Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#15 Tarzan Triumphant


R.E. Prindle

Part 5

In The Footsteps Of The Lord


     If anything the action of this novel reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man just as the invasion of Opar brings strong recollections of the last story of Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles.  In the latter all the great fictions of mankind, fairies, ogres, and whatnot have been driven from earth by Reason taking refuge on Mars.  But as the true condition of Mars becomes known their world crumbles and disappears as there is no place in the universe left for them.

     That fate will never overtake Tarzan as he represents very real hopes, dreams and desires of mankind.  Even as the old world and old heaven of the Piscean Age begins to heave and crack as the new Age of Aquarius struggles to come into existence, the archetype of the Age is forming around Tarzan.  Tarzan will emerge triumphant.

     The next two scenes of Burroughs’ tapestry which come to life not unlike the pictures on the tattooed man are as vivid as any scenes Burroughs wrote.  The agony of Gunner Patrick when he awakes to find himself alone is palpable.  There is even an element of tragedy in his situation if one has sympathy for murderous criminals.  Burroughs rather sneers that without his machine gun Patrick is a pathetic figure.  But, while the machine gun represents advanced tochnology man’s prowess has always depended on his weapons, whether they be stones, spears and bows and arrows, an old harquebus or the machine gun or stealth bombers and self-guided blockbusters.  The fellow with the latest model is always top gun on the block.  Without his weapon he is naturally nothing.  Even Tarzan would have been a dead man long before this without his father’s knife.  What makes Gunner Patrick so reprehensible is that he uses his weapon for injustice rather than justice.  Thus without his weapon he is subject to the same injustice he would inflict on others.

     Still, he’s our criminal so we have to take his side.  One would say he is less criminal than the men who stole Jezebel from him except that out there they live by a different lawless code.  As Patrick would say:  They ain’t no cops out there.

     Law is a matter of the strongest; so Tarzan as the strongest and justest will reestablish Law and Order according to his terms.  He acts as the judge and jury which some people with an opposing notion of Law might find offensive or even dangerous to their plans.  How much of a coincidence then is it that in Tarzan’s New York Adventure he is stripped of his status as lawgiver and subsumed to a different legal code?  No coincidence at all in my mind.  The legal decision declaring Tarzan a criminal also showed who was strongest in Hollywood.  In fact, in late 1941 and into ’42  Burroughs had been ousted from Hollywood himself, living in exile in Hawaii.

     The Golden Girl, Jezebel, had been taken into custody by Capietro but Stabutch has eyes for her.  The two men decide to play poker for her, best three out of five.  Strange that an Italian and a Russian should be familiar with the quintessential American card game, but there you have it, they were.

     Stabutch loses but calls Capietro a cheat.

     This scene recalls ERB’s own loss when he and Emma were in transit in Parma, Idaho.  While Emma waited upstairs ERB got cleaned of the couple’s last forty dollars in what may very well have been a crooked game.  I haven’t played poker a lot but I’ve never been in a straight game, so as a stranger in Parma, the odds are that Burroughs’ game was crooked.  He doesn’t say so, of course, but I’d be willing to bet he thought so.  The memory was a horrendous one for ERB; it crops up frequently in the corpus.  My memory of a Navy game is always with me.  In fact, someone I hadn’t seen for forty years brought it up the first thing.  These things are like the scar on Tarzan’s forehead.

     Capietro and Stabutch fight, one out of one, that Stabutch wins.  He then flees with Jezebel.  the Gunner who has been gathering his wits above the scene sees the two ride out the gate.  He follows in pursuit on foot.

     Stabutch and Jezebel put up for the night during which a lion scares their horses away.  Hungry the next day, Stabutch stashes the Golden Girl in a tree while he goes hunting.  Staking out a water hole he is surprised to see Tarzan drinking.  A golden opportunity to accomplish his mission but the strain is too much for his nerves; he misses his shot.  Running as fast as he can, Tarzan following torments his victim with a couple of arrows before, as Stabutch begs for his life, putting an arrow through his throat.  His throat! I was ready for ‘his black heart’ but was surprised by ‘his throat.’  As a probable surrogate for Stalin who sent him, why his throat?  At any rate Tarzan has now completely defeated the Communists; once in Invincible and again here.

     Patrick has been miraculously reunited with Jezebel but now all three are captured by the shiftas.  The outcome is clear.  The faithful Waziri stage a frontal attack on the shifta stockade.  Patrick and Jezebel, who have been bound and left in the same tent, free themselves.  The hard thing Patrick has been lying on turns out to be ‘his better half’, the machine gun.  He then opens up on the shiftas from the rear.   No contest.


     The final picture in the web then, is the successful bringing together of all the threads and strands which began two thousand years previously in an entirely unrelated event, when Paul was martyred in Rome and Angustus fled for the African hinterland bringing his slave girl with him.

      Lord Passmore as it turns out is Tarzan in disguise.  He assumed the identity so as not to arouse suspicion.  So once again Tarzan displays an effeminate side.  A disguise hardly seems necessary for the Big Bwana but as ERB needed the faithful Waziri for the big battle scene finale, perhaps so.

     Tarzan at this point seems to be a solo act; there is no hint of Jane awaiting him back in Kenya.  Lafe Smith and Lady Barbara are brought together.  Thus the bright alter ego of Burroughs is paired up with a member of the English aristocracy who may represent the writer Dorothy Sayers,  perhaps a match ERB would have liked in real life.

