995), the Dreamlands sorcerer Han briefly ponders:

[T]he allegorical figure of Azathoth, the primal monster who had given birth to the stars at the beginning of time, and who, according to an obscure tradition, would devour them at its end.[22]

In "The Web" (2003), the two teen protagonists read this passage from an internet version of the Necronomicon:

Azathoth is the Greatest God, who rules all infinity from his throne at the center of chaos. His body is composed of all the bright stars of the visible universe, but his face is veiled in darkness.[23]

Thomas Ligotti

Thomas Ligotti's short story "The Sect of the Idiot" (1988) mentions a circle of non-human worshippers composed of wizened, hideous creatures. The story's epigram—a "quotation" from the Necronomicon—reads "The primal chaos, Lord of all... the blind idiot god—Azathoth," suggesting that it is that entity whom the creatures worship.[24]

Ligotti has stated that many of his short stories make allusions to Lovecraft's Azathoth, although rarely by that name. An example of this is the story "Nethescurial", which portrays an omnipresent, malevolent, creator deity once worshipped by the inhabitants of a small island. This being slowly infiltrates the life of the story's narrator, first via a manuscript describing its cult.

Nick Mamatas

Nick Mamatas's 2004 novel Move Under Ground, set in a world where Cthulhu has taken power and only the Beats oppose him, the power of the Great Old Ones twists the constellations into new shapes, using them as vessels for his surrogates; among them, Jack Kerouac observes the "red stars of Azathoth". Neal Cassady later becomes a chosen one of Azathoth, gaining immense powers to be used against Cthulhu in the process.

Call of Cthulhu role-playing game

In the Call of Cthulhu RPG, Azathoth is categorized as an Outer God together with Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth, and others.

The Azathoth Cycle

In 1995, Chaosium published The Azathoth Cycle, a Cthulhu Mythos anthology focusing on works referring to or inspired by the entity Azathoth. Edited by Lovecraft scholar Robert M. Price, the book includes an introduction by Price tracing the roots and development of the Blind Idiot God. The contents include:

  • "Azathoth" by Edward Pickman Derby
  • "Azathoth in Arkham" by Peter Cannon
  • "The Revenge of Azathoth" by Peter Cannon
  • "The Pit of the Shoggoths" by Stephen M. Rainey
  • "Hydra" by Henry Kuttner
  • "The Madness Out of Time" by Lin Carter
  • "The Insects from Shaggai" by Ramsey Campbell
  • "The Sect of the Idiot" by Thomas Ligotti
  • "The Throne of Achamoth" by Richard L. Tierney & Robert M. Price
  • "The Last Night of Earth" by Gary Myers
  • "The Daemon-Sultan" by Donald R. Burleson
  • "Idiot Savant" by C. J. Henderson
  • "The Space of Madness" by Stephen Studach
  • "The Nameless Tower" by John Glasby
  • "The Plague Jar" by Allen Mackey
  • "The Old Ones’ Promise of Eternal Life" by Robert M. Price

References

  1. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 158.
  2. ^ Robert M. Price, The Azathoth Cycle, pp. v-vi.
  3. ^ cited in Price, The Azathoth Cycle, p. vi.
  4. ^ Letter to Frank Belknap Long, June 9, 1922; cited in Price, The Azathoth Cycle, p. vi.
  5. ^ "H. P. Lovecraft's original fragment, 'Azathoth'" Archived 2007-08-14 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Publication History for H. P. Lovecraft's 'Azathoth'", The H. P. Lovecraft Archive.
  7. ^ Price, The Azathoth Cycle, p. vii.
  8. ^ Price, The Azathoth Cycle, pp. viii-ix.
  9. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, in At The Mountains of Madness, p. 308.
  10. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Whisperer in Darkness", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 256.
  11. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Dreams in the Witch House", At the Mountains of Madness, pp. 272–273.
  12. ^ Lovecraft, "The Dreams in the Witch House", p. 282.
  13. ^ Lovecraft, "The Dreams in the Witch House", p. 293.
  14. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Thing on the Doorstep", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 277.
  15. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Haunter of the Dark", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 110.
  16. ^ Lovecraft, H. P. (1967). Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft IV (1932–1934). Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House. Letter 617. ISBN 0-87054-035-1.
  17. ^ August Derleth, The Lurker at the Threshold, in The Watchers Out of Time, p. 133.
  18. ^ Ramsey Campbell, "The Insects from Shaggai", The Azathoth Cycle, pp. 86-87.
  19. ^ Campbell, "The Insects from Shaggai", pp. 89, 91.
  20. ^ Campbell, "The Insects from Shaggai", pp. 91-92.
  21. ^ Gary Myers, "The Snout in the Alcove", The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 3, pp. 205-206.
  22. ^ Myers, "The Last Night of Earth", The Azathoth Cycle, p. 132.
  23. ^ Myers, "The Web", The Disciples of Cthulhu II, p. 54.
  24. ^ Thomas Ligotti, "The Sect of the Idiot" (1988), The Azathoth Cycle, 93–102.

