Assassins in popular culture

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Depictions of the historical assassins in modern popular culture.

Literature[edit]

  • Vladimir Bartol's novel Alamut, published in 1938, deals with Hassan-i Sabbāh and the Assassins, and is named after the fortress of Alamut. Bartol's view of the Assassins is highly negative, seeing Sabbāh as unscrupulous and manipulative, and his followers as fanatics. Bartol was influenced by the recent assassination of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and the rise of totalitarianism in Europe.
  • The 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche gives prominent focus to what he terms "the Brotherhood of Assassins", in section 24 of On the Genealogy of Morality. Nietzsche's signature work is to point to the worthlessness of religion[citation needed], and to attempt at the transvaluation of values, that is, to transcend the inherited Jewish and Christian politics, psychology and ethics of ressentiment or guilt. He aims at going beyond the categories of good and evil since they suppress the full potential of the strong and talented[citation needed]. Nietzsche heralds the arrival of the so-called 'free spirits' who no longer believe in truth.[1] Thus, they alone are capable of redeeming the world of the modern ills of comfort, mediocrity, and nihilism.
Importantly, Nietzsche attacks the false spirits who are the host of self-describing 'unbelievers' of modern times who claim to reject religious deception as scholars and philosophers and yet retain the traditional beliefs in good and evil, and truth. Nietzsche compares the genuine free spirits with the Assassins: "When the Christian crusaders in the Orient came across that invincible order of Assassins – that order of free spirits par excellence whose lowest order received, through some channel or other, a hint about that symbol and spell reserved for the uppermost echelons alone, as their secret: "nothing is true, everything is permitted". Now that was freedom of the spirit, with that, belief in truth itself was renounced."[2]
  • In the novel The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour, Mathurin Kerbouchard has to rescue his father from the Alamut
  • Mark Frost's novel The List of Seven features an antagonist named Alexander Sparks (based closely on Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Moriarty) who has been trained by several dangerous cults, including the Assassins.
  • The Assassins appear in the Dan Brown novel Angels & Demons. A hashashin appears in the novel as a major antagonist, often murdering cardinals and letting the protagonist race to find him.
  • The main characters in Peter Berling's The Children of the Grail live in Alamut until its destruction.
  • The Assassins and the Old Man on the Mountain appear in several novels by William S. Burroughs. Burroughs was inspired to using Hassan in his menagerie by the book The Master of the Assassins by Betty Bouthoul.[3]
  • A latter-day version of the Assassins and the Old Man of the Mountain figure into the labyrinthine plot of A.W. Hill's alternate reality novel Nowhere-Land, which also features the chimerical CIA agent known as Philby Greenstreet.
  • Prayers for the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno includes a former fedayeen principal character.
  • Dante, in the 19th canto of the Inferno, speaks of `the treacherous assassin' (lo perfido assassin). The assassin also appear in the loosely based video game Dante's Inferno. Also known as "The Avenger" he was one of the Kurdish prisoners whom Dante was tasked with guarding at Acre during the crusades. In exchange for his freedom, as well as her own, the man's wife, who claimed to be his sister, offered to "comfort" Dante. Dante took her offer, which only further enraged the man. After the Siege of Acre, he travelled to Dante's villa in Florence, where he assaulted and killed both Alighiero and Beatrice. In the Hall of Gluttons, Dante learns that the Avenger was the slave girl's cuckolded husband, not his brother, when Lucifer makes him witness Beatrice's murder. He is seen again in the downloadable prequel Dark Forest. When Dante apprehends him, he repeats his line "She wasn't my sister! She was my wife!"

Comics[edit]

  • The Brick Bradford comic strip pitted the titular hero against a group of modern descendants of the Assassins in the 1938-1939 storyline In the Fortress of Fear (reprinted in 1971 as Brick Bradford in the Fortress of Fear).[4]
  • Jonah Hex fights a Hashshashin brought to the Wild West as part of a Carnival of Killers during the "Six Gun War" storyline.
  • The Destroyer series of novels, being about assassins with an ancient heritage, naturally mention the Hashshashin.
  • The League of Assassins are an ancient secret order which serves as antagonist in many DC Comics plots.

Games[edit]

  • The Al-Qadim setting of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game has numerous "Holy Slayer" groups inspired by the Hashshashin. * Adventure ALQ2 Assassin Mountain has the Everlasting, a cult that live in a mountain that are clearly based on them.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade had the Assamites, which were basically what happens when an ancient vampire decides to take over the Hashshashin from within and bend them to his purpose. The clan still works out of Alamut and hires themselves out as assassins.
  • In the wargame Infinity, Hashashin are special troops that can be fielded by the Haqqislam faction, divided into four distinct types: snipers/poisoners, close-combat specialists, stealth experts who can pretend to be an enemy unit, and explosives specialists.
  • The Legend of the Five Rings CCG spin-off Legend Of The Burning Sands had a group called the Assassins in it, who excelled at killing in duels. While they were led by the "Old Man of the Mountain", most of the other characters in it were women.

Role-playing[edit]

Assassin is a character class common to many RPG games. Such characters typically combine elements of combat gaming with strong stealth skills, and specialise in defeating an enemy without becoming involved in a protracted melee. They are seen as the "fragile, but deadly" ninja-esque character class and are usually recommended to more experienced players in the game.

