The God in the Bowl

An illustration of a dramatic scene in The God in the Bowl as depicted by Mark Schultz in The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian (Del Rey, 2003). The original short story was written by Robert E. Howard and first appeared in a 1952 issue of Space Science Fiction magazine.
"The God in the Bowl"
AuthorRobert E. Howard
Original title"The God in the Bowl"
SeriesConan the Cimmerian
Published inSpace Science Fiction
Publication typePulp magazine
Publication date1952

"The God in the Bowl" is one of the original short stories featuring the sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian, written by American author Robert E. Howard but not published during his lifetime. It's set in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age and concerns Conan robbing a temple museum only to be ensnared in bizarre events and deemed the prime suspect in a murder mystery. The story first saw publication in September 1952 in Space Science Fiction and has been reprinted many times since.

Plot summary

One night in the Nemedian municipality of Numalia, the second largest city of Nemedia, Conan enters a fantastic establishment: a great museum and antique house which citizens call the Temple of Kallian Publico.

In the midst of robbing this museum, Conan finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation when the strangled corpse of the temple's owner and curator, Kallian Publico, is found by a night watchman. Though the Cimmerian is the prime suspect, the investigating magistrate, Demetrio, and the prefect of police, Dionus, show remarkable forbearance. The two allow Conan not only to remain free, but also to keep his unsheathed sword while their nervous men search the shadowy premises. It was a combination of Conan's massive physique, the fiery glare in his eyes, and the insistence that he'll disembowel the first person who tried to apprehend him which kept the royal guards at bay.

As his on-scene investigation unfolds, the magistrate soon learns from Promero, Publico's clerk, that Publico had received from distant Stygia a strange bowl-like sarcophagus which now lies unsealed, open, and empty. This sarcophagus was said to be a priceless relic found among the darkened tombs far beneath the Stygian pyramids and sent to Caranthes of Hanumar, Priest of Ibis, "because of the love which the sender bore the priest of Ibis". Intercepting this rare item meant for Caranthes, Publico had believed the sarcophagus contained the fabled diadem of the giant-kings whose primordial kin dwelt in that dark southern land before the ancestors of the Stygians arrived. However, the object contained within was never the diadem, but something of a more insidious nature.

While the magistrate and his men are baffled when uncovering this aforementioned information, the reader quickly begins to suspect[original research?] the murderer may have been something other than entirely human and was contained within the now-opened sarcophagus.

An inhuman scream forces the police to retreat from the museum, leaving Conan to fend for himself with the roaming "murderer". Soon, Conan eventually locates the culprit whom he hesitantly dispatches with his long sword.

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български: Богът в купата