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How to Read Moby Dick

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Allusions in Moby Dick

Chapters 84 - Epilogue

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Chapter 84
Actium
a Roman colony in Greece, in 31 B.C. the site of the decisive naval battle in the war between the Roman emperor Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, queen of Egypt.
Old Monongahela
rye whiskey from the Monongahela River valley in Pennsylvania.

Chapter 85
Cretan labyrinth
Greek Mythology--an elaborate maze built to imprison the minotaur, a mythical half-man, half-bull, of Crete
Pyrrho
the Greek philosopher (c. 360-270 B.C.) who founded the school of Skepticism.
Dante
the Italian poet, (1265-1321), who wrote the Inferno.

Chapter 86
The bird that never alights
the Huma or Bird of Paradise, a creature from Persian mythology that was thought by Europeans to never land.
Titanism
as Titans, powerful gods thought by the Greeks to have preceded Zeus and the other gods of Mount Olympus.
Eckerman
Johann Peter Eckermann (1792-1854) a German poet who was a friend, follower, and biographer of the better-known poet Goethe.
Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) an influential German writer whose works include Faust.
Roman triumphal arch
a freestanding archway built as a monument.
Angelo
Michelangelo(1475-1564) the Italian artist.
God the Father in human form
reference to Micheloangelo's painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Darmonodes' elephant
reference to a story in Plutarch's Moralia in which an elephant falls in love with a flower-girl and caresses her breasts with its trunk..
Flame Baltic
a sea of flame, after the Baltic Sea.
Isaiah
Biblical--the Old Testament prophet who predicted that the entire world would come under the control of the Hebrew God.
Ptolemy Philopater
Ptolemy IV Philopator, a pharaoh of Egypt who reigned from 221-205 B.C..
King Juba
Juba I (85-46 B.C.) of Numidia, which today would cover Algeria and part of Tunisia.
Free-Mason
Freemasonry, a fraternal society with many symbols and rituals.
Thou shalt see my back parts
Biblical--Exodus 33:23, God tells Moses, Thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen..

Chapter 87
Circus-running
running in a loop, as a circus
King Porus
a ruler of Paurava, in the modern-day state of Punjab, India, in the fourth century B.C.
Saxonisms
remants of old English, spoken by the Anglo-Saxons who invaded and ruled England during the middle ages.
The time of the Commonwealth
1649 to 1660, the period after the English Civil War when the British Isles had no monarch.
Esau and Jacob
Biblical--twin brothers in the Bible.
More hominum
like humans.
Dardanelles
the narrow strait in Turkey that connects the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara.

Chapter 88
En bon point
plumpness
Bashaw
pasha, a military or civil official in Turkey.
Solomon
Biblical--I Kings 11:3. King Solomon had 700 official wives and 300 concubines.
Grand Turk
the sultan, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire.
Vidocq
Eugene Francois Vidocq (1775-1857), a French private investigator who started life as a criminal and wrote about the young women he had seduced
Daniel Boone
the American pioneer (1734-1820).

Chapter 89
Justinian's Pandects
a 50-book digest of Roman laws compiled for Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century.
Chinese Society for the Suppression of Meddling
Melville is joking here.
Coke-upon-Littleton
an important commentary on British property law written by Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634).
John Bull
the national personification of Great Britain, similar to Uncle Sam in the U.S. At the time of Moby-Dick's publication, Ireland was under British control and was suffering from the Irish Potato Famine. One million people died due to a blight on potatoes and the British government refused to help.
Brother Jonathan
an early personification of the United States, similar to Uncle Sam. At the time of Moby-Dick's publication, the U.S. had recently defeated Mexico in a war over the right to admit Texas as a U.S. state..

Chapter 90
De balena vero sufficit...
"The king owns the head of a whale; the queen owns the tail." English jurist Henry de Bracton )1210-1268(
Blackstone
Commentaries on the Laws of England, by Sir William Blackstone, published 1765-1769.
The Duke of Wellington
Arthur Wellesley )1769-1852(, led the United Kingdom forces that defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. He later served as Prime Minister. Wellington was also the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
The three kingdoms
England, Scotland, and Ireland. Wellesley briefly came out of retirement in 1848 to organize a military force to protect London from a potential popular uprising.
Plowdon
Edmund Plowden (1518-1585), an English legal scholar.
King's Bench
a court of law of England.
William Prynne
the English author and polemicist (1600-166).
Ordinary revenue
the English monarch's income from crown lands, trade tariffs, dues and other sources.

