Fables and Myths


 “Apollo Amusing the Gods”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   November 16, 1872, p. 896

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This playful vision was published November 6, the day after the presidential election. It was clearly designed to provide general comic relief. At the center of the action, Whitelaw Reid is Apollo, God of the Sun (and music, poetry, and other civilized pursuits), performing on his lyre (a slap at Reid’s alleged journalistic lies), with the usual “This Is Not An Organ” notice attached. Greeley is Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, who strokes a donkey wearing the hide of a lion. In front of Greeley is Theodore Tilton, biographer of free-love advocate Victoria Woodhull, as Cupid.

The rest of the pantheon include (center-left to right): a wistful Boss Tweed as Pluto (or Hades), God of the Underworld; over him, Manton Marble, editor of the New York World, as Atlas bearing the world on his shoulders; Senator Reuben Fenton of New York as Mercury, God of Commerce and the divine thief, stands behind Reid/Apollo; James Gordon Bennett Jr., editor of the New York Herald and an avid yachtsman, is King Neptune; Chief Justice Salmon Chase, perennial seeker of the presidency, is Diana, goddess of hunting and chastity; seated center-top is Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts as Jupiter, God of Thunder; to his right, vice-presidential nominee Gratz Brown as Bacchus, God of Wine, astride a watermelon, with a generous lump of butter at his side (recalling his inebriation at a Yale dinner, see "Babes of the Wood"); and, on the far right-center, Senator Carl Schurz as Mars, God of War.

The cherubs around the globe are (counterclockwise from the top-left): Peter Sweeny of Tammany Hall; New York City Mayor A. Oakey Hall; New York Governor John Hoffman; former Democratic Party chairman August Belmont; John Morrissey of Tammany Hall; Congressman James Brooks (wearing glasses) of New York; Thomas Ledwith of Tammany Hall; ex-President Andrew Johnson; and Tom Fields of Tammany Hall. The four flying in the center are (l-r): Benjamin Wood (smoking), editor of the New York Daily News; Sheriff Matthew Brennan of New York City; Congressman Fernando Wood of New York; and Horatio Seymour, the 1868 presidential nominee. The cherubs on the right are (l-r): Senator Thomas Tipton of Nebraska; Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois; Senator James Doolittle of Wisconsin; and Hugh Kilpatrick, a former Union general.













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