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Quote1.png Know ye, O Prince, that in the centuries after the Great Cataclysm, more than five thousand years before the rise of The Hyborian Age, thrived a kingdom forged by sorcery and suckled on evil known as Acheron. For twenty five centuries, purple towered Python, crown city of the Acheronian Empire, held court in a reign of terror. Three thousand years after its fall the races of the Hyborian world would only dare to speak of ancient Acheron in hushed tones of whispered fear. The legends of necromancy, and legends of treasure long buried and all but forgotten. But of all that were told, none had the power to terrify and entice as that of... The Witch Queen of Acheron. Quote2.png
—The Nemedian Chronicles[src]

Acheron was an ancient and now fallen civilization of early mankind,[5] a sorcerer-riddled[6][7] ancient evil nation[8][9] of purple towered cities.[8]

The empire thrived from 15,500 BC to 13,000 BC,[10] a period known as the Age of Acheron.[11] over a span of twenty-five centuries.[1]

At its high point, circa 13,000 BC (before its Fall), Acheron went from the Western Ocean at south to the territory of the Gundermen and Cimmerians at north, bordered at southwest by the Zingg settlements, at west by the Bossonians and the Shirki, at west (from north to south by the Aquiloni, the Nemedi, the Corinthia, and the kingdoms of Ophir and Koth.[2]


Foundation and early years (15,500 BC)

Circa 15,500 BC,[4][12] thousand years after the Great Cataclysm. the ancient kingdom of Acheron was founded by a northern offshoot of the Lemurian survivors,[10] Stygians from Khemi, who established an outpost at the embouchure of the Tybor and expanded up-river, while enslaving or destroying the small unclassified tribes it encountered.[4] By that period, they worshiped Set.[12]

The capital, Python, was likely set in southern Nemedia, possibly on the plain north of Hanumar though it could as well be located in Aquilonia. The claim of Acheron being set within the Shem-Stygia region on an ancient map was considered an error from the map-maker.[13]

Acheron soon broke off Stygian control, though it remained Stygian in culture.[4]

Expansion and encounter with the Hybori (15,000 BC)

Advancing still their frontier, they first encountered the wandering Hyborians circa 15,000 BC.[4] Acheron extended its dominion over western Koth, Ophir, and Corinthia, the three nations that were at some point under Stygia's dominion, but apparently fell to Acheron at a later date, seemingly the empire overexpanded itself by annexing Stygian satellites.[10]

An advanced nation, Acheron raided its more barbarous neighbors, such as the Zingg Valley,[4] the Shemites, then the Hybori tribes that drifted south, using them both a slaves and human sacrifices.[11]

As war approached between Acheron, Stygia, and Zamora (the pre-Cataclysmic Zhemri, re-invigorated by infusions of some unclassified race), the Hyborians, unable to penetrate Acherohn's and Zamora's borders, were led to Stygia with Acheron's connivance and Stygia's help, resulting inthe loss of the Stygian forts in northern Shem. The Hyborians subsequently settled in tribal clusters between Acheron and Zamora.[4]

The dates of the rise and fall of Kara-Shehr remains unrevealed so far.
Though stated to have been already old when Set emerged from the sands of Stygia, Kara-Shehr, the City of the Dead, was an outpost of Acheron in what was during the Hyborian Age of Conan as in the desert between Turan and Khitai. The people of Kara-Shehr didn't seemed to worship Set, but instead erected statues of man-headed bat-winged bulls. The legends stated that the city wasn't governed by the gods, but by even more powerful demons.[14]

Kara-Shehr somehow became a lost city, inhabited and in ruins,[14] though the circumstances of this fall is unknown (possibly the Fall of Acheron).

