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View Full Version : The Primarch's are based on famous warrior's DNA. Who's who?



GitzBlasta
14-03-2010, 14:54
I'm pretty sure I've read that the Primarchs were all partly created using famous warrior's DNA and thus inherited some of their traits.

First off - have I just made this up or is it true? I know we're supposed to cite sources so if anyone can do that for me I'd be etrnally grateful :D

Sedondly - if I'm right, which Primarchs are based on which historical characters? Lets assume GW wouldn't base them on characters we don't know of (i.e. characters which are historical to 40k but not to us!)

It's pretty clear that Jaghatai Khan is based on Genghis Khan. I'd say that Angron is based on Spartacus, although I'm only basing this on what happened to him rather than what he was like!

massey
14-03-2010, 15:16
I think you're thinking of Serpentor. "This I command!!!" :D

WodenMHC
14-03-2010, 15:41
There are some historical references between the Primarchs, Emperor, and the history of the Imperium in general. Some of the references are quite vague, while others not so. The Emperor's Personal Battle Barge, for instance, was named Bucephalus, which was also the name of Alexander the Great's Horse. The Emperor is also protected by the Custodian Companions, the same name of the elite heavy cavalry unit used by Alexander to break enemy lines, and often served as his bodyguard. In the older GW books, they listed the Imperial Fists' first combat honor as 'Roma,' etc.

I don't think GW design makes conscious, direct associations with things in our 'real' history - though in the older GW books Terra was referred to as Earth. I think they take conceptual ideas or archetypes that are familiar to most people and use them to make their units and characters familiar, yet unique. If you'd like, it isn't terribly difficult to produce a list of characters or battles and the archetypes that they follow, you could start with:

Imperial Fists - Germanic Warrior Caste (ritual battle scaring?)
Ultramarines - Greek/Roman mix
Iron Snakes - mostly Greek
Space Wolves - Norse/Viking
White Scars - Mongols of the Steppes
Blood Angels - eh..without the Blood Part are fairly Renaissance Europe

That's just a short list, but since the Primarchs are just an extension of the same archetype as their legion (or the other way around), it's not hard to figure out the rest. I simply wouldn't make 'history' and '40k' the same thing, regardless of similarities - it's just a way to make them game feel more personal by using something vaguely similar to what people know.

Condottiere
14-03-2010, 15:52
I think you're thinking of Serpentor. "This I command!!!" :DThat was my first thought.

How close would that be followed, including physical characteristics? More likely, it would be a mixture of desired traits, the Emperor being wise enough that you need different types of commanders to deal with all the possible variations of warfare that's possible to experience.

GitzBlasta
14-03-2010, 16:01
Maybe, but not all the Primarchs are all rounders as such. Angron and his legion concentrate almost entirely on brutal frontal assaults, Mortarion and his Death Guard in footslogging direct attacks, the Khan in high speed warfare. These are hardly a mix!
I reckon each Primarch was created with a specific TYPE of warfare in mind. Thus you get Magnus the Scholar-Warrior, Corax the guerrila expert, Rogal Dorn the defensive expert etc

Wyrmwood
14-03-2010, 16:09
Maybe, but not all the Primarchs are all rounders as such. Angron and his legion concentrate almost entirely on brutal frontal assaults, Mortarion and his Death Guard in footslogging direct attacks, the Khan in high speed warfare. These are hardly a mix!
I reckon each Primarch was created with a specific TYPE of warfare in mind. Thus you get Magnus the Scholar-Warrior, Corax the guerrila expert, Rogal Dorn the defensive expert etc

People seem to forget that, although these Legions were arguably the best at that type of warfare, they were able to adapt and use different techniques and tactics.

Horus_Lupercal
14-03-2010, 16:45
I always felt that Konrad Qruze was like Vlad the Impaler, a brutal son of a bit*h, i dont know what the others were though besides the khan who is most likely based off of Genghis.

Wyrmwood
14-03-2010, 16:46
Horus Lupercal - A mixture of Julius Ceaser and John Milton's depiction of Satan in 'Paradise Lost'.