Sources

  • Harms, Daniel (1998). The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA: Chaosium. ISBN 1-56882-119-0.
  • Petersen, Sandy. Call of Cthulhu (5th ed.). Oakland, CA: Chaosium. ISBN 1-56882-148-4.
  • Price, Robert M. (ed.) (1995). The Azathoth Cycle (1st ed.). Oakland, CA: Chaosium. ISBN 1-56882-040-2.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)

External links

Azathoth (disambiguation)

Azathoth may refer to:

Azathoth, the Lovecraftian Outer God ruler

Azathoth (short story), the short story in which he first appears

Azathoth (geometry), also known as the great retrosnub icosidodecahedron

Azathoth (short story)

"Azathoth" is the beginning of a never-completed novel written by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft. It was written in June 1922 and published as a fragment in the journal Leaves in 1938, after Lovecraft's death. It is the first piece of fiction to mention the fictional being Azathoth, one of the major entities in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, though the entity only appears in the title.

Books in the Cthulhu Mythos

Many fictional works of arcane literature appear in H.P. Lovecraft's cycle of interconnected works often known as the Cthulhu Mythos. The main literary purpose of these works is to explain how characters within the tales come by occult or esoterica (knowledge that is unknown to the general populace). However, in some cases the works themselves serve as an important plot device. Thus, in Robert Bloch's tale "The Shambler from the Stars", a weird fiction writer seals his doom by casting a spell from the arcane book De Vermis Mysteriis.

Another purpose of these tomes was to give members of the Lovecraft Circle a means to pay homage to one another. Consequently, Clark Ashton Smith used Lovecraft's Necronomicon (his most prominent creation) in Smith's tale "Ubbo-Sathla". Likewise, Lovecraft used Robert E. Howard's Nameless Cults in his tale "Out of the Aeons". Thereafter, these texts and others appear in the works of numerous other Mythos authors (some of whom have added their own grimoires to the literary arcana), including August Derleth, Lin Carter, Brian Lumley, Jonathan L. Howard, and Ramsey Campbell.

Cthulhu Mythos deities

H. P. Lovecraft created a number of deities throughout the course of his literary career, including the "Great Old Ones" and aliens, such as the "Elder Things", with sporadic references to other miscellaneous deities (e.g. Nodens) whereas the "Outer Gods" are a later creation of other prolific writers such as August Derleth, who was credited with formalizing the Cthulhu Mythos.

Cthulhu Mythos supernatural characters

A number of supernatural characters appear in the Cthulhu Mythos. While many of these beings have godlike qualities, they do not fit the standard categories (that is, Outer God or Great Old One). Nonetheless, they are noteworthy for their infrequent or sometimes singular appearances in the mythos.

Dark Fortress

Dark Fortress is a melodic black metal band from Landshut, Germany, formed in 1994. They have released seven studio albums, a split album and a demo album.

Extraterrestrial places in the Cthulhu Mythos

The following fictional celestial bodies figure prominently in the Cthulhu Mythos stories of H. P. Lovecraft and other writers. Many of these astronomical bodies have parallels in the real universe, but are often renamed in the mythos and given fictitious characteristics. In addition to the celestial places created by Lovecraft, the mythos draws from a number of other sources, including the works of August Derleth, Ramsey Campbell, Lin Carter, Brian Lumley, and Clark Ashton Smith.

Overview:

Name. The name of the celestial body appears first.

Description. A brief description follows.

Great retrosnub icosidodecahedron

In geometry, the great retrosnub icosidodecahedron or great inverted retrosnub icosidodecahedron is a nonconvex uniform polyhedron, indexed as U74. It is given a Schläfli symbol sr{3/2,5/3}. George Olshevsky named it "Azathoth," after the Lovecraftian god.

Insect from Shaggai

An Insect from Shaggai is a member of a fictional alien race (also known as the Shan) in the Cthulhu Mythos. The being was created by British author Ramsey Campbell, who was inspired by a similar creature in H. P. Lovecraft's commonplace book. The Shan first appeared in Campbell's short story "The Insects From Shaggai" (1964).

Jack Laird

Jack Laird (May 8, 1923 – December 3, 1991) was an American screenwriter, producer, director, and actor. He received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his works in Ben Casey, Night Gallery, and Kojak.

Laird entered the entertainment industry at a young age. One of his first appearances as a child actor was in an unbilled bit part in the 1934 film The Circus Clown. He continued to appear in unbilled bits into his late twenties, but eventually moved into writing and producing.One of Laird's favorite actors was Leslie Nielsen with whom he made several made-for-TV movies, including 1964's See How They Run, the first feature in that genre, Code Name: Heraclitus, Dark Intruder, The Return of Charlie Chan and numerous TV episodes. Nielsen also starred in a series produced by Laird was evidently an admirer of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. He based at least two episodes of Night Gallery on Lovecraft's work - "Pickman's Model" (based directly on the Lovecraft story of the same title Pickman's Model) and "Professor Peabody's Last Lecture". The dialogue of the 1965 horror movie Dark Intruder, produced by Laird, includes some references to alien beings invented by Lovecraft, tying the film to Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. In an early scene where Brett Kingsford meets with the police commissioner, opines that "gods older than the human race...deities like Dagon and Azathoth still have worshippers." He was also an avid film collector and jazz fan.Laird died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 68. His final resting place in Hollywood Forever Cemetery is in the "Garden of Legends" (formerly Section 8), Lot 266. His grave is next to the cenotaph of actress Jayne Mansfield.

