Long hair and muscular chest, the fall-winter trend of Burberry
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Long hair and muscular chest, the fall-winter trend of Burberry

There is the witch, and the elf, and the dwarf, but all of them have eyes only on the … barbarian. miniature cult game HeroQuest They tested a victorious re-release that’s very faithful to its game system and design back in the ’90s. Around the table, when choosing their character, the four young players in 2022 have the same argument as the seniors: Who will have the honor of playing Roger the Barbarian?

With his mighty sword and Conan-like physique, the character is unanimous despite competition from other gnomes. “He is stronger, he who strikes, he is more fun than casting spells, analytical, pragmatic, Paul, ten years old. His friend, Adrien, 15 years old adds: “The elf and the goblin are cute but playing the barbarian is more fun. We don’t have to think and play tactics, we can just do it. »

Major Conan

The allure of these young fantasy fans of muscular barbarians in animal skin underwear reflects a more general trend: the barbarian is on the rise. Netflix, with an animated series, and Mattel, with a new lineup of games, has taken Musclor out of mothballs. After the gnomes game (another game) raised hundreds of millions of euros via Kickstarter, Conan the Barbarian has become the subject of several projects: movies, series…

Masloor character, 2022 version
Musclor figurine, 2022 edition – Mattel

If Conan has known The Return of Preference for a few years at the same time as its author, Robert E. Howard, whose work has finally been studied, there is also a whole galaxy of current fantasy franchises that shine a light on the glory of the barbarian. in Game of thrones, the wild animals of the North are highly prized, for example (Grett and Tormond are in our hearts…). And even the old Star Wars takes care, in its new developments, to nurture the image of barbarians. In the Disney series, boba fett book For example, the Tuscans (the Sandmen who frighten Luke and make the future Anakin Darth Vader) are no longer bloodthirsty savages, but a nomadic people with their own culture and traditions…

steps for us

Because the growing interest in the popular culture of barbarians is, of course, accompanied by a passage through the mill of values ​​of our time. Bloodthirsty for sure, but with values ​​… The strange love-hate relationship of barbarians is not new, explained Bruno Demizil, the historian who coordinated the book. barbarians.

“The definition of the term barbarian is very simple in antiquity. It designates all peoples who are not Roman. Later, the term took on other meanings, but retained the idea of ​​peoples “external to us”, the barbarian represents the other.”

The barbarian who became king of France

The exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum, of which Bruno Domizil is one of the curators, together with Fanny Hamonic, provides a better understanding of the famous barbarian: Clovis. Clovis was seen as a successful barbarian, starting in the nineteenth century. But he was head-general of the armed forces and consul in Gaul. He was a Roman, and even a member of the Roman aristocracy. For nationalistic and ideological reasons, Clovis became a symbol of the barbarian who chose to become a Christian. and French.”

Picture of the second season of the series Barbarians
Picture of the second season of the series Barbarians – Netflix

For the French today, Clovis is still this “barbarian who became king. A cliché going back to history,” says Bruno Demézelle: “In the history books of the Third Republic, Clovis is presented as a somewhat childish, spontaneous figure … but when he was He listens well at school, he became a king. This is the story we tell the children of the Third Republic. We use the image of a barbarian extricating himself from his condition to raise young children. »

Roger and his heart of gold

But then, what is the relationship between Conan Al-Simiri and Rogar the Orc Assassin and Clovis? their hidden depth. About the game table HeroQuestSoon, the game turns into a role-playing game. Behind his tensed muscles, the barbarian hides a heart of gold. “In fact, it was his mother who taught him how to handle his sword before she died, and he became a warrior to protect his younger sisters,” imagines 12-year-old Laura.

The cult game Hero Quest has been re-released and appeals to a new generation of gamers
The cult game Hero Quest has been re-released and is attractive to a new generation of players – Hasbro

“One of the characteristics of a barbarian is that he is more positive than he appears,” explains Bruno Domizil. In pop culture, but before that with Tacitus or Montaigne, barbarism was positive. The barbarian is closer to nature, commits “normal” murders …

For these reasons, it is a good idea to have a barberry in your family tree. “Civilizations insist on having dynamic ancestors. We fantasize about their share of savagery, but also about their connection with nature, and with their common sense … Before Clovis, Vercingetorix represented that savage part of ourselves that civilization knew how to direct, reason.”

Vikings invade us (again)

While waiting for the Netflix series on Clovis or Vercingetorix, we can watch the second season of barbarianswho will arrive on Friday. We follow the Germanic barbarians fighting (and playing) with the Roman invader. If you haven’t succeeded yet VikingsAnd the barbarians on the same process.

“Currently there is a passion for Vikings who are the ideal barbarians: violent, dominant and pagan, but also white, and therefore easy to capture by Europeans,” analyzes Bruno Domizil.

There are countless works and studies on the Vikings. National Geographic recently dedicated an exciting documentary series to them. The cult series has already ended but its episodic Vikings: Valhalla. YouTuber Nota Bene, a great expert on the Vikings world, has dedicated a book to them.

Witness to civilization

And in a comic book, Wilfried Lobano and Ohzar published the first volume of the comic strip Vikings in the fog. Screenwriter Wilfred Loubani explains: “I was interested in the Vikings for their vanishing civilization aspect. Our Vikings are living the end of their civilization, which will fall into something else, Christianity. The humor arises from the divide between people of a predatory and violent civilization at odds with the New World. They’re lost, they haven’t Their values ​​mean something. I see a resemblance to our capitalist civilization and its absurd violence…”

Masloor character, 2022 version
Musclor figurine, 2022 edition – Mattel

In order for this approach to work with the barbarians of the North, the cartoonist Ozar took his task seriously: “When you make jokes with the barbarians, it is easy to portray them in a caricature. But I found it interesting, on the contrary, to stick as closely as possible to historical reality. In Clothes, in customs … We salute this civilization that sailed to America long before all the other Europeans, who made raids on Seville, Sicily … They disappeared but the Vikings made great things, t only drink from skulls! »

the barbarian in us

Historically or from a fictional world, the barbarians of Majesty clearly say a lot about us, the civilized people of 2022. “Studies on barbarians have always underestimated the civilizations that produce these studies, explains Bruno Domizil. Speaking of others, we We talk about ourselves. Seeing a purity among the barbarians that we would have lost, we feel sorry for ourselves, we feel guilt. It is a dangerous rhetoric, used especially by the Nazis who sought a glorious dynasty among the pagan peoples.”

From the barbarian as “the one who is not us” to the barbarian who sleeps in us to the barbarian who reveals us to ourselves, a character – historical or mythical – deserves better than a caricature. young playerHeroQuest He makes himself worthy of this heritage by advising the statue of the Barbarian Roger: “His face is strange, we don’t really know whether he laughs or weeps.”

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