  • Assassin (Dungeons & Dragons) is a playable character class in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. It first appeared in 1975 in the Blackmoor supplement, as a thief sub-class. It next appeared in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons again as a thief sub-class. It later appeared as an optional kit for rogues in the second edition and as prestige class in the third edition. Assassins are killers and spies; the class is modeled on perceptions of real-world historical assassins.
  • MMORPGs have Assassins in them, referred in as a job or class.
  • Assassins have appeared in games like Diablo 2, Ragnarok Online, Lineage II, World of Warcraft, MapleStory, Guild Wars, and Conquer Online.
  • Assassins appear in the Final Fantasy games series, such as Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, as well as the Fire Emblem game series.

Video games[edit]

  • The Exile series of action role-playing games, first released by Telenet Japan in 1988, revolves around a time-traveling Syrian Assassin who assassinates various religious/historical figures and world leaders.[5][6]
  • The adventure game Broken Sword shows the main character following the trail of an Assassin preventing the reforging of a sword by the Templars.
  • In the fantasy role-playing video game Gothic 3, the Hashishin (completely based on Assassins) is a playable faction, located in the southern area of the World in the desert known as Varant.
  • Assassins appeared in the video games Knights of the Temple and its sequel Knights of the Temple II as enemies the player will encounter early in the game.
  • They also appear again as enemies in the medieval game The First Templar.
  • In Medieval II: Total War, Islamic factions can build Hashshashin Guilds in settlements where large numbers of spies and assassins are being recruited. Doing so improves the effectiveness of spies and assassins recruited there subsequently, as well as allowing the faction to produce specialized Hashshashin infantry units, which serve as small, elite heavy infantry capable of ambushing on the battlefield.
  • The Alik'r Warriors from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is said to be based on the Hashshashin, a way that they're an organisation of assassins who come from a Middle Eastern-like setting - albeit one based more on Morocco than Arabia.
  • Corvo Attano from Dishonored is an assassin getting revenge on the people who conspired against him and framed him for murder
  • According to the Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame's "bible", written by Jordan Mechner, the guards who protects Jaffar from the Prince in the last level are Assassins.
  • Dota 2 has a total of 5 assassins playable. Those being Bounty Hunter, Riki, Nyx Assassin, Phantom Assassin, and Templar Assassin.

Assassin's Creed series[edit]

Visual novels[edit]

  • The Old Man of the Mountain is the identity of numerous Assassin class servants in TYPE-MOON's Fate series of visual novels. So far, four different incarnations of Hassan i Sabbah have appeared, each with different abilities but similar appearances.

Film[edit]

Music[edit]

  • The Hawkwind album Quark, Strangeness and Charm contains a track called "Hassan I Shibbah" which refers to the Assassins and their leader. It links the group to modern Islamic fundamentalists and the socio-economic-political relationship between the Middle East and Europe in the 1970s.
  • The song "Garden of Light" by Isis, a post-metal band, refers subtly to the Hashashin recruitment procedure.
  • "Wine of Aluqah" by Therion. "Know that nothing's true and that everything is permitted,/So read the Old Man of the Mountain in his Book of Lies".
  • 'Assassin' by Muse. "Whatever they say / These people are torn / Wild and bereft / Assassin is born".
  • The song "Hassan I Sabbah" by the post-industrial band Zero Kama in the album The Secret Eye Of L.A.Y.L.A.H.

Television[edit]

  • In the Robin of Sherwood Series Two episode The Greatest Enemy, the Saracen band member, Nasir, gets a visit from two mysterious Saracens. When questioned about them later, Nasir confesses to the others that they were Assassins (hashashin) and that he used to be one of them. In the Series Three episode The Sheriff of Nottingham, an old enemy and former hashashin comes to Nottingham in search of him.
  • In an episode of the anime series Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG entitled 左眼に気をつけろ POKER FACE, there is a story recounted about the exploits of the Hashshashin.
  • In an episode of the "The West Wing (television)", the characters Sam Seaborn and Toby Ziegler, played by Rob Lowe and Richard Schiff respectively, explain to a group of students the origins of Terrorism, claiming the first acts of terrorism were committed by a group known as Assassins. [9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ On the Genealogy of Morals, by Friedrich Wilhem Nietzsche, Walter Arnold Kaufmann. p. 148
  2. ^ On the Genealogy of Morals, by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Walter Arnold Kaufmann. p. 150
  3. ^ Miles, Barry (2000). The Beat Hotel. New York: Grove Press. p. 204. ISBN 0-8021-3817-9. 
  4. ^ "Brick Bradford", in I Grandi Eroi del Fumetto, by Franco Fossati. Rome : Gremese Editore, 1990 ISBN 8876054960 (pp 59-60).
  5. ^ Szczepaniak, John (2009-04-11). "Hardcore Gaming 101: Exile / XZR". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  6. ^ Leo Chan, Sunsoft scores Telenet Japan franchises, Neoseeker, December 10, 2009
  7. ^ Nick Doerr. "Assassin's Creed producer speaks out, we listen intently [update 1]". Retrieved November 3, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Interview: Assassin's Creed". Computer and videogames. Retrieved November 3, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Episode Guide: Isaac and Ishmael". NBC. Archived from the original on July 15, 2006. Retrieved September 18, 2010.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]