The Powerful Words of 'Conan the Barbarian': Exploring the Meaning Behind the Iconic 'What Is Best in Life' Quote

The Powerful Words of ‘Conan the Barbarian’: Exploring the Meaning Behind the Iconic ‘What Is Best in Life’ Quote

Conan the Barbarian, a iconic character created by Robert E. Howard, has captivated audiences for decades with his ferocity, strength, and memorable quotes. One such quote, “What is best in life?”, has become an enduring symbol of Conan’s philosophy and the essence of his character. In this article, we delve into the deeper meaning behind these powerful words, exploring the philosophy they reflect and the lessons they offer.

Unveiling the Philosophy of Conan the Barbarian

Conan, a Cimmerian warrior, represents the epitome of strength and survival in a brutal world. His philosophy can be summarized as a combination of self-reliance, personal freedom, and the pursuit of one’s own desires. The quote “What is best in life?” encapsulates these ideas, prompting us to question what truly brings fulfillment and happiness.

Conan’s philosophy emphasizes the importance of individuality and the rejection of societal norms or expectations. It challenges us to look beyond the superficial measures of success and instead focus on what truly matters to us as individuals.

Decoding the Meaning Behind “What Is Best in Life”

At first glance, Conan’s question may seem simple, but it holds a profound message. By asking “What is best in life?”, Conan prompts us to reflect on our own values, desires, and aspirations.

The key to understanding the meaning behind the quote lies in Conan’s response: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.” This bold answer sheds light on Conan’s primal nature and his belief in the pursuit of power and dominance.

However, the quote can be interpreted in a broader sense. It encourages us to define our own personal victories and prioritize what brings us a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. For some, it may be achieving professional success, while for others, it could be nurturing meaningful relationships or contributing to society.

The Lessons We Can Learn

Conan’s quote serves as a reminder that everyone’s definition of success is unique. It urges us to define our own path and pursue what truly resonates with us, rather than conforming to societal expectations.

Moreover, the quote teaches us the importance of embracing our primal instincts and desires. While society may frown upon certain aspects of our nature, Conan’s philosophy encourages us to acknowledge and harness our true desires and motivations.

Furthermore, Conan’s words remind us of the importance of persistence and courage. Just as Conan overcomes numerous obstacles in his quest for power, we too must be resilient and determined in pursuing our own goals.

In Conclusion

The powerful words of Conan the Barbarian’s “What is best in life?” quote offer valuable insights into the nature of personal fulfillment and success. They challenge us to define our own path, embrace our true desires, and persist in the face of adversity. By exploring the deeper meaning behind these iconic words, we can gain a deeper understanding of Conan’s philosophy and apply these lessons to our own lives.


1. What is the origin of the quote “What is best in life”?

The quote “What is best in life” comes from the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, where it is uttered by the character Conan.

2. What context is the quote used in the film?

In the film, the quote is used during a conversation between Conan and Mongol general Subotai. Subotai asks Conan what is best in life, and Conan famously responds with his iconic answer.

3. What is Conan’s response to the question?

Conan’s response to the question “What is best in life” is: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”

4. What does Conan mean by “To crush your enemies”?

By saying “To crush your enemies,” Conan means to defeat or overpower one’s adversaries. He believes in the importance of asserting dominance over those who oppose him.

5. What does “see them driven before you” signify?

When Conan says,”see them driven before you,” he is referring to the act of witnessing his defeated enemies retreat or run away in fear. It represents the triumph and victory he seeks.

6. What is implied by “to hear the lamentation of their women”?

The line “to hear the lamentation of their women” suggests that Conan takes pleasure in the suffering and mourning of the loved ones of his defeated enemies. It underscores his brutal and merciless nature.

7. Is the quote meant to be taken literally or as a metaphor?

The quote is meant to be taken figuratively, illustrating Conan’s aggressive and ruthless mindset rather than providing a literal recipe for a fulfilling life.

8. How has the quote been interpreted outside of the film?

Beyond the film, the quote has been widely interpreted as a celebration of power, dominance, and conquest. It has become an iconic representation of a ruthless and ferocious warrior’s mentality.

9. What impact has the quote had on popular culture?

The quote has had a significant impact on popular culture, being referenced and parodied in various films, TV shows, books, and even video games. It has come to symbolize savage strength and merciless ambition.

10. What deeper meanings can be derived from the quote?

Beyond its immediate interpretation, the quote can be seen as embodying the primal desires for victory, dominance, and the pursuit of power. It raises questions about the nature of human ambition and the consequences of unchecked aggression.