     Already three or four years into his affair with Florence, of which surely Emma was aware, one wonders what she thought when she realized she had been written out of the story.  Well, she did turn to drink.

     More interestingly, Burroughs’ dark alter ego, Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick and the Golden Girl, Jezebel are brought together.  He is going to leave Chicago taking Jezebel to somewhere in LA to buy a service station.  A worthy ambition; for some  reason the movie, The Postman Always Rings Twice, pops into my mind.  The screenplay for that movie was written by Raymond Chandler who, for no explicable reason, I associate with Burroughs.  There must be some similarity between Philip Marlowe and Tarzan.  Marlowe did get sapped a lot.  Chandler even turns sapping into an art form.

     In pairing Jezebel/Florence off with his dark side ERB may be hinting at the direction his relationship with Florence will take.  His life with her was certainly different than his life with Emma as he let his hair down and began dressing like quite a dandy, or, perhaps, Lord Passmore.

     On that score, in this novel, Burroughs selects his dark side to take the obligatory bashing.  One wonders then if he attributes this dark side to the bashing in Toronto.  Is he saying that his dark side was the result of the bashing?  Did he begin living some sort of double life some few years after he was laid out?  Was his character even more erratic than it appears?  How much did Emma put up with?

     His emphasis on the notion that every man has two characters that may diverge as did Jekyll and Hyde give reason to think so.  At any rate the following couple years ERB himself would be leading a double life.  As Lafe Smith with Lady Barbara/Emma and as the desperado Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick with his amour Jezebel/Florence Gilbert Dearholt.  Jezebel is certainly appropriately named.

     The next two novels explain his own relationship to Florence and Emma.  Leopard Men, which I have already reviewed, deals with his opting for Florence while City Of Gold deals with his rejection of Emma.  But first some conclusions and organization.

To be concluded in Part 6: Threads and Stands Of The Web


A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs #16

Tarzan And The City Of Gold


R.E. Prindle


Tall, magnificently proportioned, muscled more like Apollo than Hercules,

Garbed only in a narrow G-string of lion skin

With a lion’s tail depending before and behind,

He presented a splendid figure of  primitive manhood

That suggested more, perhaps, the demigod

Of the forest than it did man.

E.R. Burroughs

     This novel follows Tarzan And The Leopard Men in the sequence in which the novels were written.  Ballantine lists it as number sixteen while placing Leopard Men in eighteen in the sequence in which they were published.  In order to understand Burroughs’ psychological development however Leopard Men should be read before City Of Gold.

     The amazing use of symbolism in Leopard Men is continued in City Of Gold.  I am convinced that at this

The Swami

The Swami

time Burroughs was investigating the Indian religion of Vedantism.  Swami Prabhavananda had established a temple in Hollywood at the beginning of the decade which quickly took hold.  The symbolism would be employed by the Vedantists while Burroughs’ interest in symbolism itself was piqued.  Shortly after this novel ERB purchased a 1932 volume entitled The Scientific Dream Book And Dictionary Of Dream Symbols by one Johnathan B. Westerfield.  Thus ERB was investigating the psychological origin of his dreams.  The man was trying hard.

     It is clear that this sequence of novels is heavily influenced by Homer, especially by his Odyssey.  Homeric motifs run all through these five novels while as Doctor Hermes and David Adams have pointed out Burroughs uses the Athenian monetary unit, the drachma, as the currency of Cathne.

     A third probable source would be from the Legends Of Charlemagne volume of Bulfinch’s Mythology.  In the last Bulfinch tells of a City Of Gold in which an enchantress keeps the paladins of Charlemagne captive.  That story seems to be based on Homer’s story of Circe and Odysseus, or Ulysses in the Roman telling, so Burroughs combines both stories in his own enchantress, Nemone, of his City Of Gold.  One may take the City Of Gold to be the Sacred City of the Iliad.

     The rival kingdoms of Cathne and Athne- my spell check just pointed out to me that Athne respelled is Athen which is very close to Athene or Athens- have Greek sounding names reinforcing the Homeric connection.

     While the sexual symbolism of Leopard Men is dark and brooding placed in a swamp not unlike the Lernean Swamp of Greek mythology in which Heracles fought the furious female Hydra, The City Of Gold is much brighter and airier, more intellectual than the darker urges of the subconscious.

     Having now read many of the Tarzan novels four-five and even six times I am astonished at how well they maintain their freshness from reading to reading.  Rather than weary me, each reading is a fresh experience that opens a whole new vista of possibilities.  The more I seem to understand of what I’m reading the more signficance the words have as the story seems to rise from the page to form concrete living images, as it were.

     In this novel expecially I am impressed by the pacing, the effort put into preparing the scenes and the masterly execution in which each word assumes its independent value almost as though ERB had put as much care into word selection as, say, the poet Tennyson.  Of course we all know ERB read Tennyson as well as other verse and poetry while also being familiar with song lyrics.  Thus while writing prose he is able to maintain a poetic intensity.

     The opening scene is an excellent example of his skill.  Tarzan is out hunting when he is spotted by some shiftas.  He’s in Ethiopia at the end of the rainy season.  We aren’t told why he is there but he has commanded Nkima and Jad-Bal-Ja to stay home.  As a corollary, just before he leaves Emma two years later he will take a solo vacation to the mountains of Arizona.  The spatial arrangement conveyed in this scene is that of Tarzan between the shiftas and the prey he is hunting.  While he is silently stalking the prey the shiftas are more noisily stalking him.  The movement of the shiftas which can be seen by the prey but not by Tarzan who has his back to them is caught by the prey who looks past Tarzan to the shiftas.  Tarzan noticing the prey looking beyond him also looks back to spot the shiftas stalking him.