Lupe
14-03-2010, 17:05
Roboute Guilliman - Gaius Marius (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaius_Marius)
Perturabo - Dietrich von Chlotitz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_von_Choltitz)
Corax - Vo Nyugen Giap (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giap)
Leman Russ - William the Conqueror (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_the_Conqueror)
Rogal Dorn - Georgy Zhukov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhukov)
The Lion - King Baldwin IV (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_IV_of_Jerusalem)
Lorgar - Mehmed II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mehmed_II)
Magnus - Saladin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saladin)
Angron - Atilla the Hun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attilla)
Sanguinius - Stephen the Great (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_the_Great)
Konrad Curze - Reinhard Heydrich (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhard_Heydrich)

Editing the post as I come up with likely matches

GitzBlasta
14-03-2010, 17:18
Well yeah, Marines are able to excel at any type of warfare, but the fact remains that each Legion specialised in one particular one. Even if that particular tactic is being a bit of a jack of all trades (Ultramarines).

lord opium
14-03-2010, 17:21
Here's a few

Lion El'Jonson - The Dark Angels culture and background is heavily influenced by the Knights Templar and by the poem 'The Dark Angel' by Lionel Johnson, although the novella Deathwing portrays their recruitment from tribes based heavily upon Tribes Like Native Americans, but their Recruitment Varies from generation to generation as Portrayed in the Novel Angels of Darkness.

Imperial Fists - German Junker system, with Honour Duelling a regular feature of daily life.

Ultramarines - The Ultramarines are based loosely around ancient Rome, though they also use imagery relating to Classical Greece.

Raven Guard - Their background contains references to Edgar Allen Poe's poem " The Raven".

Night Lords - The name of their fallen Primarch, Conrad Kurze, seems to be a combination of Joseph Conrad and his famous work Heart of Darkness of which Kurtz is a central character.

NightrawenII
14-03-2010, 20:05
Corax and his Legion are based on Black Army of Mathias Corvinus, king of Hungary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Army_of_Hungary).

Lupe
14-03-2010, 20:22
In terms of symbolism, yes, they do take a lot from King Matthias, and his father, King Janos (whom I particularly count among the greatest generals in medieval Europe).

In terms of actual style of warfare, however, I find them a lot more similar to the aforementioned general Giap, and his utterly incredible feats of guerilla combat during the Vietnam War.

NightrawenII
14-03-2010, 21:30
In terms of symbolism, yes, they do take a lot from King Matthias, and his father, King Janos (whom I particularly count among the greatest generals in medieval Europe).

In terms of actual style of warfare, however, I find them a lot more similar to the aforementioned general Giap, and his utterly incredible feats of guerilla combat during the Vietnam War.
Well, it's better example than the E.A.Poe one.:rolleyes:

lord opium
14-03-2010, 22:12
yeah but it only says some of their background

Phoebus
14-03-2010, 22:16
Horus Lupercal always struck me as having a more-or-less "Alexander the Great" persona/temperament: magnanimous in victory, but jealous of recognition; possessed of a great ego and belief in his own destiny; a brilliant tactician and advocate of both surgical strikes and calculated shock force. Like Alexander's Macedonians, the Luna Wolves have a reputation for excellence, but also for brutality. Also like the ancient warriors of Macedon, they seem to admire physical appearance as well as physical prowess where their champions are concerned--see Sejanus, for example, or the importance of looking like Horus (described as a flawlessly handsome man).

Roboute Guiliman seems to combine the historical aspects of Augustus Caesar, as well as a broad-brush overview of the man's more positive administrative/governmental traits, with the military genius of his adopted father. The Codex Astartes also nicely fits in that general era, where treatises of tactics and stratagems were written by famous generals and kings, and circulated for the benefit of up-and-coming commanders.

I'm not sure that most Primarchs closely (if at all) correlate with actual historical persons, though. And I'm more than willing to admit that my Horus-Alexander comparison is a stretch born of broad parallels.

Friedrich von Offenbach
15-03-2010, 03:56
Isn't it obvious? They are all based on Chuck Norris

LexxBomb
15-03-2010, 10:21
wonders which Primarch is similar to Clive of India

Bartali
15-03-2010, 11:39
Here's a few
Lion El'Jonson - The Dark Angels culture and background is heavily influenced by the Knights Templar and by the poem 'The Dark Angel' by Lionel Johnson, although the novella Deathwing portrays their recruitment from tribes based heavily upon Tribes Like Native Americans, but their Recruitment Varies from generation to generation as Portrayed in the Novel Angels of Darkness.


I never get the DA/Knights Templar comparison, when the BT are so obviously influenced by the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights and other crusading knights.

DA are much more influenced by the Arthurian legends I feel rather than the crusading knights.

