COMPANION TO CANTO XL
Annotations in the List of Works Cited:
Contributor name. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.gloss number. The Cantos Project. Web. Date of access.
Example: Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.13. The Cantos Project. Web. 5 September 2016.
(Contributor name, OCCEP IV: n.no).
Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13).
References to The Cantos
As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: ll.7–17.
For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.
©Roxana Preda. Canto XL, 20 October 2019
Updated 24 November 2020
Updated 16 May 2022
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Terrell, Carroll F. “Canto XL.” A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: California UP, 1993. 162-6.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Letters of Ernest Hemingway. Vol 5: 1932-1934. Eds. Sandra Spanier and Miriam B. Mandel. Cambridge: CUP, 2020.
Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound’s Economic Correspondence 1933-1945. Gainesville: U of Florida P, 2007.
Pound, Ezra. Selected Prose of Ezra Pound 1909-1965. Ed. W. Cookson. New York: New Directions, 1973.
Walkiewicz, E. P. and Hugh Witemeyer. “A Public Bank in Canto 40.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 19.3 (1990): 91-8.
Beinecke Library, New Haven. Ezra Pound Papers YCAL MSS 43. Box no/Folder no.
esprit de corps – Fr. “group loyalty.”
Pound is quoting from Jefferson’s letter to Albert Gallatin, (13 December 1803) where Jefferson enumerated the advantages of the rotation of representatives in the U.S. Congress which ensured that public interest will not be forgotten or engulfed by private, or group interest:
“It breaks in upon the esprit du corps so apt to prevail in permanent bodies; it gives a chance for the public eye penetrating into the sanctuary of those proceedings and practices, which the avarice of the directors may introduce for their personal emolument, and which the resentments of excluded directors, or the honesty of those duly admitted, might betray to the public; and it gives an opportunity at the end of the year, or at other periods, of correcting a choice, which, on trial, proves to have been unfortunate; an evil of which themselves complain in their distant institutions” WTJ X: 438.
Pound first brought up the nefarious effect of esprit de corps in canto XXXVII, where Martin van Buren, arguing for political reform widely beneficial to the public sphere (universal suffrage for men, irrespective of property ownership), had to overcome loyalties and prejudices of Republican Party members, who defended the privileges they derived from limited suffrage:
“High Judges? Are, I suppose, subject to passions / as have affected other great and good men, also / subject to esprit de corps” (XXXVII: ll.6-8).
Smith, Adam – Adam Smith (1723-90), Scottish economist of the Enlightenment, one of the founding fathers of economics as a science. His major work is An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776).
Pound shows the agreement between Adams Smith and Jefferson concerning the interference of personal and group interests in matters of public weal.
This is Smith’s formulation:
“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the publick, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible, indeed, to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies, much less to render them necessary” (Smith I: 145). See also W&W 98.
Independent use of money (our OWN) – Pound returns to Jefferson’s letter to Gallatin (13 December 1803) which argued the case for a bank of the government holding its revenue from taxes and at the same time emitting state money on the foundation of government income, instead of gold. At the time of writing, gold was considered true money and paper money was just a promissory note. Jefferson’s idea was radical not only for his time but also for Pound’s. It implied that the basis for national money should not be gold (which can be bought and sold as a commodity on the market and which bankers can control and corner), but tax revenue, which is a percentage of a nation’s economic production. WTJ X: 438-9
In his letter to Gallatin, Jefferson is thinking through the disadvantages of a privately-owned central bank (such as the Bank of England and the First Bank of the United States founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1791) and anticipating the conflicts that would occur in van Buren’s and Lincoln’s times:
“I deem no government safe which is under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities, or any other authority than that of the nation, or its regular functionaries. What an obstruction could not this bank of the United States, with all its branch banks, be in time of war! It might dictate to us the peace we should accept, or withdraw its aids. Ought we then to give further growth to an institution so powerful, so hostile? […] The first measure would be to reduce them [branches of the Bank of the United States] to an equal footing only with other banks, as to the favors of the government. But, in order to be able to meet a general combination of the banks against us, in a critical emergency, could we not make a beginning towards an independent use of our own money, towards holding our own bank in all the deposits where it is received, and letting the treasurer give his draft or note, for payment at any particular place, which, in a well-conducted government, ought to have as much credit as any private draft, or bank note, or bill, and would give us the same facilities which we derive from the banks?” WTJ X: 438-9.
- De banchis cambi tenendi… – L. “bank of exchange.”
