Hyborian Era Gods

How do they fit in with the history of gods in the Marvel Universe? (explanation)

Arrangement on This Page

Individually Alphabetically

By Peoples Who Primarily Worshipped Them During the Hyborian Era

Possible Connections to Post-Hyborian Pantheons

By Proper Name (or best group classification)

By Worshipping Race(s)


Individually Alphabetically

Asura

Atum (God Slayer) - by Will U and Per Degaton

Borri

Crom-by William Uchtman

Dagon by Greg O and Will U

Demiurge (sentient life-force of Earth's bio-sphere) - by Will U. and Per Degaton

Demogorge (God Slayer) - by Will U and Per Degaton

Dweller in the Pit (Zug)

Elder Gods of the Hyborian Era

Erlik

Grim Grey God

Ishiti (snake goddess) by Greg O'Driscoll and Per Degaton

Ishtar

Jergal Zadh-by Greg O

KÔli

Mitra

Nergal

Omm (Spider God)

Oranah (Stag God)

Primal Gods

Quetzalocoatl

Scathach

Shokkoth (elemental) By Greg O'Driscoll

Stag God (deity/demon) by Greg O'Driscoll

Tammuz

Tsathoggua

Yaamai

Zug


By Peoples Who Primarily Worshipped Them During the Hyborian Era

Aesgaard

Aquilonia: Mitra

Argos: Mitra

Bamula

Black Kingdoms

Bossonia

Brythunia

Cimmerians: Crom

Corinthia: Mitra

Hyperboreans: Borri

Hyrkania: Erlik

Iranistan

Khauran: Ishtar

Khoraja: Ishtar

Khitai

Koth: Ishtar

Kush: Dagon

Nemedia: Mitra

Ophir: Mitra

Pictland

Shem: Ishtar

Stygia: Ishiti (presumably)

Tlazitlans

Turan: Erlik

Vanaheim

Vendhya: Asura

Zingara: Mitra

Zamora: Omm


Possible Connections to Post-Hyborian Pantheons

I have not been able to come up with the formal names used in the Hyborian Era for the pantheons of gods of the various Hyborian peoples. However, based on the idea that some of these gods may have survived into the post-Hyborian Age to have post-Bronze Age worshippers (see essay below) and joined or formed pantheons afterwards, I have made the following designations.

By Proper Name (or best group classification)

Annunaki - Mesopotamian/Assyrian/Babylonian Gods/Canaanite/Mesopotamian/Philistine/Phoenician/Sumerian Gods
-includes both the Annunaki and the Igigi:
Dagon, Ishtar

Asgardians - Norse/Germanic Gods
-includes the Aesir and the Vanir:
Borri

Daevas - Hindu India and Persian Gods
-includes the Daevas & Adityas:
KÔli, Mitra

Mexican Gods: Quetzalocoatl

Mongolian Gods: Erlik

Tuatha da Danaan - Celtic Gods -by William Uchtman
-Britain, Ireland and Gaul:
Crom , Scathach

Zoroastorian Gods: Asura (possibly)


By Worshipping Race(s)

It is actually an anachronism in the context of the Marvel Universe to refer to Hyborian Era gods by titles such as "Assyrian god" or "Persian god", since the Hyborian Era occurred before the emergence of these civilizations, although as in the case of Stygia and Egypt, many of the Hyborian Era cultures were direct forerunners and counterparts of post-Hyborian cultures. With that in mind, I have done this to again relate Hyborian Era gods with the authentic mythologies that they are based on. It should be noted, however, that some of the gods of the Hyborian Era may have switched their allegiances to other peoples at some point after the end of the Hyborian Era, so that they sought worshippers among peoples who were not descended from the Hyborian Era civilizations that worshipped them.

A key example of this is Dagon. The Hyborian Era Dagon was worshipped by a black culture, but in the post-Bronze Age, Dagon was worshipped in the Middle East, not Africa.

