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A Chthonian is the creation of Brian Lumley, first featured in his short story "Cement Surroundings (fiction)" (1969) with a more prominent role in Lumley's novel The Burrowers Beneath (fiction) (1974).


Flowing tentacles and pulpy gray-black, elongated sack of a body... no distinguishing features at all other than the reaching, groping tentacles. Or was there—yes—a lump in the upper body of the thing... a container of sorts for the brain, basal ganglia, or whichever diseased organ governed this horror's loathsome life!
Brian Lumley, The Burrowers Beneath (fiction)

A Chthonian is a sentient, telepathic, squidlike creature that lives deep beneath the earth's surface. Chthonians are described as immense squids, with elongated worm-like bodies coated with slime. Despite their squid-like appearance, Chthonians are land-dwellers and are even harmed by water. Chthonians are powerful burrowers, live for more than a thousand years, and are protective of their young. It is said that a chanting sound accompanies every Chthonian, and that by such they can be detected while underground and unseen, and that the movement of adult Cthonians through the earth causes earthquakes. The Cthonians burrow in the deep earth throughout the world, but seem to congregate for unknown reasons near the earth's surface at the mysterious African lost city of G'harne, where at one time they may have been enslaved. Chthonians are telepathic and can to some extent control human beings, though it is uncomfortable for them to do so, reserving telepathic control for the event that the human target has something they really want or need, otherwise they use telepathy to communicate with each other over long distances. The most important individual Chthonian is the gigantic Shudde M'ell, which is worshiped by the rest.

By some accounts, the Chthonians are long-lasting enemies of the Deep Ones.

Heresies and Controversies

  • In Charles Stross's "The Jennifer Morgue", the chthonians are long-lasting enemies of the Deep Ones.
  • In Greek mythology, chthonians and from the root chthon, which means "earth" in Greek) inhabit the underworld and are the dark, shadowy complement to the Olympians. See chthonic entry.

Associated Mythos Elements