Quotation from Pietro Rota’s Storia delle banche, (111) referring to the discussion in the Venetian Senate on creating what in contemporary terms would be a foreign exchange office. The quote is better understood in the context of Rota’s account of medieval financial transactions and the necessity of creating banks with regular schedules and opening hours to service foreign currency transactions taking place all over Europe and the Levant. The “bank of exchange” arose out of the necessity of regulating the rates among various coins in order to make the international circulation of funds more reliable and less dangerous.
At the time of the Venetian deliberation, 1361, someone who had, say, English gold coins and wanted to transport his funds in safety to Florence, looked for a foreign exchange office (“banca di cambio”) and a moneychanger (“cambisto”) who had to: evaluate the coins and determine the rate of exchange; be aware of local factors that would affect money scarcity and prices, such as seasons and fairs in Florence (Pound would mention these in canto 41); determine a fee for his services and subtract it from the bill of exchange (“cambiale”) which the client could take with him on his travel to Florence and cash on arrival in the local currency. The bill of exchange was non-transferable and had an expiry date approximating the duration of travel. The form of the bill was a written order directed to a corresponding moneychanger in Florence to pay a certain sum to the person carrying the document. When the bill of exchange became transferable without the necessity to exchange it into coins, it became a circulating medium, therefore paper money, much as it is known today. The origins of paper money have always been shown on the banknotes themselves, whose text spells out an order from the director of a national bank to pay to the holder of the banknote a specified amount in specie (gold or silver). See Rota 69.
Rota emphasized that the vocabulary of banking was bound to the Italian language (and to Latin, as used in official documents), as Italy at the time was the most active country in international commerce because of the Pope and the European transit of church revenue. Moreover, Italy was the portal to the Crusades and a clearing house for all the money traffic between Europe and the East. Its main centres for trade and banking were Venice, Genoa and Florence. Rota 63.
- Venice 1361 – Pound is having recourse to his Italian source, Pietro Rota’s Storia delle banche, to outline an early experiment with the idea of a publicly owned bank in Venice.
“Anche altra volta era sorto il pensiero di erigere un Banco pubblico. Nel 1361 ai cinque sapienti eletti per provvedere sui banchi fu dato incarico “quod debeant consulere de banchis cambi tenendi pro communi vel pro spetialibus personis sicut videbitur bonum”. Sembra che quei sapienti abbiano risposto in favore dei Banchi privati, poichè si mise da parte il pensiero di erigere il Banco pubblico e più no se ne parlò fino al 1584” (Rota 111, italics in original).
[Another time, the idea emerged to create a public bank. In 1361, five elders of the Venetian Senate elected to oversee banks, were charged “to consult on a bank of exchange, either for the public or for private persons, as may seem best.” It seems the elders were in favour of private banks, because the idea of founding a public bank was set aside and discussed no more until 1584.]
“In the context of Rota’s survey, this note seems to identify the earliest documented appearance of the concept of a bank run for the good of the community rather than for individual gain. That was certainly how Pound read the passage. He saw in the Latin instructions a luminous detail of European economic history that Rota had salvaged from the collective amnesia of modern consciousness. And he determined to reframe and retransmit the neglected but seminal excerpt in his poem containing history” W&W 93.
Rota is careful to mention that the public bank was destined to benefit merchants and that it failed because its management was entrusted to magistrates, not bankers. Rota 112.
- ’62 – the draft of the canto shows Pound being uncertain about the dating of the initial Venetian deliberations concerning public banks. The date mentioned in the source is 1361. “’62” may mean that the project was no sooner discussed than dropped, which is also what Pound’s source, Pietro Rota points out. YCAL MSS 43 73/3280. Rota 111.
- Shelved for a couple of centuries – The first public bank was created in Venice in 1584, two centuries after the first deliberations on this topic in 1361. It was called Banco della Piazza del Rialto and belonged to the republic. In order to prevent bankruptcy or failure, its funds could not be invested but were at all times at the disposal of its depositors. Rota 111-2.
“Avvì una grande differenza fra le antiche Banche private e questa Banca pubblica. I banchieri levavano banca allo scopo di guadagno e la banca era allora un’industria; lo Stato invece non ha scopo di guadagno, facendosi banchiere. La banca non è più un’industria; ma, per così dire, un istituto di beneficenza, dallo Stato eretto, per favorire una classe di cittadini: i commercianti. È per questo che lo stato poteva imporsi l’obbligo di non usare dei denari del Banco.” Rota 112
“There was a great difference between the old private banks and this public bank. The bankers pursued banking for profit and their houses were an industry; whereas the state does not aim for profit in becoming a banker. Banking is not an industry, but so to say, an institution of beneficence, erected by the state to favour a class of citizens: the merchants. This is why the state could impose on itself the obligation to not use the funds of the bank.”