     The spatial concepts involved are astonishing while three views of time are also evident.  I only picked up on this aspect with my fifth reading.  My interest was thus piqued and heightened so that the novel took on an entirely new aspect.  The scene as written is so well paced and spaced that it made a vignette I’m sure I shall never forget, while I now long to duplicate such a scene in my own writing.

     The patient lulling slow pace of Tarzan’s hunt was now broken.  As Tarzan’s quarry fled, the action between Tarzan and the shiftas became fast, furious and frenzied, while the sexual symbolism bursts into one’s consciousness.

     As the shiftas bear down upon him Tarzan realizes that he cannot escape by running.  If he could have he would have because as Burrughs never tires of noting there is no disgrace in running from a force majeure.  Instead Tarzan shot arrows among the the shiftas.  Than as a shifta bore down on him lance leveled:

There could be no retreat for Tarzan; there could be no sidestepping to avoid the thrust, for a step to either side would have carried him in front of one of the other horsemen.  He had but a slender hope for survival, and that hope forlorn though it appeared, he seized upon with the celerity, strength and agility that make Tarzan Tarzan.  Slipping his bow string about his neck after his final shot, he struck up the point of the menacing weapon of his antagonist, and grasping the man’s arm swung himself to the horse’s back behind the rider.

     Abilities like that make Tarzan Tarzan and I’m sure such a feat could be done in reality as in the imagination although possibly not if Tarzan had had the bunchy muscles of the professional strongman.  Smooth ones flowing beneath the skin like molten metal are undoubtedly a prerequisite.

     Dispatching the shifta Tarzan is now symbolically seated on a horse.  The horse directly plunges into a river to swim to the other side.  In mid-stream the horse and rider are attacked by a crocodile that Tarzan kills or disables.  Emerging from the river Tarzan gallops into a forest where he abandons the horse for the security of the trees.

     There in a short passage we have a wealth of symbolism that tells in a few paragraphs what ERB could have developed in many chapter if told in straight prose.

     The horse is a symbol of the female.  Thus Tarzan as Animus is symbolically united with his Anima.  the horse plunges into the river which is also a female symbol representing the waters of the unconscious.  Still mounted Tarzan is in the conscious sphere above water while the horse is submerged in the subconscious.  The crocodile also a female symbol representing the greedy, devouring, emasculating aspect of the female attacks.  The horse turns upstream in an attempt to flee the croc.  Tarzan strings his bow firing an arrow, as a masculine symbol, into the  crocodile’s mouth disabling it thus escaping the disabling aspect of the feminine while with strange violence sending the arrow down the throat.  One has to think about these things.

     The horse scrambles up on the opposite bank signifying a change in life, then gallaps into the forst of the subconscious where one goes in search of oneself.  The forest here is the same as all those underground mazes in Burrough’s corpus.

     Once in the forest Tarzan abandons the horse, or Anima for the security of the trees where he is above it all.  Apparently there is a deep cleavage between his Animus and Anima.  Now begins a very strange encounter.  Burroughs apparently felt he left something of himself on the other side of the river so he goes back for it.

     Coming upon the camp of the shiftas he notices that they have a bound captive.  As this appears to be what he returned for one can only speculate that the bound captive is an aspect of himself.  Perhaps the captive represents his marriage to Emma in which he is in the bonds of matrimony wishing to escape them.  Tarzan takes action.  At this point Burroughs offers this rather remarkable passage describing the Ape-Man.  p. 15:

It was difficult for Tarzan to think of himself as a man, and his psychology was more often that of the wild beast than the human, nor was he particularly proud of his species.  While he appreciated the intellectual superiority of man over other creatures, he harbored contempt for him because he had wasted the greater part of his inheritance.  To Tarzan, as to many other created things, contentment is the highest ultimate goal of achievement, health and culture the principal avenues along which man may approach this goal.  With scorn the ape-man viewed the overwhelming majority of mankind which was wanting in one essential or the other, when not wanting in both.  He saw the greed, the selfishness, the cowardice, and the cruelty of man; and, in view of man’s vaunted mentality, he knew that these characteristics  placed man upon a lower spiritual scale than the beasts, while barring him eternally from the goal of contentment.

     In the above quote ERB outlines the central problem of mankind.  In the evolution of mankind from beast to homo sapiens the much vaunted mentality of HS has failed to make the transition from the pure mentality of the beast to that of, essentially, the god.  In orther words his origins are dragging him back as he tries to make the leap to the next stage of evolution and development.

     While having a godlike intelligence rather than using it to elevate himself above primal desires as the direction of the nineteenth century was going, in the early twentieth century Freud undercut the drive to perfection dragging mankind back down to primal desires.  This is Freud’s great crime for which he should be burned in his effigy of Satan once a year in a great world wide holiday.  Thus as Man uses his intelligence to get at the root of things, and I think we’re very close to understanding all, Man’s primal desires lapsing back into the ‘unconscious’ of Freud, and make no mistake the current conception of the unconscious is of Freuds’ personal devising, devise even more fiendish ways of evil as that knowledge increases.  Thus rather than aspiring toward a spiritual contentment Man chooses to give in to desires that lower him beneath the hyena.

     Thus Tarzan, who has attained spiritual contentment, and become godlike, looks with scorn and contempt on the humanity of his fellows preferring to think of himself as a ‘spiritually pure’ beast.

