Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (E. A. Poe), “Four Beasts in One,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: Tales and Sketches (1978), pp. 117-130 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 117:]


This tale, entitled “Epimanes” in its early versions, is amusing when its background is understood. Poe’s combination of stories about the freaks of a mad ancient monarch and the caricatures of a nineteenth-century king of France is a happy one; the result is one of the best of the tales of the grotesque. The cardinal idea is the baseness of the ancient mob — shared by its modern counterpart. The author here tolerated anachronisms, but he carefully chose appropriately characteristic elements.

The fable is invented only in the principal incident, for the ancient king was certainly capable of the behavior described. Some of his extravagant frolics recorded by the historians are almost as [page 118:] incredible as Poe’s tale. Antiochus IV, surnamed Epiphanes (“illustrious”), was nicknamed Epimanes, “madman,” during his lifetime. He reigned as monarch of the Seleucid Kingdom of Syria, 175-163 B. C., and figures largely in both books of Maccabees and in Josephus. He had been brought up as a hostage in Rome, and admired everything Roman, as he came to hate everything Jewish. Having his subjects sing a Latin song, though anachronistic, is not out of character, for he dressed some of his soldiers as Roman legionaries. The hymn in his own honor, intentionally bathetic, in Poe’s original version contained the line, “Who is God but Epiphanes?” Poe revised it at some sacrifice of point, since Antiochus was regarded as divine by himself and by his subjects.

A magnificent procession celebrating Antiochus’ opulence and power is described by Athenaeus (V, 194-195), who subsequently describes an even more magnificent demonstration produced earlier by Ptolemy Philadelphus (pp. 196-204). No mention is made of a large aggregation of wild animals in Antiochus’ procession, but in Ptolemy’s there were many, including kamelopardalis, a giraffe. In Poe’s day also there were associations of giraffes and royalty. About 1827 two of the animals came from Mohammed Ali, Pasha of Egypt, as gifts to the kings of England and France respectively, and occasioned Thomas Hood’s “Ode to the Cameleopard.” George IV kept his giraffe at Brighton. The animal at the Jardin des Plantes inspired the couturiers of Paris to design gloves and ribbons of imitation giraffe skin. (See Miche Wynants, The Giraffe of King Charles X, 1961, pp. 49-54). The animal, a female, was seen by 600,000 visitors before the end of 1827, called the Year of the Giraffe in France. The popularity of the beast led to cartoons of which Poe presumably had heard and which he may have seen. In the Southern Literary Messenger for July 1835 (1:620), in “My First Night in a Watchhouse,” Pertinax Placid (Edward Vernon Sparhawk) wrote of these French caricatures: “I remember a series of prints representing Charles X and his ministers. . . . The king was personated by the Giraffe. . . . The Fox played Prince Polignac; the Wolf, Count Peyronnet . . . to indicate the cunning and rapacity of those ministers. The accuracy of the likenesses . . . was remarkable.” (This note is by courtesy of David K. Jackson.) A satirical [page 119:] print in the Parisian weekly La Caricature, February 28, 1833, aimed at the succeeding regime, represents a carnival procession in which the second and most striking figure is a man walking on stilts and wearing a “hobby-horse” costume that makes him appear to be riding giraffe-back.

On May 4, 1833, Poe sent to Joseph T. and Edwin Buckingham for their New England Magazine a manuscript of his story in a letter describing a projected series “under the title of ‘Eleven Tales of the Arabesque’ ” but it was not accepted. Many months later Poe expressed his further disappointment in a letter to John P. Kennedy, September 11, 1835, when the tale was not chosen for The Gift for 1836.


(A) Manuscript in a letter of May 4, 1833; (B) Southern Literary Messenger, March 1836 (2:235-238); (C) Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840), II, 5-17; (D) Broadway Journal, December 6, 1845 (2:333-335); (E) Works (1850), II, 465-472. PHANTASY-PIECES, title only.

Griswold’s text (E) is followed, as it shows one superior reading.

The manuscript was long in the hands of John Stieler, an old-time collector, who returned to his native Germany. See T. R. Ybarra in the New York Times, September 14, 1924. It is now owned by Mr. H. Bradley Martin.

