11

Does the Cthulhu (see: "The Call of Cthulhu", Lovecraft; cthulhu.org; Wikipedia; The H.P. Lovecraft Wikia), have any enemies in the official H.P. Lovecraft canon?

Different internet resources suggest Hastur (see also: The Yellow Site Wikia, Cthulhu Wiki)is an enemy, @Hypnosifl notes, I believe correctly that Lovecraft established no such relationship in his own work.

Rather, that rivalry was suggested by August Derleth, in his "Cthulhu Mythos" stories, published after Lovecraft's death. And many take issue with Derleth's interpretations, from what I've read, as he portrays the Cthulhu as predominately evil, where as Lovecraft's own text seemingly suggests the Cthulu and other Old Ones are in fact chaotic neutrals and not explicitly "evil" in a human sense, even if deathly destructive...

See Castro's speech (from Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu":

Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

Given the potentially problematic nature of the expanded canon, I want to examine just the original Lovecraft-authored mythos.

Lovecraft clearly depicts the Cthulhu as a supremely destructive and powerful entity. And that in turn suggests it likely has some known enemies. Were any discussed?

See also: Why can't Hastur be named? and Why do Hastur & Cthulhu hate each other?

  • 2
    Cthulhu is far from 'supremely destructive or powerful.' He's a minor figure in Lovecraft's stories and not particularly important or even fearsome except in relation to humanity, which occupies a position fairly close to cockroaches on Lovecraft's cosmic scale. – Shamshiel May 30 '16 at 0:35
  • Interesting... my reading of the quotes in Call of the Cthulhu evoked more of a destructive influence, i.e. Castro's comment that when man had ascended to the level of the Old Ones, they would reemerge and teach man new ways to "shout and kill". I'm not suggesting crude human definition of destruction, but it suggests to me a creature that exploits some sort of nature-level destruction events, i.e. supernovae, black holes, earthquakes, gamma ray bursts, etc. obliterating or disrupting the lower lifeforms. I get what you're saying though about his non-central role, given the sparing mentions. – Jason R. Mick May 30 '16 at 1:52
  • 1
    No.. its relationship to other entities is not described – Mark Rogers May 30 '16 at 2:21
  • 1
    @JasonR.Mick: What we're told about Cthulhu in CoC is that he is an incredibly ancient being that is terrifying mostly for his alienness - not made of matter, huge, terribly old, inhabitant of strangely curved space, and inhumanly 'beyond good and evil'. As a priest he presumably communes with darker, more powerful beings and can cast preservation spells that last aeons. He's telepathic and can travel through space 'when the stars are right' but is helpless otherwise. His telepathy is blocked by water and he can be temporarily killed by an man with a boat. – Shamshiel May 30 '16 at 12:34
  • @Shamshiel - I dunno about the idea that Cthulhu is a "priest"--the only reference to this is in the description of Cthulhu by members of the religious cult, whose members will carry on in hidden places "until the time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in the mighty city of R’lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneath his sway". "Great priest" might just be the cult's term for the fact that they see him as the great leader of their religion, or perhaps the leader of the "Great Old Ones" who were also described as "priests" by Castro. – Hypnosifl May 30 '16 at 18:31
11

No

Lovecraft never really created a strict pantheon of gods, so there was never any mention of "X being enemy/brother of Y" - for HPL his monsters were just background for the story itself:

According to David E. Schultz, Lovecraft never meant to create a canonical Mythos but rather intended his imaginary pantheon to serve merely as a background element. Thus, Lovecraft's "pseudomythology" — a term used by Lovecraft himself and others to describe the beings appearing in his stories — is the backdrop for his tales but is not the primary focus. Indeed, the cornerstone of his stories seems to be the town of Arkham and not beings like Cthulhu. Furthermore, Lovecraft may not have been serious when he spoke of developing a "myth-cycle" and probably would have had no need to give it a name anyway. Source

It was the work of people following his footsteps, mainly August Derleth (and later Lin Carter), who turned the loosely created gods and monsters into what we know currently as "Cthulhu mythos" and introduced Elder Gods as enemies of Great Old Ones (such as Cthulhu). Derleth also mentions the rivalry between Hastur and Cthulhu - which has been explained nicely in this answer. Much later on Brian Lumley introduced Kthanid - a "good" brother of Cthulhu and his enemey.

  • 3
    On the Lovecraft wikiquote page, in letters to August Derleth, there's one where he responds to Derleth's suggestion about a name for his interconnected mythology, where Lovecraft writes 'It's not a bad idea to call this Cthulhuism & Yog-Sothothery of mine "The Mythology of Hastur"—although it was really from Machen & Dunsany & others, rather than through the Bierce-Chambers line, that I picked up my gradually developing hash of theogony—or daimonogony.' ('Hastur' was a god originated by Bierce and used by Chambers) – Hypnosifl May 29 '16 at 22:55
  • 2
    Also, in letters to Frank Belknap Long he has another comment about his loose mythology or "Yog-Sothothery": 'I consider the use of actual folk-myths as even more childish than the use of new artificial myths, since in the former one is forced to retain many blatant peurilities & contradictions ... The only permanently artistic use of Yog-Sothothery, I think, is in symbolic or associative phantasy of the frankly poetic type; in which fixed dream-patterns of the natural organism are given an embodiment & crystallisation' – Hypnosifl May 29 '16 at 23:00
  • 1
    The whole idea of a mythos is rooted in the fans' desire for the legendarium to make sense. But a key element of Lovecraft's writing is that on the grand scale, there is no sense to be made. – EvilSnack May 5 at 21:27
1

In At the mountains of Madness Lovecraft mentions that C'thulhu's race and The Elder Things fought each other.

  • 1
    Nice find! Could you maybe add a quote or two to support this? – Adamant Jul 31 '16 at 7:39
  • (If it helps, you can search the full text on Wikisource.) – Wrzlprmft Jul 31 '16 at 9:10
  • I think he's referring to this passage midway through Ch. 7: ...Another race—a land race of beings shaped like octopi and probably corresponding to fabulous pre-human spawn of Cthulhu—soon began filtering down from cosmic infinity and precipitated a monstrous war which for a time drove the Old Ones wholly back to the sea—a colossal blow in view of the increasing land settlements. ... but that's referring to the [probable]... spawn of the Cthulhu, not the original Cthulhu themselves, but it's perhaps the closest to an enemy that was hinted at in the cannon. – Jason R. Mick Apr 8 '17 at 18:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.