See the continuation of the story of public banking in cantos 42-43 with the establishment of the first public bank in Siena, the Monte dei Paschi in 1624.
- Whether by privates or public – Pound seems to be returning to the Venetian Senate deliberations of 1361: de banchis cambi tenendi vel pro communi vel pro spetialibus personis sicut videbitur bonum [bank of exchange benefitting the community or special persons] (Rota 111). See nn. 4-5.
Seven marlin – The source of this statement was Ernest Hemingway’s letter to Pound on 22 July 1933 from Key West boasting: "by Christ I'm a damned good fisherman–caught 7–alone–in one day–World's record was 5–Damned hard to catch one" (EHL 5: 446). Hemingway included a photo of a swordfish in his letter and published an article about big game fishing off the coast of Havana in Esquire, in September 1933. One of the photos in the article showed seven marlin which had been fished in one day. Esquire.
After fishing big game in Cuba in July 1933, Hemingway sailed to Europe to embark on an African safari.
This bit of information showcases the difference between a project for the public good (say fishing for food, or banking for the good of the community, or an expedition to faraway lands to stimulate trade) and what happens when private persons get to use such a project for their own benefit. The benefit may be a trophy of seven dead marlin fished in a single day to show to the world, or else, deer parks and domestic frippery.
- if Peabody wd. quit business – George Peabody (1795-1869), American businessman and banker. He was a railroad pioneer and president of the Eastern railroad before becoming full time international banker specialized in channelling British investment in American economic development. Peabody competed with the Rothschilds and the Barings for American financial contracts. Pound refers to a crisis in 1857 when the Bank of England tried to push Peabody out of business by refusing a lifesaving loan. Corey 48-9.
- d’Arcy – William Knox D’Arcy (1849-1917), British businessman who invested in prospecting and extracting oil in Persia in 1902 and found oil in 1908. He created the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which was very successful in exploiting Iranian oil for the British government, who acquired a majority of shares. See OCCEP XXXVIII: n.13, for more detail.
Pound may have included D’Arcy here because his onerous oil contract with the Persian government and the Bank of England’s pressure on George Peabody were symptoms of British colonialism, entitled “by God” and directed at forcing British economic advantage in parts of the world which were rich in resources and relatively easy to exploit.
Note that D’Arcy’s efforts in Persia look like a modern avatar of Hanno the Navigator’s purpose in his expedition to Africa, a Phoenician colonization project Pound introduced in the second part of the canto. Hanno’s goal was to find gold, establish trade colonies, and exploit local resources, all in the name of his gods. This analogy is also suggested by Pound's use of caps to introduce both.
- ’62, report of committee – In the next section of the poem, Pound showcases the conflict between public and private interest in the starkest of circumstances, namely in times of war. He uses the case of J. P. Morgan as example of how a private individual hijacks a national emergency for his own ambition and greed.
During the American civil war, all manners of fraud, corruption and wild speculation sought to profit from the situation. In 1862, a committee of the House of Representatives “reported frauds in 104 cases and refused payment of $17,000,000 out of $50,000,000 on contracts. J. Pierpont Morgan appeared in a case as financing the sale to the government of the government’s own arms at an extortionate profit. The facts are in the Congressional Reports, “Case No.97. J. Pierpont Morgan. Claim for payment of ordnance stores… Referred by special direction of the Secretary of War… Claimed, $58,175.” Corey 58-61.
Morgan – John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), American financier and banker.
In the canto, Pound focuses on two cases where Morgan swindled the government during the civil war and speculated against the public interest. The first case was selling the government its own arms (Corey 58-61); the second was his involvement in cornering gold to force up its price (Corey 64-9).
“The Great Morgan, during the Civil War, bought on credit a certain quantity of damaged rifles from the War Department in Washington, and sold them to a Military Command in Texas, and was paid by the latter before he had to pay the former. He made 75,000.00 profit. Later he was even tried and convicted, but that did not prevent his becoming the great Mahatma of Wall Street, and a world politico-economical power. Such is the material of which the economic and human history of the United States is made (SP 171)
- 160 thousand – Pound refers to the profits Morgan made by “cornering” gold in 1863 by buying a large quantity secretly at a relatively lower price after the Union victory at Vicksburg and shipping half of it to Britain. Due to the scarcity, the price of gold went up, so when the time felt right to sell, Morgan made a very substantial profit. Corey 66.
