It seems to me that imagination and reasoning have reached magnificent heights with some writers, especially poets. Among them, I strongly believe, the highest ever was Edgar Allan Poe. With Baudelaire I state that "le poete est souverainement intelligent, qu'il est l'intelligence par excellence, -et que l'imagination est la plus scientifique des facultes, parce que seule elle comprend l'analogie universelle...". One of those poets was Edgar Allan Poe. I reproduce here "The Works of Edgar Allan Poe" as a gesture against what Baudelaire called "la ferocite de l'hypocrisie bourgeoise", and what I personally call mediocrity, imbecility, and comprehensive intellectual dishonesty, all of which is presented as "realistic thinking". And, as we know, contemporary development studies are full of  "realistic thinking". So, let us learn something from Edgar Allan Poe!.  (Róbinson Rojas  1996)
The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe V. 1
Volume 1 of the Raven Edition  #6 in our series by Edgar Allan Poe

VOLUME I  Contents
Edgar Allan Poe, An Appreciation
Life of Poe, by James Russell Lowell
Death of Poe, by N. P. Willis
The Unparalled Adventures of One Hans Pfall
The Gold Bug
Four Beasts in One
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Mystery of Marie Rogęt
The Balloon Hoax
MS. Found in a Bottle
The Oval Portrait                          BACK TO MAIN INDEX

                          FOUR BEASTS IN ONE 
                        THE HOMO-CAMELEOPARD 
                         Chacun a ses vertus. 
                            --_Crebillon's Xerxes._
ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES is very generally looked upon as the Gog of the 
prophet Ezekiel. This honor is, however, more properly attributable 
to Cambyses, the son of Cyrus. And, indeed, the character of the 
Syrian monarch does by no means stand in need of any adventitious 
embellishment. His accession to the throne, or rather his usurpation 
of the sovereignty, a hundred and seventy-one years before the coming 
of Christ; his attempt to plunder the temple of Diana at Ephesus; his 
implacable hostility to the Jews; his pollution of the Holy of 
Holies; and his miserable death at Taba, after a tumultuous reign of 
eleven years, are circumstances of a prominent kind, and therefore 
more generally noticed by the historians of his time than the 
impious, dastardly, cruel, silly, and whimsical achievements which 
make 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, 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, besides the one 
to which I more particularly allude. But ours is that which went by 
the name of Antiochia Epidaphne, from its vicinity to the little 
village of Daphne, where stood a temple to that divinity. It was 
built (although about this matter there is some dispute) by Seleucus 
Nicanor, the first king of the country after Alexander the Great, in 
memory of his father Antiochus, and 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 city (among whom may be 
mentioned, especially, Verus and Valens) spent here the greater part 
of their time. But I perceive we have arrived at the city itself. Let 
us ascend this battlement, and throw our eyes upon the town and 
neighboring country.
"What broad and rapid river is that which forces its way, with 
innumerable falls, through the mountainous wilderness, and finally 
through the wilderness of buildings?"
That is the Orontes, and it is the only water in sight, with the 
exception of the Mediterranean, which stretches, like a broad mirror, 
about twelve miles off to the southward. Every one has seen 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, 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 the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and 
forty-five, we should be deprived of this extraordinary spectacle. In 
the nineteenth century Antioch is -- that is to say, 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 in so desolate and ruinous a state 
that the patriarch shall have removed his residence to Damascus. This 
is well. I see you profit by my advice, and are making the most of 
your time in inspecting the premises -- in
-satisfying your eyes
With the memorials and the things of fame
That most renown this city.-
I beg pardon; I had forgotten that Shakespeare will not flourish for 
seventeen hundred and fifty years to come. But does not the 
appearance of Epidaphne justify me in calling it grotesque?
"It is well fortified; and in this respect is as much indebted to 
nature as to art."
Very true.
"There are a prodigious number of stately palaces."
There are.
"And the numerous temples, sumptuous and magnificent, may bear 
comparison with the most lauded of antiquity."
All this I must acknowledge. Still there is an infinity of mud huts, 
and abominable hovels. We cannot help perceiving abundance of filth 
in every kennel, and, were it not for the over-powering fumes of 
idolatrous incense, I have no doubt we should find a most intolerable 
stench. Did you ever behold streets so insufferably narrow, or houses 
so miraculously tall? What 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.