King Bel-Hissar's rule

The span of Bel-Hissar's life and reign over Acheron remains unrevealed so far. During the reign of King Bel-Hissar over then-mighty Acheron, a diver for pearls named Naka recovered a great ruby from the clutches of a giant mummied king an undersea city, and passed it to Bel-Hissar, just before dying. Despite his lords' pleas, Bel-Hissar refused to throw away the gem, considering the jewel belonged to the sea-gods. He was slain soon afterwards in his very palace by an unnamed thief who stole the gem. The ruby became then known as the Blood of Bel-Hissar.[15]

Westwards exploration

At some point, an Acheron explorer found a land across the Western Ocean. He fell in love with a native, Princess Matoaka but when she revealed the immense gold treasure of her people, he left and returned with a fleet of Acheronian vessels. They burned and slayed , but were all killed.[16]

13,000 BC

Circa 13,000 BC, Acheron fought the Cimmerians of the north, but the Kings of Acheron were never able to conquer them.[3] However, and while their people were looked down upon in Acheron, some Cimmerians sought employment as mercenaries and guardsmen of Acheronian royalty.[citation needed]

Queen Xaltana's rule

The wizard Kheperu convinced many lesser mages that Queen Xaltana was possessed, leading to her being entombed alive.[11]

King Bafomai's rule

Queen Xaltana's removal made way for Bafomai's ascension. Bafomai and Kheperu also wished to slay Xaltana's brother and high priest of Set, Xaltotun, but Xaltotun was himself leading a powerful faction.[11] Xaltotun was also in possession of the Heart of Ahriman.[3]

Thugra Khotan, the other arch-mage of Acheron, preferred to retreat in the Stygian city of Kuthchemes to avoid being forced to choose sides in the matter.[11]

To prevent civil war within Python, entertainment were set in the arena where many captives and slaves were sacrificed every day.[11]

By having absorbed the nations of Koth, Ophir, and Corinthia, Acheron made its northern border vulnerable to the Hyborian invasions to come.[10]

The Fall of Acheron

For a full presentation of the event,
please consult the Fall of Acheron page.

Around that time, the empire was destroyed by the hands of barbarians:[17] the Hyborians who had suffered under Acheron uprose.[3]

The Heart of Ahriman was stolen by the barbarians, and used against Xaltotun by a feathered shaman. Xaltotun fled the fall of Acheron.[3]

Due to an encounter with the mirrors of Tuzun Thune, Conan and Red Sonja briefly found themselves taking part in this fabled rebellion.[18]

During the Sack of Python, Khossus V, monarch of Koth took the Blood of Bel-Hissar from a dying wizard.[15] The city was completely destroyed,[3] razed to the grounds.[13]

In the aftermaths, Ophir, Corinthia and Koth regained their independence, while new kingdoms such as Argos, Aquilonia and Nemedia rose on the ashes of Acheron.[3]


The people of Acheron were virtually wiped out by the Hyborians, save for a few folk in the hills of Nemedia boasting to be descendants of Acheron,[3][19]

Acheron left an indelible legacy on the world, and was remembered as a fabled[20] nation of evil cities,[8][9] or even "most evil of empires". Conan learned from it from the sorcerer Zukala.[17][14]

Nemedia (where was likely set the capital)[19] inherited some elements from Acheron, including its long tradition of scholarship and intellectual inquisitiveness,[21] and possibly its emblem (a scarlet dragon).[19]

During the Age of Conan, sorcerers studied and treasured ancient scrolls from Acheron, such as Kharram-Akkad[9] and Eithriall.[22]

Jewels of Acheron became fabled as well, and tied to histories of death around them:

  • The Blood of Bel-Hissar, the jewel of jewels, was heard of even in far-off Hyborian Lands. For it, women gave up their virtues for it, and men their lives. It was taken by Skol Abdhur from a Himelian chieftain that he slew. Abdhur used it to ensure loyalty from the people of Bab-El-Shaithan using the jewel's mesmerizing capabilities. Conan's companion Turghol stole it, causing Bab-El-Shaitan to descend into chaos. Conan thought of taking it, but renounced and let Turghol keep it instead.[15]
  • The Azure Eye was said in legends to be worth its weight in stars, and laid in the lost city of Kara-Shehr, in the desert between Turan and Khitai, where it led to the death those who tried to acquire it.[14]
  • The Heart of Ahriman ended up int the Temple of Mitra in the capital of Aquilonia.[3]

The evil reputation of Acheron even reached the occultists of the 20th century, such as John Grimlan who mentioned the "noxious winds which blow from Acheron" (as a thing of the present).[23]