- After Gettysburg – The price of gold was intimately related to the success of the Union army in the war. Whenever the Union army was winning, the price went down, and whenever the Confederates did, the price went up. After the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 in which the Union army was able to stop the Confederates from pushing north at great loss of life on the battlefield, the price of gold went down five points. Corey 67.
- bulls on gold and bears on Union –
This is a very concise formulation that Pound found in his source, Lewis Corey’s House of Morgan,about the way the stock exchange reflected the civil war situation. The price of gold went up when the Union was losing and down when it was winning. The speculators were shorting the nation, gambling on the Confederate victory. Corey 69.
“A bull market is a market that is on the rise and is economically sound, while a bear market is a market that is receding, where most stocks are declining in value. The actual origins of these expressions are unclear, but one reason could be that bulls attack by bringing their horns upward, while bears attack by swiping their paws downward.” Investopedia.
- Boutwell – George S. Boutwell (1818-1905), American politician from Massachusetts. He was Secretary of the Treasury during the Ulysses Grant administration (1869-73). In 1873, the Treasury needed a new loan ($300 million) and considered the possibility of selling the bonds directly to the public. This however, did not happen, the loan was divided equally between the Morgan-Morton syndicate and the Cooke syndicate (including the Rothschilds) and the money came from Europe. The loan was not a success, bond subscriptions both in the U.S. and Europe were meagre. In a few months’ time an economic crisis erupted in the U.S. which lasted for five years (Corey 119-23).
Beecher’s church – Henry Ward Beecher (1813-87) Congregational minister preaching in Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. He was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
“Henry Ward Beecher, himself the recipient of $20,000 a year and whose church had been organised as a profit-making enterprise by real-estate speculators, sermonized against labor amid the applause of Plymouth’s congregation: ‘Is the great working class oppressed? Yes, undoubtedly it is. God has intended the great to be great and the little to be little… The trade union, originated under the  European system, destroys liberty… I do not say that a dollar a day is enough to support a workingman. But it is enough to support a man! Not enough to support a man and five children if a man insist on smoking and drinking beer…. But the man who cannot live on bread and water is not fit to live’” Corey 123-4.
Belmont representing the Rothschilds – August Belmont (1816-90) financier and politician of
Jewish descent. Born in Germany, he was apprenticed to the Rothschild bank in Frankfurt. Sent by the Rothschilds to represent their financial interests in the U.S., Belmont arrived in New York during the panic of 1837 and founded the investment company Belmont & Co, which proved to be very successful. Belmont had a strong participation in the Democratic Party, which at the time of the Civil War represented Southern interests. Wikipedia. After the war, Belmont competed with J. P. Morgan for contracts but was also part of alliances in larger syndicates for the larger state loans.
- specie payment’s resumption – During the Civil War, the Secretary of the Treasury, S. Chase, had severed the dollar from its gold backing, took new loans and increased taxes. To finance the Union effort, he also decided to issue treasury notes, called “greenbacks,” which were legal tender but had a few restrictions which made them vulnerable.
After the war, the new treasurer, John Sherman, wanted to withdraw the greenbacks from the market and resume the old system whereby new dollars were state bonds with gold backing. Especially rich bondholders wanted to resume the gold standard and have the depreciated wartime bonds (debts of the state) paid back in gold. This amounted to roughly 35% increase in servicing the debt and a serious deflation as the Treasury was retiring the greenbacks. The specie payment resumption act was passed in 1875. There were national protests that argued that greenbacks should be used to pay the war debt. However, banking interests prevailed. Lewis Corey gives details on the state loans that Morgan and Belmont mediated so that the gold standard could be resumed.
When Pound wrote in the canto: “Currency OF (O F of the nation)” he had in mind such money as the greenbacks, which were treasury notes emitted by the state and benefitting the public at large. They had no gold backing and were not the expression of a loan. Bankers could not profit from their emission.
- stock subscription… 30 percent – Pound is now focussing on the situation of American railroads, specifically the relation between government and private business in their construction, management and funding. Corey is painting a bleak situation created by the fragmentation of investment, the speculation and corruption in what could have been a nationally coordinated activity for the public good:
“Plundering usually started with securing government aid by bribery […] Most of the railroad promoters were flagrant speculators with little money  of their own, money being raised by selling bonds to the public, often at heavy discounts, disastrously piling up fixed charges. Promoters appropriated most of the stock as bonus, cash subscription from stock seldom exceeding 30 per cent of the railroad’s construction costs and frequently almost nothing. Land grants were another source of speculative profit for promoters and directors. Still another means of making illegitimate profit was construction of the railroad, usually undertaken by promoters and directors organized in a separate construction company charging enormously high prices. […] Every mile of Western railroads cost 35 per cent to 50 per cent more than legitimate construction costs” Corey 143-4.
