Cohen the Barbarian

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The Barbarian
Cohen the Barbarian Illustrated by Michael Collins a.k.a. puggdogg
Name Cohen the Barbarian
Race Human
Age 90 something
Occupation Barbarian
Physical appearance Old, spry, bald, knee-length beard, one eye, crab like
Residence Discworld
Children Conina
Marital Status
Books The Light Fantastic
Interesting Times
The Last Hero
Troll Bridge
Cameos Jingo

Mention in Moving Pictures and Sourcery.

Also known as Ghenghiz Cohen, Cohen the Barbarian is the last and greatest of the barbarian heroes. He is over 90 years old (or 87 in The Light Fantastic, in which he declares "If I wash twenty yearsh younger...I'd be shixty sheven"), which just goes to show how good Cohen is at not dying. Known to be leader of the Silver Horde, a small group of similarly elderly barbarian heroes, many of whom have served with Cohen for numerous years. Like Cohen himself, the Silver Horde is very good at not dying in a line of work where insane risks and life-and-death gambles are relatively routine (note we say 'and' instead of 'or' - this is intentional, as *someone* tends to die in the instances).

In the book The Light Fantastic, he commissioned a dwarf to make a set of special dentures made from the diamond teeth of Old Grandad, an ancient troll. It is speculated that he may be the only person on the Disc who can actually get away with this without drawing excessive retribution from trolls, mostly because he's sort of a force of nature. Rincewind describes the effect in the following way: "Once they've been around him for a while, people start seeing the world the way he does. All big and simple. And they want to be a part of it." Cohen's charisma is powerful enough for him to have attracted the Silver Horde, despite the notoriously individualistic nature of barbarians.

He is of a wiry build and wears just his loincloth even in the snow.

The best things in life according to him are "hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper".

He has at least one known daughter (and is assumed to have many more children, most of whom he does not know). Her name is Conina. She is the daughter of a temple dancer.

It is generally difficult for others to consider Cohen a friend, given his volatile nature; when questioned by Havelock Vetinari, Rincewind conceded that he could be considered Cohen's friend simply because he and Cohen had met a couple of times and Cohen hadn't killed him.

Cohen married Bethan who was a sacrificial virgin (at least back then she was) with a tanned perfect body, and a knowledge of chiropody - a perfect complement to Cohen's age-warped back. It is presumed they broke up at some point. According to Rincewind, Conina and Bethan are about the same age.

He wrote (or got somebody to write) the book Inne Juste 7 Dayes I wille make you a Barbearian Hero!. However, it is suspected that CMOT Dibbler could have some responsibility for that.

Cohen served a brief stint as Emperor of the Agatean Empire, after the Silver Horde stole the entire Empire. However, he soon grew bored of a life bereft of constant adventure and peril, and when Old Vincent choked on a cucumber (a decidedly un-heroic way to die), he led the Horde on a final mission - returning fire to the gods in the form of Agatean Thunder Clay.

Cohen, over the course of his long career, has been everywhere and done everything, sometimes twice. After learning of the man's exploits, he views himself as similar to Carelinus, the greatest conquerer in the history of the Disc, only "not as cissy, obviously".

During his final adventure (on the Disc, at least), Cohen joined the very small group of people who have successfully cheated Fate by rolling a 7 on a 6-sided die. Of course, he did this by cutting it in half while it was up in the air, so that both the side showing 6 and the side showing 1 landed face up, but everyone agreed that it was a fine stroke and certainly a very barbarian-like way of solving the problem.

He, and most of the rest of his horde, was last seen taking his leave of Dunmanifestin, the home of Gods, on stolen Valkyries mounts, after a mission aimed to blow the place to smithereens. Whether or not they were actually dead at the time is left to speculation, but as Cohen said, they didn't think they were dead and they'd never cared what anyone else thought.

Once bought an apple.


Cohen is clearly based on the mighty Conan the Barbarian, created by Robert E. Howard as a "virile, axe-wielding, fur-bearing, cranium-smashing barbarian" and being still reimagined today. Cohen is the end-of-life, what-they-might-become story of an elderly hero whose days of trampling the jewelled thrones of the world beneath his sandalled feet etc. etc. are not over yet, even if he needs a support to trample these days.

The name Ghenghiz Cohen is a clear reference to Ghengis Khan, a barbarian who became the founder and Emperor of the Mongolian Empire in the 11th century (or Conan the Barbarian). Like Cohen, he was also said to have fathered a large number of descendants.

The "Cohen" part leads to the gag "wholesale slaughter", being a pune on the Roundworld understanding of Jews being rather good salespeople.

"The best things in life according to him are "hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper". This is a reference to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie version of Conan, wherein in some forsaken yurt the various gathered chieftains and warriors are swapping their versions of what is best in life. Conan is asked, and replies "to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women." TP builds this scene up in much the same way, to end on the gags about growing old.

David Bradley (the caretaker; Argus Filch; in the Harry Potter movies and the gangster Stemroach in Ideal) plays Cohen in the Sky One adaptation of The Colour of Magic.