Chapter 91
Sir T. Browne, V.E.
by Thomas Browne (1605-1682), an English author of "Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Vulgar Errors."
Cachalot Blanche
French: white sperm whale.

Chapter 92
Captain Coffin
Joshua Coffin, who recovered 362 ounces of ambergris in the anus of a female sperm whale killed on the coast of Guinea, West Africa.
Mecca
a city in Saudi Arabia believed by Muslims to be holy.
St. Peter's in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the home church of the Catholic Pope.
Brandreth's pills
laxative pills heavily advertised by Dr. Benjamin Brandreth. .
Paraccelsus
a Swiss alchemist, physician, and astrologer (1493-1541) considered the father of pharmacology.
Lying-in Hospital
a hospital for women giving birth. "Lying-in" is a term for a lengthy period of bedrest (weeks or months) before or after childbirth..

Chapter 94
Constantine's Bath
a large public bath complex in Rome built by Emperor Constantine I in the fourth century A.D.
Paracelsan
having to do with Paracelsus (1493-1541), the Swiss alchemist who is considered the father of modern pharmacology.
Berlshire marble
marble quarried in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts.
Louis le Gros
Louis VI of France (1081-1137). "Le Gros" means "the Fat."
Champagne
a wine-producing region in northern France.

Chapter 95
Bible leaves
inch-thick slices of blubber that fan out like pages of a book.

Chapter 96
Hydriote
a person from Hydra, an island in Greece.
Canaris
a city in Saudi Arabia believed by Muslims to be holy.
Virginia's Dismal Swamp
St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the home church of the Catholic Pope.
Rome's accursed Campagna
laxative pills heavily advertised by Dr. Benjamin Brandreth.
Man of Sorrows
a Swiss alchemist, physician, and astrologer (1493-1541) considered the father of pharmacology.
Solomon's
Biblical--the Old Testament book, Proverbs, credited to King Solomon. According to tradition, he also wrote Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs.
All is vanity.
laxative pills heavily advertised by Dr. Benjamin Brandreth.
Cowper
William Cowper (1731-1800), an English poet and writer of hymn.
Young
Edward Young (1683-1765), an English poet.
Pascal
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), a French mathemetician and religious philosopher.
Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), a French philosopher.
Rabelais
Francois Rabelais (1494-1553), a French satirist.
The man that wandereth...
Biblical--from Proverbs 21:16.
A Catskill eagle
an eagle from the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.

Chapter 97
Aladdin's lamp
from the story, Aladdin's Lamp,which tells of a lamp that, when rubbed, releases a magical genie that must obey the person holding the lamp.

Chapter 98
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Biblical--Old Testament. Daniel 3:12-30. Three men refuse a king's order to worship a golden idol. They are punished by being thrown into a furnace, but they survive without harm. The king then orders his people to worship their God.

Chapter 99
Pactolus
a river in Turkey that once contained gold sands.
Quito
Quito, Ecuador, where the Ahab's gold coin was minted.
Lucifer
Biblical--the prideful angel who was cast out of heaven and became Satan.
The sign of storms
Libra, the sign of the autumnal equinox and, usually, stormy weather. .
Aries
a constellation best visible near the Equator, in the month of December.
Belshazzar's awful writing
Biblical--an ominous message to a king: "Thou art weighed in the balance and art found wanting.".
Negro Hill
, a vice district in Boston, Massachusetts, in the early 19th century.
Corlaer's Hook
a vice district in Manhattan in the early 19th century.
Golconda
a ruined city in India, once famous for its wealth.
Bowditch
Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838), founder of modern navigation techniques.
Daboll's arithmetic
a textbook used widely in U.S. schools.
Massachusetts calendar
an almanac.
Blackberrying
collecting souls like blackberries.
Jenny, get your hoe-cake done
the title of a popular banjo song of the time. Hoecake is a cornmeal flatbread.

Chapter 100
En passant
in passing.

