Kenneth Turan’S piece “Taking ‘Conan’ Seriously” was interesting as far as it went. If Turan knew more about Conan, he would have seen how striking the parallels are between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Conan.
Conan was the creation of Texas pulp writer Robert E. Howard, who also created the fabulous “Hyborian Age” of 1,200 years ago as a setting for Conan’s adventures. The Hyborian Age was a fully realized world with nations, cities and a wide variety of people and cultures. Conan goes from being a callow young thief to a mercenary to general and finally king of Aquilonia.
He hails from Cimmeria, a dank foggy land of dark forests and sharp granite crags with little of value to outsiders. The Cimmerians are a rough, hard-bitten lot who are trained to fight from infancy. Conan differs from other Cimmerians in one respect: He is affected with a wanderlust that takes him far from his homeland.
Like the movie Conan, Howard’s was mainly interested in fighting, wenching and boozing. He is also much brighter than the folks in the stories give him credit for. In his late 40s, he seizes the throne of Aquilonia, the most powerful of the western nations in the Hyborian Age.
The parallels between Schwarzenegger and Conan are many. Post World War II Austria was several notches up the civilization scale from Cimmeria but was not what it is today, either. Affected with his own wanderlust, Schwarzenegger left home to make his fortune in the world with the help of his mighty muscles. He was often mistaken for a muscle-bound lug, which he uses to his advantage. He settled in California, the most powerful state in the U.S. Now, fortune gives him a chance to govern his adopted state.
There are have been rumors of plans for a third Conan film starring Schwarzenegger. This would take place in the later years of his career and presumably deal with his being king of Aquilonia. Such a film would surely have to be put on hold if Schwarzenegger is elected governor.
It comes down to this: Would California voters prefer Gov. Schwarzenegger of California or King Conan of Aquilonia?
David A. Lathrap