The people of Acheron had adopted the worship of Set by circa 15,500 BC.[12] They also worshiped Ba'al.[24]

The people of Kara-Shehr didn't seemed to worship Set, but instead erected statues of man-headed bat-winged bulls. The legends stated that the city wasn't governed by the gods, but by even more powerful demons.[14]

The Cimmerians of King Bafomai's Elite Guard, in Python, invoked Crom's and Badb's names.[11]

Politics and Rulership

Acheron was a theocracy governed by sorcerers,[10][21] though the Empire was led by kings[3][15][11] and queens.[11]


The Acheronians spoke the Stygian-Acheronian tongue. The Cimmerians of the King Bafomai's Elite Guard spoke it with a distinctive Cimmerian accent (though they only spoke their own tongue when on duty, which was why Bafomai had surrounded himself with them).[11]

Points of Interest



  • Robert E. Howard created Acheron in "The Hour of Conan"/"Conan the Conqueror" (Weird Tales; December, 1935 to April, 1936).
    • He named this fictional country after the real-life river Acheron,[citation needed] located in Epirus, in the northwest regions of modern Greece, and flowing into the Ionian Sea.
    • In Greek and Roman mythology, the river was to be an entrance to the underworld and to continue to flow through its regions, as one of the underworld's five rivers.
  • In the adaptation of Robert E. Howard's Cthulhu Mythos story "Dig Me No Grave" (February, 1937) in Journey into Mystery (Vol. 2) #1 (October, 1972), written by Roy Thomas, the name-dropping was modified, notably replacing "Yuggoth" by "Acheron".
  • As a Set-worshiping city, formerly set in what became the Hyborian Lands, Eidoran mirrored Acheron and Stygia.
  • Though relations, if any, between Eidoran and its two fellow Set-worshiping nations, were unrevealed, it can be speculated that Eidoran was either a part of Acheron, enclaved by it, or a close neighbor to it by its eastern border, and presumably fell under the same alliance against Acheron and southward drift of the Hyborians that ended Acheron,[25] as Eidoran was seemingly set in Argos (possibly in Eastern Argos), while Acheron occupied roughly the territory occupied during the Age of Conan by Argos, and considering that Eidoran stood at least from 15,500 BC (date of the attested worship of Set) until 13,000 BC (date of the estimated fall, see "Eidoran circa 13,000 BC" for more information),

See Also

Links and References


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Marvel Graphic Novel #19
  2. 2.0 2.1 Giant-Size Conan #1; The High Point of the Empire of Acheron
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Giant-Size Conan #1; Conan the Conqueror - The Hour of the Dragon - Chapter One
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Giant-Size Conan #1; Acheron: A revisionary theory
  5. Bizarre Adventures #33; Tomb of Dracula: The Blood Request
  6. Conan the Barbarian #25; The Mirrors of Kharam Akkad
  7. Conan the Barbarian #40; The Fiend from the Forgotten City
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Conan the Barbarian #1; The Coming of Conan!
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Conan the Barbarian #24; The Song of Red Sonja
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Savage Sword of Conan #30; A Gazetteer of the Hyborian Age Part I: Acheron's entry
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 11.9 Savage Sword of Conan #229; Assault on Acheron
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #10; Set's profile
  13. 13.0 13.1 Savage Sword of Conan #38; A Gazetteer of the Hyborian Age Part VI: Python's entry
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Conan the Barbarian #35; The Hell-Spawn of Kara-Shehr
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Conan the Barbarian #27; The Blood of Bel-Hissar!
  16. King Conan Vol 2 #3
  17. 17.0 17.1 Conan the Barbarian #5; Zukala's Daughter
  18. Savage Sword of Conan #230
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Savage Sword of Conan #38; A Gazetteer of the Hyborian Age Part VI: Nemedia's entry
  20. Giant-Size Dracula #2; Call Them Triad... Call Them Death!
  21. 21.0 21.1 Handbook of the Conan Universe #1; Nemedia's entry
  22. Conan the Barbarian #29; Two Against Turan!
  23. Journey into Mystery Vol 2 #1; Dig Me No Grave
  24. All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #1; Ba'al's entry
  25. Savage Sword of Conan #230; Shall Python Fall
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