The Necronomicon is a fictional grimoire containing, among other things, an account of the Old Ones, their history, and the means for summoning them. Written by the "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred.


The book was originally called Al Azif, an Arabic word that is defined as "that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of demons". Alhazred is said to have been a "half-crazed Arab" who worshipped the entities Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu. He is from Sanaa in Yemen, and as visiting the ruins of Babylon, the "subterranean secrets" of Memphis and the Empty Quarter of Arabia (where he discovered the "nameless city" below Irem). In his last years, he lived in Damascus, where he wrote Al Azif before his sudden and mysterious death in 738.

In subsequent years the Azif "gained considerable, though surreptitious circulation amongst the philosophers of the age." In 950, it was translated into Greek and given the title Necronomicon by Theodorus Philetas, a scholar from Constantinople. This version "impelled certain experimenters to terrible attempts" before being "suppressed and burnt" in 1050 by Patriarch Michael (who died in 1059).

After this attempted suppression, the work was "only heard of furtively" until it was translated from Greek into Latin by Olaus Wormius. (the date of this edition as 1228) Both the Latin and Greek text were banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232, though Latin editions were apparently published in 15th century Germany and 17th century Spain. A Greek edition was printed in Italy in the first half of the 16th century.

The Arabic version of Al Azif had already disappeared by the time the Greek version was banned in 1050. The Greek version has not been reported "since the burning of a certain Salem man's library in 1692"