- in ’76 default – railroad investments were subject to predatory practices of speculators and marred by corruption and greed. They were thus highly unstable and most likely to damage investors:
“Demoralisation made railway investment unsafe and unprofitable. The buccaneers [Jay Gould and Jim Fisk] plundered investors as much as they plundered business and the public. In spite of most railroad bonds offering 7 per cent, the average interest in 1886 was 4.7 per cent, while the average yield on stock was only 2 per cent (including “watered” stock). In 1876 railroad bonds in default represented 39 per cent of the total, and in 1879 sixty-five roads capitalized at $234,000,000 were sold under foreclosure. One year later bankrupt railroads represented 20 per cent of total mileage and capitalization” Corey 145.
- Mr Corey – Pound is referring the reader to his source, Lewis Corey’s book, The House of Morgan. See Sources.
- No central institution – Pound is referring to the financial crisis of 1907, a crisis that was instrumental in the setting up of the Federal Reserve six years later. J. P. Morgan had come to play the role a director of the central bank may have played, had the role existed in the U.S. at the time. Corey criticized the Independent Treasury System that had been set up after Andrew Jackson’s Bank War of 1833:
“Government accepted the Morgan dictatorship – an inescapable decision. There was no central banking institution under government control to mobilize the banks’ resources in the crisis. In spite of financial centralization by Morgan and others, the nation’s banking system was incompletely co-ordinated, reserves being scattered in the vaults of thousands of banks which distrusted each other and did not or could not effectively cooperate. There was a scramble for money by the banks and no central institution to provide and distribute the money. Co-operation and centralized organization had to be improvised in the midst of the panic, while  banks crashed, necessarily by the House of Morgan, the most powerful of financial institutions and under control of the only man with sufficient financial authority, J. Pierpont Morgan. What a properly organized banking system would have done automatically Morgan had to do in an improvised and dictatorial style” Corey 341-2.
- Pujo investigation – Arsène Paulin Pujo (1861-39) American lawyer, Representative from Louisiana, was tasked to lead a subcommittee of the House Committee on Banking and Currency (1911-3) charged with investigating a community of Wall Street bankers and financiers amid concern over the power exerted by powerful bankers and monopolies. Its findings concluded that financial leaders had gained control of manufacturing, transportation, mining, telecommunications, and financial markets. Several major corporations were held by Morgan, George F. Baker, and James Stillman. These findings lent support for ratification of the 16th Amendment, Federal Reserve Act and Clayton Antitrust Act. History.com.
- never sold short in my life – When he appeared in front of the Pujo Committee, J. P. Morgan made much of his age (he was 75) and consistently denied that he had any financial or industrial power. The prosecutor, Untermyer asked him: “Do you approve of short selling? Morgan: I never did it in my life, that I know of… I do not like it–not that I wish to criticize it at all, because I do not see how you can get along without it.” Corey 405.
- High degree of liquidity… panic – During the panic of 1907, Morgan was called to coordinate all financial and industrial resources to meet the crisis. His House was in an excellent condition to meet it because it had maintained a high degree of liquidity (available cash) to meet demands. His trusted collaborators Baker and Stillman accepted Morgan’s authority. Corey 342-3.
- Mr Baker – George F. Baker, president of the First National Bank. Corey considered him Morgan’s “lieutenant.” See also preceding note.
- government arms – Pound returns to the event when Morgan financed the sale of useless and dangerous carbines to the Union army, weapons that the government owned already. See nn.12-13.
- Ionides – Probably Luke Ionides, whom Pound met in London before WWI.
“Note when I got to London the men who were old enough were all right. Col. Jackson, Luke Ionides represented something hearty, pre-Victorian, they had something that Palmerston night have recognized as appertaining to men” GK 227; C n.26.
- Palladio – Andrea Palladio (1518-1580), architect born in Padua who worked in Venice and the Veneto. He is known to have revived Greek and Roman classical design for his time and was enormously influential in pre-modernist architecture.
- AGALMA – H. ornament, beautiful object.
- haberdashery – men’s clothing and accessories.
- ormoulu – gilded brass used in ornamentation, for instance, furniture fitting and decoration.
- brocatelle – stiff decorated material with decoration in relief.
