|“||Know, o prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars - Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian; black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.||„|
|~ Robert E. Howard, The Phoenix on the Sword|
|“|| Conan is the damnedest bastard that ever was.
He got a long black mane of hair, crystal blue eyes. He’s a fighter, born on the battlefield. To him, combat’s a way of life. It’s all he’s ever known, all he ever wants to know! He’s no soldier who was taught to fight. To him fighting’s an instinct, it’s a part of him. Like his legs, his arms, his chest, his bull neck. And believe me, he don’t take it from nobody. He'll fight man, beast, devil or god. And when those women feel those tree-trunk firm arms around their waist, they melt like butter on a hot skillet.
|~ Robert E. Howard (Vincent D'Onofrio) describing Conan in The Whole Wide World, a movie about his relationship with Novalyne Price (Renee Zellweger).|
Conan is a Cimmerian, a barbarian of the far north; he was born on a battlefield and is the son of the village blacksmith Corin. During the battle in Cimmeria, his mother Greshan was fatally wounded by an enemy while attempting to save Corin. The weakened Greshan uses the last of her strength to give birth to Conan, she names him Conan before she dies. He grew up quickly: by age fifteen he was already a respected warrior, participating in the destruction of the Aquilonian outpost of Venarium.
After this he was struck by wanderlust and began the colorful and exciting adventures chronicled by Howard and others, encountering fabulous monsters, evil wizards, and beautiful wenches and princesses - he has travelled throughout the world and been a thief and outlaw, a mercenary and commander of a mercenary company, and a pirate. He begins building larger units of men, aiming for greater territorial ambitions, though his efforts are repeatedly thwarted - usually by the total massacre of his force excepting himself. But in his forties he finally succeeds, becoming king of Aquilonia, the most powerful kingdom of the age, having strangled the previous ruler, Numedides, on the steps of the throne.
In his sixties, Conan leaves his country—never to return—to seek new battles in the uncharted west, leaving Conan II, his son by Queen Zenobia (a former Nemedian slave girl), to rule Aquilonia in his stead. Although Conan's adventures often result in him performing heroic feats, his motive is more than often his own survival, enrichment or rise to power and he thus displays many of the characteristics of an anti-hero.
The plot of Conan the Barbarian begins with Conan being turned into a slave by the Vanir raiders of Thulsa Doom, a vicious warlord and the movie's key villain, who is responsible for the slaying of Conan's parents and the destruction of his people. Later, Thulsa Doom becomes a cult leader of a mysterious and evil religion that worships Set, a Snake God, and also secretly manipulates the followers in murder, sacrifices, and even cannibalism. The heroes, vengeful Conan, the archer Subotai and the thief Valeria set out on a quest to rescue a princess held captive by Thulsa Doom. The film was directed by John Milius and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. The character of Conan was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and was his break-through role as an actor.
This film was followed by a less popular sequel, Conan the Destroyer in 1984. This sequel was a more typical fantasy-genre film and was even less faithful to Howard's Conan stories.