The manuscript consists of three sheets, quarto. The letter, on the first page, is in script, and carries the signature of Edgar Allan Poe. The tale portion, beginning below the letter, is printed in a very small hand, and has an extraordinary number of dashes, decoratively done with shorter and longer wavy lines. Forty-one of these dashes were eliminated for the printing in the Southern Literary Messenger (B). For the most part commas and periods were substituted. The paragraphing of the manuscript is followed in the printed texts except for two instances, recorded in the variants. The line of asterisks is in the manuscript.

FOUR BEASTS IN ONE; [E]  [[v]]   [[n]]


Chacun a ses vertus.

Crébillon’s Xerxes.  [[v]]  [[n]]

Antiochus Epiphanes is very generally looked upon as the Gog of the prophet Ezekiel. This honor is, however, more properly attributable [page 120:] to Cambyses, the{a} son of Cyrus.(1) And, indeed, the character of the Syrian monarch{b} does by no means stand in need of any adventitious{c} embellishment.(2) His accession to the throne, or rather his usurpation of the sovereignty, a hundred and seventy-one years before the coming of Christ;(3) his attempt to plunder the temple of Diana at Ephesus;(4) his implacable hostility to the Jews; his pollution of the Holy of Holies;(5) and his miserable death at Taba,(6) after a tumultuous reign of eleven years, are circumstances of a prominent kind, and therefore more generally{d} noticed by the historians of his time, than the impious, dastardly, cruel, silly and whimsical achievements{e} which make{f} up the sum total of his private life and reputation.

  * * * * * * * * *  

Let us suppose, gentle reader, that it is now the year of the world three thousand eight hundred and thirty,(7) and let us, for a few minutes, imagine ourselves at that most grotesque habitation of man, the remarkable city of Antioch. To be sure there were, in Syria and other countries, sixteen cities of that appellation,{g} besides the one to which I more particularly allude. But {hh}ours is that{hh} which went by the name{i} of Antiochia Epidaphne, from its vicinity to the little village of{j} Daphne, where stood a temple to that divinity. It{k} was built (although about this matter there is some dispute) by Seleucus Nicanor, the first king of the country after Alexander the Great,{l} in memory of his father Antiochus, and{m} became immediately the residence of the Syrian monarchy. In the flourishing times of the Roman Empire, it was the ordinary station of the prefect of the eastern provinces; and many of the emperors of the queen {nn}city, (among whom may be mentioned especially,{o} Verus and Valens,){nn} spent here the greater part of their time. But I perceive we have arrived at the city itself. Let us ascend this battlement, [page 121:] and throw our eyes{p} upon the town and neighboring country.(8)

“What broad and rapid river {qq}is that which forces its way, with innumerable falls, through the mountainous wilderness, and finally{qq} through the wilderness of buildings?”

{r}That is the Orontes, and it is{rr} the only water in{s} sight, {tt}with the exception of the{tt} Mediterranean, which stretches like a broad{u} mirror, about twelve miles off to the southward. Every one has seen{v} the Mediterranean; but let me tell you, there are few who have had a peep at Antioch. By few, I mean, few who, like you and me,{w} have had, at the same time, the advantages of a modern education. Therefore cease to regard that sea, and give your whole attention to the mass of houses that lie beneath us. You will remember that it is now the year of the world three thousand eight hundred and thirty. Were it later — for example, were it{x} the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and forty-five,{y} we should be deprived of this extraordinary spectacle. In the nineteenth century Antioch is — that {zz}is to say,{zz} Antioch will be — in a lamentable state of decay. It will have been, by that time, totally destroyed, at three different periods, by three successive earthquakes. Indeed, to say the truth, what little of its former self may then remain, will be found{a} in so desolate and ruinous a state that the patriarch {bb}shall have removed{bb} his residence to Damascus.(9) This is well. I see you profit by my advice, and are making the most of your time in inspecting the {cc}premises — in

——— satisfying your eyes

With the memorials and the things of fame

That most renown this city. —— (10)

I beg pardon; I had forgotten that Shakespeare will not flourish [page 122:] for{d} seventeen hundred and fifty years to come. But does{cc} not the appearance of Epidaphne justify me in calling it grotesque?

“It is well fortified; and{e} in this respect is{f} as much indebted to nature as to art.”

Very true.

“There are{g} a prodigious number of stately palaces.”