- tree calf – A form of cover decoration consisting of a smooth, light-colored calfskin treated with chemicals in such a manner as to represent a tree trunk with branches. In the usual manner, a dual design appears on upper and lower covers. Bookbinding dictionary.
- morocco – luxury leather bookbinding, imported from the Levant. Traditionally made of goatskin, it was prized for its flexibility, smoothness and strength. Wikipedia.
- tooled edges – decorated borders of materials.
- farthingales – hoop worn underneath a skirt to give it shape.
- fichus – light triangular scarf that is draped over the shoulders and fastened in front or worn to fill in a low neckline.
- seeking an exit – Transition to the second part of the canto, dedicated to Hanno the Navigator’s voyage to West Africa. See also cantos 24 and 28 for accounts of voyages, and cantos 15 (beginning of 16) for exits out of the contemporary hell of capitalism.
Daniel Pearlman commented on this passage:
“The poet fittingly continues his voyage by identifying his own journey with the ‘periplum’ or ‘voyaging around’ of Hanno, whose world is mythic, heroic, Odyssean, a world of brutally direct confrontation of man with nature. In this world ‘folk wear the hides of wild beasts’ rather than flaps and farthingales. ‘The clocks,’ included in Pound’s list of useless, stuffy, Victorian fripperies and equally transient ladies’ fashions, symbolize the wasted lives and the meaningless stream of experience in the modern world. In Hanno’s world, the measure of time is days of purposive sailing; time is a process of continual discovery and creation (colonization)” (165).
- CARTHEGENIANS – from Carthage, Phoenician city on the North African coast nearest Sicily. Its ruins are now in a suburb of Tunis. Carthage, like Greece, was a maritime empire and sought to gain economic advantage on the sea-routes of the (Western) Mediterranean. The city was destroyed by the Romans in the three Punic wars (264-146 BC).
“by 600 B.C. Carthage was the most important power in the western Mediterranean, not excluding the Etruscans. The latter, so far as we know, were content to control the Italian peninsula north of Cumae, with perhaps Corsica besides, and to leave the rest of the western Mediterranean to Carthage. The way was thus clear for Carthaginians to push as far as their adventurous spirit would allow in a western direction. Not only that. By this time also Carthage controlled the land routes southwards into the Sahara, for Egyptian domination never spread far to the west of the Nile valley, and the Greeks at Cyrene and elsewhere were content to stick to the coastlands” (Harden 141).
- Hanno – Carthaginian explorer who around 470 BC made an expedition along the northern and western coast of Africa. He sailed through the strait of Gibraltar and from there headed south, along the West African coast towards the equator. He founded seven towns on the shore of Morocco.
The integrity of the Greek manuscript in which it has been preserved, the chronology of the voyage, the mileage and distances, and the African landmarks are still being disputed among scholars. Find it in Sources.
“Hanno who, though not the earliest of the travellers provides us with the fullest and the only true Carthaginian source we now possess. His voyage, which is normally dated c. 525-500 B.C. for reasons which I will not set out in detail, was an official expedition, the main purpose of which was to found colonies and/or to repopulate existing trading-stations. We know his story at first remove, i.e. in a Greek translation of the short description of his journey set up in the temple of Saturn (Baal Hammon) at Carthage on his return. It is important to remember that it is in a Greek translation, and that our only MS., Codex Heidelbergensis 398, dates from the 10th century A.D., for this must put us on our guard against expecting complete verbal accuracy, especially in figures of distances, which are very liable to error in transcription by scribes. We must also remember that the story is very short and terse, no more than 600 Greek words in all” (Harden 145). See map.
- ply – ply the waves.
Though not explicitly stated, Hanno’s voyage, like that of Odysseus, is what Victor Bérard called “periplus,” a voyage along a coast where the navigator is guided by the lay of the land, the sun and the stars. Bérard compared the Odyssey with Hanno’s narrative (566-9) – his book could arguably be the origin of Pound’s idea of introducing Hanno into the Cantos. Pound had read Bérard on location in Terracina in 1930 and used his book for canto 39. See Calendar.
A periplus lists ports or landmarks, and to sail by periplus is to navigate using coastal landmarks, to find one’s way visually along the coast. Pound used the term in the accusative case, as “periplum,” and defined it in canto LIX: “Periplum, not as land looks on a map / But as sea bord seen by men sailing” (LIX/324). See also LXXIV, where the word occurs several times. See map.
