10 profound life lessons you can learn from Conan the Barbarian

Illustration for article titled 10 profound life lessons you can learn from Conan the Barbarian

All of the aphorisms in cinema, perhaps the most galvanizing is Conan the Barbarian's assessment of what is best in life. Crushing enemies and hearing lamentations of women may just be the go-getter's version of "early to bed, early to rise," but it certainly helped Conan slay men the size of Tony Robbins.


And yes, Conan may have been cribbed his credo from Genghis Khan, but that doesn't mean there aren't dozens — nay, thousands of life lessons we can glean from Arnold Schwarzenegger's portrayal of the sweaty Cimmerian. Here are the 10 most important. Let us drink deep from this wellspring of Hyborian philosophy, which tastes like bison-flavored Muscle Milk.

1.) Sweat out your problems!
After an evil James Earl Jones slays his family, Conan is condemned to push a giant wheel until he's the size of a tourist in Brazil. But Conan's not figuratively spinning his wheels — he has plenty of time to beef up and come to terms with his grief.

The script calls the device the "Wheel of Pain," but I prefer to call it "The Giant Juicer." Why? When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade! For a decade!

2.) Establish ground rules in the bedroom!
Easily the most important lesson. In Conan the Barbarian, Conan sleeps with a witch as payment for some made-up-as-she-went-along prophecy.

During the climax of their lovemaking, she transforms into some genus of Man Ape and attempts to please him while looking like Tia Carrere in (aborted Conan sequel) Kull the Conqueror. Now Conan's a traditional lover, but he's GGG. Our hero tries to accommodate her by tossing her in the fire, which is the Cimmerian equivalent of light bondage. She ups the ante by polymorphing into ball lightning. Conan, a simple country boy, has no idea how to make love to an orb of electricity, so she flies away, abashed at her forwardness. Open dialogue in the bedroom is paramount in avoiding these awkward situations. Admitting your own naiveté is the first step toward a satisfying love life.

3.) Punching tetrapods will not make you friends!

I love Conan The Barbarian because it's perhaps the only movie in cinema to portray a character getting high and punching a camel.


I also love this scene because it realistically depicts a shocked community's reaction to camel-boxing. Throttling even-toed ungulates will not win you points with Joe Average. Also, the camel gets its revenge in Conan The Destroyer, but we're going to pretend that never happened.

4.) Become a locavore!

And there's nothing more local than that vulture eating your moob! Think of it as a "carrion game hen."

5.) Never, ever taste the slime at Universal Studios!

Why? It's made out of human parts! What do you think happened to all those folks who lost on Family Double Dare? Marc Summers does not fuck around!

6.) Don't deny the power of prayer!

Take at least five minutes a day to swear at a deity of your choosing! For example, if Crom didn't want Conan to blaspheme his name, then he shouldn't have given him vocal cords, a sassy attitude, and an exciting hat!

7.) Never aim for the head!

It always backfires!

8.) Conversely, always aim for the head!

Because sometimes it works! On James Earl Jones!

9.) On a related note, it's an unspoken cinematic law that if James Earl Jones claims to be your father, you're going to have to kill him with an implement of stabbing.


For example, if he started making grand claims of paternity in The Sandlot, all those nice kids would have had to fillet the poor guy and relinquish the hell out of that PG rating.

10.) Once a day, gaze over the steppe and blast Basil Poledouris' score as loud as humanly possible


The opening score is like chicken soup for the Bronze Age soul. You know that French artist who recently gave herself transfusions of horse's blood? I bet this song ricochets through her skull 24/7. And if you can't find any steppe in your neighborhood, a suitable piedmont or continental rift should do in a pinch.



12. To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.