The Lion/King Arthur
Luthor/Mordred
The Order/Knights of the Round
Caliban/Caliburnus or Caliburn, older names for Excalibur
Grail Quest/Quest for the Fallen
The Rock/Camelot

etc

Philip S
15-03-2010, 13:34
I'm pretty sure I've read that the Primarchs were all partly created using famous warrior's DNA and thus inherited some of their traits.
In older background the Primarchs are made with the DNA of the Emperor, literal clones who are modified, and probably modified further by Chaos.

As for the Archetypes for the Primarchs, lets start with the Emperor - an super Alpha class psyker is going to show up in our history, and considering when he was born, the lighting heraldry, it could be the Emperor is the 'Thunder God' of many of Earth's myths.

This could means that the Primarch archetypes may not be famous humans warriors but lesser gods of antiquity.

We know the Horus Heresy series of books that the Primarchs all have rings of various zodiacs (Draconic Zodiac has 20), with Horus as Sagittarius, and this could further link into the myths surrounding them.

Philip

tezdal
15-03-2010, 14:11
Horus: George Bush..."this here heresy is gonna be a cakewalk" 10,000 years in, still fighting Imperial insurgents

Condottiere
15-03-2010, 15:46
wonders which Primarch is similar to Clive of IndiaThe one that most effectively uses 30K's equivalent of the IG.

Phoebus
15-03-2010, 15:56
I never get the DA/Knights Templar comparison, when the BT are so obviously influenced by the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights and other crusading knights.
Nothing says they can't share traits. I don't think the developers that originally worked on the Dark Angels were thinking of the Knights Templar, per se, but you have to admit that the movies and books featuring that order recently have focused heavily on their secrets, the destruction of their order, the ongoing quests over the centuries, etc.

All that, no offense, strikes me as being a closer parallel than the Arthurian mythos, even if--again--the Templars were not an intended influence to begin with.

But that's just me! :)

katyusha77
15-03-2010, 18:58
Night Lords - The name of their fallen Primarch, Conrad Kurze, seems to be a combination of Joseph Conrad and his famous work Heart of Darkness of which Kurtz is a central character.
Agree, that's even more obvious when you notice the name of the assassin who killed Night Haunter : M'Sheen -> In Apocalypse Now (based on the Heart of Darkness), Kurtz is killed by Martin Sheen. That's one of my favourite cultural reference in 40k :D

incarna
15-03-2010, 19:43
The Lion - King Baldwin IV (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_IV_of_Jerusalem)

I kinda thought The Lion was a referance to King Richard I (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_I_of_England)

Also Jaghatai Khan is Genghis Khan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genghis_Khan)

incarna
15-03-2010, 19:48
Angron - Atilla the Hun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attilla)


And, considering the story of the events leading up to Angron's encounter with the Emperor, I tend to think of him as Sparticus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartacus)

Colonel Deal
15-03-2010, 20:01
We know the Horus Heresy series of books that the Primarchs all have rings of various zodiacs (Draconic Zodiac has 20), with Horus as Sagittarius, and this could further link into the myths surrounding them.

Have the zodiacs for any of the other Primarchs been mentioned in the Horus Heresy books yet? I always found that small bit of info about Horus very interesting.

incarna
15-03-2010, 20:10
Magnus - Saladin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saladin)

I very much believe Magnus is supposed to be something of a mix between Sauron ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauron) and Faust ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faustus).

incarna
15-03-2010, 20:17
I'm also fairly certain that Horus is Lucifer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucifer)

incarna
15-03-2010, 20:27
Alpharius and Omegeon bare some referances to the story of Romulus and Remus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_and_Remus) but I don't see a concrete abstraction.

incarna
15-03-2010, 20:33
Corax is greek for raven and (I know this will come as a shock to everyone) referances Po's story/poem The Raven (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Raven)

The Raven's a good story/poem but I'm not sure it's quite deserving of it's own Primarch.

GitzBlasta
15-03-2010, 20:34
It is a nicely evocative piece though and it does suit Corax and the Raven Guard :)

incarna
15-03-2010, 20:37
I'm fairly certain Vulkan is a referance to the roman god of blacksmithing... drumroll please... Vulcan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_(mythology))

Condottiere
15-03-2010, 22:20
Magnus is most likely Faust, since he sought knowledge and power in equal measure.

Fulgrim's Gimp
15-03-2010, 22:55
Magnus also has the one eyed thing in common with Norse legends of Odin. Take that Space Puppies :)

IceFire
15-03-2010, 23:35
Why is Angron Atilla the Hun? Is it just the brutality?