     While this attitude is a theme throughout the oeuvre and the corpus as a whole perhaps this rant was sharpened by the developing difficulties at MGM.  Shortly after this was written Tarzan, The Ape Man hit the screens scrambling ERB’s vision of Tarzan forever.  The screen Tarzan has no intellect.  In the movie Tarzan’s Desert Adventure Boy even has to read Jane’s letter to him.

     On his way to the shifta camp the ever present Numa is between him and the desperadoes.  Taking to the trees of the forest to pass over Numa he spots a strangely garbed man in the shifta camp.  Still smarting because he lost his quarry and operating on the primitive logic that since the shiftas had deprived him of dinner it would only be right to deprive them of something they wanted, he decides to free the captive.

     He was about to fail in his attempt when the ever present Numa saves his skin by attacking the shifta camp.  In the confusion Tarzan and the prisoner escape.  The man turns out to be an Athnean named Valthor.  Having escaped they must put up for the night.  Sheeta the panther is abroad.  As David Adams is wont to point out, for Burrough Sheeta is a sexual symbol, so the next scene has strong homoerotic overtones.

     The question is who does Valthor represent.  He is curiously vague in personality.  As Burroughs was obsessed with the Jekyll and Hyde notion at this time I suspect that Valthor is an aspect of Burroughs’ own personality with some sort of relation to Tarzan as Jekyll to Hyde.  Valthor’s life is saved as Sheeta leaps for him so that one feels he may be related in some way to Stanley Obroski, another alter ego of Tarzan, who will actually die in the succeeding novel, Tarzan And The Lion Man.

     In this novel, in putting up for the night, Tarzan with his superior junglecraft, finds a tree where two horizontal branches fork.  He cuts some smaller limbs to form a pallet for himself for the night.  He had eaten but he is unconcerned whether the able bodied Valthor has eaten or not.  Tarzan does not hunt for other men.  If he hadn’t already eaten he would have made a kill and shared the abundance.

     Valthor lies down on the ground.  Sheeta is watching silently.  So silently even Tarzan does not hear him breathe, until readying himself to springs, he quietly brushed a leaf or two.  Tarzan hears for his ears are not as yours or mine.  As Sheeta launches himself on Valthor Tarzan shouts a warning while rolling from the pallet to descend on Sheeta’s back.

     Now, this scene replicates a similar scene in Beasts Of Tarzan when Tarzan leaps on Sheeta’s back in midair as she was about to leap on the ape, Akut.  I hadn’t thought of homoerotic overtones between Akut and Tarzan but they may be there.  It may be signficant that Akut later became the mentor of young Jack Clayton otherwise known as Korak The Killer.

     In the instance of Akut, the ape became sort of a vassal of Tarzan, while in this story Tarzan and Valthor become fast friends although the relationship is one of superior to inferior- Batman to Robin.  After killing Sheeta, Tarzan takes a more motherly attitude toward Valthor, making a bed for him in the tree because he knew Numa was prowling the forest.  That undoubtedly he knew that before was he leaving Valthor for Numa?

     They awoke in the morning.  p. 26:

Nearby, the other man sat up and looked about him.  His eyes met Tarzan’s and he smiled and nodded.  For the first time the ape-man had an opportunity to examine his new acquaintance by daylight.  The man had removed his single garment for the night, covering himself with leaves and branches.  Now as he arose, his only garment was a G-string and Tarzan saw six feet of well muscled, well proportioned body topped by a head that seemed to bespeak breeding and intelligence.  The wild beast in Tarzan looked into the brown eyes of the stranger and was staisfied that here was one who might be trusted.

     Not exactly a description of love at first sight but a definite tinge of homoeroticism.  Brown eyes.  In fact Tarzan and Valthor become fast friends.  Quickly learning each other’s language by the point and name system, or at least, Tarzan learning Valthor’s language, they are soon chatting away amiably.

     Valthor comes from the mountains but after they wander around for a week he admits he is lost.  Tarzan gets the general direction then setting out in a bee line.  Their goal is the huge extinct volcano, Xarator, which they soon locate.  Just as Leopard Men was cast in the erotic swamps of the feminine as Old Timer lusted and panted after Kali Bwana so The City Of Gold  is located in a valley high in the mountains where heaven and earth meet and the cold incisive intellect works best.  Tarzan is not going to lust; like brave Ulysses he is going to resist the sexual blandishments of his Circe, Nemone.

     Both City Of Gold and Tarzan Triumphant take place near or in volcanos so the volcano must link the two stories.  The extent of emotion involved in this one is indicated by the atmospheric conditions as the two men enter the valley.  Compare this scene with that of Tarzan The Invincible when Tarzan and La leave Opar.  the symbolism is ferocious.

     The scene is set in the mountains of Ethiopa.  The rainy season is about to end but the last and most furious storm of the season bursts on the two.  It seems certain here that Valthor is another aspect of Burroughs’ Animus in the Jekyll-Hyde sense.  In this case the two are not so widely divergent as Jekyll and Hyde but are closer in aspects .  Tarzan is still definitely superior and Valthor inferior.

     Athne and Cathne are twin cities in the valley but they have to pass through Cathne- The City Of Gold which is to say perfection- to get to Athne.  Athneans are Elephant men while Cathneans are Lion Men.  As the two begin to cross the valley the great storm breaks.  The storm no doubt symbolizes that storm feared by Burroughs of actually separating himself from Emma, certainly one of the most difficult thing he would ever have to do.