Assyrian Gods (Annunaki): Dagon, Ishtar

Babylonian Gods (Annunaki): Dagon, Ishtar

British Gods (Tuatha da Danaan): Crom

Canaanite Gods (Annunaki): Dagon, Ishtar

Celtic Gods (Tuatha da Danaan): Crom, Scathach

Gallic Gods (Tuatha da Danaan): Crom

Germanic Gods (Asgardians): Borri

Hindu Gods (Daevas): KÔli, Mitra

Irish Gods (Tuatha da Danaan): Crom

Mesopotamian Gods (Annunaki): Dagon, Ishtar

Mexican Gods: Quetzalocoatl

Mongolian Gods: Erlik

Persian Gods (Daevas): Mitra

Philistine Gods (Annunaki): Dagon, Ishtar

Phoenician Gods (Annunaki): Dagon, Ishtar

Siberian Gods (Mongolian Gods): Erlik

Sumerian Gods (Annunaki): Dagon, Ishtar


Gods of the Hyborian Age: How Do They Fit Into the History of Gods in the Marvel Universe?

The Demiurge and the Early History of Gods

As a refresher, a few general properties of the history of gods in the Marvel Universe should be reiterated. As established in Avengers I#187, Thor I#301, Thor Annual#10, and re-confirmed in the entry for demons in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#3, Silver Surfer Annual#2/7 and Doctor Strange III#11, in the Marvel Universe, the first gods of Earth were created millions of years ago by the embodiment of Earth's biosphere, the Demiurge. Among these Elder Gods were Y'Garon, Belathauzer, Set, Chthon, and Mother Earth. These deities mostly degenerated into demons, with the exception of Mother Earth, who, in order to stop her demon brothers, mated with the Demiurge, producing a new god named Atum, who slew most of the degenerated Elder Gods, though a few escaped. Atum subsequently split much of his essence into countless fertile fragments. These fertile fragments, upon the emergence of man, interacted with the collective psychic energies of the human race, thus spawning a new generation of gods similar in form to human beings. Mother Earth-later called by various pantheons Gaea, Nertha, Aditi, Coatlique, Rangi, etc.-subsequently mated with many of these later gods, thus becoming the maternal ancestor of most of Earth's gods.

It should be noted, however, that in the Marvel Universe, the history of human civilization extends back much farther than it does in the history of the real world. In fact, the history of human civilization actually includes two epochs-during which mankind worshipped many gods-that occurred before the Bronze Age-which have not been fully integrated with the accounts of the history of gods in the Marvel Universe. These two epochs are the Pre-Cataclysmic Age (before the sinking of Atlantis circa 16,000 BC) and, of interest to us here, the Hyborian Era.

Hyborian Era

The Hyborian Era is, of course, the epoch of history from about 16,000 BC to 8,000 BC, a time in-between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, which emerged after the sinking of Atlantis but was itself subsequently destroyed by another great catastrophe. As a result of this latter catastrophe, much of the history of the Hyborian Era was forgotten by humanity. Fantasy writer Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan, when he created his fictional Hyborian Era, set as a property of that era that vestigial memories and other traces of the customs and culture of the Hyborian Era did remain in people's minds, and were passed on to the later Bronze Age civilizations. Thus, for example, the people of the Hyborian Era nation Stygia became in post-Bronze Age centuries the Egyptians.

Howard thus based most of the fictional cultures of the Hyborian Era at least loosely on actual, historical ancient cultures, the rational being that these historical Bronze Age cultures had derived their practices from his earlier fictional Hyborian Era nations. As a part of this interweaving of elements of actual cultures into fictional Hyborian civilizations, Howard also drew extensively on authentic world mythologies to provide deities for the peoples of the Hyborian nations, such that relatively few of the Hyborian Era gods do not have some basis in actual mythology.

The Hyborian Age became a part of the history of the Marvel Universe after it acquired the license to Howard's characters, and several stories in the 1970's made it clear that Conan had existed in the past of Earth-616. As a result of the Hyborian Era running from around 16,000 BC to 8,000 BC, before the Bronze Age, any gods worshipped in the Hyborian Era were thus worshipped in the Marvel Universe at a point before their cults began in actual history. This has not caused too much overlap, though, with the adaptation of world mythologies in other Marvel series. This is because Howard mostly avoided using gods from well-known mythologies such as those of the Norse (Asgardians) or Greeks (Olympians), or of religions that still exist today, such as Hinduism and Shintoism.

