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Hyperborea was a legendary continent in the Arctic. Before it was overwhelmed by the advancing ice sheets of the Pleistocene age, Hyperborea was warm and fertile with lush jungles inhabited by the last remnants of the dinosaurs. A race of yeti-like bipeds known as the Voormis once populated Hyperborea, but were wiped out by the pre-human settlers that migrated here from the south. These pre-humans built the first capital of Hyperborea at Commoriom. Later they moved to Uzuldaroum when prophesies foretold of Commoriom's doom.
Hyperborea is featured chiefly in Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborean cycle (see below), which mixes cosmic horror with an Iron Age-style setting. Adding to the peril is the rapidly approaching ice age, which threatens to wipe out all life on the Hyperborean continent. A host of other deities play important roles in the cycle; foremost is the toad-god Tsathoggua, who dwells in Mount Voormithadreth.
Hyperborea may correspond to modern-day Greenland.
Commoriom was the first seat of power in Hyperborea, established by the pre-human migrants from the south. In its heyday, Commoriom was a grand city, built of marble and granite and marked by a skyline of altitudinous spires.
Legend has it that the populace fled Commoriom when the White Sybil of Polarion foretold of its destruction. However, Athammaus, headsman of Commoriom, disputes this claim and attributes the abandonment to the increasingly loathsome depredations of the horrid outlaw Knygathin Zhaum.
According to Smith's "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros", Uzuldaroum became the capital of Hyperborea after the populace left Commoriom. The city lies a day's journey from the former capital. It was the last population center in Hyperborea before glaciers overwhelmed the continent.
In H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness (fiction), the city of the Elder Things is called "a Palaeogaean megalopolis compared with which the fabled... Commoriom and Uzuldaroum... are recent things of today--not even of yesterday".
Athammaus, who appears in Smith's "The Testament of Athammaus", was the headsman, or executioner, of Commoriom before its fall. He was also one of the last to leave the city when the population fled to Uzuldaroum. Afterwards, he recorded a chilling testament of Commoriom's final days.
Athammaus was descended from a long line of headsmen. A consummate professional, Athammaus always took great pride in his skill and never shirked his official duty. His career came to an abrupt end when he faced the task of executing the outlaw Knygathin Zhaum.
- Main article: Eibon
Satampra Zeiros, who appears in Smith's "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" and its prequel, "The Theft of the Thirty-Nine Girdles", was the master thief of Uzuldaroum. His exploits are legendary. He lost his right hand during a failed venture to loot the deserted city of Commoriom (though his companion Tirouv Ompallios suffered a worse fate).
The White Sybil of Polarion
A strange woman, reportedly coming from the realms of Ice creeping upon Hyperborea. She is presented in both "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" and "The White Sybil." In the former she is portrayed prophesizing the doom of Commoriom; in the latter, a character besotted with her pursues her into the ice realm, where he is in the end so blinded by her vision that when found by a common girl he takes his rescuer for the Sybil, weds her, and lives out his days in a joyous illusion, bearing the mark of the Sybil's kiss on his face.
Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborean cycle
- "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros" (1931)
- "The Testament of Athammaus" (1932)
- "The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan" (1932)
- "The Door to Saturn" (1932)
- "The House of Haon-Dor" (1933) [story fragment]
- "The Ice-Demon" (1933)
- "Ubbo-Sathla" (1933)
- "The Seven Geases" (1934)
- "The White Sybil" (1935)
- "The Coming of the White Worm" (1941)
- "The Theft of the Thirty-Nine Girdles" (1958)