     The separation must have been terrific internal trauma so that ERB kept putting it off rather than face it.  One imagines that as in a situation like this Florence was continually asking him when he was going to tell Emma.  It would be another two years before he could force himself to make the break.  It is significant that just before he left he took a leave of absence from Emma returning to Arizona where, as here, he stayed in the mountains, the White Mountains of the Apaches.  Thus his time in the Army must have had more significance for him than we credit.  He must have thought, as miserable as he appeared to be, that those were the happiest days of his life.

     In Cathne the rains came down.  This was the mother of all storms.  Between the thunder, lightning and literal sheets of rain the two were severed from all reality.  They were walking ankle deep along the road.  Once again they have to cross a stream.  ERB has seen such a stream in Arizona, so this whole situation seems to be recalled by his Army days.  Actually the nine months he spent in Arizona was a fairly rainy period of fourteen inches.  In February 1897, I believe, four and half inches fell probably in one stormy period.  ERB records a stream that became a raging torrent in his last Western novel.  To some extent then he was writing from experience but already thinking of the good old days before he married.

     As hard as it was raining in Cathne the river should have been unfordable but art has its demands.

     Valthor knowing the ford begins to lead Tarzan across.  He gets too far ahead.  Tarzan in his uncertainty misses a step being swept away by the flood.  He is now in the possession of the waters of the feminine, that is, his female problems, just barely able to get his breath.  He is swept from side to side by the violent action of the waters, tumbled head over heels, but he keeps his mental presence.  There is a great waterfall ahead of him which threatens certain death.  The symbolism should be clear.  In a last ditch effort Tarzan catches a rock hauling himself from the water, if I am correct, on the same side of the river, in other words, Emma.  He doesn’t cross which is symbolically important.  Refer that back to the earlier crossing in which he actually crosses but then returns.

     Gathering his senses about him he sees some lights, going to investgate.  He unwittingly stumbles into Nemone’s garden.  Out of the frying pan, into the fire so to speak.

     Brave Ulysses has found his Circe.


     The scent of the big cats fills this book.  Already Sheeta and Numa have had nearly equal billing with Tarzan and Valthor; now lions are given prominence.  Now Tarzan emerges from the flood, which symbolizes a major life change, into the land of lions and lion worship.  the ownership of lions is a mark of distinction in Cathne, Cahtnean chariots are even drawn by lions which brings to mind the chariots of goddesses like Cybele, Harmonia and Cadmus.  Nemone will promise to reward Tarzan with three hundred lions, apparently an incredible number making him the top Lion Man.  Remember the next novel Tarzan And The Lion Man will continue the theme.

     Continuing an old theme from Tarzan And The Golden Lion a lion is even the god of Cathne.  The symbol of Nemone’s Animus is a great black maned male lion named Belthar.  The novel will devolve into a battle between Nemone’s lion, Belthar, and Tarzan’s lion, Jad-Bal-Ja.  Also continuing an old device employed in Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar by the jewels and in Tarzan And The Ant Men by Tarzan’s locket this story is unified by the image of a great lion drawing ever nearer to Tarzan.  So amid all these lions is the true Lion Man, Tarzan’s personal lion.  His own guardian animal.

     It does seem clear that ERB associates the big cats with sexuality.

     ERB is building this story very carefully with great attention to spacing and pacing.  Captured by the

Gordon Scott As Tarzan

Gordon Scott As Tarzan

Cathneans ERB takes care to ingratiate the Big Bwana with the troops.  He has Tarzan and the Cathnean soldiers enter into a spirit of camaraderie as he introduces them to and instructs them in the use of the bow.  Nemone is instroduced but seems to take little notice of the Big Guy condemning him to fight in the arena.

     Taken to a prison cell he and we are introduced at some length and in some detail to a character named Phobeg.  Phobeg is billed as the strongest man in Cathne.

     ERB devotes an amazing amount of space to his confrontation between Phobeg and Tarzan.  His development of such a minor character is unusual.  I think what we have here is a confrontation between Tarzan and the actual man who inspired Burroughs to create Tarzan, the man who was the physical basis of the Lion Man.  Phobeg can be no other than the first important body builder in the world- The Great Sandow.  Just as in Tarzan The Magnificent Burroughs takes care to indicate that Tarzan has now replaced H.M. Stanley as the symbol of Africa, so here he puts down ‘the strongest man in the world’ in favor of his hero.

     Sandow (1867-1925) had died a few years earlier.  While other muscle men had replaced Sandow, most notably Charles Atlas, Burroughs was still obsessed by the man he had seen at the Columbian Expo of 1893.  It would seem certain that ERB occasionally picked up a copy of Physical Culture Magazine to keep up on the latest builds.  He couldn’t have missed the memorial copy devoted to Sandow, the greatest and still the greatest of the body builders.  The award given to Mr. Olympia is called the Sandow.

     While bowled over by the strongman, and strongmen, ERB was always offended by the bunchy muscles created by body building.  he repeatedly makes allusions to strongmen throughout the corpus while Tarzan himself is both the antithesis and the perfection of the strongman.  That is why Tarzan has smooth muscles flowing like molten metal beneath his skin while in this case Phobeg as a Sandow surrogate has the knotted muscles of the body builder.

