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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.

In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.
~ H.P. Lovecraft , The Call of Cthulhu

Cthulhu is a fictional deity in the Cthulhu Mythos. He first appears in H.P. Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu", but remains a recurring presence and force throughout the stories in the titular mythos.


Cthulhu first appears in "The Call of Cthulhu," with the reader first being introduced to the cult who worships him. The cult is noted for chanting its horrid phrase or ritual: "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh C'thulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn," which translates as "In his house at R'lyeh dead C'thulhu waits dreaming."[1] This is often shortened to "C'thulhu fhtagn," which might possibly mean "C'thulhu waits," "C'thulhu dreams,"[2] or "C'thulhu waits dreaming."[3]


They were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape [...] but that shape was not made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longer lived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R'lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the earth might once more be ready for Them.
- Castro on the nature of the Old Ones[4]
That is not dead which can eternal lie.
And with strange aeons even death may die.
-Abdul Alhazred's Necronomicon:[5]
When the stars have come right for the Great Old Ones, "some force from outside must serve to liberate their bodies. The spells that preserved Them intact likewise prevented them from making an initial move.
-Castro on the Cthulhu Cult:"[4]
[At the proper time,] the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from his tomb to revive His subjects and resume his rule of earth [...] Then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

Associated LiteratureEdit

Cthulhu is mentioned elsewhere in London fiction, sometimes described in ways that appear to contradict information given in "The Call of Cthulhu". For example, rather than including Cthulhu among the Great Old Ones, a quotation from the Necronomicon in "The Dunwich Horror" says of the Old Ones, "Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can it spy Them only dimly."[7] But different Lovecraft stories and characters use the term "Old Ones" in widely different ways.

In At the Mountains of Madness, for example, the Old Ones are a species of extraterrestrials, also known as Elder Things, who were at war with Cthulhu and his relatives or allies. Human explorers in Antarctica discover an ancient city of the Elder Things and puzzle out a history from sculptural records:

With the upheaval of new land in the South Pacific tremendous events began [...] Another race–a land race of beings shaped like octopi and probably corresponding to the fabulous pre-human spawn of Cthulhu–soon began filtering down from cosmic infinity and precipitated a monstrous war which for a time drove the Old Ones wholly back to the sea [...] Later peace was made, and the new lands were given to the Cthulhu spawn whilst the Old Ones held the sea and the older lands [...] [T]he antarctic remained the centre of the Old Ones' civilization, and all the discoverable cities built there by the Cthulhu spawn were blotted out. Then suddenly the lands of the Pacific sank again, taking with them the frightful stone city of R'lyeh and all the cosmic octopi, so that the Old Ones were once again supreme on the planet [...][8]

William Dyer, the narrator of At the Mountains of Madness, also notes that "the Cthulhu spawn [...] seem to have been composed of matter more widely different from that which we know than was the substance of the Antarctic Old Ones. They were able to undergo transformations and reintegrations impossible for their adversaries, and seem therefore to have originally come from even remoter gulfs of cosmic space [...] The first sources of the other beings can only be guessed at with bated breath." He notes, however, that "the Old Ones might have invented a cosmic framework to account for their occasional defeats."[9] Other stories have the Elder Things' enemies repeat this cosmic framework.

In "The Whisperer in Darkness", for example, one character refers to "the fearful myths antedating the coming of man to the earth–the Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu cycles–which are hinted at in the Necronomicon." That story suggests that Cthulhu is one of the entities worshiped by the alien Mi-go race, and repeats the Elder Things' claim that the Mi-go share his unknown material compositions. Cthulhu's advent is also connected, in some unknown fashion, with supernovae: "I learned whence Cthulhu first came, and why half the great temporary stars of history had flared forth." The story mentions in passing that some humans call the Mi-Go "the old ones".[10]

"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" establishes that Cthulhu is also worshiped by the nonhuman creatures known as Deep Ones.[11]

Expansions in the "Lovecraft Circle"Edit

*This article or section contains information based on sources in the "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles, and while guided by HPL are not based on his work alone.