If I remember a book I read once correctly, Atilla made excellent use of mounted archers which made a mockery of armour (and I believe ushered the end of the Knight's reign) and was highly mobile - as you might expect from a mounted army. I guess a 40K equivalent would be bikers armed exclusively with plasma weaponry! :D

Genghis Khan also made use of mounted warriors, but I think the majority were up close fighters, with just a few mounted archers.

Cromwell Haarlock-Leth
16-03-2010, 02:04
If I remember a book I read once correctly, Atilla made excellent use of mounted archers which made a mockery of armour (and I believe ushered the end of the Knight's reign) [...]

Certainly Attila doesn't have anything to do with the end the Knights...
Attila was born circa 406 and died in 453.
The Knighthood was still in the limbos of the future by that time.
He contributed to the final weakening of the Roman Empire.

Lupe
16-03-2010, 02:26
I would justify comparing Angron with Atilla for a number of reasons.

Of course, brutality is the first and foremost of them.
But there are other reasons besides that. His inherent disdain for contemporary conventions of war, for one. His hatred for civilization (okay, it's only hinted, about Angron, and it was mostly directed at decadent societies - Da'shea and the Western Roman Empire, respectively). His sense of martial honor also mirrors that of the Huns closely (not being focused on concepts of chivalry and mercy, but on the enemies putting up a good fight)
His take on life seem similar to those of the Huns, as well - a life of battle vs a life in the saddle. Both the World Eaters and the Huns seemed to indulge in ritual scarring, and took pride in scars earned the normal way as well. Both the World Eaters and the Huns went so far as to physically alter their bodies to become more effective in war (Angron practiced lobotomies and made use of combat implants; the Huns used to force their children to sit in the saddle all day so their legs would grow slightly crooked to make better riders). Also, I have one other reason, though it's mostly symbolic. Both of them pretty much spelled the doom for the decadent civilizations they hated so much.

Granted, the actual ways in which they waged war are very different, but I think these are the most parallels I could find for Angron among real life warriors, so I went with that.

Hellebore
16-03-2010, 02:51
afaik there has never been any background describing the primarchs as being engineered from ancient human warlords.

Which in and of itself would be impossible as their DNA wouldn't exist any more. That's ignoring the fact that Genghis Khan didn't have super genes. The majority of what made these people great was in their brain. Behaviour is far more environmentally affected than physical attributes. You could raise a mini Alexander the Great if you provided the right environment.

Hellebore

Lupe
16-03-2010, 02:55
afaik there has never been any background describing the primarchs as being engineered from ancient human warlords.

Which in and of itself would be impossible as their DNA wouldn't exist any more. That's ignoring the fact that Genghis Khan didn't have super genes. The majority of what made these people great was in their brain. Behaviour is far more environmentally affected than physical attributes. You could raise a mini Alexander the Great if you provided the right environment.



100% correct. The thread should have just said "The Primarchs are based on famous human warriors." But, oh well, since this is a somewhat stimulating discussion, we kinda overlooked the whole genetics research failure. :)

Firaxin
16-03-2010, 04:14
Well, if we go with Zodiac signs, what does that make the others?

El'Jonson easily enough should be Leo, the Lion, and Alpharius/Omegon should also easily be Gemini, the Twins.

Perturabo as Virgo (pessimistic, very critical, stubborn, narrow-minded. In ancient Sumerian, Virgo was known as 'the Furrow', as in the furrows made in the earth on a farm. Remind anyone of trenches?), maybe?

Lorgar as Pisces (the most--sometimes too--loyal, and simultaneously the most oversensitive/easily hurt)? Or maybe Aquarius, the Water Bearer?

Mortarion as Cancer?



I don't know that much about the signs, and I feel like there's not only too much overlap between the Primarchs but too much overlap between the signs to identify much more than that.


Personally I think whoever said they were probably based on Gods is more on the right track.

Corax could be Kutkh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kutkh).

Condottiere
16-03-2010, 09:00
Even with the Western Zodiac, you still are short eight profiles.

Khas
16-03-2010, 13:45
This point, & the entire discussion is deeply flawed, since you start off with an assumption based upon wishful thinking and nothing more. Anything thus derived from that point is just going down the waterslide of baseless assumptions & wishlisting.

As has been pointed out earlier (by Hellebore I think), it is firmly established fluff that the Primarchs were created from the Emperor's own DNA, and then acuired their distinct cultural traits based on the worlds they landed on after they were scattered across the galaxy.

Thus, their cultural connections were accidental, from the Emperor's point of view, and not designed.

