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Stygia is a country of the Hyborian Age.

Geography[]

Stygia is located south of Shem and north of the Black Kingdoms. Much of its borders are defined by the river Styx. Stygia's terrain is a mix of mountains, desert, plains, and marshes.

South of Stygia are the vast black kingdoms of the Amazons, Kushites, Atlaians, and the ancient empire of Zembabwei.

Cities[]

  • Khemi, Stygia's priestly capital, if not the royal one, is located at the northeastern tip of the country, where the bordering Styx empties into the Western Sea. The Hour of the Dragon mentions a dead nameless city, which is the true religious centre of Stygia.
  • Luxur, which is the royal capital of Stygia, lies a hundred miles south of the Styx on a tributary known as the Bakhr River, almost exactly halfway between the eastern and western borders. The City of Kings was constructed around and eventually engulfed an oasis in the desert. Foreign traders find it easier to sell their wares here rather than the much more regulated Khemi.
  • Pteion is an abandoned, cursed city in eastern Stygia, rumored to have been built by the Serpent Men of Valusia. It was home to the black wizards, before the deserts encroached upon it and the inhabitants fled towards Khemi during the Seventh Dynasty.
  • Independent Harakht, City of the Hawk God, is located along the river Styx. Its independence is only barely tolerated being used a buffer between Stygia and Shem. The city is defended by giant hawks and their riders, grown to enormous size by a mysterious green star-rock discovered by a former ruler.
  • Khesatta, City of Magicians, is a walled city located in the southern mountains.
  • Kutchemes, a city in what is now eastern Shem, was ruled by the sorcerer Thugra Khotan in ancient times. He expanded Stygia to its territorial height, but his forces were later defeated by the Kothian incursion. Kutchemes was left in ruins, although Thugra himself managed to survive.
  • Sukhmet, a slaver city bordering the cannibal country of Darfar.

History and politics[]

Stygia has existed as a pre-human kingdom south of Thuria, since before the Cataclysm, which left her untouched. After the Cataclysm however, a civilization who oppressed the Lemurians far in the east of Thuria were overthrown, with its survivors arriving and conquering Stygia.

In the first centuries of the Hyborian Age, the ancient and mysterious kingdom of Stygia was "sleeping". For centuries, Stygian armies ravaged the pastoral lands of Shem on its eastern borders.[1]

Stygia is an intensely insular country. Though in ancient times her borders once extended very far, encompassing Shem and the fertile uplands of Koth, Ophir, and Argos. Their empire was defeated, about three thousand years before the time of Conan, and driven back below the Styx by the Kothian barbarians who razed Kutchemes into the ground. Now, Stygia's external power has diminished, while the rulers hold their borders very strictly.

Stygia is technically a monarchy, with a ruling family and line of noble succession. The daughter-kingdoms of Stygia, like Kutchemes and Acheron, were obviously priest-monarchies ruled by priest-kings. In "The Phoenix on the Sword", Thoth-Amon reveals how the king casts down and elevates priests and mages at his own will. Note that when the priest Orastes resurrects Xaltotun in The Hour of the Dragon with an incantation of Skelos, old when Atlantis was young, he wears an ermine-brimmed cloak, a traditional royal attribute. The most recent monarchs have been Thugra Mentuphera (killed during a Taian rebellion), succeeded by his son Ctesphon II (slain by Belit), Ctesphon III (sister of Ctesphon II and one of the few women to rule as a monarch), and during the reign of Conan in Aquilonia, Ctsephon IV. However, sorcerers such as Hath-Horeb and Thoth-Amon have long held great power in the affairs of this nation.

One of the most notable features of Stygia's ancient history is the former kingdom of Acheron. Though by the time of the Nemedian Chronicles, Acheron is long forgotten by most, in its heyday this was a truly powerful and terrifying land ruled by black sorcery. It was destroyed by the Hyborians or Hyperboreans. The northeastern province, Taia, was ruled by Governor Wenamon, and its militia commanded by Shuat. Its ancient (now abandoned) capital was Thuran, conquered by Stygians 500 years ago.

Aquilonia's conquests were pushed towards the Nilus, where their armies slaughtered the Stygian host. The king of Stygia sent tribute, thus diverting an invasion of his kingdom.

The Stygian overthrew an attempt by the city states of Shem to conquer Stygia. However, a Stygian army was defeated by the Hyrkanians at the Nilus and their country was nearly overrun by these invaders, until intervention by the Amazons. Because of the Pictish thrust on their western conquests, many Hyrkanian raiders couldn't afford conquering all of Stygia. However, Stygia was shaken by such conflicts and, afterwards, became encroached by the surrounding black kingdoms, oppressed by the cruel aristocratic reigning class.

