King Crimson

"The name was suggested by the band's songwriter, Peter Sinfield -

"The name King Crimson was mine -
I wanted something like Led Zeppelin, something with a bit of power to it.
Anything better than Giles, Giles, and Fripp.
King Crimson had arrogance to it."

The guitarist Robert Fripp is quoted in a booklet accompanying the Essential King Crimson box set,

"The name King Crimson is a synonym for Beelzebub,
which is an anglicized form of the Arabic phrase B'il Sabab.
This means literally the man with an aim and is the recognizable quality of King Crimson."

- The History Behind Rock Band Names

- chapter index -
pg. 1 - The Metaphysical Record | pg. 2 - The Wall on Which the Prophets Wrote
pg. 3 - The Union of Opposites | pg. 4 - Alchemy | pg. 5 - The Crimson King

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here are numerous historical clues to the identity of the Crimson King and these will be dealt with in subsequent chapters, but in order to fully understand the depth of Mr. Sinfield's allegories, one must, of necessity, consider his words in the light of Hermetic principles (kabbalah, tarot, alchemy).

"Like the rest of the Order of Hermes, symbolism is everywhere and everything is connected to everything else. Each organ of a patients body is ruled by a planet and a zodiacal sign, which in turn correspond to an element and a metal."

- Alchemists By Anders Sandberg

"There are seven Hermetic principles and, in the Hermetic tradition, each historical era can be characterized by one of these principles. The Middle Ages are characterized by the Hermetic Principle of Correspondence:
As Above, so Below."

- The Magician's Dictionary by E.E. Rhemus

As the words of the Crimson King are clearly those of a medieval individual, it follows that there would be both a metaphysical and an earthly Crimson King.

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Robert Fripp has stated that King Crimson is somehow a translation of Beelzebub.
He has also stated that the Crimson King is "the man with an aim".

"Beelzebub, or Baalzebûb, the Philistine god of Accaron (Ekron) The name is commonly translated "the lord of the flies", and the god is supposed to be so called either because as a sun god he brings the flies, though the Ba'al was probably not a sun god, or more likely because he is invoked to drive away the flies from the sacrifice, like the Zeus Apomuios, who drove them from Olympia."

- The Catholic Encyclopedia

"APOMYIOS, a surname given by the Cyrenians to Zeus, for delivering Herakles [Hercules] from flies during sacrifice. Sacrifices were yearly offered to Zeus Apomyios. (Greek, apo-myia, from flies.) BELZEBUB or BEELZEBUTH (Prince of Flies) was one of the principal Syrian gods, to whom sacrifice was offered on all ferialia."

- Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by E. Cobham Brewer

"APOMYIOS, Zeus was called on by this name to drive the flies away, and the people of Elis call on him to expel the flies from Olympia."

- The Secret History of Vergil by Alexander Neckham, edited and translated by Joannes Opsopoeus Brettanus

An aficionado of the Tarot, Robert Fripp enlisted the services of Fergus Hall, a celebrated Tarot designer, to illustrate A Young Person's Guide To King Crimson and The Compact King Crimson .

The character on the Emperor tarot card is Zeus. On this card, he is aiming a thunderbolt.

The "man with the aim" is Zeus, a.k.a Beelzebub.

"His right hand aims a glowing golden keraunos toward the ground; this is a stylized thunderbolt with a central orb, two points in opposite directions, and four "tongues of flames" around each point."

- The Pythagorean Tarot by John Opsopaus

Jupiter was the Roman name for Zeus, and he was known as Jupiter-Mundus, Deus Mundus, "God of the World.

If you recall from the previous chapter, Frederick II was known as Stupor Mundi and called himself "lord of the world."

"The siege of Parma formed the subject of a long poem by the Chartophylax, Georgios of Gallipoli, together with an enthusiastic encomium on Frederick II in which the Emperor figures as Zeus, the Thunder God and Lightning -Wielder of Greek mythology. A supernatural atmosphere thus surrounded the Hohenstaufen." (p. 306)

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz

The association with Zeus runs deeper.

"Tarot cards tell a story -- one familiar to 15th-century Italian players of the card game Triumphi -- Tarot's original name.
Unlike today, early Tarot cards weren't numbered. Instead, their pictures served to remind card players of the characters and events of a story from the late Middle Ages. Trumps were ranked according to the appearance of their characters in that story, low trumps appearing first and high ones last. Eventually, the story was forgotten, numbers were put on the cards, and their order changed. Below, both the divinatory and medieval (historical) meaning (used by fortune-tellers) is given for the Emperor Tarot trump card.
IIII. The Emperor

DIVINATORY. Stability, power, protection, realization, a great person,
authority and will.

MEDIEVAL (HISTORICAL). The "Third Frederick" -- scourge of the Church.
Based upon the Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen (1194-1250)."

- Tarot and the Millenium
by Timothy Betts Ph.D.

The emperor (Zeus) on the tarot card wears a red (crimson) mantle and, like the avid Falconer Frederick II, is accompanied by a bird of prey:

"Draped around his legs and over his left shoulder, is a deep red mantle. His left hand holds a tall (3 m.) sceptre surmounted by a golden orb and an eagle with spread wings. A red eagle stands to the left by his feet."

- The Pythagorean Tarot by John Opsopaus

"Falconry was one of his main preoccupations; he brought together the best falconers from the four corners of the world, and provided optimum facilities. "De Arte Venanci Cum Avibus," The Art of Falconry , is his own master-work…
…The best how-to text for falconry and hawking, it is readily available for modern readers."

- Falconry/Hawking
Jupiter and Thetis by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Chapter One return to
chapter & page index

King Crimson and Frederick II: The Wall On Which the Prophets Wrote

Sign the Dreambook Dreambook Read the Dreambook

Chapter One The Metaphysical Record In The Court Of the Crimson King In The Wake Of Poseidon Lizard The King In Yellow The Sun King Eight
The Lake Which Mirrors the Sky In the Beginning Was the Word In the Beginning was the Word...side two Eros and Strife Dark Night of the Soul...Cirkus Dark Night of the Soul...Wilderness Big Top Islands
Islands Two Footnotes in the Sand Still Still 2
Works Lyrics
Gallery Guestbook
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