There are.{h}

“And the numerous{i} temples, sumptuous and magnificent, may bear{j} comparison with the most lauded of antiquity.”

All this I must acknowledge. Still there is an infinity of mud huts, and abominable{k} hovels. We cannot help perceiving abundance of filth in every kennel, and, were it not for the overpowering fumes of idolatrous incense, I have no doubt we should find a most{l} intolerable stench. Did you ever behold streets so insufferably narrow, or houses so miraculously tall? What a gloom their shadows cast upon the ground! It is well the swinging lamps in those endless colonnades are kept burning throughout the day; we should otherwise have the darkness of Egypt in the time of her desolation.(11)

“It is {mm}certainly a strange{mm} place! What is the meaning of yonder singular building? See! it towers above all{n} others, and lies to the eastward of what I take to be the royal palace!”

That is the new Temple of the Sun, who is adored in Syria under the title{o} of Elah Gabalah. Hereafter a very notorious Roman Emperor will institute this worship in Rome, and thence derive a cognomen, Heliogabalus. I dare say you would like to take a{p} peep at the divinity of the temple. You need not look up{q} at the heavens; his Sunship{r} is not there — at least not the Sunship{r} adored by the Syrians. That deity will be found in the interior of yonder building. He is worshipped under the figure of a large stone pillar terminating at the summit in a cone or pyramid, whereby is denoted Fire.(12) [page 123:]

“Hark! — behold! — who can those ridiculous beings be, half naked, with their faces painted, shouting and gesticulating to the rabble?”

Some few are mountebanks. Others more particularly belong to the race of philosophers. The greatest portion, however — those especially who belabor the populace with clubs — are the principal courtiers of the palace, executing, as in duty bound, some laudable comicality of the king’s.

“But{s} what have we here? Heavens! the town is swarming with wild beasts! {tt}How terrible a{tt} spectacle! — {uu}how dangerous a{uu} peculiarity!”

Terrible, if you please; but not in the least degree dangerous. Each animal, if you will take the pains to observe, is following, very quietly, in the wake of its master. Some few, to be sure, are led with a rope about the neck, but these are chiefly the lesser or{v} timid species. The lion, the tiger, and the leopard are entirely without restraint. They have been trained without difficulty to their present profession, and attend upon their respective owners in the capacity of valets-de-chambre.{w} It is true, there are occasions when Nature asserts her violated dominion; — but then the devouring of a man-at-arms,{x} or the throttling of a{y} consecrated bull, {zz}is a circumstance{zz} of too little moment to be more than hinted at in Epidaphne.

“But what extraordinary tumult do I hear? Surely this is a loud noise even for Antioch! It argues some commotion of unusual interest.”

Yes — undoubtedly. The king has ordered some novel{a} spectacle — some gladiatorial{b} exhibition at the Hippodrome — or perhaps the massacre of the Scythian prisoners — or the conflagration of his new palace — or the tearing down of a handsome temple — or, indeed, a bonfire of a few Jews. The uproar increases. Shouts of laughter ascend the skies. The air becomes dissonant with wind [page 124:] instruments, and horrible with the clamor of a million throats. Let us descend, for the love of fun, and see what is going on! This way — be careful! Here we are in the principal street, which is called the street of Timarchus.{c} The sea of people is coming this way, and we shall find a difficulty in stemming the tide. They are pouring through the alley of Heraclides,(13) which leads directly from the palace — therefore the king is most probably among the rioters. Yes — I hear the shouts of the herald proclaiming his approach in the pompous phraseology of the East. We shall have a glimpse of his person as he passes by the temple of Ashimali.(14) Let us ensconce ourselves in the vestibule of the sanctuary; he will be here anon. In the meantime let its survey this image. What is it? Oh, it is the god Ashimah in proper person. You perceive, however, that he is neither a {dd}lamb, nor a goat,{dd} nor a satyr; neither has he much{e} resemblance to the Pan of the Arcadians. Yet all these appearances have been given — I beg pardon — will be given — by the learned of future ages, to the {ff}Ashimah of the Syrians.{ff} Put on your spectacles, and tell me what it is. What is it?

“Bless me! it is an ape!”

