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Necronomicon FAQ part 3
Frequently Asked Questions -- The Necronomicon Part III
20 October 1993
compiled by Kendrick Kerwin Chua (kendrick+@CMU.EDU)
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
United States of America
(1)_History of the Necronomicon_, by H.P. Lovecraft, written in 1937
with footnotes and references by Kendrick Kerwin Chua, 1993
Original title _Al-Azif_ -- azif being the word used by the Arabs to
designate that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the
howling of daemons.
Composed by Abdul Al-Hazred, a mad poet of Sanaa, in Yemen, who is
said to have flourished during the period of the Ommiade caliphs, circa
700 A.D. He visited the ruins of Babylon and the subterranean secrets of
Memphis and spent ten years alone in the great southern desert of Arabia
- the Roba al Khaliyeh, or "Empty Space" of the ancients and "Dahma" or
"Crimson" desert of the modern Arabs, which is held to be inhabited by
protective evil spirits and monsters of death. Of this desert many
strange and unbelievable marvels are told by those who pretend to have
penetrated it. In his last years, Al-Hazred dwelt in Damascus, where the
Necronomicon (Al Azif) was written, and of his final death or
disappearnce (738 A.D.) many terrible and conflicting things are told.
He is said by Ebn Khallikan (12th century biographer) to have been
siezed by an invisible monster in broad daylight and devoured horribly
before a large number of fright-frozen witnesses. Of his madness many
things are told. He claimed to have seen the fabulous Irem, or City of
Pillars, and to have found beneath the ruins of a certain nameless
desert town the shocking annals and secrets of a race older than
mankind. He was only an indifferent Moslem, worshipping unknown dieties
whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu.
[(9) Note already how Lovecraft skirts the fine line between
campy parody and seriousness. In _Lovecraft at Last_, Conover writes
that Lovecraft wrote the history in order to allow people with
any understanding of Arab studies to see through the mock
scholarship. Note also the inconsistencies here with the description
of Al-Hazred in the Simon Necronomicon. Al-Hazred there supposedly
witnessed the horrible rituals at Masshu, a mythical island at the
mouth of the Euphrates upon which Utnapishtim, the Babylonian Noah,
supposedly still resides today. Whereas Lovecraft describes the Crimson
Desert as the place where Al-Hazred witnessed much of what he wrote down.
Note also that in the Simon version, Al-Hazred warns against worshipping
"Iak-Sakkak" and "Kutulu", whereas Lovecrafts claims he did just that.
Note also the improper use of the A.D. prefix until the next paragraph.
In A.D. 950 the Azif, which had gained a considerable though
surreptitious circulation amongst the philosphers of the age, was
secretly translated into Greek by Theodorus Philetas of Constantinople
under the title Necronomicon.
[(10) Another inconsistency. Simon claims that Al-Hazred rendered the
Necronomicon in Greek first, rather than Arabic. KKC]
For a century it impelled certain experimenters to terrible attempts,
when it was suppressed and burnt by the partiarch Michael. After this it
is only heard of furtively, but (1228) Olaus Wormius made a Latin
translation later in the Middle Ages, and the Latin text was printed
twice - once in the 15th century in blackletter (evidently in German)
and once in the 17th (probably Spanish); both editions being without
identifying marks, and located as to time and place by internal
typographic evidence only.
[(11) Interesting to note that Lovecraft does not say outright that
someone in our time had apparently found and identified these
renditions of the book. KKC]
The work, both Latin and Greek, was banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232,
shortly after its Latin translation, which called attention to it.
[(12) The archivist has thusfar been unable to find Al Azif, Necronomicon,
or anything even remotely similar on any of the forbidden book lists
of the era. But do consider that paper records from the 13th century are
incomplete and unpreserved, to say the least. KKC]
The Arabic original was lost as early as Wormius' time, as indicated by
his prefatory note (there is, however, a vague account of a secret copy
appearing in San Francisco during the present century but later
perishing by fire); and no sight of the Greek copy - which was printed
in Italy between 1500 and 1550 - has been reported since the burning of
a certain Salem man's library in 1692.
[(13) Again, Simon claims to have translated a Greek edition. KKC]
An English translation made by Dr. [John] Dee was never printed, and
exists only in fragments recovered from the original MS.
[(14) An internal Lovecraft inconsistency. In his short story _The Dunwich
Horror_, the old wizard called Whately utilizes a Dee translation of the
Necronomicon in order to produce children for Yog-Sothoth. A complete
listing of John Dee's books reveals none titled Necronomicon. KKC]
Of the Latin texts now existing one (15th century) is known to be in the
British Museum under lock and key, which another (17th century) is in
the Bilbiotheque Nationale at Paris. A 17th century edition is in the
Widener Library at harvard, and in the Library of Miskatonic University
at Arkham; also in the library of the University of Buenos Ayres.