Kuranes

Kuranes (also King Kuranes) is a fictional character in H. P. Lovecraft's Dream Cycle. He was introduced in the short story "Celephaïs" (1922) and also appeared in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926).

Kuranes was a great dreamer and made frequent visits to the Dreamlands. In the waking world, he was of landed gentry in Cornwall, but as his fortunes declined he retreated into fantasy and drug use, eventually dying impoverished and homeless. In his dreams, he created the city of Celephaïs, the valley of Ooth-Nargai, in which Celephaïs was situated, and presumably the cloud city of Serannian, which was connected with Celephaïs. After he died he became the king and chief god of Celephaïs. He didn't care for the pomp and grandeur of Dreamland court life, and preferred to live most of the time in a nearby area he created to resemble the house and land in Cornwall where he had lived as a boy.

He is the only dreamer who has gone to the outermost void "where no dreams reach", that is the court of Azathoth, and survived with both life and sanity intact.

Kuranes has also appeared in Lovecraftian pastiches by authors such as Brian Lumley. Lumley's characters David Hero and Eldin the Wanderer eventually become agents for Kuranes.

Move Under Ground

Move Under Ground is a horror novel mashup by Nick Mamatas which combines the Beat style of Jack Kerouac with the cosmic horror of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. It is available as a free download via a Creative Commons license, CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 according to the License information in the CC version of the book.

Nyarlathotep

Nyarlathotep is a character in the works of H. P. Lovecraft and other writers. The character is commonly known in association with its role as a malign deity in the Lovecraft Mythos fictional universe, where it is known as the Crawling Chaos. First appearing in Lovecraft's 1920 prose poem of the same name, he was later mentioned in other works by Lovecraft and by other writers and in the tabletop role-playing games making use of the Cthulhu Mythos. Later writers describe him as one of the Outer Gods.

Peter Cannon

For the comic book character, see Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt.Peter H. Cannon (b. 1951 in California) is an H. P. Lovecraft scholar and an author of Cthulhu Mythos fiction. Cannon works as an editor for Publishers Weekly, specializing in thrillers and mystery. He lives in New York City and is married with three children.

Poetry and the Gods

"Poetry and the Gods" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft and Anna Helen Crofts. The two authors wrote the story in or shortly before the summer of 1920. It was published the following September in United Amateur, which credits Lovecraft as Henry Paget-Lowe. In the story, a young woman dreams that she has an audience with Zeus, who explains to her that the gods have been asleep and dreaming, but they have chosen a poet who will herald their awakening.The story was written after "The Green Meadow", and before "The Crawling Chaos"—two tales that Lovecraft and Winifred Jackson co-wrote with a Greek mythology basis. What Anna Helen Crofts contributed to "Poetry and the Gods" is unknown. Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi reports that she "appeared sporadically in the amateur press, and may have been introduced to [Lovecraft] by Winifred Jackson." Lovecraft's surviving letters do not mention "Poetry and the Gods".In his 1955 essay on the Cthulhu Mythos, Lovecraft scholar George Wetzel compares the messenger god Hermes in "Poetry and the Gods" with Nyarlathotep, the "messenger of Azathoth". Wetzel considers the dream communication used by Hermes to be "the same psychic device used later by Cthulhu to contact his cult followers."

The Call of Cthulhu

"The Call of Cthulhu" is a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in the summer of 1926, it was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, in February 1928.

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is a novella by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Begun probably in the autumn of 1926, the draft was completed on January 22, 1927 and it remained unrevised and unpublished in his lifetime. It is both the longest of the stories that make up his Dream Cycle and the longest Lovecraft work to feature protagonist Randolph Carter. Along with his 1927 novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, it can be considered one of the significant achievements of that period of Lovecraft's writing. The Dream-Quest combines elements of horror and fantasy into an epic tale that illustrates the scope and wonder of humankind's ability to dream.

The story was published posthumously by Arkham House in 1943. Currently, it is published by Ballantine Books in an anthology that also includes "The Silver Key" and "Through the Gates of the Silver Key." The definitive version, with corrected text by S. T. Joshi, is published by Arkham House in At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels and by Penguin Classics in The Dreams in the Witch-House and Other Weird Stories.

The Thing on the Doorstep

"The Thing on the Doorstep" is a horror short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft, part of the Cthulhu Mythos universe. It was written in August 1933, and first published in the January 1937 issue of Weird Tales.

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