     If Burroughs found Sandow’s build offensive he would have gone apoplectic at the most recent champions who seems to have developed musculature as far as it can go.  Unlike builders like Charles Atlas, Gordon Scott or Arnold Schwarzenegger who aspired to the Apolline figure, Ronnie Coleman and his successor Jay Cutler have opted for muscle upon muscle until there  is nothing but muscle with no attention to a human shape.  As an example check out Jay Cutler the current Mr. Olympia and holder of the Sandow at  This guy is only 5’9″ but bulks up at 320 lbs., paring down to 275 for performance.  And that is literally all muscle.  One look at Cutler and ERB would have been foaming at the mouth

     Just as Sandow was billed as the strongest man in the world, so Phobeg is billed as the strongest man in

Jay Cutler In Full Pump

Jay Cutler In Full Pump

Cathne.  ERB makes him a braggart in relation to Tarzan but if he was the strongest man in Cathne he had little reason to respect Tarzan’s physique which was more like ‘Apollo than Hercules.’  Tarzan’s strength though greater than Phobeg’s was disguised.

     At they are to fight each other to the death in the arena this allows Burroughs to introduce another of his interests which may be related, that of professional wrestling.  Burroughs had Tarzan jokingly suggest that they stage the fight much as professional wrestlers.  Burroughs who still attended the matches was disgusted becasue the matches were pure entertainment, something he should have applauded.  Then as now the professional wrestling matches were staged.  Professional wrestling then as now has more to do with entertainment than sport.  Either you can get caught up in the fun and drama or you can’t.  ERB obviously did although as he still thought of the shows as wrestling he felt put upon.

     After several pages of Phobeg’s bragging and Tarzan’s false humility the ‘really big shoo’ begins.  Tarzan and Phobeg are the last act on the program and they would have been a difficult act to follow.

     ERB must have loved this part as the lenghty description of the gambling taking place is many times more detailed that he usually is.  Whether the gambling aspect went on at the wrestling matches he attended or not, I don’t know.  The odds naturally are for Phobeg, whose Cathnean reputation is immense and accurate as concerns the past.  Everyone expects the inveterate gambler Nemone to bet on the sure thing as was her custom.  They hedged their bets when they could at fantastic odds.  Nemone then surprised them by betting on Tarzan.  Nearly bankrupted the whole coterie of Lion Men.

     Tarzan wins of course but refusing to kill Phobeg he instead does his trademark thing lifting Phobeg above his head and tossing him into the stands at Nemone’s feet.  Now that is one hard act to follow.

     Having now won his liberty, a lion man named Gemnon is assigned custodian of Tarzan taking him under his wing.  Up to this point there seems to be no reference to contemporary affairs except for Sandow and wrestling.  At this point ERB displays a numerous and surprising set of literary references.

Go To Tarzan And The City Of Gold part two. 



A Review

Themes And Variations

The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

#18 Tarzan And The Lion Man

No. 9 of 10 parts


R.E. Prindle

First published on the ezine, ERBzine

Conclusions And Prospectus


     A careful reading of the output of the ’30s reveals a developing antagonism, war if you will, between the Communists, the Jews and ERB.  The attempt to shut down non-Communist writers appears to have been extended to ERB, forcing him into self-publishing in 1930 with Tarzan The Invincible being the first title.  this was followed by its sequel Tarzan Triumphant.

     The two titles would seem to indicate he met that challenge successfully.

     Then in a seemingly unrelated event MGM released the movie version of Trader Horn in 1931.  Trader Horn seems to have led MGM to sign Burroughs on for his Tarzan character shortly after the movie’s release.  MGM would then go on to film six Tarzan features over a ten or eleven year period from 1932 to 1942.  All the movies were profitable yet after the release of Tarzan’s New York Adventure MGM sold a stellar property to the Sol Lesser Company even allowing Johnny Weissmuller and Sheffield to go with the sale.  O’ Sullivan chose to abandon the series.

     The entire MGM series used Trader Horn footage transferring it to the Tarzan series as Tarzan’s home base.  Over the years they incorporated scenes relying on Tarzan And The Leopard Men and Tarzan And The Lion Man.  It would appear they sudied the series closely.  Compare this description of Lady Barbara Collis’s flight in Tarzan Triumphant with the scene used twice in MGM movies of the plane approaching the Escarpment.  Triumphant, p. 10:

…and when there loomed suddenly close to the tip of her left wing a granite escarpment that was lost immediately above and below her in the all eveloping vapor…

     There can be little doubt that the intent was to defame the character of Tarzan with the release of Tarzan, The Ape Man, first of the series.  Ten years later in Tarzan’s New York Adventure he is still the ignorant lout he was as the feral boy of the first film after having been the ‘mate’ of the seemingly well bred, well read, intelligent Jane played by Maureen O’ Sullivan.  After ‘finding’ a son in 1939, three years later, ‘Boy’, as he was generically named, speaks intelligently and is able to write a note telling his mother he will be gone for a day.  At the same time Tarzan is still going around speaking pidgin English like ‘Tarzan kill’ or ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane.’  There’s a guy who isn’t even listening to Jane talk to him.  I personally find this amazing.  The question then is why didn’t MGM develop the character in a more intelligent manner.

     Also, the question arises as to why the character wasn’t made a profit center for MGM as Charlie Chan was for Twentieth Century Fox.  As Burroughs notes in ‘Writer’s Markets And Methods’ in 1938 in reference to the Chan movies, the public was hungry for the serialization of popular characters during the thirties.  There were nearly fifty Charlie Chan films made, some years at a clip of four.  The astonishingly strong and continuing appeal of Tarzan would certainly have justified the attept to produce two or more a year.  Certainly an annual film.  After assuming the license from MGM beginning in 1943 Lesser released a film a year in a very profitable manner.  So, as he found plenty of ideas the argument that MGM exhausted the story potential of the character doesn’t hold up.  Something else was going on.