- pillars of Herakles – ancient Greek name of the 13 km wide straits of Gibraltar separating Europe from Africa and the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean. (See also Gibel Tara below). One of the “pillars” is considered to be the Calpe, or the Rock of Gibraltar on the European side, the other is Jebel Musa in Morocco, or in Monte Hacho in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the north African shore. See also Livius.org.
- Thumiatehion – H. Θυμιατήριον [Thumiaterion] L. Thymiaterium. The first colony Hanno founded, identified as contemporary Mehdya at the mouth of Sebou river. See map.
The spelling error is Pound’s, as evidenced by a draft in YCAL 72/3280.
- Solois – Greek name of contemporary Cape Beddouza [older Cape Cantin], an African promontory on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, at 32º32’24. See Schoff 2; Terrell 229. See also map.
- Entha hieron Poseidonos – H. ἔνθα Ποσειδωνος ίερὸν (“there a sanctuary to Poseidon”).
It is probable that on the Solois promontory, Hanno erected an altar to the Phoenician god of the sea, Yamm. In the translations which have come down to us, the Greek mediation assimilated Yamm to Poseidon, the Latin versions to Neptune. Cape Solois is a landmark to a marshland in the interior of the continent, which Hanno briefly explored by going east for half a day. Note the similarity of this point in Hanno’s journey to the geography of Circeo and Terracina in canto 39. See Schoff 2; Terrell 229.
- against the sun – sailing east, going against the sun’s movement from east to west.
- Karikon, Gutta, Akra, Meli, Arambo – H. “Καρικόν [τε τειχος] καὶ Γύττην καὶ Ἄκραν καὶ Μέλιτταν, καὶ Ἄραμβυν” cities founded by Hanno on the African coast. See Schoff 2; Terrell 229.
“The first is generally accepted now to have been at or near Mogador; the third name is thought to represent modern Agadir; the other three are unidentifiable, though clearly in the same general neighbourhood” (Harden 145).
- Lixos – ancient name of contemporary Draa River, at 1,100 km, the longest in Morocco. It springs from the Atlas Mountains and flows into the Atlantic at Tantan. Due to a dam built in 1971, the lower region of the Draa is now dry most of the year. Wikipedia.
- Men of Lixtae – In Hanno’s narrative, it is mentioned that by the shores of the Lixus, the expedition found that a “wandering people, the Lixitae, were pasturing their flocks; with whom we remained some time, becoming friends.” See Schoff 2; Terrell 229.
- aethiopians – in ancient times “aethiopians” was a generic name for black people.
- Lixtus mountain – the Atlas mountains in north Africa.
- Cyrne – H. Κέρνην. There is significant disagreement concerning the location of Cyrne in Hanno’s itinerary. Some scholars identify it as Herne, or Dragon Island, near contemporary Dakhla. Others locate it in the bay of Arguin further south on the West African coast. This is Hanno’s last colony and its location is essential not only for what Hanno does short term, but also for the rest of his journey.
Hanno asserts that the island has a circumference of 5 stadia (H. “σταδίων πέντε,” see Schoff 4: §8) (0.9 km) which would approximately correspond to the island of St. Louis at the mouth of the Senegal river (1.2 km long and 400 m wide). It is interesting to note that the English version of Hanno’s text has 15 stadia and Pound approximates this to 15 miles. He may have uncharacteristically adopted the wrong English translation without checking the Greek.
Here is D. B. Harden’s argument about the location of Cyrne:
“these places [contemporary Dakhla and/or Bay of Arguin] are on the Saharan coast and are therefore unlikely places for the establishment of a flourishing mart for trading with a populous hinterland. If we accept Cerne as a site at or near the Senegal, the whole story, both Hanno’s and that of pseudo-Scylax, falls into place and what Hanno did was to sail up one branch of the Senegal (Chretes) to a lake and down another branch (the river swarming with crocodiles and hippopotamuses). This secondary trip was not, in fact, a coasting voyage at all; if it had been would not Hanno have told us why he turned back, especially if, having reached the Senegal, he went all the way back to Herne or even Arguin?” (Harden 144).
- Xrestes… three islands – H. Χρέτης. Xrestes is most likely the Senegal River.
In pre-modern times, the Senegal was overflowing into the Lake Guiers, which has indeed several islands in it. At present, the lake is connected to the river by a canal, so as to prevent saltwater from the Senegal Delta from flowing into it. Wikipedia.
- a lagoon – Here Pound diverges significantly from his source and his choice of words suggests that he assumed Hanno to have described the coast, not an inland journey on the river.
