Monday, September 15, 2008

The Old Man of the Mountain

Noun 1. old man of the mountain - whitish hairy plant with featherlike leaves and a few stout stems each bearing an especially handsome solitary large yellow flower head; mountainous regions north central United States. Synonyms: alpine sunflower, Hymenoxys grandiflora, Tetraneuris grandiflora.

The Old Man of the Mountain, also known as the great stone face, was a series of five granite Granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire New Hampshire, that, when viewed from the correct angle, appeared to be the jagged profile of a face. First discovered in 1805, the outcrop was 1,200 feet above Profile Lake, and measured 40 feet tall and 25 feet wide. It collapsed in 2003
High above the Franconia Notch gateway to northern New Hampshire there is an old man. He has been described as a relentless tyrant, a fantastic freak, and a learned philosopher, feeble and weak about the mouth and of rarest beauty, stern and solemn, one of the most remarkable wonders of the mountain world. The Old Man of the Mountain may be viewed from Interstate 93, northbound, in Franconia State Park from several cutout parking areas. The area is well marked and you will have no trouble locating the viewing areas. Southbound on Interstate 93, take Exit 2 into the Canon Mt Tramway parking lot and follow the signs for the "Old Man viewing area".

The old man of the mountain
1933 animated short in the Betty Boop series, produced by Fleischer Studios. Featuring special guests Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, the short was originally released to theaters on August 4, 1933 by Paramount Productions. Calloway, who voices all of the characters in the cartoon save for Betty herself (voiced by Mae Questel) performs all of the music in the cartoon, including three of his own songs.

The Old Man of the Mountain
The legend of Hassan-ibn-Sabbah
Rick Lewis

The legendary Old Man of the Mountain was Hassan-ibn-Sabbah, the founder and grand master of a radical Islamic sect in the 11th century. His followers were viewed as heretics by other Muslims; according to the hostile reports of their contemporaries, they ate pork and held all their women in common.

Hassan's devoted followers were prepared to follow his orders unquestioningly, even when this would result in their own certain deaths. He frequently sent them on missions to kill hostile princes, the generals of armies sent to oppose him, and anyone else of whom he disapproved. His fanatical, highly-trained and highly-disciplined killers would blend with the enemy population disguished as merchants or soldiers, awaiting their opportunity. They would then sneak into their target's encampment or palace, and dispatch him with their long daggers. They were known as Hashishin from their habit of smoking hashish, either to generate visions of paradise or to give themselves courage before their (usually fatal) missions. This is the origin of the English word “assassin”.

After earning the undying enmity of most of the rulers of central Asia, Hassan-ibn-Sabbah was forced to retreat with his followers to the inaccessible mountain fortress of Alamout, which was reputed to be impregnable. There he lived to the enormous age of ninety, dying in 1124.

Hassan was succeeded by other grand masters who, like him, used assassination as a political weapon in an attempt to impose their ideas upon Islam. In the 13th century they made the mistake of tangling with Genghis Khan, who in 1255 sent a vast army to capture Alamout, finally stamping out the sect of the Assassins.

Click here to read more how Richard I used the Old Man of the Mountain assassins to remove his opponents.


After reading this article by Isaac Asimov I started to search the origin of the name "the Old Man of the Mountain". It was interesting enough so I decided to share it with you.

Assassination - Isaac Asimov,
Published in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October, 1989