During the Nordic drift, red-haired Vanir migrated southwards from Zingara. These found the slaves and led them to a general revolt against the ruling class. After setting themselves up as a caste of conquerors, becoming the ancestors of the Pharaohs, they subjugated the northern-most black kingdoms, and Stygia became a vast empire, which they called Egypt. The vanir are red-haired because ancient Egyptian legends say that Egypt was founded by "red-haired" conquerors.

In later times, the Nilus formed a cleavage separating Stygia from the northern continent. A landmass arose west of Stygia, forming West Africa.[2]

Population and culture[]

Stygian royalty, and certain lines of ancient nobility, are typically relatively tall people with ivory skin and dark brown or black hair. The rest of the nobility and the influential middle class are typically dusky-skinned and hawk-faced. The lower classes and the slaves typically have lighter ancestry, often (though not always) resulting from mating among Stygians themselves, Kushites, Shemites, and most especially Hyborians from the northeastern core.

Stygian strain can also be found in Koth and Argos.[3]

Stygia is ruled by a theocracy of sorcerer-kings. Magic, human sacrifices, and slavery are common in Stygia.

The people are typically tan-like skinned with black hair. Many of the common people are descendants of various races across the world, including men of Shem, neighboring Black Kingdoms, and the Hyborian kingdoms. Taians from the northeast province are taller, more slender, and darker of skin than the average Stygian, wearing dyed kilts to show clan allegiance.

Since ancient times, Stygians worshipped the chaos serpent god Set. Perhaps this is a construed political religion with a construed godhead, probably inspired by the Serapis cult of Ptolemaic Egypt. This was a mixture of Greek Hades (Stygia) and Egyptian Osiris. The commoners may be scions of the human slaves of the serpent men of old. The exchange of a non-human master race for an inhuman one perhaps was nothing for them to be happy about, but the conquerors understood to play on this and turn it to their own advantage. The elite perhaps worship "The great dark nameless one" (Skelos? Ahriman?). His cult was always strong in Stygia, although worship of the noble and peaceful heron god Ibis took root in the Hyborian age. However, Thoth-Amon banned the worship of Ibis and instituted the worship Set by force once more.

Stories set in Stygia[]

Characters from Stygia[]

  • Thoth-Amon - High priest of Set at Luxur, and a very powerful sorcerer. What we see and hear of him in "The Phoenix on the Sword" (the only Robert E. Howard story where he appears), however, indicate that his reputation is much greater than himself.
  • Kalanthes - A high ranking priest of Ibis.
  • Thugra Khotan - Ancient ruler of Kuthchemes and powerful sorcerer of Set. In his ravings, when confronting Conan, is a vainglorious egomaniac respecting or believing in nothing but himself. The same for Thulsa Doom in "Delcardes' Cat", one of the only Howard story where he appears. To some degree, this also applies the priest Thutotmes in The Hour of the Dragon. Thugra Khotan in his ravings reveals that the "blood sacrifices" of Set worship actually serves to enhance the magical power of the perpetrator. Xaltotun indicates the same in The Hour of the Dragon. Another indication how Set worship is to no small degree a facade, indeed perhaps a bogus.
  • Prince Kutamun - A rebel prince who joined forces with Natohk (Thugra Khotan).
  • Lord Thotothmes - A high priest of Set.
  • Hath-Horeb - A Stygian wizard.
  • Princess Akivasha - A princess who became a vampire some 10,000 years ago. Akivasha was the Egyptian name for the Greeks.
  • Thothmekri - Ancient high priest of Set, revived by the Heart of Ahriman improperly and became an animate mummy.
  • Thalis - A beautiful Stygian princess who sought refuge in Xuthal. Thalis was allegedly a concubine of Ptolemy I, a general of Alexander the Great and founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty. According to legend, Thais was responsible for the burning down of the royal palace of Persia after the Greco-Macedonian conquest
  • Ctesphon - The king of Stygia who, according to Thoth-Amon, casts down and elevates priests or mages at his own will. He is probably a priest-king, like the rulers of Stygia's daughter kingdoms, such as Kutchemes and Acheron. He may be the pontiff of maltheists in Conan's world and probably serves the gods that the white-skinned elite did worship before conquering the land of the serpent-men and founding Stygia. With white skin, instead of green, and the black ring on his finger the purple-robed dark mage depicted in Marvel's Handbook of the Conan Universe might be Ctesphon.

References[]

  1. Template:THA
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