Jump to content
deuce

The "Stone Pillars at Auteuil": Mythos Fun in Paris

Recommended Posts

deuce

OK, here's what I'm talking about, quoted from Medusa's Coil (HPL and Bishop):

 

 

"Or perhaps it makes you think of the Roodmas dance around the stone pillars at Auteuil. Hell, how you used to make those goggle-eyed yaps stare!"

 

So, did HPL have any basis for those "stone pillars"?

 

Here is a great link to wino wackiness in the Paris suburbs:

 

http://www.parisvoice.com/guides/636-paris-qsecretq-vineyards

 

The hills of Montmartre seem to have some sort of megalithic connection. There is also the Basilica of St Denis.

 

Was Lovecraft making it up or confusing Auteuil for Montmartre?

 

Was it some other "Auteuil" altogether? It doesn't appear so from the context.

 

montmartre-at-night-paris.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JeffErwin

Possibly the two stone columns at the Porte St-Cloud, originally erected for the 1937 exhibition at Auteuil? The story is from 1939 (but could date to 1937 - indeed would have to, actually).

 

Here's a picture: http://polo-deepdelver.eklablog.com/auteuil-a98349023

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
deuce

Possibly the two stone columns at the Porte St-Cloud, originally erected for the 1937 exhibition at Auteuil? The story is from 1939 (but could date to 1937 - indeed would have to, actually).

 

Here's a picture: http://polo-deepdelver.eklablog.com/auteuil-a98349023

 

I appreciate the reply, Steve.  :D

 

I'd already discounted that possibility for several reasons:

 

1. This quote, â€œYes—Riverside was built in 1816, and my father was born here in 1828. He’d be over a century old now if he were alive, but he died young—so young I can just barely remember him", which strongly implies a date around 1930.

 

2. This from Joshi: https://books.google.com/books?id=YdO2XRYNUuQC&pg=PA192&lpg=PA192&dq=lovecraft+%22medusa%27s+coil%22+zealia+bishop+1930&source=bl&ots=OsRFajV4kf&sig=Y5TZyuySm2EAgbsb2UtgF9moiKI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj26oP5-_3KAhWBuIMKHQdGB1oQ6AEISTAI#v=onepage&q=lovecraft%20%22medusa's%20coil%22%20zealia%20bishop%201930&f=false

He firmly states the story was written in 1930.

 

3. The mention of "Roodmas" would indicate "pillars" of ancient significance, IMO. My theory would be either Roman remains or pre-Roman megaliths.

 

So, we're still without an explanation, I guess.  :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JeffErwin

I appreciate the reply, Steve.   :D

 

I'd already discounted that possibility for several reasons:

 

1. This quote, â€œYes—Riverside was built in 1816, and my father was born here in 1828. He’d be over a century old now if he were alive, but he died young—so young I can just barely remember him", which strongly implies a date around 1930.

 

2. This from Joshi: https://books.google.com/books?id=YdO2XRYNUuQC&pg=PA192&lpg=PA192&dq=lovecraft+%22medusa%27s+coil%22+zealia+bishop+1930&source=bl&ots=OsRFajV4kf&sig=Y5TZyuySm2EAgbsb2UtgF9moiKI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj26oP5-_3KAhWBuIMKHQdGB1oQ6AEISTAI#v=onepage&q=lovecraft%20%22medusa's%20coil%22%20zealia%20bishop%201930&f=false

He firmly states the story was written in 1930.

 

3. The mention of "Roodmas" would indicate "pillars" of ancient significance, IMO. My theory would be either Roman remains or pre-Roman megaliths.

 

So, we're still without an explanation, I guess.   :(

 

 

Hmmm. I should say, would have to been written before 1937.

 

This text in fact discusses a possibility the place name Auteuil derives from now lost megalithic site, via Latin altariumhttps://books.google.com/books?id=gz4zAQAAMAAJ&pg=PT13&dq=megalithique+%22auteuil%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7pu3mgf7KAhUEzGMKHTNVB0AQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=megalithique%20%22auteuil%22&f=false. The book dates to 1900.

The same suggestion is found here: https://books.google.com/books?id=gRLnAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA254&dq=megalithique+%22auteuil%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7pu3mgf7KAhUEzGMKHTNVB0AQ6AEIKzAC#v=onepage&q=megalithique%20%22auteuil%22&f=false )(c.1900).

 

In fact, the text notes the existence of a large number of homonyms in France for this place name. Perhaps one of those actually has or had extant megalithic structures?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
deuce

Hmmm. I should say, would have to been written before 1937.

 

This text in fact discusses a possibility the place name Auteuil derives from now lost megalithic site, via Latin altariumhttps://books.google.com/books?id=gz4zAQAAMAAJ&pg=PT13&dq=megalithique+%22auteuil%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7pu3mgf7KAhUEzGMKHTNVB0AQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=megalithique%20%22auteuil%22&f=false. The book dates to 1900.