Chapter 101
Tudors
the Tudor dynasty ruled England from 1485 to 1603.
Bourbons
the House of Bourbon dynasty ruled France, Spain, and other European countries at various periods since 1555.
Syren
in Greek mythology, the sirens were seductive women who called out to sailors and caused their ships to wreck on the nearby rocks.
Saxon
Anglo-Saxon; British.
Platonic
having to do with transcending the physical plane and existing in a spiritual one.

Chapter 102
Arsacides
the Solomon Islands.
The hair-hung sword that so affrighted Damocles
Greek legend-- Damocles envied a king and was granted a day to switch places with him. He enjoyed a feast until he noticed a sword hanging directly above his head, supported by a single strand of horsehair.
Icy Glen
a park near Stockbridge, Massachusetts that features moss-covered rocks.

Chapter 103
Pompey's Pillar
an ancient, freestanding column in Alexandria, Egypt, built in honor of the Emperor Diocletian, who ruled Rome in the third century A.D.
Great knobbed blocks on a Gothic spire
decorations used in the construction of Gothic-style churches in the late middle ages.

Chapter 104
Napoleon's time
the time of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821).
Zeuglodon
"yoke teeth," a reference to double-rooted teeth, common to marine mammals."
Methuselah
Biblical--a man who, according to the Old Testament, lived to be 969 years old.
Shem
Biblical--a son of Noah who, according to the Bible, lived to be 500 years old.
Solomon
the biblical King Solomon.
John Leo
Joannes Leo Africanus (1488-c. 1554), a Muslim charged by the Pope to write a guide and description of Africa.
Barbary
the northern African coast.
Mahomet
the main prophet of Islam (570-632).
Jonas
the biblical Jonah.

Chapter 105
Aldrovandus
Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605), an Italian naturalist.
Banks and Solande, Cooke's naturalists
Joseph Banks (1743-1820), an English naturalist, and Daniel Solander )1733-1782(, a Swedish botanist, who traveled with Captain James Cook (1728-1779), the British explorer, on his first voyage to Australia.
Smithfield
a popular meat market in London.
Goa
a state on the west coast of India.
Semiramis
an ancient Assyrian queen.
Porus
an ancient ruler of the Indian state of Punjab, defeated by Alexander the Great.
Hannibal
a military commander from ancient Carthage (modern-day Tunisia) who crossed the Alps with elephants.
New Holland
Australia
Grand-Lama-like
hidden away like the Buddhist ruler of Tibet, which at the time was closed to Europeans.

Chapter 106
Bull's eyes
a thick, circular piece of glass set in a deck to act as a skylight to chambers below.

Chapter 107
Multum in parvo
Latin for "much in little".
Sheffield
a town in Yorkshire, England, known for its knife industry.

Chapter 108
Smut
a name for any blacksmith.
Prometheus
Greek mythology--the Titan who created men out of clay.
Blind dome
a dome without a skylight.
Thief-catcher
in this case, lantern. A "thief-catcher" is also a type of prisoner restraint.
Praetorians
the Roman emperor's bodyguards and police force.
auction of the Roman Empire
in 193 A.D., the Praetorian Guard assassinated the emperor Pertinax and sold the throne to Didius Julianus.
The resurrection fellow
Jesus Christ. I Thessalonians 4:16: on Judgment Day Christ will descend from heaven to the sound of the trumpet of God, and dead Christians will be resurrected.

Chapter 111
Potters' Fields
burial sites for unknown or indigent people.
Magian
contemplative, like a Zoroastrian priest.

Chapter 112
The Bottle Conjuror
The "Great Bottle Conjurer" was a performer who, in 1749 in London, England, claimed to be able to fit himself into an ordinary quart bottle. After a theater full of people paid to see his act, they learned it was a scam and destroyed the theater. Here, Melville may mean simply, alcohol.

Chapter 113
Mother Carey's chicken
a storm-petrel, a seabird that follows ships at sea and hides from storms on a ship's leeward side.
"Ego non baptizo te in nominee patris, sed in nominee diaboli"
I baptize you not in the name of the Father, but in the name of the devil.

Chapter 115
The cursed Bastile
the Bastille prison in Paris, France, stormed in 1789 at the start of the French Revolutiion.

Chapter 116
Niger's
the Niger River in west Africa. Its course is shaped like a boomerang, which confused European explorers and mapmakers of the time.

