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"In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming..." - English translation of Aklo verse

This article is written on a topic within the Greater Cthulhu Mythos based on information from works in the Mythos. By default, all information is to be assumed to derive from the Lovecraft Myth Cycle unless otherwise marked.

This is an article about the character. For the story fragment, see "Azathoth (short story)"
[O]utside the ordered universe [is] that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.
~ HPL , The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath


Azathoth, sometimes called "The Blind Idiot God", the "Nuclear Chaos", the "Daemon Sultan", "The Deep Dark", and "The Cold One", is an Outer God.

Description

There can be no definite description of Azathoth because everybody envisions him differently and he is always changing. There is evidence the physical manifestation of Azathoth in the universe is continuous with a spot in the central region of the galaxy, otherwise known as Sagittarius A* - the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

For example Ronald Shea enters a temple after visiting the forest near Goatswood and discovers a twenty-foot idol that "represented the god Azathoth--Azathoth as he had been before his exile Outside...[I]t consisted of a bivalvular shell supported on many pairs of flexible legs. From the half-open shell rose several jointed cylinders, tipped with polypous appendages; and in the darkness inside the shell I thought I saw a horrible bestial, mouthless face, with deep-sunk eyes and covered with glistening black hair."

Later Shae sees "something ooze into the corridor--a pale grey shape, expanding and crinkling, which glistened and shook gelatinously as still-moving particles dropped free; but it was only a glimpse" (EXP: "The Insects from Shaggai", Ramsey Campbell).

In the Necronomicon

Azathoth is a significant malign presence In the Necronomicon as both Albert Wilmarth (HPL: "The Whisperer in Darkness") and Walter Gilman (HPL: "The Dreams in the Witch House") are horrified at the mere mention of it's name having both read about it in the occult tome.

In Gilman's case it's the witch Keziah Mason who references Azathoth while haunting his dreams telling him "He must meet The Black Man, and go with them all to the throne of Azathoth at the centre of ultimate Chaos.... He must sign in his own blood the book of Azathoth and take a new secret name.... What kept him from going with her...to the throne of Chaos where the thin flutes pipe mindlessly was the fact that he had seen the name 'Azathoth' in the Necronomicon, and knew it stood for a primal horror too horrible for description."

It is also portrayed as a leader in a cosmic upheaval akin to Lucifer's rebellion in the Bible and is prophesied to return

(T)hose daring to oppose the Elder Gods who ruled from Betelgueze, the Great Old Ones who fought against the Elder Gods...were instructed by Azathoth, who is the blind idiot god, and by Yog-Sothoth ... (Y)e blind idiot, ye noxious Azathoth shal arise from ye middle of ye World where all is Chaos & Destruction where He hath bubbl'd and blasphem'd at Ye centre which is of All Things, which is to say Infinity....
~ AWD: Lurker on the Threshold



In the Mythos

Gilman wakes from another dream remembering "the thin, monotonous piping of an unseen flute", and decides that "he had picked up that last conception from what he had read in the Necronomicon about the mindless entity Azathoth, which rules all time and space from a curiously environed black throne at the centre of Chaos."He later fears finding himself in the spiral black vortices of that ultimate void of Chaos wherein reigns the mindless daemon-sultan Azathoth" (HPL: "The Dreams in the Witch House").

The poet Edward Pickman Derby wrote a collection of "nightmare lyrics" is called "Azathoth and Other Horrors." (HPLThe Thing on the Doorstep).

... ancient legends of Ultimate Chaos, at whose center sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demoniac flute held in nameless paws.
~ HPL , "The Haunter of the Dark"



Worshipers

Among his many followers the worshippers in the town of Goatswood that practice "obscene rites" that involved "atrocities practiced on still-living victims" in Azathoth's conical temple are insects that have fled the destruction home planet of Shaggai bringing the temple across the universe with them (EXP: "The Insects from Shaggai", Ramsey Campbell).

Behind the Mythos

  • George Olshevsky named the nonconvex snub polyhedra after some other Great Old Ones, with the Great retrosnub icosidodecahedron as "Azathoth".
  • Trey Azagthoth (George Michel Emmanuel III), lead guitarist of American death metal band Morbid Angel, named himself after the Ancient One and altered the spelling.
  • Thomas Ligotti has stated that many of his short stories make allusions to Lovecraft's Azathoth, although rarely by that name. A classic example of this is the story "Nethescurial", which portrays an omnipresent, malevolent creator deity once worshipped by the inhabitants of a small island. This being slowly infiltrates the life of the story's narrator, first via a manuscript describing its cult.

Inspiration

  • The first recorded mention of Azathoth was in a note Lovecraft wrote to himself in 1919 that read simply, "AZATHOTH—hideous name." Mythos editor Robert M. Price argues that Lovecraft could have combined the biblical names Anathoth (Jeremiah's home town) and Azazel (a desert demon to which the scapegoat was sacrificed - mentioned by Lovecraft in "The Dunwich Horror"). Price also points to the alchemical term "Azoth", which was used in the title of a book by Arthur Edward Waite, the model for the wizard Ephraim Waite in Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep". Other possible inspirations include the name Thoth, the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom.
  • Another note Lovecraft made to himself later in 1919 refers to an idea for a story: "A terrible pilgrimage to seek the nighted throne of the far daemon-sultan Azathoth." In a letter to Frank Belknap Long, Lovecraft ties this plot germ to Vathek, a novel by William Beckford about a supernatural caliph. Lovecraft's attempts to work this idea into a novel floundered (a 500-word fragment survives, first published under the title "Azathoth" in the journal Leaves in 1938), although Lovecraftian scholar Will Murray suggests that Lovecraft recycled the idea into his Dream Cycle novella The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, written in 1926.
  • Price sees another inspiration for Azathoth in Lord Dunsany's Mana-Yood-Sushai, from The Gods of Pegana, a creator deity "who made the gods and thereafter rested." In Dunsany's conception, MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI sleeps eternally, lulled by the music of a lesser deity who must drum forever, "for if he cease for an instant then MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI will start awake, and there will be worlds nor gods no more." This oblivious creator god accompanied by supernatural musicians is a clear prototype for Azathoth, Price argues.

See also

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