True — a baboon; but by no means the less a deity. His name is a derivation of the Greek Simia{g} — what{h} great fools are antiquarians! {i}But see! — see! — yonder scampers a ragged little urchin. Where is he going? What is he bawling about? What does he say? {j}Oh! he{k} says the king is coming in triumph; that he is dressed in state;{l} that he has just finished putting to death, with his own hand, a thousand chained Israelitish prisoners! For this exploit the ragamuffin is lauding him to the skies! Hark! here comes{m} a troop of a similar description.{n} They have made a Latin hymn upon the valor of the king, and are singing it as they go:

Mille, mille, mille,

Mille, mille, mille, [page 125:]

Decollamnus, unus homo!

Mille, mille, mille, mille, decollavimus!

Mille, mille, mille!

Vivat qui mille mille occidit!

Tantum vini habet nemo

Quantum sanguinis effudit!*{o}

Which may be thus paraphrased:

A thousand, a thousand, a thousand,

A thousand, a thousand, a thousand,

We, with one warrior, have slain!

A thousand, a thousand, a thousand, a thousand,

Sing a thousand over again!

Soho! — let us sing

Long life to our king,

Who knocked over a thousand so fine!(15)

Soho! — let us roar,

He has given us more

Red gallons of gore

Than all Syria can furnish of wine!

“Do you hear that flourish of trumpets?”

Yes — the king is coming! See! the people are aghast with admiration, and lift up their eyes to the heavens in reverence!(16) He comes! — he is coming! — there he is!

“Who? — where? — the king? — I{r} do not behold him; — cannot say that I perceive him.”

Then you must be blind.

“Very possible. Still I see nothing but a tumultuous mob of idiots and madmen, who are busy in prostrating themselves before a gigantic cameleopard,{s} and endeavoring to obtain a kiss of the animal’s hoofs. See! the beast has very justly kicked one of the rabble over — and another — and another — and another. Indeed, I cannot help admiring the animal for the excellent{t} use he is making of his feet.” [page 126:]

Rabble, indeed! — why these are the noble and free citizens of Epidaphne! Beast, did you say? — take care that{u} you are not overheard. Do you not perceive that the animal has the visage of a man? Why, my dear sir, that cameleopard is no other than Antiochus Epiphanes — Antiochus the Illustrious, King of Syria, and the most potent of all{v} the autocrats of the East! It is true, that he is entitled, at times, Antiochus Epimanes — Antiochus the madman — but that is because all people have not the{w} capacity to appreciate his merits. It is also certain that he is at present ensconced in the hide of a beast, and is doing his best to play the part of a cameleopard; but {xx}this is done{xx} for the better sustaining his dignity as king. Besides, the monarch is of{y} gigantic stature, and the dress is therefore neither unbecoming nor over large. We may, however, presume he {zz}would not have adopted it but for{zz} some occasion of especial state. Such, you will allow, is the massacre of a thousand Jews. With {aa}how superior a{aa} dignity the monarch perambulates on{b} all fours! His tail, you{c} perceive, is held aloft by his two principal concubines, Ellinë and Argelaïs;(17) and his whole appearance would be infinitely prepossessing,{d} were it not for the protuberance{d‘} of his eyes, which will certainly start out of his head, and the queer color of his face, which has become nondescript from the quantity of wine{e} he has swallowed. Let us follow him{f} to the hippodrome, whither he is proceeding, and listen to the song of triumph which he is commencing:

Who is king but Epiphanes?

Say — do you know?

Who is king{g} but Epiphanes?

Bravo! — bravo!{h}

There is none but Epiphanes,

No — there is none:

So tear down the temples,

And put out the sun!{i} (18) [page 127:]

Well and strenuously sung! The populace are hailing him “Prince of Poets,” as well as “Glory of the East,” “Delight of the Universe,” and “most remarkable of Cameleopards.” They have encored his effusion, and — do you hear? — he is singing it over{j} again. When he arrives at the hippodrome, he will be crowned with the poetic wreath, in anticipation of {kk}his victory at the approaching Olympics.{kk}

“But, good Jupiter! what is the matter in the crowd behind us?”

