Following his victorious Tweed campaign in 1871, Nast went all-out the following year to ridicule Horace Greeley and reelect President Ulysses Grant. After drawing 132 cartoons from February through the election — about 14 a month — Nast was finally able to laugh as Election Day approached. Apollo Amusing the Gods, his Olympian Comic Opera, appeared the day after the election, but he probably drew it well in advance. He incorporated 28 identifiable characters: 10 Liberal Republicans, 11 Democrats and 7 members of the Tweed Ring.
He added a humorous explanation on the following page, including brief puns describing 11 of the mythological beings in a Dramatis Personae. He concluded with his rationale: The reader will perceive that this was only an Olympian adaptation of the Liberal Farce first produced at Cincinnati last May and taken off the stage November 5. Some highlights:
- Greeley was “Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom. Very much addicted to telling what She Knows About Every Thing in heaven and earth.” The candidate stroked a donkey, pretending to be a lion.
- Charles Sumner’s huge ego cast him as pompous Jupiter, the top god, and “the Thunderer . . . When he spoke, the whole senate of the gods was expected to tremble.”
- Carl Schurz glowered as “Mars, God of War. Exceedingly boastful and vain-glorious.”
- Of course, Boss Tweed was “Pluto, God of the Infernal Regions . . . His helmet had the power of making the wearer invisible when he wished to keep shady.”
- Surprisingly, Salmon Chase was “Diana, Goddess of Chastity.” This was one of Nast’s better puns because Diana was principally known as Goddess of the Hunt. Chase had unsuccessfully “hunted” for the presidency on three occasions, so he was still “chaste,” a pun on his name.