In the specific case of the Asgardians and the Olympians, who had been adapted by Marvel in the 1940's long before the first Conan comic came out, the history of their worship on Earth largely remains similar to that of actual history. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition, for example, in its entries for the Olympian gods and Zeus, made a note to the effect that the Olympian gods did not seek out worshippers on Earth until after the Hyborian Era ended. Thor Annual#8 also largely confirmed that the Asgardian gods did not largely amass worshippers on Earth until after the Hyborian Era.

Overlap Between the Hyborian Era and Other Mythology Adaptations of Marvel

However, a few mythologies referenced in the Conan stories have also been adapted by writers of non-Howardian influenced series. This occurs with Celtic, Mongolian, Sumerian, and Egyptian mythology. It should be noted, though, that in the context of the Marvel Universe, that Hyborian Era gods that Howard based on authentic mythology are not necessarily the Marvel Universe versions of these gods of post-Bronze Age mythology. The classic case of this involves Set the Serpent God, who was worshipped by the fictional Stygians of Howard's Hyborian Era. Although Howard based the fictional Stygia's Set on the historical Egyptian mythology's god Set, the brother of Osiris, in the Marvel Universe, the Set worshipped by the Egyptians was in fact an impostor who stole the Hyborian god Set's worshippers at a point after the Hyborian Era when Stygia had become Egypt. As established in Punisher Annual#2/4, this impostor has taken the name Seth.

Hence, the fate of the Hyborian Era gods in the post-Hyborian history of the Marvel Universe remains uncertain. It thus remains possible, for example, that the Dagon and Erlik of the Hyborian Era are not the same entities as the deities of those names of later mythology-or of modern era stories. The Bronze Age gods could be impostors who assumed the names of the Hyborian Era gods to usurp their worshippers. A few signs of this have emerged; in Marvel Comics Presents#63, Varnae, a vampire active since the Pre-Cataclysmic Era, told Thor that he saw the Asgardians supplant the gods of a prior civilization, indicating that many Hyborian Era gods died before the advent of the Bronze Age era of myth, to be replaced by younger gods.

The Hyborian Gods and Other Predecessors of the Bronze Age Gods: The Titans, Fomore, and Other Proto-Gods

With regards to this discussion of the possible usurping of power from the Hyborian Age gods by the post-Bronze Age gods, it is interesting to mention that even in authentic world mythology, it was often acknowledged that the major gods such as Zeus and Odin had supplanted earlier gods. In the case of Zeus, he defeated the Titans (who had in turn earlier supplanted Ouranos), the ancestor of the Olympian gods, and in the case of Odin, as mentioned below, the defeat of Ymir and his Frost Giants took place.

Other mythologies also acknowledged that the major gods were in fact second-or-third generation deities, and that previous races of proto-gods had existed. The Sumerian Annunaki had the Igigi, the Hindu Daevas had the Adityas, the Egyptian Heliopolitans had the Ogdoad, and the Celtic gods had the Fomore. A few of these proto-gods have been seen or acknowledged as existing in the Marvel Universe. For example, the Fomore have made several appearances, and the Titans, though as yet unseen in an actual story, have been referenced in the entries for Gaea, Zeus, and the Olympian gods in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition.

It is tempting to extend back this cycle of usurption of power back and to view these proto-gods as having been responsible for usurping the places of the Hyborian Era gods. However, these races such as the Titans and the Fomore have never explicitly been stated as doing such. In fact, there are only two cases where a preceding race from an authentic mythology has been mentioned in connection with the Hyborian Era; Ymir has been shown as having been worshipped during the Hyborian Era, and Borri from Conan the Barbarian I#3 may be the same entity as Buri, the ancestor of the Asgardian gods. Beyond that, it remains speculation as to what relation the Titans, Ogdoad, Fomore, and other proto-gods have to the Hyborian Era gods.