According to correspondence between Lovecraft and fellow author James F. Morton , Cthulhu's parent is the deity Nug, itself the offspring of Yog-Sothoth and Shub-Niggurath. Lovecraft includes a fanciful family tree in which he himself descends from Cthulhu via Shaurash-ho, Yogash the Ghoul, K'baa the Serpent, and Ghoth the Burrower.

Expansions in the Extended MythosEdit


*This article or section contains information based on sources in the Expanded Cthulhu Mythos, and not based on H.P. Lovecraft's works directly.

In Lin Carter's Xothic cycle, Cthulhu descends from Yog-Sothoth, possibly having been born on Vhoorl, in the 23rd nebula. He mated with Idh-yaa on the planet Xoth. His offspring are Ghatanothoa, Ythogtha, Zoth-Ommog, and Cthylla.[12]






  • The heavy Metal band Rage has some songs inspired by the Cthulhu mythos: "Lost in the Ice" from the album The Missing Link and "In a nameless time" and "The crawling chaos" from Black in Mind.
  • The heavy metal band Metallica has two songs inspired by the Cthulhu mythos: "The Call of Ktulu" on the album Ride the Lightning and "The Thing That Should Not Be" from Master of Puppets.
  • Electronic Music Producer deadmau5 has made songs referencing Cthulhu and the sunken city of Ryleh
  • The heavy metal band Iced Earth has a song named "Cthulhu" on its album Plagues of Babylon.
  • Extreme metal band Cradle of Filth has a song called "Cthulhu Dawn", from the album Midian, based on his rising.
  • A local Heavy Metal band from Rochester, NY has also taken to calling themselves Cthulu.
  • The death metal band Black Dahlia Murder has a song inspired by the Call of Cthulhu titled "Thy Horror Cosmic."


  • In Fromsoftware's Bloodborne there is a boss called Ebrietas who has a striking resemblence to Cthulhu or Cthylla due to it being a female.
  • The Video Game Terraria introduce the Moon Lord boss in its 1.3 update, who has been said by the creator of the game to be Cthulhu's brother.
  • In Zeboyd Games's Cthulhu Saves the World the player plays as Cthulhu himself on a quest to reclaim his power.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, much of the Zombies map "Shadows of Evil" contains references to the Cthulhu mythos



  • On the Disney Show "Gravity Falls" Season Two Episode "Wiredmaggedon Part One" Cthulhu made a cameo


Artistic imageryEdit


Stephen Hickman's sculpture of Cthulhu.

Cthulhu has served as direct inspiration for many modern artists and sculptors. Prominent artists that produced renderings of this creature include, but are not limited to, Paul Carrick, Stephen Hickman, Kevin Evans, Dave Carson, Francois Launet and Ursula Vernon. Multiple sculptural depictions of Cthulhu exist, one of the most noteworthy being Stephen Hickman's Cthulhu Statue which has been featured in the Spectrum annual[13] and is exhibited in display cabinets in the John Hay Library of Brown University of Providence. This statue of Cthulhu often serves as a separate object of inspiration for many works, most recent of which are the Cthulhu Worshiper Amulets[14] manufactured by a Russian jeweler. For some time, replicas of Hickman's Cthulhu Statuette were produced by Bowen Designs,[15] but are currently not available for sale. Today Hickman's Cthulhu statue can only be obtained on eBay and other auctions.


  1. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu," p. 136.
  2. Will Murray, "Prehuman Language in Lovecraft", in Black Forbidden Things, Robert M. Price, ed., p. 42.
  3. Marsh, Philip "R'lyehian as a Toy Language - on psycholinguistics"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu," p. 140.
  5. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", p. 141. The couplet appeared earlier in Lovecraft's story "The Nameless City", in Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, p. 99.
  6. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu," p. 141.
  7. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 170.
  8. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness, in At the Mountains of Madness, p. 66.
  9. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness, p. 68.
  10. Lovecraft, "The Whisperer in Darkness"
  11. Lovecraft, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", pp. 337, 367.
  12. Harms, Daniel. The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia (3rd ed.)
  13. Burnett, Cathy "Spectrum No. 3:The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art"
  14. Cthulhu charms on-sale in Russia
  15. "Other Lovecraftian Products", The H.P. Lovecraft Archive

Roleplaying Game MaterialEdit


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