Behind us, did you say? — oh! ah! — I perceive. My friend, it is well that{l} you spoke in time. Let us get into a place of safety as soon as possible. Here! — let us conceal ourselves in the arch of this aqueduct, and I will inform you presently of the origin of the{m} commotion. It has turned out as I have been anticipating. The singular appearance of the cameleopard with the head of a man, has, it seems, given offence to the notions of propriety entertained in general, by the wild animals domesticated in the city. A mutiny has been the result; and, as is usual upon such occasions, all human efforts will be {nn}of no avail{nn} in quelling the mob. Several of the Syrians{o} have already been devoured; but the general voice of the four-footed patriots seems to be for eating up the cameleopard. “The Prince of Poets,” therefore, is upon{p} his hinder legs,{q} running for his life. His courtiers have{r} left him in the lurch, and his concubines have {ss}followed so excellent an example.{ss} “Delight of the Universe,” thou art{t} in a sad predicament! “Glory of the East,” thou art in danger of mastication! {uu}Therefore never regard so piteously thy tail; it will undoubtedly{uu} be draggled in the mud, and for this there is no help. Look not behind thee, then, at its unavoidable degradation; but take courage, ply thy legs with vigor, and scud for the hippodrome!{v} Remember that thou art Antiochus Epiphanes, Antiochus the Illustrious! — also “Prince of Poets,” [page 128:] “Glory of the East,” “Delight of the Universe,” and “most Remarkable of Cameleopards!” Heavens! what a power of speed thou art displaying! What a capacity for leg-bail thou art developing! Run, Prince! — Bravo, Epiphanes! — Well done,{w} Cameleopard! — Glorious Antiochus! He runs! — he leaps!{x} — he flies! Like an arrow{y} from a catapult he approaches the hippodrome! He leaps! — he shrieks! — he is there! {zz}This is well; for{zz} hadst thou, “Glory of the East,” been half a second longer in {aa}reaching the gates of{aa} the Amphitheatre, there is not a bear’s cub in Epidaphne that{b} would not have had a nibble at thy carcass. Let us be off — let us take our departure! — for we shall find our delicate modern ears unable to endure the vast uproar which is about to commence in celebration of the king’s escape! Listen! it has already commenced. See! — the whole town is topsy-turvy.

“Surely this is the most populous city of the East! What a wilderness of people! what a jumble of all ranks and ages! what a multiplicity of sects and nations! what a variety of costumes! what a Babel of languages! what a screaming of beasts! what a tinkling of instruments! what a parcel of philosophers!”{c}

Come let us be off!

“Stay a moment! I see a vast hubbub in the hippodrome; what is the meaning of it I beseech you!”

“That? — oh nothing! The noble and free citizens of Epidaphne{d} being, as they declare, well satisfied of the faith, valor, wisdom, and divinity of their king, and having, moreover, been eye-witnesses{e} of his late superhuman agility, do think it no more than their duty to invest his brows (in addition to the poetic crown) with the wreath of victory in the{f} foot-race — a wreath which{g} it is evident he must obtain at the celebration of the next {hh}Olympiad, and which, therefore, they now give him in advance.{hh} (19)


[[Poe’s Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears near the bottom of page 125:]

*  Flavius Vopiscus{p} says, that the hymn{q} here introduced, was sung by the rabble upon the occasion of Aurelian, in the Sarmatic war, having slain with his own hand, nine hundred and fifty of the enemy. [Poe’s note]



[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 119:]

Title:  Epimanes (A, B, C); The Homocameleopard (PHANTASY-PIECES)

Motto:  Crébillon’s accent omitted (A, B, C)

[the following variants appear at the bottom of page 120:]

a  Omitted (A)

b  king (A)

c  extraneous (A)

d  particularly (A)

e  achievments (D) misprint

f  made (A)

g  name (A, B, C)

hh . . . hh  I mean that Antioch (A)

i  title (A)

j  Omitted (A, B)

k  The city (A)

l  great. He erected it (A)

m  and it (A)

nn . . . nn  city — among whom Verus and Valens may be mentioned — (A)

o  most especially, (B, C)