[(15) Other than the Harvard copy, which the archivist knows for sure
does not exist, and the fact that Miskatonic University is totally
fictional, I cannot say with absolute certainty that the other locations
Lovecraft lists do not have some copy of a book they may call the
Necronomicon. Interested parties may contact the archivist to
confirm or deny posession of the book, if they wish. KKC]
Numerous other copies probably exist in secret, and a 15th century one
is persistently rumoured to form part of the collection of a celebrated
American millionaire. A still vaguer rumor credits the preservation of a
16th century Greek text in the Salem family of Pickman; but if it was so
preserved, it vanished with the artist R.U. Pickman , who disappeared
early in 1926. The book is rigidly suppressed by the authorities of most
countries, and by all branches of ornaised ecclesiasticism. Reading
leads to terrible consequences. It was from rumours of this book (of
which relatively few of the general public know) that R.W. Chambers is
said to have derived the idea of his early novel "The King in Yellow".
[(16) Much of the latter part of this paragraph is in fact derived from
Lovecraft's own short stories, most notably _The Picture in the House_,
which featured the sadistic Robert Pickman character. Also, Lovecraft
repeatedly cites Chambers' book as *his* main inspiration. KKC]
(2) An abridged pantheon of the mythos
The format of this section is as follows:
LOVECRAFTIAN NAME, Simon name: Brief description in prose.
CTHULHU, Kutulu: The ancient entity which is currently hibernating on
the ocean floor in the sunken city of R'lyeh (or Urillia). Cthulhu has
supposedly maintained a cult of human beings which will assist him when
he awakens from slumber, in order to reclaim the earth and establish
whatever civilisation existed when Cthulhu first arrived on the earth
eons ago. In the Simon Necronomicon, Kutulu is mentioned in the creation
epic, where other translators have failed.
According to the Hay/Wilson Necronomicon, Cthulhu's sumerian name is
Gipartu, a name I have failed to find in many many old texts. They also
equate Cthulhu with the Scorpion man, a monster created by Tiamat in the
creation epic to combat the younger Igigi gods (and which, incidentally,
Al-Hazred supposedly instructs one to turn to for "emergency" guidance
at the end of the Simon Necronomicon.) More information on Cthulhu will
be available in the next edition of the FAQ. For the meantime, please
see the alt.horror.cthulhu FAQ for a more complete description.
YOG-SOTHOTH, Iak-Sakkak: A whirling mass of gelatinous spheres,
Yog-Sothoth is the entity who is "keeper of the gate and the key". In
simple terms, evoking his powers allows one to travel great distnaces in
spirit and body. Some believe that his name it derivative of Set or Seth.
AZATHOTH, Azag-Thoth: The blind mad god, Azathoth is supposedly a very
old diety who is essentially nothing but an energy repository. In
Lovecraft's stories, when Azathoth was summoned he grew exponentially in
size and volume until he was sent back to wherever he came from. Simon
claims that his name is derivative of the Egyptian Thoth, and is a lord
It is interesting to note that this diety seems to be a parallel of the
Gnostic Yaldaboath, who is also a chaos diety represented in a similar
manner. Interested parties should check out the Nag Hammadi Codices for
NYARLATHOTHEP: An Egyptian god who is supposedly a messenger and an
executioner. Nyarlathothep was supposedly responsible for many of the
demon and devil sightings during the Middle Ages and during the Salem
witch trials. He has no counterpart in the Simon Necronomicon.
Marduk: Head of the Igigi, or "good guy" gods, Marduk was the son of
Enki, and was responsible for defeating the evil ancient gods and
creating the earth and mankind. The story rendered by Simon is
consistent with most translations of the cuneiform tablets by other
authorities. He has no counterpart in Lovecraft.
Tiamat: The Mother goddess, Tiamat was the origin of all the other gods.
She fashioned a copious number of monsters to fight Marduk before she
was dismembered and recycled into what we now call the earth, according
to the Sumerian mythology. She has no counterpart in Lovecraft.
This is all I could think of for right now. If anyone thinks that any
other diety belongs in this short list, please e-mail the archivist.
(3) Miscellaneous useful information.
Magickal Childe Incorporated
35 West 19th Street
New York, NY 10011
Carrollton - Clark Publishers
Arlington, VA 22209
Avon Books, a division of the Hearst Company
105 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Here ends the Frequently Asked Questions for the Necronomicon
(C) 1993 by Kendrick Kerwin Chua <kendrick+@CMU.EDU>
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