Chapter 117
Asphaltites
the Dead Sea between modern-day Israel and Jordan. The Greeks called this salt lake Lake Asphaltites because of the asphalt that naturally comes to the surface of the water.
ghosts of Gomorra
Biblical--Old Testament, Genesis 19:24. Gomorra was one of two ancient cities near the Dead Sea, the other being Sodom, that were destroyed by God as a punishment for the wickedness of their inhabitants.

Chapter 118
Sea-mark
a landmark visible from sea.
Horatii
Roman triplets who, in the seventh century B.C., were made to fight a set of enemy triplets to determine the outcome of a war. Two of the Horatii died, but the remaining one killed all three of his opponents.
Knight-heads
the two timbers that support the bowsprit at the front of the ship.

Chapter 119
St. Elmo's Lights
St. Elmo's fire, an electric glow seen on ships during storms, and considered supernatural by superstitious sailors.
&parl;Corpus sancti∥corpusants
other names for St. Elmo's fire; from the Latin for "holy body".
Mene, Mene, Tekel Upharsin
Biblical--Daniel 5:27.the writing on the wall in the book of Daniel. Translation: "Your rule is over; you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting; your kingdom will be divided".
Herculaneum
an ancient Roman town in Italy that was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

Chapter 125
Log and line
a device for measuring a ship's speed. A "log"—a triangular piece of wood—attached to a knotted rope is thrown into the water, and then watched to see how many knots run out on the rope within a set time period.

Chapter 126
All Herod's murdered Innocents
Biblical--Mathew 2:16-18.The male babies of Bethlehem killed by King Herod at the time of Christ's birth.
Aroostook hemlock
wood from a Tsuga tree, formerly called "hemlock," from Aroostook County in Maine.
Cruppered
strapped to. A crupper is a strap that runs under a horse's tail and keeps its saddle from shifting forward.
Turk's-headed
decorated with ornamental knots called Turks' heads.

Chapter 127
Middle aisle of a church
that is, where the coffin is placed during funerals.

Chapter 128
Rachel
Biblical: Genesis 29. Jacob's favorite wife. He was tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah, and worked seven years for the right to marry Rachel, too.
Rachel, weeping for her children
Biblical: Matthew 2:18. After King Herod's slaughter of the innocents, recounted in Matthew 2:16-18, the sound of weeping was heard, and it was said to be the long-dead Rachel—the matriarch of the Jewish people—weeping for the dead children.

Chapter 129
True as the circumference to its center
The circumference of a circle depends entirely on where its center is.

Chapter 130
The unsetting polar star
the North Star, used for navigation in the Northern Hemisphere because of its fixed place in the sky.
Clamped mortar
a vessel used to grind spices into powder, secured to a table by means of a clamp. Some 19th-century mortars had handles for this purpose.
Tarquin
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth King of Rome, who ruled from 616 B.C. to 578 B.C. According to tradition, when he first arrived in Rome, an eagle stole his cap and then replaced it.

Chapter 132
Miriam and Martha
unknown/undetermined.
Guinea-coast slavery
absolute tyranny. Most West African slaves were shipped to the Americas from an area on the coast of the Bay of Guinea.

Chapter 133
Dog-vane
a weathervane of feathers or other light material attached to a masthead.
Luff a point
one point of the compass, or 11.25 degrees.
Channel
the English Channel.
Antiochus's elephants
Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles: 1 Maccabees. The Greek King Antiochus V gave his elephants grape and mulberry juice to drink before battle, to incite them to fight.
Platonic
having to do with transcending the physical plane and existing in a spiritual one.

Chapter 135
All the angels that fell from heaven
Some Christians believe that one-third of heaven's angels have been cast out, and roam the earth.
Monadnock
a single small hill or mountain that rises out of a surrounding plain.
A plaid
a plaid woolen scarf worn by Scottish Highlanders over one shoulder.
Fata Morgana
an optical illusion that makes objects on the horizon appear longer and higher up than they are.

Epilogue
And I only....
Biblical--Job 1:15-19. A messenger uses these words after reporting to Job that all Job's livestock and children are dead.
Ixion
a figure in Greek mythology punished for various sins by being bound to a winged wheel of fire.

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