"It is certainly a strange place! What is the meaning of yonder 
singular building? See! it towers above all 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 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 peep at the 
divinity of the temple. You need not look up at the heavens; his 
Sunship is not there -- at least not the Sunship 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.
"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 what have we here? Heavens! the town is swarming with wild 
beasts! How terrible a spectacle! -- how dangerous a 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 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. It is true, there are occasions when Nature 
asserts her violated dominions; -- but then the devouring of a 
man-at-arms, or the throttling of a consecrated bull, is a 
circumstance of too little moment to be more than hinted at in 
"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 spectacle -- some 
gladiatorial 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 instruments, and horrible 
with 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. 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, 
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 
Ashimah. Let us ensconce ourselves in the vestibule of the sanctuary; 
he will be here anon. In the meantime let us survey this image. What 
is it? Oh! it is the god Ashimah in proper person. You perceive, 
however, that he is neither a lamb, nor a goat, nor a satyr, neither 
has he much 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 Ashimah of the Syrians. 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 -- what great fools are antiquarians! 
But see! -- see! -- yonder scampers a ragged little urchin. Where is 
he going? What is he bawling about? What does he say? Oh! he says the 
king is coming in triumph; that he is dressed in state; 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 a troop of a similar description. 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,
Decollavimus, unus homo!
Mille, mille, mille, mille, decollavimus!
Mille, mille, mille,
Vivat qui mille mille occidit!
Tantum vini habet nemo
Quantum sanguinis effudit!{*1}
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!
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. He comes; -- he 
is coming; -- there he is!
"Who? -- where? -- the king? -- 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, 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 use he is making of his feet."
Rabble, indeed! -- why these are the noble and free citizens of 
Epidaphne! Beasts, did you say? -- take care that 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 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 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 this is done for the better sustaining his dignity 
as king. Besides, the monarch is of gigantic stature, and the dress 
is therefore neither unbecoming nor over large. We may, however, 
presume he would not have adopted it but for some occasion of 
especial state. Such, you will allow, is the massacre of a thousand 
Jews. With how superior a dignity the monarch perambulates on all 
fours! His tail, you perceive, is held aloft by his two principal 
concubines, Elline and Argelais; and his whole appearance would be 
infinitely prepossessing, were it not for the protuberance 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 
he has swallowed. Let us follow him 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 but Epiphanes?
Bravo! -- bravo!
There is none but Epiphanes,
No -- there is none:
So tear down the temples,
And put out the sun!
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 again. When he 
arrives at the hippodrome, he will be crowned with the poetic wreath, 
in anticipation of his victory at the approaching Olympics.
"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 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 
commotion. It has turned out as I have been anticipating. The 
singular appearance of the cameleopard and 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 of no avail in quelling the mob. Several of the 
Syrians 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 his hinder legs, running for his 
life. His courtiers have left him in the lurch, and his concubines 
have followed so excellent an example. 'Delight of the Universe,' 
thou art in a sad predicament! 'Glory of the East,' thou art in 
danger of mastication! Therefore never regard so piteously thy tail; 
it will undoubtedly 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! 
Remember that thou art Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus the 
Illustrious! -- also 'Prince of Poets,' '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, Cameleopard! -- Glorious Antiochus! -- He runs! -- he leaps! -- 
he flies! Like an arrow from a catapult he approaches the hippodrome! 
He leaps! -- he shrieks! -- he is there! This is well; for hadst 
thou, 'Glory of the East,' been half a second longer in reaching the 
gates of the Amphitheatre, there is not a bear's cub in Epidaphne 
that would not have had a nibble at thy carcase. 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!"
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 being, 
as they declare, well satisfied of the faith, valor, wisdom, and 
divinity of their king, and having, moreover, been eye-witnesses 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 footrace -- a wreath which it is evident he must 
obtain at the celebration of the next Olympiad, and which, therefore, 
they now give him in advance.
~~~ End of Text ~~~
Footnotes  -- Four Beasts
{*1} Flavius Vospicus says, that the hymn 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.