Monday, 28 November 2011

Fact or Fiction: Lion El'Johnson

So i finally managed to find a day that i am not working 15 hour shifts and getting under paid , and can write up one of my favorite if not THE favorite characters of the 40k universe.

Ladies and gentlemen i present to you, the one and only: Lionel El'Johnson , Primarch to the 1st Legion of the Emperors finest Astartes!

Those of us who are familiar with antiquated books, have probably noticed that games workshop and the black library dont base their stories on completely new ideas. We have so far seen how they are inspired by other sourced throughout the world and religion. They then change these ideas as they see fit, they mold them into whats needed.

One thing we can be sure of is that even though the character of the Lion may have been based after the English poet, essayist and critic. He has lived a polar opposite life in fiction, then in real life.

You see, the original Lionel Johnson was born on the 15th of March in 1867, and died in October of 1902. A very accomplished man, he graduated oxford , New College and Winchester college. Much like his Fictional counterpart he was a man of great intelligence. The death of Lionel Johnson was tragic and ignominious, he died of a stroke while sitting at a bar. Keep in mind that although the Lion in fiction is still alive, supposedly in a coma like sleep, he is located within the deepest chamber of the Rock, the Dark Angels space fortress, watched over by the watchers in the dark.

The life of the poet in some ways mirrors that of that primarch. Throughout his entire life he struggled with  Alcoholism and his repressed homosexuality. We can see this in the fictional personal of the lion, in the form of him struggling with his lack of humanity and lack of compassion towards others, while seeing his significantly superior tactical acumen to all others , including his fellow primarch brothers.

An interesting fact about the poet is that he was cousin to the Shakespeare family.

We know that the lion in fiction had the most victories throughout the great crusade , alongside with Horus and Leman Russ. This shows to us that compassion is not needed to lead, only logic. We can see this idea explored in the poets work called "The Precept Of Silence".
I KNOW you: solitary griefs
Desolate passions, aching hours!
I know you: tremulous beliefs,
Agonized hopes, and ashen flowers!
The winds are sometimes sad to me,
The starry spaces, full of fear;
Mine is the sorrow on the sea,
And mine the sigh of places drear.
Some players upon plaintive strings
Publish their wistfulness abroad;
I have not spoken of these things,

Save to one man, and unto God.

A rather sad poem that may reflect the complicated and solitary life of the fictional counterpart. As we all know the lion like his brother primarchs was scattered across the galaxy in his infancy and was brought to the death world of Caliban (supposed to be 4 times as deadly as Catachan) and survived the first years of his life alone in the wilderness, among corrupt beasts. It is since then that his sour and lonely demeanor has been appearing. Throughout the black library series we see the lion struggling to understand the concept of humanity and compassion, and even though he succeeds as one of the best generals humanity has ever known, he fails to be human. Perhaps it is this flaw that makes him one of the greatest primarchs to have ever lived.

Verdict: Fact

Reason: It is quite obvious that the Lion was based on this great poem. All the evidence is here. The name may appear to be the biggest clue, but it is the subtle nuances of life that both these tragic personas share that trully unite them.

As a closing to this article i just wanted to add this. The reason why the first legion was named Dark Angels , is because one of the poets greatest works, was a poem called "Dark Angel" and i am proud to present it to you!

DARK Angel, with thine aching lust
To rid the world of penitence:
Malicious Angel, who still dost
My soul such subtile violence!

Because of thee, no thought, no thing,
Abides for me undesecrate:
Dark Angel, ever on the wing,
Who never reachest me too late!

When music sounds, then changest thou
Its silvery to a sultry fire:
Nor will thine envious heart allow
Delight untortured by desire.

Through thee, the gracious Muses turn,
To Furies, O mine Enemy!
And all the things of beauty burn
With flames of evil ecstasy.

Because of thee, the land of dreams
Becomes a gathering place of fears:
Until tormented slumber seems
One vehemence of useless tears.

When sunlight glows upon the flowers,
Or ripples down the dancing sea:
Thou, with thy troop of passionate powers,
Beleaguerest, bewilderest, me.

Within the breath of autumn woods,
Within the winter silences:
Thy venomous spirit stirs and broods,
O Master of impieties!

The ardour of red flame is thine,
And thine the steely soul of ice:
Thou poisonest the fair design
Of nature, with unfair device.

Apples of ashes, golden bright;
Waters of bitterness, how sweet!
O banquet of a foul delight,
Prepared by thee, dark Paraclete!

Thou art the whisper in the gloom,
The hinting tone, the haunting laugh:
Thou art the adorner of my tomb,
The minstrel of mine epitaph.

I fight thee, in the Holy Name!
Yet, what thou dost, is what God saith:
Tempter! should I escape thy flame,
Thou wilt have helped my soul from Death:

The second Death, that never dies,
That cannot die, when time is dead:
Live Death, wherein the lost soul cries,
Eternally uncomforted.

Dark Angel, with thine aching lust!
Of two defeats, of two despairs:
Less dread, a change to drifting dust,
Than thine eternity of cares.

Do what thou wilt, thou shalt not so,
Dark Angel! triumph over me:
Lonely, unto the Lone I go;
Divine, to the Divinity.

Lionel Johnson


  1. Another very cool fact or fiction article. Some excellent detective work Holmes!

    ps. Thanks for the label :)

  2. As enjoyable as the article is, I really like the model. Very cool.

    Is it your own conversion?

    Not being rude, I just remember that there was once a website where someone made primarchs and sold them. Can't remember the site name, or if it still exists (GW may have crushed them).

  3. No matey, as much as i wish it were, its just a pic i found on google. but if youre interested in 30k showcases i suggest you visit

    they got some very nice primarch models there :D

    also thank you for the kind words

  4. Thank you for the website on the showcase. Will go there now.

    I also enjoyed the Belial and Mephiston articles too.

  5. A very well researched & written article, I’m really enjoying this series thanks.

    I much prefer GW 'fluff' when it has its roots in 'real world' history, art and literature.

    Looking up names and ideas associated with 40k mythos can often lead you on a rewarding journey through facts or works that you would never usually uncover and experience.

  6. Really good research there! The DarK Angel poem is a great find.

  7. @bix: yeah i know. especialy when you play an army or read a book abt an army u love and you realise that theres a corolation with someone you learned abt in school, its an amazing feeling really :)

    @mosto: a bit sad though, but they say if a poem bring out emotion, its succeeded in what it was intended!

  8. Astarte was a goddess connected with fertility, sexuality, and war.

    The all male space marines are named after a female. Ironic!

    Now we know why the Emperor's children fell to Slaanesh.

  9. It is the past one.It is brilliant painted