Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Song of Triumph,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), p. 220 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 220:]


This poem, like the preceding “Latin Hymn,” is found in the tale “Epimanes.” The title is from the context. The earliest text, the manuscript (A), has been chosen exceptionally for use here. In all later versions Poe changed the third and fourth lines to read:

Who is king but Epiphanes?

Bravo! — bravo!

and in B and C repeated the first four lines at the end.

Surely the changes were made to please Mrs. Grundy, who might find the king's assertion of his own divinity shocking. But the change spoils the point of the “Song of Triumph,” which is intentionally bathetic but in character for the monarch in whose mouth Poe put it. The Seleucid kings, like their predecessor Alexander the Great, claimed divinity, and more than one assumed the title Theos. The official style of Antiochus IV was Basileus Antiochus Theos Epiphanes: “King Antiochus, divine, illustrious” or “god manifest.” Augustus Caesar permitted himself to be worshiped, but never when he was present. Antiochus IV, like his fellow madman Caligula, is represented here as having no such scruples. The texts are like those listed for the “Latin Hymn.”



Mrs. Grundy is an allusion, and not an actual person. She was created in 1798 by Thomas Morton, for his play “Speed the Plough,” where she does not appear but is frequently invoked by name as a prudish matron of common propriety. She is a good Poe reference as both of Edgar's parents performed in Morton's play.


[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions-The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Song of Triumph)