Classification: Ocean-traveling trade ship/galley;
Hyborian era;

Creator: Unrevealed

Possessors: Tito (captain), unidentified crewmen (20 oarsmen and 3 manning the "sweep" (see comments)), Conan

First Appearance: Weird Tales#23/5 "Queen of the Black Coast" (May, 1934);
    (Marvel) Conan the Barbarian I#58 (January, 1976)

argus-tito-hyborian-oarsPowers/Abilities/Functions: The Argus had a large sail, as well as multiple paired oars to assist in getting started, changing direction, etc.

    It was described as "broad-waisted," and it was built for transporting goods rather than for speed. It was significantly smaller than the Tigress.


(Conan the Barbarian I#58 (fb) - BTS) - Tito, a licensed master shipman of the ports of Argos, and his crew worked as traders aboard the Argus ship, frequenting the coasts of Kush and selling their goods in Messantia.

(Conan the Barbarian I#58 (fb) - BTS) - The crew of the Argus beat off reavers on occasion.

(Conan the Barbarian I#58 (fb) - BTS) - Tito prepared the crew of the Argus to sail to Kush to trade beads, silk, sugar, and brass-hilted swords to the black kings in exchange for ivory, copra, copper ore, slaves, and pearls.

(Conan the Barbarian I#58) - As the Argus' crewmen completed their final loading, the Cimmerian barbarian Conan, fleeing from Messantian guards, rushed to the end of the dock, leapt aboard the Argus, and coerced Tito into shoving off.

    The crew rhythmically roared their oars, pushing the Argus to wallow out into clear water until a puff of wind filled its shimmering sail; taking her course like a swan, she gathered headway as she skimmed along. Tito and the crew ignored the guards' leader's demands that they turn about. Conan and Tito soon made their peace.

    With the Argus' crew complete, the galley moved steadily southward as it hugged the shoreline with consistently fair weather. argus-tito-hyborian-deck

    As the Argus approached the coast of Shem, where horsemen eyed the galley suspiciously, Tito directed the crew to continue south, aware that there was scant profit in trade with the fierce and wary sons of Shem.

    Similarly, they bypassed Khemi, avoiding the Set-worshipping sorcerers and people, even when a serpent-prowed gondola shot out from behind a castellated piece of land, with voluptuous, dusky women with great red blossoms in their hair calling out to the sailors.

    As they began to cruise Kush's coasts, the crew continued to regard the powerful Cimmerian with interest, although they rarely approached him.

    When they finally reached their destination, they found smoking ruins and the shores littered with natives' bodies. Tito lamented, at least, the loss of ongoing trade, and he noted that this was the work of pirates, likely Belit and her Black Corsairs.

argus-tito-hyborian-awash    The next day as they sailed, a scout spotted the Tigress, Belit's ship. Tito ordered his "lubbers" to turn about and head into a creek mouth at the shore, as if they could beach the Argus before the Black Corsairs ran them down, they may yet escape. Sensing the Argus could not outpace the slender galley pursuing it. Conan had Tito give him a bow and quiver to try to whittle down the numbers before the confrontation.

    When the Argus was still a mile from shore, the first crewman fell from an arrow to the neck. Finally, the larger Tigress caught up to the Argus..

    The Black Corsairs then boarded the Argus and assaulted its crewmen. Tito was slain by Odongo, and the rest of the crewmen were apparently slain as well, although Conan piqued Belit's interest, and -- presumably both attracted to her and not really having any other options -- he accepted her offer to sail with her and become her lover.

    The damaged Argus wallowed in the crimson sea-wash, heeling far over, her decks awash, and held up only by the Tigress' grappling irons.

(Conan the Barbarian I#58 (fb) - BTS) - Once the Argus had been plundered of all valuables, the Black Corsairs presumably released the grappling irons and allowed the craft to sink (or otherwise float on its side) before the Tigress headed south.

Comments: Created by Robert E. Howard;
    adapted to Marvel by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Steve Gan.

    According to a text/narrative box, the crew of the Argus consisted of “20 men at the oars, 3 at the sweep, and the shipmaster”

    Kush was a portion of what would become Africa in subsequent millennia following addional Cataclysms.

Profile by Snood.

The Argus should be distinguished from:

images: (without ads):
Conan the Barbarian I#58, pg. 4, panel 3 (front);
       pg. 12, panel 1 (oarsmen);
          panel 5 (deck, from above, next to larger Tigress);
       pg. 18, panel 4 (awash next to larger Tigress)

Weird Tales#23/5 "Queen of the Black Coast" (May, 1934) - Robert E. Howard (writer)
Conan the Barbarian I#58 (January, 1976) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (penciler), Steve Gan (inker)

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

First posted: 06/28/2020
Last updated: 06/28/2020

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