Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79, is known as Monte Vesuvio in Italian. One of the carnival’s sideshow freaks, “the Lava Sipper,” is named Vesuvio to evoke that explosive and devastating volcanic event.
The photograph at right was taken by US Air Force B-24 tailgunner John Reinhardt in March 1944, during the Second World War.
Louis and German engineer Tobias Schmidt designed and built the first prototype, but for some reason the object was named after another member of the committee, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin. The resulting tall, upright wooden frame containing a suspended blade which drops with a rope to sever the prisoner’s head became the premier symbol of The Terror that followed the revolution.
The description of “Monsieur Guillotine” and his apparatus in chapter 24 sounds more like a wax museum display or Ripley’s Believe It or Not, than a carnival sideshow amusement.
The tarot is a pack of cards first used to play various games in Europe starting in the mid 15th century. Since the late 18th century, however, mystics and occultists have used the tarot deck to tell fortunes, so it is fitting that the Dust Witch should be known as Mademoiselle Tarot.
There have been many designs for the Tarot deck, especially in recent years, but the card at right -- the one for Death -- is from the 1909 Rider-Waite deck.
In Greek mythology, the Cyclops were a race of giants who had a single eye in the middle of their forehead. Ancient Greek authors who wrote about them included Hesiod, Homer, Euripides, Theocritus, and Virgil. In chapter 24, a Cyclops is listed in passing as another example of a sideshow freak displayed by the carnival.
The Cyclops statue shown here is in the Natural History Museum in London.