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Nyarlathotep (Lovecraft)

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And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished, for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare.
~ H.P. Lovecraft about Nyarlathotep
Don't fail to see Nyarlathotep if he comes to Providence. He is horrible — horrible beyond anything you can imagine — but wonderful. He haunts one for hours afterward. I am still shuddering at what he showed.
~ Samuel Loveman in H.P. Lovecraft's dream

Nyarlathotep, also referred to as the Crawling Chaos and as many other names, is an evil Outer God mentioned from the works of H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos, first appearing as the titular main antagonist of the 1920 short story, Nyarlathotep ​and the main antagonist of the 1943 fantasy novella, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. He has appeared in numerous stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

He is seen as a shape-shifting agent of madness and ruin who serves the other Outer Gods. He often visits Earth and enjoys bringing madness and suffering to inferior beings (humans are among them).

He is the son of Azathoth, the Blind Idiot God, and is subservant to him, fulfilling his wishes without question as his messenger and emissary.

Appearance

Nyarlathotep is described as a master shape-shifter with over a thousand forms, many of which are seen as monstrous and capable of driving mortals insane - a trait common to Lovecraftian monsters, however unlike many of the other Outer Gods, he also frequently takes on a human form as an enigmatic male fashioned on an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh.

Personality

Nyarlathotep enjoys driving people insane and finds the act to be more enjoyable than simple death and destruction and is an altogether more human-like evil than the other Outer Gods, frequently employing deception and manipulation, even propaganda, to achieve his goals and often mingling with humans in order to seal their doom. These traits combined with his ability to walk freely amongst mortal life may make him the most terrible of all Lovecraftian monsters, as he averts their unknowable, amoral nature, and it has been suggested by some that Nyarlathotep may be the creature that will ultimately destroy the world.

​Powers and Abilities

While nowhere near as powerful as his creator Azathoth, nor the cosmic entity Yog-Sothoth, he remains to be an Outer God and as such Nyarlothotep is immortal and incredibly powerful while also being highly complex to be understood. It is believed that Nyarlathotep is able to control mystic energies of the cosmos to varying effects at an undefined level, both cosmic and demonic as well. He is able to manifest as a vast multitude of avatars. While the god's near-boundless intelligence is behind all of them, each avatar varies greatly in appearance, power, and purpose. Some avatars are even worshiped as their own beings, the followers unaware that it is merely part of a much greater being. He is also capable of shape-shifting and can take the form of a human man. Like Cthulhu, his mere presence induces madness and insanity to mortals such as humans and can communicate with them via telepathy. He is able to freely travel across every plane of existence and exists beyond the "archetypal infinity".

Nyarlathotep's Family Tree

Relationship with the Other Outer Gods

Nyarlathotep acts as the messenger of the other Outer Gods and does not seem to hold loyalty to any particular being - instead serving them all in some fashion, though he is said to be especially loyal towards Azathoth - whose wishes he will fulfill without question.

Other Appearances as a Villain

  • Nyarlathotep appears in the Megami Tensei series as a recurring demon and as a villain, particularly as the main antagonist of the first and second Persona games.
  • M, a major character in the visual novel Shikkoku no Sharnoth who initially uses the codename of James Moriarty, is revealed near the end of the story to be a manifestation of Nyarlathotep.
  • Nyarlathotep is a boss in the game Cthulhu Saves the World.
  • Nyarlathotep is the main antagonist in the story Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute.
  • Nyarlathotep is also linked with the Slender Man because of his humanoid appearance, sadistic desires, and also Slender Man has the same name: "G'hor Nyarlathotep".
  • Fake Kashihara becomes Nyarlathotep, the final boss in Persona 2: Innocent Sin.
  • Leland Gaunt, the main antagonist of Stephen King's novel Needful Things, is hinted to be an avatar of Nyarlathotep.
    • Likewise, Randall Flagg is also greatly hinted to be an avatar, and was even called by the name Nyarlathotep at one point. Despite the similarities, the Dark Tower series reveals at one point Flagg was once a mortal human.

Quotes (pertaining to Nyarlathotep)

What his fate would be, he did not know; but he felt that he was held for the coming of that frightful soul and messenger of infinity's Other Gods, the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep.
~ H.P. Lovecraft (about Nyarlahotep of the Outer Gods).
There was the immemorial figure of the deputy or messenger of hidden and terrible powers – the "Black Man" of the witch cult, and the "Nyarlathotep" of the Necronomicon.
~ H.P. Lovecraft, The Dreams in the Witch House
It was the eldritch scurrying of those fiend-born rats, always questing for new horrors, and determined to lead me on even unto those grinning caverns of earth's centre where Nyarlathotep, the mad faceless god, howls blindly to the piping of two amorphous idiot flute-players.
~ H. P. Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls


And at the last from inner Egypt came

The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;

Silent and lean and cryptically proud,

And wrapped in fabrics red as sunset flame.

Throngs pressed around, frantic for his commands,

But leaving, could not tell what they had heard;

While through the nations spread the awestruck word

That wild beasts followed him and licked his hands.

Soon from the sea a noxious birth began;

Forgotten lands with weedy spires of gold;

The ground was cleft, and mad auroras rolled

Down on the quaking citadels of man.

Then, crushing what he chanced to mould in play,

The idiot Chaos blew Earth’s dust away.

~ XXI. Nyarlathotep (of the Fungi from Yuggoth collection)

Trivia

  • The name of this deity is noted for its Egyptian suffix -hotep, which gives its name an Egyptian tone.
  • Nyarlathotep is the third most powerful god in the Cthulhu Mythos, behind Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth.

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