The Corinthian is a fictional character in Neil Gaiman's series The Sandman. He was first seen in The Sandman #10 (October 1989), which is part of The Doll's House. The Corinthian is a nightmare created by Dream, who then destroys him for going rogue, and failing to fulfill his original design. Dream later recreates him with "some changes", though the exact nature of these changes is not explicit.
Not much is known about the Corinthian prior to the events of the story, but he always seemed to resent the boundaries between the Dreaming and the waking world. He at one point convinced his master to take him on a supervised trip of Paris, where they encounter Destruction. While Dream was distracted, the Corinthian took the opportunity to eat the eyeballs of an ape being dissected by a researcher. Centuries later, he would sneak to the waking world and plan to murder a young man. Discovering this, Dream confronted the Corinthian, informing the nightmare that the boundaries between sleep and waking were critical, and that he intended to unmake the Corinthian for breaching them. The Corinthian was saved when Dream was pulled away by the universe. The Corinthian then fled.
During Dream's imprisonment, the Corinthian traveled the United States, murdering young men and subtly influencing others into indulging in homicidal impulses. They called themselves the Collectors, and the Corinthian became something of a celebrity to them.
At a convention of the Collectors the Corinthian was giving a speech at, Dream appeared, chastising the nightmare for doing nothing of purpose while walking the world. Refusing to return to the Dreaming, the Corinthian challenged Dream, but was quickly unmade.
Several years later, Dream made a new Corinthian. Though a different entity, the second incarnation possesses the memories of the first and regards his predecessor as himself, but seems more loyal to Dream. Along with Matthew, they searched for the missing Daniel Hall, eventually finding him and bringing him back to the Dreaming. The Corinthian was there when Daniel became the new Dream, and attended the funeral of Morpheus.
The Corinthian is generally an impeccable dresser and will often wear only white clothing. The Corinthian's most notable physical feature is his lack of eyes: in their place, two rows of small, jagged teeth line each eye socket, which he often covers with sunglasses. He can speak, eat, and even respire through these mouths. He does not seem to suffer in any way from his lack of eyes, and indeed claims to be able to see very well; he is shown driving adequately, even while wearing sunglasses at night. He is, however, fond of taking the eyeballs of his victims and "eating" them by placing them in his eye sockets.
True to his propose as "dark mirror of humanity" the Corinthian is a vicious an bloodthirsty individual as he genuinely enjoys murder people and nothing can get him apart from his sadistic pleasures.
The first Corinthian was also a narcissist who boast about all the serial killers inspired by him and saw himself as invincible. However, the second Corinthian though shared the murderous ways of his predecessor was more calmed and loyal to his creator.
The Corinthian is able to possess human beings. When he assumes control of a new host, the eyes are consumed and replaced by teeth, and the hair of the victim turns white. During the process, the eye sockets bleed profusely. All other physical characteristics remain the same for the host. This lets the Corinthian jump between bodies, and even show himself as his victims if he is able to hide or explain the physical changes. Consuming the eyes of his victims allows him to view what they have viewed in their lives and even see the future in some cases.
The second incarnation of the Corinthian is skilled at hand-to-hand combat. He is extremely resistant to damage and seems to be completely fearless. During his search for Daniel Hall in the Norse land of Svartalfheim, the Corinthian, with little effort, snaps the neck of a supernatural wolf with his bare hands, and later sees through the deceptions of the Norse god, Loki, and defeats the deity in single combat.
Behind the Scenes
- Neil Gaiman has stated that the Corinthian is gay in The Sandman Companion in that the first Corinthian consumed eyes only from boys. The second Corinthian is featured with a boyfriend as written by Caitlin R. Kiernan in The Dreaming.