“From here, sailing through the mouth of a big river named Chretes we came to a lake. The lake had three islands bigger than Cerne in it. Completing a day’s sail from there, we reached the inner recess of the lake, above which some very high mountains rose up crowded with savages wearing skins of wild beasts, who stoned us and beat us off and prevented us from disembarking. Sailing from there we came to another big wide river full of crocodiles and hippopotamuses. We then turned again and came back to Cerne” (Hanno quoted in Harden 144).
- river wide – probably the southern part of Lake Guiers in Senegal. Hanno states that he returned from the lake to Cyrne, arguably, St. Louis island at the mouth of the Senegal.
- woody mountain – sailing south for twelve days from the Senegal delta along the coast, Hanno reached the Cape Verde, a promontory jutting into the Atlantic, the westernmost part of Africa. This is the location of contemporary Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
- wide bayou – probably the mouth of the Gambia river.
“Up to this point, apart from the Cerne problem, the commentators are not too much at variance in their identification of Hanno’s sites. From now on, however, differences in identification become acute, and we get, in effect, a long view and a short view of what Hanno accomplished. The latter stops Hanno at Sierra Leone, the former brings him to Camerun, or even Gabun” (Harden 145).
- West Horn – The bay called Horn of the West reaches from 12。to 11。N. and the islands are the modern Bissagos (Terrell 228).
- gods’ carroch – I. chariot of the gods.
Commentators disagree about Hanno’s itinerary after the stop in Cyrne. Traditionally, the “gods’ carroch” is Mount Kakoulima in Guinea. Other scholars, who think that Hanno sailed much closer to the equator, identify it to Mount Cameroon, much further south.
- South Horn – this name is not found in modern African geography, but according to scholarship it is the Sherbro and Macauley islands.
“The island enclosed within the bay called Horn of the South, it is now agreed by all commentators, is the modern Sherboro Sound in the British colony of Sierra Leone” (Terrell 228).
- cd. not take – It is not evident why Hanno thought necessary that he and his men were supposed to “take” the natives, apart from displaying them as trophies when they got home. Pound’s epitome of Hanno narrative climaxes with this act of arbitrary violence, showing the Carthaginian expedition to have been not noble and civilizing, but a display of plunder and barbarism, the very bluprint of the impulse to collect “wealth,” unnecessary trophies and luxuries in modern age. Rightly, Pound is seeking an exit out of Hanno’s world as well.
- Out of which things seeking and exit – This line is a repetition of l.69, signalling the parallelism between the American financial corruption during the Gilded Age and Hanno’s expedition of colonialism and plunder. The exit is an exit from hell, similar to the one Pound had sought in canto 15.
“Canto 40 brings together modern tales of commercial chicanery with a condensation of Hanno’s Periplus—a collocation worthy of the Cantos. Both the modern tales and Hanno’s account are followed by the line, ‘Out of which things seeking an exit’. The ‘things’ are the brutality, dishonesty, and violence of commercial exploitation, as old as Carthage, and as new as tomorrow. The exit is to be found in Italy, in its paideuma–now represented by the Monte dei Paschi and Benito Mussolini” (Surette 140-1).
Empyrean – derived from H. ἔμπυρος (empyros)“in fire.” The highest part of heaven, the abode of God, the mystic Rose where celestial beings are of pure light and fire. See Dante’s Paradiso XXXI.
- baily – the enclosed court of a castle.
- Nous – realm of pure ideas in the Neoplatonic philosophy. The nous is the perfect matrix of reality, not accessible to the senses. The Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus is Pound’s most effective help in exiting hell in canto 15. See OCCEP XV: nn. 21-22.
- ineffable crystal – In view of its purity and immutability, Pound chose crystal as metaphor for the experience of the divine. See the finale of canto XXIII where Anchises beholds Aphrodite:
“and saw then, as of waves taking form,
As the sea, hard, a glitter of crystal,
And the waves rising but formed, holding their form.
No light reaching through them.” (XXIII ll. 95-8)
- Karxedonion Basileos – H. “[of the] King of Carthaginians.” As Achilles Fang pointed out, “Karxedonion Basileos” is derived from the title of Hanno’s narrative (“ΑΝΝΩΝΟΣ ΚΑΡΧΗΔΟΝΙΩΝ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΠΕΡΙΠΛΟΥΣ” - “the periplus of Hanno, the king of Carthaginians”). “Basileos” is a genitive and should be replaced by “Basileus”, a nominative (Fang I: 61-2).
- temple – The Phoenician temple to Baal in Carthage where Hanno deposited the tablet recounting his voyage to Africa.