     That something else was the role of Burroughs as an anti-Communist and in Jewish eyes, an anti-Semite.

     It is important to have an idea of the Jewish role in history as they are invariably in antagonism to the citizens of their host country.  One need look no further for an explanation than the Old Testament story of Cain and Abel.  The story encapsulates the Jewish attitude toward the other peoples of the world.

         The story involves God or in other words, a higher authority, Abel who becomes the the higher authority’s favorite and Cain who is rejected by the higher authority.  Abel presents his offering to God or the higher authority and Cain his.  Abel’s offering is an exploitation of the natural increase of the flocks.  In other words cattle do all the labor while Abel harvests them.  Cain labors in the fields offering the produce of his labor which is rejected as unworthy.

     Once the higher authority chooses the offering of Abel he makes him his favorite.  Abel then lords it over Cain who quite naturally resents this.  Cain then invites Abel into the field where he kills him.  Eh voila!  The origins of Semitism and anti-Semitism.  The problem of anti-Semitism is solved.

     Now, the Jews will compulsively repeat the story of Cain and Abel after the Freudian manner endlessly over the millennia as the story is encoded in their brains.

     Now for the application.  In 1995, BenZion Netanyahu published his mammoth volume titled, The Origins Of The Inquisition In Fifteenth Century Spain.  BenZion is the father of Benyimin the former Prime Minister of Israel.  Mr. Netanyahu’s large sized, eleven hundred pages, book investagates the problem in excruciating and verbose detail.  Mr. Netanyahu chats on interminably in an attempt to deny the obvious.  It’s as though he believes that if he talks long enough the truth will go away.

     Mr. Netanyahu notes that in every instance over the last twenty-five hundred years the Jews have at first been warmly received by the host nation only to have this affection turn to such a hatred over a period of time that the Jews are either killed or thrown out.  He examines the problem in fifteenth century Spain.  His conclusion is that the cattle, or anti-Semites as he styles them, are at fault while his Jews are as blameless as Abel.  Thus he avoids answering the question of why this is the invariable result of Jewish cohabitation in a society.

     For Jewish historians there are two versions of Jewish history.  One is the annals of the Jews and the other is the history of anti-Semites.  This is how the Jews organize their story.  Any thing critical of Judaism automatically falls into the category of the History of anti-Semitism.  One of the most persistent objections to Judaism over the last twenty-five hundred years is that the Jews see the non-Jews or Cainites as cattle meant to contribute to Jewish welfare.  Even though the idea is clearly contained in the story of Cain and Abel the Jews have always considered the charge what they call an anti-Semitic slur.  However Mr. Netanyahu describes the system perfectly in his overlong essay.  This isn’t history. This is one long whine.

     Skipping a repetitious millennium or two let us skip along with Mr. Netanyahu to fifteenth century Spain.

     Our author erroneously established the origins of anti-Semitism in the Hellenic and Roman periods of the Middle East.  He chose to completely ignore the blueprint of Semitism and anit-Semitism as presented in the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis, the first book of the Bible.  For him he has the inexplicable paradox of every people warmly receiving the Jews into their midst while after a period of time universally and brutally rejecting them.  He appears to be genuinely so obtuse as to be unable to understand this.

     The history of the Jews in Spain goes back at least to the Roman transportation to Spain after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.

     While the usual tradition of the Jewish historian, Heinrich Graetz and others, is to portray the Spain before the expulsion as an idyllic sojourn in ‘The Land Of The Three Religions,’ Mr. Netanyahu presents a picture of cultural conflict under the Visigothic kings down to the expulsion.

     Of course the Moslems occupied Spain from c. 700AD until they were completely expelled in +1492.  The Reconquest began almost immediately, while by c. +1100  when Mr. Netanyahu reaches the beginning of his central story was successful over most of Spain.  Following the scenario of Cain and Abel the Jews were able to insinuate themselves into the role of middlemen between the kings of the various kingdoms, or higher authorities, and the indigenous Spaniards, or cattle who Mr. Netanyahu disparages as Christians as though the conflict were of a religious nature rather than a cultural one.  Spain was a multi-cultural society that functioned as all multi-cultural societies must until one culture establishes itself as the Top Dog.

     We have the classic situation of the Abelites farming their Cainites as  a human herd of cattle.  The cattle produce the wealth, the middlemen reap the harvest.  Thus the kings appointed the Jews tax collectors and tax farmers.

     There is no more vicious or unopular job than that of tax collector.  Even today when governmental functions are institutionalized and no longer personal the resistance is still strong.  The Jews had the advantage of segregating themselves as a distinct culture so that they escaped the opprobrium they would have felt if they had been native tax farmers living amongst their brethren.

     In the nature of tax farming per se there is no reason to believe that the Jews were any more honest or gentle than any other tax farmers.  Exploiting their human cattle as tax farmers the Jews then dug deeper by acting as loan sharks after having expropriated the wealth of the Spaniards as taxes.  Interest or usury as it was called was forbidden the faithful by the Catholic Church so miraculously, almost, the loan sharks had the field to themselves, not ever a shard of competition.  And they took advantage of it.  So for roughly two or three hundred years the Jews exploited their human kine unmercifully.  Mr. Netanyahu acknowledges this although with a different characterization.

