Literature and Mythology

Things to Learn about Conan the Barbarian and his Atlantean Sword

Conan the Barbarian, illustrated by Mark Schultz

 Who is Conan the Barbarian?

Conan the Barbarian, also known as Conan the Cimmerian is a sword-wielding hero that originated from pulp magazines. He was a character created by Robert E. Howard in a fantasy series published in Weird Tales pulp magazine. Subsequently, as the character became notable, Conan the Barbarian’s legend was adapted to books, comics, and films. Two of his known films were Conan the Barbarian (1982) and its sequel, Conan the Destroyer (1984). Moreover, Conan also made his way into TV programs (both animated and live-action), video games, and other media.

According to the writings of Howard, Conan is a Cimmerian. It is known that the Cimmerians in the writings of Howard were based on the Celts or on the nomadic Indo-European called Cimmerians. In Conan’s legend, Conan was a son of a village blacksmith and was born on a battlefield. He matured quickly that by the age of fifteen, he already became a respected warrior who participated in the destruction of the fortress of Venarium. Subsequently, Conan was struck by wanderlust and began his travel as he encountered monsters, evil wizards, and even beautiful princesses.

Throughout the Hyborian Age, Conan traveled as a thief, mercenary, outlaw and pirate. Growing old, Conan began commanding vast units of warriors. During his forties, Conan seized the crown from the tyrant king of Aquilonia. Most of Conan’s life and adventure mostly resulted in heroic feats, although his motivations were largely for personal gain and to protect his own.

Even though Conan seems like a selfish character, he is reluctant when it comes to fighting women. He also has a strong tendency to save a damsel in distress, even if he has to choose between the damsel’s life and a treasure chest. In fact, in one of his stories, ‘Jewels of Gwahlur,’ Conan saved the dancing girl, Muriela, and allows the chest of jewels, in which he spent months in search, to disappear.

The Origin of Conan’s Atlantean Sword

Film poster of Conan the Barbarian, 1982

Also, aside from Conan, himself, the sword he wielded had a fair share of his fame. In the story, the Atlantean Sword that Conan used was a sword that was initially owned by an ancient king. This sword, along with the king’s servants, was buried with him in a small tomb. However, when Conan the Barbarian, was chased by a pack of wolves, he then stumbled on the king’s tomb and found the sword inside it. He used the sword he found in slaying the wolves and removing his shackles. Ever since that day, Conan the Barbarian became the wielder of the Atlantean sword.

What Does the Atlantean Sword Look Like?

Film poster for Conan the Destroyer, 1984

In the films, Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, the Atlantean Sword has a long blade that was about twenty-seven inches long. Its length could extend up to thirty-five inches if the handle were to include in the measurement.

Interestingly, the Atlantean Sword’s handle has an unusual design for a sword. Its handle was about seven inches that extend up along its blade just above the guard. The sword’s blade, on the other hand, has runic hieroglyphs on it. However, according to the master sword maker in the film, Jody Samson, those encryptions on the sword’s blade weremeaningless markings.

In the Conan the Destroyer film, the Atlantean Sword was two inches longer than the one used in the Conan the Barbarian. No other differences were shown except for the sword’s size and wider ricasso.

Conan the Barbarian’s Legacy

While most comics andpulp adaptations were failures in the 1980s, Conan’s stories were one of those few that earned profit. Also, Conan’s legend became the standard for films regarding swords and sorcery, until the debut of Lord of the Rings in 2001.

However, some critics still deemed some films with the same genre as the clones of Conan. Conan’s legend had also inspired low-budget films like ‘Ator, the Fighting Eagle’ in 1982, and ‘Deathstalker’ in 1983.

In addition, a spin-off of Conan’s legend was released and ran from 1983 to 1993. It is a 20-minute live-action show titled ‘The Adventures of Conan: A Sword and Sorcery Spectacular’ at Universal Studios in Hollywood. This show that was produced at the cost of about $5 million showcased Conan’s action scenes.

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