The Innocents Abroad - Chapter 43


The Innocents Abroad - Chapter 43
Patriarchal Customs—Magnificent Baalbec—Description of the Ruins—Scribbling Smiths and Joneses—Pilgrim Fidelity to the Letter of the Law—The Revered Fountain of Baalam's Ass

The attached letter, Number 29, was used by Twain in both this chapter and in chapter 45. The first two sections, a description of a Syrian village and the story of Nimrod were used in chapter 45 along with the final paragraph about his second horse of the journey, Baalbec. The section on the ruins of Baalbec (not the horse) were used in this chapter. Of particular interest, to me anyway, is Twain's discussion of the quality of mercy and how it is distinguished in issues of the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. In this case, in the keeping of the Sabbath.


Help Produce Mark Twain Videos



Submitted by scott on

Ian Strathcarron wonders why Baalbek (Baalbec) was included in the Quaker City Excursion tour as it was not a Christian site but was the Roman Empire's "most sacred site of pagan worship". But then Twain did not know it was Roman and could not imagine how it could have been built by mere humans. "The Temples of Jupiter and Bacchus are still standing, just about, and the one to Venus still has its substructure in place. The Temple to Mercury, built on an adjacent hill, has all but disappeared. Later local gods were incorporated into the worship there."

Strathcarron goes on to remark that 30 years after Twain's visit "Kaiser Wilhelm II visited the site and, like everyone before and since, was overwhelmed by the scale of the endeavor. He bought permission from the Ottoman Sultanate to excavate the site, a task since taken over by teams from France as a part of the spoils of the First World War."

According to Strathcarron, the site has been used for worship since 9000 BC, Alexander the Great passed through in the mid 330s BC and the Greco-Roman construction began. Two hundred years later Pompey ordered the greatest amount of building on the site. "The temples took 120 years to build and were only finished when Nero was emperor, in around 60 AD."

He also notes that what Twain called The Temple of the Sun is now known as the Grand Court and what he called the Temple of Jupiter is now know as the Temple of Bacchus.

Submitted by scott on

12 Sept SLC and companions broke camp, 6:30 a.m., and stayed that night in the Lebanon valley at Temnin el Foka, near Zahlah, about two-thirds of the way between Beirut and Baalbek.
13 Sept SLC and companions broke camp, 6:30 a.m., visited Baalbek, returned south, and camped that night at Sirghāyā.