The same suggestion is found here: https://books.google.com/books?id=gRLnAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA254&dq=megalithique+%22auteuil%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7pu3mgf7KAhUEzGMKHTNVB0AQ6AEIKzAC#v=onepage&q=megalithique%20%22auteuil%22&f=false )(c.1900).

 

In fact, the text notes the existence of a large number of homonyms in France for this place name. Perhaps one of those actually has or had extant megalithic structures?

 

 

My Francais is minimal, unfortunately.

 

Perhaps the pillars are hidden within another structure in Auteuil? An aristocratic walled garden, maybe? HPL may not have had an exact historical analogue in mind.

 

I'd forgotten about this conundrum. Now it is perplexing and taunting me again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Taavi

Check this out, from "Historic Paris" by Jeta Wolff:

"This is the highest point in the district, altus locus - the origin, maybe, of the name Auteuil, unless the name refers rather to the Druidical altars erected on a clearing here in the days when the forest of Rouvray, spreading over the whole of what is now the Bois de Boulogne, sheltered the venerable pagan priests. A church was first built on the spot in the early years of the fourteenth century."

This biography of Proust also makes a connection between Auteuil and druidic altars:

"Its etymology suggests that Auteuil signifies `a small height' (altum + diminutive), forty-one metres at its highest point (as against the hill at Chaillot which is seventy metres high). It was there, close to where the present Mirabeau bridge stands, that in 52 BC, Julius Caesar's lieutenant, Labienus, crossed the Seine to attack Lutetia's Gaulish troops, commanded by Camulogenus, on the plains of Grenelle. A forest covered this region in Gallo-Roman times (the Bois de Boulogne is one among several traces of it; Jacques Hillairet, the historian of Paris, mentions that remnants of a Druid altar were found on the site of the hamlet of Boileau; we know that Proust alludes to Druids in connection with the Bois). Auteuil was placed under the patronage of the Norman abbey of Bec-Hellouin, which in 1109 was amalgamated with the Abbey of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris. The abbeys retained their power until the Revolution. Auteuil was separated from Passy by the rue de Seine (rue Berton), and bordered the southern tip of the village of `Boullongne'. The monks used Auteuil as a country retreat, which was confiscated at the time of the Revolution. The artist Gérard lived on the site of their former house, as did Fernand Gregh, Proust's friend and the future academician (on the corner of the rue François-Gérard and rue Rémusat)." Rue Boileau is now part of Auteuil.

 

So it looks like there might be a Druidic connection perhaps? Roodmas is a Christian festival celebrating the finding of the True Cross - but it occurs on May 3, only 2 days from May Day/Beltane, so perhaps a Roodmas celebration was used as a cover for older rites, similar to The Festival?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skaye

Bradshaw's illustrated guide mentions both Corinthian and Ionic pillars as part of the chateau at St. Cloud, though one still wonders why Frank Marsh would talk about Roodmas in France rather than Beltane or Holy Cross Day or something similar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tristan

The most commonly accepted etymology for "Auteuil" is something like "high place" or "high clearing". Nothing to do with stones, unfortunately.

 

Before its incorporation into Paris in 1860, the village of Auteuil became popular in the 17th century as a country retreat for the wealthy, but before that, mentions in my documentation are sparse. I'll try to look further in the coming days.

 

There are two villages of the same name in France :

 

• Auteuil, in the Oise departement, North of Paris.

• Auteuil or Auteuil-le-Roi, in the Yvelines departement, West of Versailles.

 

Both are small, unremarkable villages, with populations in the 500-1,000 range.

 

Of these two, the best candidate might be Auteuil-le-Roi, because some Neolithic vestiges has been found there (just cut stones).

(Other places named "Auteuil" might exist as part of other municipalities elsewhere, but looking for this level of detail would need... well, more than a few Library rolls  :-D)

 

 

If we go back to Paris, pre-Celtic standing stones have indeed been found there - there is at least a "rue de la Pierre-Levée" in the 11the arrondissement. So, placing "stone pillars" in Auteuil is not implausible, it's just that conventional archeology have not found them - yet.

 

We can also go for something more modern, but nothing evident comes out of the "pillar" angle. The old Auteuil had its share of 18th and 19th Century architecture, so we can assume plenty of neo-Classical columns, but nothing strange or original enough to be remarkable.

 

Oh, and I'd be vary of the "druidic forest" thing applied to the bois de Boulogne. There is no archeological proof of its existence. The bois was used by druids, for sure, but they belonged to the "19th century occult Renaissance" type - white robes, beards and more than a touch of excentricity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Taavi

Well, if the Druids were 19th Century Occult Renaissance types, they'd have been there in the right time period for the story.

Why would Jacques Hillairet, who seems to be a respected modern historian, say that druid altars had been found if they hadn't?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tristan

Well, if the Druids were 19th Century Occult Renaissance types, they'd have been there in the right time period for the story.