[the following variants appear at the bottom of page 121:]

p  eyes around (A, B, C)

qq . . . qq  do I see forcing its passage (A)

rr . . . rr  The Orontes. It is (A); That is the Orontes, and (B, C)

s  within (A)

tt . . . tt  save only the blue (A)

u  Omitted (A)

v  beheld (A, B, C)

w  I, (B, C)

x  it unfortunately (A, B, C)

y  thirty three, (A); thirty-six, (B); thirty-nine, (C)

zz . . . zz  is, I should say, (A); is, (B, C)

a  Omitted (A)

bb . . . bb  will have removed (A, C); will remove (B)

cc . . . cc  premises. Does (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 122:]

d  for nearly (B, C)

e  being (A)

f  Omitted (A)

g  is (A)

h  is. (A)

i  innumerable (A)

j  challenge a (A)

k  Omitted (A)

l  a most / an (A)

mm . . . mm  a most wild-looking and whimsical (A)

n  all the (A, B)

o  name (A)

p  to take a / a (A, B, C)

q  upwards (A)

r  one (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 123:]

s  But again! (A)

tt . . . tt  What a terrible (A, B)

uu . . . uu  what a dangerous (A, B)

v  or more (A, B, C)

w  men-at-arms. (A)

x  freeman, (A)

y  a courtezan or a (A)

zz . . . zz  are circumstances (A, B, C)

a  favourite (A)

b  Omitted (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 124:]

c  Timarchus after one of the catamites of the king. (A)

dd . . . dd  goat, nor a lamb, (A)

e  any (A)

ff . . . ff  Syrian Ashimah. (A)

g  In Greek letters (A)

h  and (A)

i  New paragraph (A)

j  New paragraph (A)

k  Oh! he / He (A)

l  state — and (A, B, C)

m  come (A, B)

n  kind — (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 125:]

o  Footnote omitted (A)

p  Vopsicus (D); Vospicus (E) misprint corrected from B, C

q  hymn which is (B, C)

r  Omitted (B, C, D)

s  camelopard throughout (C)

t  dexterous (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 126:]

u  Omitted (A)

v  Omitted (A, B, C)

w  Omitted (A)

xx . . . xx  that is (A)

y  of a (A, B, C)

zz . . . zz  wears it upon (A)

aa . . . aa  a how supreme a (A); what a superior (B)

b  upon (A, B, C)

c  you will (A)

d  preposessing, (D) misprint

d‘  protruberance (D, E) misprint

e  wine which (A)

f  Omitted (A, B, C)

g  God (A)

h  Line 4 Say do you know? (A)

i  Lines 1-4 repeated after line 8 (B, C)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 127:]

j  Omitted (A)

kk . . . kk  the time when he shall obtain it at Olympia. (A)

l  Omitted (A)

m  this (A, B, C)

nn . . . nn  ineffectual (A)

o  Epidaphnians (A)

p  on (A)

q  legs, and (A, B, C, D)

r  have have (E) misprint, corrected from A, B, C, D

ss . . . ss  let go their hold upon his tail. (A); let fall his tail. (B, C)

t  art now (A)

uu . . . uu  Thy tail will (A)

v  After this: Remember that the beasts are at thy heels! (A, B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 128:]

w  Well done, / hurrah! (A)

x  moves (A); moves! (B, C)

y  an arrow / a shell (A, B, C)

zz . . . zz  Ah! (A)

aa . . . aa  arriving at (A)

b  who (A, B, C)

c  philosophers! what a swarm of children! — what a deal of women! — what a devil of a noise!’ (A)

d  Antioch (A)

e  witnesses (A)

f  the stadium or (A)

g  which is esteemed the most honourable of all, and which (A)

hh . . . hh  Olympiad. (A, B)


[page 129:]


Title:  The four beasts may be taken to be man, camel, lion, and pard (a panther); they are combined in one make-believe man-giraffe. “Cameleopard” is an erroneous spelling, according to the OED, although it has been widely used. The word is properly “camelopard,” through the Latin from the Greek kamelos and pardalis, for the beast having the neck and legs of the camel with the spots of the panther, or pard. Apparently the publishers of Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque “corrected” the spelling followed in the earlier texts, but Poe restored it — perhaps with a punning intent — in his projected PHANTASY-PIECES.

Motto:  “Everyone has his good qualities” is in Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon’s Xerxes (1714), IV, ii, 4.

1.  For Gog see Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. Cambyses, who reigned over the Persian Empire from 529 to 522 B. C., was “utterly deranged” according to Isaac Taylor’s translation of Herodotus (London, 1829), p. 206.

2.  Poe’s summary of Antiochus’ career generally accords with most brief accounts, such as John Lemprière’s in his Classical Dictionary (first American edition, 1809) and Charles Anthon’s in his revised and augmented sixth American edition (1827) of Lemprière.

