You may have heard of Cthulhu (pronounced Ka-thoo-loo) before - a demonic creature that was a cross octopus, dragon and human - but you may not have heard about where Cthulhu and his universe of The Cthulhu Mythos came from. In recent days I've been hearing a lot about this mysterious creature and I thought I would lift the lid on this haunting Pandora's box that Cthulhu lives in.
Cthulhu is actually a cosmic fiction entity that was created by the notorious horror writer H.P Lovecraft in his short story "The Call of Cthulhu" which was published in 1928 and has cemented itself as a pop culture icon that ties horror with the Lovecraftian worshippers of today.
The name of Cthulhu has derived from the word "chthonic" from Classical Greek meaning "subterranean", which matches Lovecraft's description of the character perfectly. It is described in his novel as being "a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind."
In HP Lovecraft's story "The Call of Cthulhu" the tale follows the Cthulhu as being a malevolent entity that is hibernating in an underwater city in the South Pacific called R'lyeh. Apparently this entity is a source of constant anxiety for mankind at a subconscious level, as well as the subject of worship by a number of human relifions and other Lovecraftian monsters. The short story alludes to Cthultu's reign and maintains the premise that while imprisioned, Cthulhu will eventually return to the chant of it's worshippers saying "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" which translates to "In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
HP Lovecraft also referred to Cthulhu many times throughout his other stories, which led to the creation of the "Cthulhu Mythos", a shared fictional universe (similar to that of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy in the Univerisal Monsters universe) that was coined by a protege of Lovecraft's named August Derleth. The shared universe is used to identify settings, tropes and lore that were paralleled throughout Lovecraft's stories.
Moving forward with Lovecraft's universe, the fringe horror creation cemented itself into pop culture by being referenced in many different games, role-playing within the Dungeons and Dragons universe and can now been seen in popular television shows such as Supernatural and Rick and Morty, where there has been a focus on unleashing Cthulhu from it's imprisioned realm. To this day, the release of Cthulhu from its prison is well-known as being a harbringer for the end of the world.
Modern Day Depictions of Cthulhu: The creature in the 2016 movie The Void, the Dr. Seuss story version of Cthulhu, and many other literal depicitons,
Photo via Lovecraft Wiki