Why would Jacques Hillairet, who seems to be a respected modern historian, say that druid altars had been found if they hadn't?

 

I can only say that I cannot find any mention of a druidic altar in Hillairet's massive Dictionnaire historique des rues de Paris. It might be in another book, or I might have missed it, of course.

 

Also, I didn't find any mention of this altar elsewhere, especially in more recent works. And if a "druidic altar" had been found and confirmed as such, it will be one of the showpieces of the musée Carnavalet (Paris' historical museum).

 

Hillairet was a remarkable erudite, but he was not an archeologist. He was writing from older sources, and 17th-to-19th century journalists and chroniclers were even less archeologists than he was. Even the words "druidic altar" sounds a little bit off-target. Before the 20th century, people believed that was what dolmens were. Today, we know they are the exposed stone structures of Neolithic burial mounds, and as such, does not have much to do with druids (who might have reused some of them in their time). But in the days of pre-scientific archeology, it also has been applied to the remnant of medieval structures - a very eroded millstone would do, for example.

 

Again, nothing infirms the existence of "stone pillars" in Auteuil, even prehistoric ones. At this point, I'd say that nothing confirms it either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Taavi

Look, if you're going to start demanding that dubious 19th century occult sources be historically & archaeologically accurate, then you're undermining the entire game ;-)

 

Specifically, the question is what Lovecraft thought he was referring to, not what actually exists. If there are contemporary sources referring to a "druid altar" at Auteuil/Boileau, then that's a plausible candidate for Lovecraft's reference, whether or not they are actually there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JeffErwin

Look, if you're going to start demanding that dubious 19th century occult sources be historically & archaeologically accurate, then you're undermining the entire game ;-)

 

Specifically, the question is what Lovecraft thought he was referring to, not what actually exists. If there are contemporary sources referring to a "druid altar" at Auteuil/Boileau, then that's a plausible candidate for Lovecraft's reference, whether or not they are actually there.

 

I agree. The mythos has always existed on the fringes of pseudo-archaeology and history anyway... We have druids in New England, after all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tristan

Look, if you're going to start demanding that dubious 19th century occult sources be historically & archaeologically accurate, then you're undermining the entire game ;-)

 

Specifically, the question is what Lovecraft thought he was referring to, not what actually exists. If there are contemporary sources referring to a "druid altar" at Auteuil/Boileau, then that's a plausible candidate for Lovecraft's reference, whether or not they are actually there.

 

 

It's a perfectly fine approach, and I guess we differ only on where we put the limit between "obviously absurd" and "usable material". Since it's a matter of personal sensibilities, I'm not going to enter that discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GBSteve

Not Auteuil but when I attended a con in Montreuil, I wrote a scenario set in Paris for Trail of Cthulhu involving the some of surrealists (as NPCs), the catacombs, the archives of the Bibliotheque Nationale and the Murs a Peches. The postcard on Wikipedia gives a good view. The walls were built to keep the heat in and allow the locals to grow peaches.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Taavi

Not Auteuil but when I attended a con in Montreuil, I wrote a scenario set in Paris for Trail of Cthulhu involving the some of surrealists (as NPCs), the catacombs, the archives of the Bibliotheque Nationale and the Murs a Peches. The postcard on Wikipedia gives a good view. The walls were built to keep the heat in and allow the locals to grow peaches.

I really really really want to run this scenario! Will you publish?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GBSteve

I really really really want to run this scenario! Will you publish?

Happy to send it to you. PM me an email address and I'll sort it out tonight. It's kind of not quite a precursor to Dreamhounds.

 

Regarding Parisian druids, I'll check Magie a Paris by René Thimmy tonight too. He's kind of the French Elliot O'Donnell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GBSteve

Checking my Hillairet now. I couldn't find any mention of druids in relation to Auteuil or Boileau.

 

A "long barge made from the trunk of an oak tree reinforced with six bows of the same wood held in place by pine dowels" was found under the allée des Cygnes.

 

Victor Noir died in a pharmacy at 42 rue d'Auteuil after having been shot by Prince Pierre Bonaparte at his appartment in the Hotel de Helvétius at No. 59. Victor is mostly remember for his grave in Pere Lachaise on top of lies a recumbant statue of the unfortunate journalist, parts of which have been rubbed shiny.

 

And I've misplaced Thimmy, so another day, however I did find this in my Dreamhounds note:

Bardes, Ovates et Druides

1899 founded by Jean le Fustec (mainly a Breton independentist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Le_Fustec

 

Sources:

Sectes & Rites, Pierre Geyraud, Emile-Paul Paris 1954

Les Sociétés Secretes de Paris, Pierre Geyraud, Emile-Paul Paris 1938

L'Occultisme a Paris, Pierre Geyraud, Emile-Paul Paris 1953

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tristan

Thimmy has a chapter set in the bois de Boulogne, but the celebrants worship gods from Carthage, and are more interested by trees than by stones. I don't remember any references to Auteuil in it, but it's been a while.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.