3.  Poe accepts 4 B. C. as the date of the Nativity — and 4004 B. C. as that of the creation of the world — as do the chronologies in Lemprière and Anthon’s Lemprière. This method of dating anno mundi is also used in “A Tale of Jerusalem.”

4.  Major reference works fail to mention the famous temple at Ephesus as the one Antiochus sought to plunder; ancient sources (Polybius, Maccabees) give the temple of Diana at Elymais in Persia or Persepolis. Poe seems to have slipped here.

5.  The inner sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem.

6.  Poe follows the report in Polybius 31:9, but other ancient sources and modern scholars differ. See the footnote on p. 185 of Volume VII of the Loeb edition of Josephus, edited by Ralph Marcus.

7.  175 B.C., see note 3 above.

8.  Antioch in Syria — Antioch Epidaphne, Antioch on the Orontes — was for some six centuries one of the most important cities of the ancient world, outranked only by Alexandria and Rome. Poe’s allusions are for the most part founded on accepted history. (For details concerning Antioch, Daphne, and their surroundings, see Glanville Downey, A History of Antioch and Syria, 1961, and Ancient Antioch, 1963, both published by Princeton University Press.) Poe errs in limiting the number of destructive earthquakes to three, and along with the English editions through 1879 and the earliest American editions of Lemprière (under “Antiochia”) in giving the founder’s surname as Nicanor. The error was corrected by Anthon in his 1827 edition of Lemprière. The founder was Seleucus Nicator (Victorious), one of Alexander’s generals, whose name is given correctly by Lemprière in the article on Seleucus himself. Poe’s parenthetical “although about this matter there is some dispute” is worth noting. [page 130:]

9.  In the course of the Middle Ages, Antioch was superseded by Damascus as the great city of Syria.

10.  Twelfth Night, III, iii, 22-24.

11.  See Exodus 10:21 for the darkness of Egypt.

12.  Ela Gabal (God of the Mountain) was the name of the Sun as worshipped in a sacred stone (a baetyl) at the city of Emesa (modern Homs). The hereditary high priests, who claimed descent from Alexander the Great, included a youth named Varius Avitus who, as Roman Emperor, A. D. 218-222, assumed the name of his famous predecessor, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. He believed himself a theophany of his divinity, was called Elagabalus, and tried to extend his cult to Rome. The form Heliogabalus is often mistakenly used, even by ancient writers, thinking the first element connected with Greek Helios, the Sun. It is actually Semitic and cognate to Elohim and Allah. “Elah Gabalah” is probably inappropriate to Antioch. There are references to the Emperor in Poe’s “William Wilson” and “Mellonta Tauta.”

13.  Timarchus and his brother Heracleides were worthies of the time of Antiochus IV; they were responsible for building a council chamber for him at Miletus. See Downey, Ancient Antioch, p. 58, and the Pauly-Wissowa Realencyclopedia under the second name.

14.  Ashimah, or Ashima, was a god of the men of Hamath (modern Hamah), mentioned in 2 Kings 17:30. Poe refers to him also in “A Tale of Jerusalem.” In the manuscript Poe wrote Simia in Greek letters, undoubtedly parodying etymologies in the scholarly works he makes fun of. Indeed, the article “Ashima” in William Smith’s Bible Dictionary, if it hadn’t been published years after Poe’s story, might well have served as Poe’s model, even to the list of “resemblances.” A genuine connection between the Greek and Semitic names is unlikely, however.

15.  The Latin verses are from Salmasius’ edition of the Scriptores Historiae Augustae, “Divus Aurelianus,” chapter six. See my fuller annotation of these and of Poe’s paraphrase in the volume of Poems (Mabbott, I, 218-219).

16.  See Deuteronomy 4: 19; “lift up thine eyes unto heaven” is in a passage forbidding the worship of all things save the Lord.

17.  Ellinë and Argelaïs seem to be possible Grecian names, although I have not found any record of women who had them. The diaereses have been added by the editor.

18.  See my fuller notes cited in note 15, above. The changes from the earliest version were obviously made to avoid shocking the pious.

19.  The Ancient Roman custom of giving honors in advance may be recalled.






[S:1 - TOM2T, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Four Beasts in One)