Gods Worshipped in the Hyborian Era Who Survived to the Post-Bronze Age Epochs

A few Hyborian Era gods have been definitely seen to have survived. In these cases, we can certainly state that they are the same entities as the Hyborian Era gods of those names. Ymir, Set, and Damballah stand as good examples of this situation. Ymir, since he was described even in the original myth as one of the oldest beings in the Nine Worlds of Asgardian cosmology and older than the Asgardian gods such as Odin, can be presumed to have existed for tens of thousands of years before his modern era appearances, and thus be the same Ymir who was worshipped in the Hyborian Era by the Aesir and the Vanir. He was slain at some point after the Hyborian Era by Odin (as per authentic Norse myth), but Ymir has since regenerated.

Though the Set of the Hyborian Era lost most of his human worshippers to Seth, he has returned several times in the modern era, most notably in relation to the Serpent Crown. Damballah, the spawn of Set seen in King Conan#4, has definitely appeared in the modern era in Doctor Strange II#48 (though it remains unclear if he is the same as the Damballah of the Voodoo gods seen in Dracula Lives!#2/7, Avengers I#152, and Blade: Crescent City Blues, or if the latter is an impostor who usurped his worshippers.)

It remains possible that a few more Hyborian Era gods are still alive. Red Sonja's brief return to life in the modern era in Marvel Team-Up I#79 could have been a rare intervention by Hyborian Era gods. In Thor Annual#11, Odin made reference to the "Elder Gods of Asgard". In Alpha Flight/X-Men I#1-2, mysterious beings called They Who Sit Above in Shadow appeared, who were presented as being worshipped by the Asgardians, indicating that they were older than them. These could plausibly represent gods worshipped during the Hyborian Age.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a few key points about the Hyborian Era gods

1. As noted under clarifications, the term Elder Gods of the Hyborian Era refers to a different group of gods than the Elder Gods established in Thor Annual#10. The only prominent god of the Hyborian Era who is also one of the Elder Gods from Thor Annual#10 is Set.

2. The Hyborian Era gods, as with all Terran gods, would presumably have Mother Earth/Gaea as an eventual maternal ancestor. The exact circumstances and time of the emergence of most of the Hyborian Era gods remain mostly undepicted, though Anu, Erlik (see Conan the Barbarian I#120) and Crom (Conan the Barbarian I#260) are known to have existed in the Pre-Cataclysmic Era. Omm, based on Marvel Team-Up I#111, may also be a Pre-Cataclysmic god. The Picts of the Hyborian Era are also said to have worshipped some Pre-Cataclysmic deities. In any event, though some of the Hyborian Era gods may have existed in the Pre-Cataclysmic Era, they are still not as old as the Elder Gods of Thor Annual#10.

3. Gods of post-Bronze Age myth with the same names as gods of the Hyborian Era may be the same entities, but could also be impostors or descendants who stole the worshippers of the Hyborian Era gods.

4. Proto-gods such as the Fomore and the Titans preceded the Bronze Age gods such as the Asgardians and the Olympians, but whether they were responsible for the downfall of many of the Hyborian Era gods remains speculation.

Excellent discussion. A few remaining points, though:

1)  It seems fairly certain that at least the Asgardian Gods have had previous cycles of existence, perhaps every 2000 years as indicated by the Eye of Odin, I think.


2) In addition, another thought I had was of the magical realms of the gods existing in "non-linear time." I'm more into medicine, and my knowledge of quantum physics is relatively puny. Still, it seems that magical beings, such as the gods, could, at minimum, travel through time and access earlier eras. Alternatively, picture the explanation to the show Quantum Leap, where linear time in one reality might overlap with a different pattern of time. If it's too confusing--and to be honest, I haven't quite figured it out yet--just imagine that the magical realm of the gods is not limited to the same rules of physics as on Earth, and so they also may not be ruled by the same laws of time.
It's also possible that they could exist relative to Earth simultaneously at various points in time.

3) See the profiles on such characters as Marduk, Dagon, and Seth to see discussions on how beings might be confused.

4) Don't forget They Who Sit Above in Shadow. I'd love to see them revealed as Crom, Mitra, Asura, etc.

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