Cthulhu and Dagon: Residents of R’lyeh

In the Call of Cthulhu, when R’lyeh rises from the Pacific Ocean, it is hypothesized that the structure that broke the water’s surface was “only a single mountain-top, the hideous monolith-crowned citadel whereon great Cthulhu was buried, actually emerged from the waters.”  If this is true, then R’lyeh itself may be an incredibly huge City populated by millions of slumbering Spawn of Cthulhu and the section that broke the water’s surface may be only a small tip of the entire necropolis.

R’lyeh by Vain138

In the story Dagon the protagonist escaped a German sea-raider and found himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean.  After drifting for days, his boat ends up on a slimy, rotting expanse of “hellish black mire.”  After a few days brooding on the boat, he leaves and travels over the exposed plain to set out for a mound in the distance.

A view of the mound on the exposed plain in Dagon (illustration by Mark Foster)

Once reaching the summit of the mound the protagonist looks down into a pit or canyon.  As he travels down the slope on the edge of the pit, he sees a gigantic piece of stone that was clearly not the work of Nature.  As he is examining the strange hieroglyphs and drawings on the large monolith in the moonlight, a large flabby thing rises from the water.  The thing looks similar to some of the creatures shown on the monolith.  It had a generally human body shape covered in scales, glassy bulging eyes, and webbed hands and feet.  The thing, supposedly Dagon, flung it’s gigantic arms around the monolith and bowed it’s head in almost a religious manner.  At this point the protagonist goes mad and runs back to his boat.

Dagon at the monolith (illustration also by Mark Foster)

Both R’lyeh and the monolith in the story Dagon are found in the Pacific Ocean.  It is possible that they are both part of the same structure?  Is it possible that R’lyeh was the upper part of Cthulhu’s City and that the monolith in Dagon and the top spire of one of the highest structures in R’lyeh?  This would all make sense if indeed Dagon is one of the “Spawn” of Cthulhu.  Maybe Dagon was out “testing the waters” so to speak when it first emerged from the Pacific in 1917.  Was Dagon a “scout” before R’lyeh came up from the bottom of ocean in 1925?

Dagon by Jeff Remmer

Future articles will provide additional analysis of both R’lyeh and Cthulhu.  However, next time I will shift gears a little and talk about how Einstein’s ideas on the Universe impacted HPL and the development of his stories.  Thank you – Fred

10 thoughts on “Cthulhu and Dagon: Residents of R’lyeh

  1. I always thought Dagon was depicted as more or less a Cthulhu subsidiary, a minister of the high-priest or whatever. It would make a certain amount of sense for the tectonic activity to bare the same area…lol, east of Java, as it were.

    1. Yes, I agree. I can certainly see Dagon as a high-priest for Cthulhu. However, would Dagon be considered part of Cthulhu’s Spawn? In addition, does Dagon sleep in R’lyeh as well or is he an independent creature? Interesting questions! Fred

  2. Ah, I never thought that the monolith would be part of R’lyeh,

    Cool concept that Dagon would be the spawn of Cthulhu. Perhaps he may even be equal to Cthulhu…almost like a brother or father.

    Stupid suggestions, I know, but I want to contribute. Great article as always.


    1. Hey Brian – they are not stupid suggestion! Love to hear your comments – you bring up some excellent hypotheses. Based on Lovecraft’s stories, my understanding is that Dagon is part of the Spawn – maybe the offspring(?) of Cthulhu, however, I could be wrong. Still, it is fascinating to discuss!


      1. That Dagon is one of the Spawn of Cthulhu is a very plausible object. In fact, I think that there may also be a hint to that theory in “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” I may be wrong, but here’s a bit of (possible) supporting evidence on the Spawn theory –

        The Esoteric Order of Dagon worships Dagon. However, it does say (towards the end) “They would exact the tribute Great Cthulhu craved.” Perhaps this means that Dagon is a disciple of Cthulhu, and leads the Innsmouth-Deep Ones to Cthulhu? This is expanding a bit upon what moderan said. So, if Dagon is a representative of Cthulhu, than he certainly may be the Spawn.

        This is an interesting conversation. Would make a good Lovecraftian debate. I really need to check out those HPL Podcasts more often!


      2. Yes, I agree. The relationship between Dagon and Cthulhu can be interpreted a number of ways. Maybe Dagon is a member of the Spawn or a direct descendent of Cthulhu? Maybe Dagon is a Terran-bound representation of Cthulhu – an extension of Great Cthulhu dreaming in R’lyeh? Or maybe Dagon is a Earth being who worships Cthulhu? Very interesting topic to debate!


  3. My feeling is that Dagon is not related to Cthulhu.

    Consider this bit from Zadok Allen’s account: “…an’ the children shud never die, but go back to the Mother Hydra an’ Father Dagon what we all come from onct . . .”

    Now, considering that “Father” Dagon and “Mother” Hydra are referred to as where “we all come from”, I’d view this as evidence supporting the separateness of Dagon and Cthulhu. Remember that Cthulhu came from “outside”‘; the evolution of Cthulhu and his kin was entirely independent of Terran life. The aforementioned line suggests that Dagon and Hydra are somehow related to, perhaps even responsible for life on Earth.

    Given evidence from the stories, I thnk Dagon and Hydra are the original gods of the Deep Ones, being responsible for their existence and probably creating them. I think their worship of Cthulhu came at a later date, perhaps after Deep Ones discovered R’lyeh or through Cthulhu reaching out to the Deep Ones in dreams.

    1. Hey Jack:
      Thank you for the input! Yes, I agree that Dagon and Hydra are not part of the “spawn of Cthulhu” and are not from the “outside” like Cthulhu and the spawn. I do believe that they, like all Deep Ones, are residents of Earth and thus were ultimately created by the Elder Things (either intentionally or as “a mistake or joke”). However, it is possible that Dagon and Hydra (the father and mother) are essentially the biological “king” and “queen” of the global Deep One colony. It may be possible there are more than one Dagon and Hydra throughout the world, again being individual colonies.
      Again, thank you for the comments.

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