"When I dream of Rome, I am always pitted against her, hating her with a ferocity that in my younger days persisted in my waking hours, so that I still remember, with some wonder, the savage pleasure with which I read, at the age of nine, the destruction of Rome by the Germanic barbarians. At the same time, reading of the conquest of Britain by those same races filled me with resentment. Somehow, I have never been able to conceive fully of a Latinized civilization in Britain; to me that struggle has always seemed mainly a war of British barbarians against Germanic barbarians, with my sympathies wholly with the Britons."
- Robert E. Howard, Letter to Lovecraft, ca. January 1931...
A wild Aquiromian appears!
One of my pet Hyborian peeves is the meme which dictates Aquilonia is modelled after the Roman Empire. If you've seen any representation of an Aquilonian in a visual medium, that individual is very likely to resemble a classical Roman. It's endemic in illustration, Marvel and Dark Horse comics, role playing games, video games, board games, even action figures. Aquilonian centurions, Aquilonian legionaries, Aquilonian senators, Aquilonian gladiators... All over the place. When King Conan is illustrated, he's often clad in highly Romanesque attire, be it - again - in books, comics, games, action figures, even films. The implication of Conan wearing Roman attire as king, then, supports the Aquilonia=Roman theme.
The problem is twofold: first, the Aquilonians are not described like Ancient Romans, and second, Robert E. Howard absolutely despised the Romans.
So why is this so prevalent, and why is it such a problem?