Cthulhu: Education wanted

Things I know about Cthulhu:

  1. It’s some kind of telepathic squid.
  2. It’s asleep on an island.
  3. The island is underwater.
  4. Someday the island will rise and Cthulhu will either
    [list=a][li] take over the world, or[/li][li] destroy the world, or[/li][li] take over and then destroy the world.[/list][/li]
    So please, educate me.

What makes Cthulhu so fearsome? Why does it care about taking over and/or destroying earth? Is it supposed to be an alien, a fantasy creature, or some kind of netherworld god? Are only squids allowed to be Cthulhu followers? Where does the telepathy come into play? How does one make a story about Cthulhu interesting given that all it does in the now is sleep?

Why, pray, should I DreadCthulhu?

Nah, Cthulhu’s a pansy … .

It’s Yog-Sothoth you should worry about … .

Cthulhu is a creation of the writer H.P. Lovecraft and first appeared in his story The Call of Cthulhu. He later appeared or was mentioned in other stories by Lovecraft and also in stories by other writers.

Cthulhu himself is an alien being of immense power who, along with others of his race, arrived on Earth millions of years ago; long before humans even existed. He and his people lived in the city of R’lyeh which existed on an island in what is now the Pacific. For one reason or another, the island sank to the bottom of the ocean. Cthulhu was trapped in the city when it sank and so now lies, sleeping, at the bottom of the ocean.

Cthulhu can only exist fully when “the stars are right”. The exact meaning of this is unclear but at the moment they are not. Because of this, Cthulhu cannot be active at this time and so can only sleep within his sunken home of R’lyeh and dream.

Because he is so powerful, his dreams can sometimes be picked up by humans. Particularly sensitive people (like artists or madmen) are more sucesptible to picking up these dreams. Some of them interpret these as messages from a “god” and attempt to do Cthulhu’s bidding based on them. Whether Cthulhu plans this or if he is even aware that it is happening is unknown.

The thing you must realize about Cthulhu is that he is truely alien. His motives and motivations are not just unknown to us, they are truely unknowable. We do not and cannot understand what he wants or why.

Were Cthulhu to awaken he may destroy the human race or even the world, but not for any reason we could understand. In fact, he may not even be aware that the human race exists. It would be no different than you walking along the street and stepping on an anthill. You could kill hundreds of ants and destroy their “world” and not even be aware that you had done so. The same is true of Cthulhu and humanity.

As I alluded to earlier, some humans are worshippers of Cthulhu but it is doubtful that he is aware of them or that he would care even if he was. There are other species which worship him (such as the Deep Ones) but it is unknown if he has any more interest in them than he does with humans.

How do you make a story about Cthulhu interesting? Go track down a copy of Call of Cthulhu and read it. (It’s available on the web but I won’t link to it since the status of such copies are posibally questionable. You should be able to find it without much trouble though.)

I’m sure others will be here with more information shortly, but this is my take anyway.

Does Cthulhu show up in Necronomicon, and was that an actual word before Lovecraft made one, or is it entirely his creation?


Lovecraft invented the Necronomicon. I don’t know if the big C shows up there, although I highly doubt it.

All references to mystic authors and lost tomes regarding the Cthulhu mythos are fake. H.P. Lovecraft and a bunch of his author buddies got together and decided that creating an entire backstory for the Cthulhu pantheon would be a hoot. :smiley:

And IIRC, Cthulhu himself is a relatively minor being – he is but a servant of the Elder Gods, who have their own, even more alien plans for Earth.

To amplify: The Necronomicon is purely Lovecraft’s invention. And he didn’t write it out, he just refers to it in his stories. Any text you come across purporting to be the Necronomicon is a later creation by fans.

But we do know that Cthulhu is alluded to in the Necronomicon because Lovecraft says so explicitly in his original story, The Call of Cthulhu. Here’s the passage:

And here’s the full text of the original story for the curious:


Take care not to be driven mad by the soul-shattering horror of the outer gods … .

Ai! Ai! It’s Shub-niggurath! The black goat of the woods with a thousand young!

To clarify, Cthulhu isn’t a squid, although he does feature a number of tentacles. However, he is also a biped. And he has wings. And he’s the size of Godzilla. Viz.

At this link – http://www.toyvault.com/cthulhu/plush_cthulhu.html – you can buy your very own plush stuffed Cthulhu doll! The perfect Cthulhmas gift for your clutch of little spawn of eldritch night!

So… is Cthulhu is a really large mind flayer?

kasuo, your dungeons & dragons is showing…

Thank you very much for all that, tansaafl. Atleast now he sounds more important than a dozy squid!

Just to clarify, are the Deep Ones supposed to be likeminded alien beings or the deepsea fish? What has Cthulhu’s dreams led susceptible humans to do? Only bad/evil stuff?
(I will go and find Call of Cthulhu just as soon as my exams are over. Will I need to read any other book beforehand to ‘get’ this one? I’ve never even laid eyes on a Lovecraft book so far!)

Well, he’s certainly a sight for sore eyes, isn’t he?

Too obviously anthropromorphic. Paul Kidby’s fiends from the Dungeon Dimensions (for you Terry Pratchett fans) are more creative. :wink:

Brainglutton, the site you point us to has a Santa Cthulhu, a Ninja Cthulhu, and even a ‘Cthulhu with a pair of big boobs’!

I want one of those!

Lovecraft, with only two (IIRC) exceptions, wasn’t a novelist. He wrote short stories. Only a few of them directly relate to each other, although there’s a lot of cross-referential name droppings. Cthulhu actually appears in one story (the aforementioned “Call of Cthulhu”), but is mentioned in about twenty or so. There’s no particular order that the stories need to be read in, although you should make an effort to find “Pickman’s Model,” “The Dunwich Horror,” “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” “The Colour Out of Space,” and the novella, At the Mountains of Madness. All of these have been collected and repackaged a dozen times over, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find most of them in one volume.

On the Necronomicon: You might check out the Archives:
Straight Dope Staff Report: Was H.P. Lovecraft’s “Necromicon” for real?

How about I send some Deep Ones to rip those eyes of yours out of their sockets? Or maybe send some star spawn to eat your children? :slight_smile: And that pic got me on a bad tentacle day.

** Pochacco ** already posted a link to one of the stories, but here is a collection of almost all of H.P. Lovecraft’s works.
Everyone else here has covered most the good stuff about me, so I will leave you The Tales of the Plush Cthulhu to test your sanity.

Yes, read all of those stories.

Meanwhile, here’s a more accurate picture, from H.P. himself.

I thought Cthulhu’s big boobs were only supposed to come out when the stars were right.

Can somebody please educate me on how to pronounce Cthulhu?