Assassination is defined as murder done by stealth, or from ambush, as opposed to a death in open fight, in battle, in a duel, or in a barroom brawl. Somehow, though, assassination has come to be associated with political murders, with the killing of public figures.
In fact, when a public figure is killed, a political motive is usually found for it.
For instance, Harmodius and Aristogeiton were two young Athenian lovers in 514 BC. At the time, Athens was ruled by two brothers, Hippias and Hipparehus, and the Athenians were restive under them. Apparently, Hipparchus was the hypoteneuse of a love triangle and Harmedius and Aristegeiton decided to solve the problem by killing the brothers. They managed to kill Hipparchus, but Hippias survived, grew very nervous and became tyrannical. He saw to it that Harmodius and Aristogeiton were unpleasantly executed, for instance.
Hippias was expelled in 510 B.C., and the Athenians established a democracy. Harmedius and Aris-togeiton were then made into po
litical heroes, and the murder for personal reasons became an idealistic political killing. The grateful Athenians proceeded to put up statues to them as freedom-fight-ers.
In 336 Be, Philip of Macedon was getting married to a new wife. His old wife was going to be shucked off and his son (the later Alexander the Great) was to be disinherited. At the marriage feast, Philip was killed. Everyone thinks the first wife and son planned it. Purely persona, l, but, of course, it had a political effect.
Then there are political killings. When a political figure wins big, an angry loser may decide on revenge--so Marcus Brutus kills Julius Caesar in 44 b.c., and John Wilkes Booth kills Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
But how did all this come to be called "assassination"? Well, toward the end of the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks were doing very well. They beat the Byzantine Empire and took over most of Asia Minor. They also beat the Fatimids of Egypt and took over Syria and Palestine. The Turks and the Fatimids were both Moslems but of different varieties. The Turks were strong Sunnites, and the Fatimids were strong Shiites. The split between them came in 661, only twenty-nine years after Muhammad's death. In that year, Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, was killed. The Shiites supported Ali, the Sunnites opposed him, and the split between them has continued ever since right down to the present day, thirteen and a half centuries later.
With the Sunnite Turks winning big, the Shiites had to do something. The Ismailis were a group of Shiite extremists and one of them, Hasan ibn al-Sabhah, seized a valley in the rough country south of the Caspian Sea (in what is now Iran, as it happens). Ringed by mountains, it was virtually impregnable, and al-Sabbah (as well as each of his successors) became known as "the Old Man of the Mountain."
His followers were trained in absolute loyalty to the Old Man. It is said that he encouraged them to chew hashish, and then explained the drug-imposed hallucinations as visions of heaven--a heaven they would enter immediately, if they fell in the line of duty.
Because of this, the followers of the Old Man of the Mountain were called "Hashishim" ("hashish-smokers"). To Europeans, this became "assassins."
The method of operation of the new sect was simple, if terrifying. They did not act against the common people, or attempt to organize armies. They organized secret agents, instead, whose mission it was to kill rulers, generals, and leaders. They struck at the heart and were virtually unstoppable, since they knew they were going to heaven the moment they were killed while engaged in this task, and therefore made no effort to get away. A killer who is not in the least interested in getting away is almost sure to succeed sooner or later. It is only the difficulty of getting away that complicates most such plans. It is because of the activities of this sect that any political killing is now called an "assassination."
The prime targets of the Assassins were, of course, the Sunnite leaders, although the killers also aimed at those Shiites who were the wrong sort. (It is hard to satisfy an extremist.) Their first great coup was the assassination of Nizam al-Mulik, the vizier Seljuk, in 1092.
He was the most capable of all the Seljuk officials and without him, the kingdom split into fragments that began fighting each other. It couldn't have happened at a worse time, for in 1096 the Crusaders were on their way. They'd have been smashed if Nizam al-Mulik still guided a united Seljuk realm.
While Crusaders and Turks fought it out bloodily, the Assassins dashed nimbly in and out, aiming at both with grim impartiality. The Turks tried to crush the Old Man of the Mountain by military force, but they were easily held off once they entangled themselves in the wild mountain ranges. And while the Assassins defended their fastness, they established subsidiary strongholds in Mseopotamia and Syria. For a century and a half they kept up a unique reign of terror, and no ruler in the Middle East could sleep in security.
What happened to the Assassins? Well, they met their match. In 1206, Genghis Khan unified the Mongol tribes of central Asia and proved to be, perhaps, the greatest military genius of all time. Out of almost nothing, he created unstoppable armies, with a spy service, with communications, with mobility that wasn't matched until the mechanized armies of the twentieth century.
In 1255, a Mongol army under Hulagu Khan, a grandson of Genghis, moved into what is now Iran en route to the great city of Baghdad. They passed the Caspian Sea and they knew all about the Old Man of the Mountain and had no intention of fooling around. Hulagu sent his army swarming into the valley and up the mountains, and simply wiped them out, stronghold after stronghold. The Mongols weren't very pleasant, hut you had to admit they got the job done.
Se you see the role played by religion. You can offer hit men money but that leaves them careful. They want to live and enjoy the money. Offer them heaven and they don't care if they live.
It's not just the Moslems. During the religious wars in Europe, the Netherlands was fighting a long war for independence from Spain. The Netherlanders were Protestant; Spain was Catholic. The Spanish king, Philip II, an extreme Catholic, offered a reward for the assassination of the Netherlandish leader, William the Silent. On July 10, 1584, William was shot by Balthasar Gerard, a Catholic extremist.
Henry III was king of France at the time. He was a Catholic, but the exigencies of polities forced him to move into alliance with Henry of Navarre, a Protestant. That was enough. On August 1, 1589, he was killed by a Catholic extremist, Jacques Clement.
Henry of Navarre eventually became king of France as Henry IV. He turned Catholic in order to qualify, but that wasn't enough. On May 14, 1610, he was killed by a Catholic extremist, Francois Ravaillac.
I don't suppose that we'll ever be able to do anything about the assassination of political leaders. Four American Presidents have been assassinated and there have been failed attempts at several others.
In 1989, however, something new was added. A religious call went out to kill the author of a book that some people found offensive. It was complete with the offer of money and premise of heaven.
Now many books are offensive. One can refuse to read them. One can denounce them. One can demonstrate against them. I can easily (all too easily) imagine books that I would find so offensive I would join · marsh against them.
But it is wrong to attempt to force people not to read it, or use force against the writer. Think what a horrible precedent that would set. Any book, any book at all, is offensive to somebody Or other. If the present threat succeeds, it will encourage future threats of the sort. Think of what a chilling effect that would have on free speech. Even the United States wouldn't remain a haven. What is the defense against fanatics? It takes only one.
Will it become necessary for writers to weigh every word? Is this going to offend the baby-carriage manufacturers? Is that going to offend the pole-vaulters?
A certain well-known Cardinal denounced the book in question and said he would recommend that Catholics not read it because it offended another religion. And of course he was against the threatened murder. However, was he doing the right thing?
Since then, there has been a threat to blow up Dante's tomb be. cause in "The Divine Comedy," he placed in Hell some individuals that are revered by other religions. Would the Cardinal suggest that his flock not read Dante? Is he going to disown the Crusaders? Is he going to disown Philip H of Spain? And how about Torquemada? I find him offensive.
In other words, where does this sort of thing stop?