GW has in later fluff made some rather blatant attemts at associating certain Primarchs to certain historical characters, especially with the first white dwarf writeups for the Traitor Legions. That was, imo, very badly done on most part and is laying down a rather questionable foundation for many of the Traitor Legions & the Heresy itself.

incarna
16-03-2010, 14:25
This point, & the entire discussion is deeply flawed, since you start off with an assumption based upon wishful thinking and nothing more. Anything thus derived from that point is just going down the waterslide of baseless assumptions & wishlisting.

As has been pointed out earlier (by Hellebore I think), it is firmly established fluff that the Primarchs were created from the Emperor's own DNA, and then acuired their distinct cultural traits based on the worlds they landed on after they were scattered across the galaxy.

Thus, their cultural connections were accidental, from the Emperor's point of view, and not designed.

GW has in later fluff made some rather blatant attemts at associating certain Primarchs to certain historical characters, especially with the first white dwarf writeups for the Traitor Legions. That was, imo, very badly done on most part and is laying down a rather questionable foundation for many of the Traitor Legions & the Heresy itself.

GW very clearly draws from existing literature for the Primarchs. This isn’t surprising in the least since many literary works are inspired by prior literary works (Dungeons and Dragons is loosely based on the Tolken concept of fantasy for example.)

The Primarchs were created by the emperor’s DNA and their distinct cultural traits were developed by the world they landed on – but as literary characters they, and the cultures they developed in, are clearly based, at least in part on existing literary works and historical accounts.

It’s pretty clear that Jaghatai Khan is based on Genghis Khan.
It’s clear that Konrad Curze is based on Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now
Magnus is almost certainly inspired by Faust and Sauron
Arguably, Horus is Lucifer
Corax is clearly inspired by the poem The Raven
Vulkan is almost certainly based upon the Roman god of blacksmithing Vulkan

Less concrete abstractions are that Alpharius and Omegeon are based on Romulus and Remus, Angron – Spartacus, Lion El’Jonson – Richard the Lion, and Sanguinius – The Angel Michiel, Leman Russ – William the Conquerer. These are abstractions that are much more loose than those above but enough to suggest that Fulgrim, Perturabo, Rogal Dorn, Ferrus Manus, Roboute Guilliman, Mortarion, and Lorgar are also based on, as of yet, undetermined literary and historical sources… exploring the possibilities is actually quite intellectually stimulating.

Philip S
16-03-2010, 15:28
Have the zodiacs for any of the other Primarchs been mentioned in the Horus Heresy books yet? I always found that small bit of info about Horus very interesting.
Nope. There is mention of Leos, Skorpos, and Arbitos but not to who they relate to.

There is this quote

From Lord of the Night
"She bends to the body and plucks at its dead limbs. A ring, she steals, and a silver blade worn in a flesh scabbard at its shoulder."
It could be a zodiac ring?

Philip

GitzBlasta
16-03-2010, 18:00
Why is Leman Russ similar to William the Conqueror? Ok, William (the Bastard first :P) was sort of norse by descent but Leman Russ really is more savage and feral. I see William as more refined and artistocratic but a great fighter none the less.

incarna
16-03-2010, 20:56
Why is Leman Russ similar to William the Conqueror? Ok, William (the Bastard first :P) was sort of norse by descent but Leman Russ really is more savage and feral. I see William as more refined and artistocratic but a great fighter none the less.

Now that I'm putting a bit more thought into it. The story of Leman Russ seems to somewhat mirror that of Loki's son Fenrir (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenrir)... particularly the part about how he's exiled and will return upon Ragnorok.

GitzBlasta
16-03-2010, 21:41
Sounds more like it! :cool:

Lord Asgul
16-03-2010, 23:13
Now that I'm putting a bit more thought into it. The story of Leman Russ seems to somewhat mirror that of Loki's son Fenrir (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenrir)... particularly the part about how he's exiled and will return upon Ragnorok.

I was about to mention that actually :) I really think that Leman Russ would be more related to something more Viking-related than the Normans

Lupe
17-03-2010, 03:36
There have been scattered bits of info (most famous of which being in the new Thousand Sons novel) that hint at Russ being a lot more cultured and sophisticated than he likes to show.

GitzBlasta
17-03-2010, 08:02
Yes but that still doesn't make him fit the William the Conqueror theme. I got the impression from A Thousand Sons that Russ was in some ways a manifestation of the Emperor's will and he made a big deal of his feral nature to mould his Legion into his fighting machine. I say 'made a big deal' of her feral nature because I'm sure he was much more feral than the other Primarchs but he wasn't as base as his Legion so had to almost act down to their level.