     As Abel exploited his position as favorite of God with Cain who, becoming exasperated, killed Abel so in 1391 driven past their endurance the Spanish cattle rose up, as Mr. Netanyahu puts it, to virtually exterminate the Jewish population.  As exaggeration no doubt.  Mr. Netanyahu virtually equates the uprising with the Stalin-Hitler period in Central and Eastern Europe.

     In the interests of brevity we will now skip another four hundred years or so to the post-Revolutionary period of 1913 to the present.  The story was the same in every society the Jews infiltrated; one of expulsion or slaughter during this intervening period.  There is no aberration in history over the period from 1913 to 1945; it is all a continuation of the Abel and Cain story; Semitism and its inevitable reaction.  Underline the word inevitable.  The United States will not be immune to this reaction.

     From 1300 to the French Revolution Jews had been expelled from every Western European country while being placed under civil disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe.  The French Revolution reestablished opportunities for them.  They quickly reestablished their role as middlemen.

     By the time of the Revolution State functions had been depersonalized and institutionalized.  The law of fiat by the king had been replaced by the ‘Rule of Law.’  Thus, while individual rulers who remained goyim were still important, they functioned under the higher authority of the ‘Law.’  The term Majesty indicates the concept of The Law had replaced the Royal authority.

     Thus to regain their position of middlemen Jews had to subvert the Law.  This has been all but completely accomplished in our own time.  In the interim between 1913 and 1953, actually, the Jews fully exasperated their Central and Eastern European host States, thus during the Stalin-Hitler period from 1928 to 1953 Nazis and Communists took the psychological solution of inviting Abel out into the field and killing him.  Both Stalin and Hitler began to systematically exterminate the Jews.  This should surprise no one familiar with the Cain and Abel story and history.

     Stalin was assassinated on the eve of the execution of the order to round up Eastern European Jews for transportation to the gulags in the far North.  Not only a virtual but an actual death sentence.  Thus the Jews in Europe would have been all but destroyed.

     I hope this is suffiecient background for us to now return to the story of Burroughs, Tarzan, MGM and the Judaeo-Communists of Hollywood.

     it is an accepted fact today that the various national CPs were all 50 to 60% Jewish.  Insofar as Jewish Cultural ends coincided with Communist goals, which were not entirely synonymous, all Jews may be said to be Communist sympathizers.  After the establishment of Israel in 1948 a rift occurred between the two cultural factions that resulted in a rejection of the Jews by the Communists.

     We know that ERB became suspect as an anti-Semite after 1919 and I suspect a confirmed one in AJC/ADL eyes, at least by 1924’s Marcia Of  The Doorstep, reinforced by Tarzan Triumphant a few years later.  :Little is known of ERB’s attitude toward the Jews before 1919.  He must have been aware of the Jewish presence in Chicago.

     Gus Russo in his volume Supermob describes their arrival in Chicago in this manner. p. 4:

     This community…was centered around the intersection of Halsted and Maxwell Streets, where the population was 90% Jewish.  Over the next twenty years (after 1871) an estimated fifty-five thousand Eastern European Jewish immigrants crowded into this tiny locus.  So dense had this ghetto become that one social scientist determined that if the rest of the city were similarly clotted, Chicago would boast, instead of two million residents, over thirty-two million people, half the population of the entire country.

     We know that ERB was familiar with the area because Billy Byrne, the Mucker, came from the area, so ERB must have observed the Jewish community in this habitat.  With further arrivals that brought the Jewish population of Chicago to 350,000 the area of Lawndale was colonized.

     Hollywood in the thirties was rapidly changing.  (When wasn’t Los Angeles rapidly changing?)  Beginning in the thirties a remendous influx of revolutionary and conspiratorial Jews arrived from Germany, especially after 1933.  At the same time the Outfit began to annex California as its own crime colony.  As part of this organized crime influx came the generation of Jews from Lawndale in Chicago as the so-called financial wizards of the Chicago Outfit.  Thus the whole charater of LA Burroughs knew from the teens and twenties changed much for the worse.  It will be remembered that ERB was a neighbor of the Sicilian mobster Johnny Roselli in the late thirties while gangsters became prominent in his work beginning with Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick of Tarzan Triumphant and the assassins of The Swords Of Mars.

     As far as I know ERB was too discreet to discuss his opinions of Jews other than what can be gleaned fromt the novels.  It does seem clear that he knows who he was dealing with.

     We know he was an anti-Communist which was enough to have him shut down as an author, while it is probable that the Jews considered him an anti-Semite which is another reason for him to be brought into line.  The means of doing this was to control him economically while subverting his character of Tarzan.  It was a fairly easy matter to break him financially, but the strength of the appeal of Tarzan was such and the means applied so covert, that when MGM gave up after Tarzan’s New York Adventure the ape man had been too strong for them.

     So, when the string of six MGM Tarzans began in 1932 the intent was to diminish Tarzan to a laughing stock, but the character was too much for them while the movies became extremely profitable.  Even then the Studio abandoned the lucrative series in 1942.  This is inexplicable unless something is going on behind the scenes.

     For the next essay I am going to concentrate on the last of the MGM movies, Tarzan’s New York Adventure primarily because it seems to be directly related to the situation around Tarzan And The Lion Man.  It is highly improbable that Lion Man was not read by those involved with this project at MGM.   They must therefore have reacted to it.  The novel very likely has concealed messages that escape us but which they would have picked up.  The movies also have concealed messages which were directed at Burroughs.  If I am right Tarzan’s New York Adventure is a lecture tha was directed at the old Lion Man, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Go to part 10 of 10 Tarzan’s Excellent New York Adventure