Chapter 01 – Vae Victis!

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Vae victis

This Latin phrase is rendered into English as “woe to the conquered!”  Not only is this Latin phrase the title of the first chapter, but it is also used through the chapter to frame Trollope’s argument.  In the first chapter (it could almost be described as an essay), Trollope laments the hyper-competitive nature of British society.  He states that the age he lives in, while advanced, has lost a good deal of its humanity.  The “conquered” in this case are those who are not the absolute best at what they do.  The phrase is attributed to the leader of the Gauls who defeated the legions of Rome in the late fourth century BCE.  There is a deal of irony in this, as the hyper-competition Trollope is describing using Latin is something the Romans would have participated in and even endorsed.  By using the Latin phrase and not just a similar sentiment in English, Trollope bestows a timeless nature on the problem of hyper-competition and  establishes Britain as a continuation of Rome itself.  [CMC 2012]

When the Gallic leader exclaims vae victis in Livy, the Romans are the conquered ones, though Livy reminds his audience that these temporarily defeated people will eventually rule a large empire.  The shifting identification of “conqueror” and “conquered” will play a role in The Bertrams; only at the novel’s end will the winners and losers become apparent.  For instance Arthur Wilkinson–who is disappointed in his academic aspirations at the novel’s outset–will find more happiness and contentment than George Bertram or Henry Harcout, upon whom favor seems to shine at the start of the book.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Livy, History of Rome 5.48.


success as a god

As part of his examination and bemoaning of the competitive aspect of British society, Trollope likens success to a god that is worshipped by Britain.  Here, “god” is used the the pagan or Classical sense, as it is clearly not the Christian god of Victorian England.  This is in keeping with the Classical theme established by the title of the chapter.  It could also be said that the Romans themselves valued success almost on a par with their pantheon.  [CMC 2012]


occupet extremum scabies

This phrase is literally translated as “let an itch take the last one,” an appropriate quotation for Trollope to use when describing the competitive attitude engrained in Victorian society.  The phrase is originally found in Horace’s Ars Poetica, where Horace is lamenting that contemporary poets have not really mastered their craft and conduct their careers with a competitive and almost economic spirit.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Horace, Ars Poetica 417.


consult the shade

Trollope suggests, as part of an extended metaphor comparing race horses to the youths of England racing against one another for success, that the reader consult a number of noblemen to confirm that trained race-horses are only good for racing.  One of these men is in fact deceased, and Trollope states that the reader should “consult the shade” of the man.  This recalls both Odysseus and Aeneas, who travel to the underworld to ask the dead for advice.  By using the Classcial reference, Trollope lifts the problem out of contemporary British society and frames it as a timeless issue.  [CMC 2012]

Sources:  Homer, Odyssey 11.
Vergil, Aeneid 6.


Crucifix, Iliona, Toxophilite

These are the names of the three horses that Trollope uses in his racing metaphor describing the competitive nature of English society.  He states that the horses trained for racing are good for nothing save racing on a track, just as the men produced by Britain’s system will be good at nothing but trying to out-compete one another.  All three are real famous Victorian race-horses and have Classical names.  Crucifix is named for a Roman method of torture and execution on a cross, Iliona was the oldest daughter of Priam and Hecuba, and Toxophilite is Greek for “archery lover.”  [CMC 2012]

Sources:  OCD and LSJ.



In his example of how competition is bad for society, Trollope invents a scenario where one Johnson has written a poem about Iphigenia and has asked his friend Thompson to read it.  Thompson has not had time to read it as he is too busy.  Iphigenia is the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, whom Artemis demanded as a sacrifice before the winds would send the Argives to Troy.  Euripides wrote a tragedy on this theme.  It is also of note that, like Iphigenia, the “conquered” youth of England are being offered up for sacrifice on the altar of success.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  OCD.


old mythology

The “old mythology” referenced by Trollope’s invented Thompson is undoubtedly Classical mythology, as evidenced by the fact that the example of “modern poetry” based on it has for its subject matter Iphigenia.  This demonstrates the tension seen by Trollope in British society between the Classical past and modernity.  Classical education has trained these men to be busy and competitive, but the fruits of this have made it impossible for Thompson to have time to read poetry on the subject.  Thompson finally advises Johnson to give up Iphigenia, the manifestation of both of their educations.  Trollope is not faulting Classics here, but how it is being used by Britain.   [CMC 2012]


Vox populi, vox Dei

This Latin phrase translates as “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”  This is uttered by Trollope’s invented young British man Thompson as he advises Johnson to give up his poetry as his poems are proving unpopular.  It is ironic that Thompson is using a Classical phrase to urge Johnson to give up Classically-inspired poetry.  The sentence neatly summarizes what would take at least two or three lines in English for Thompson to explain.  [CMC 2012]

The phrase can be found in one of Alcuin’s letters to Charlemagne, though Alcuin argues against treating popular opinion as divine mandate.  Trollope’s Thompson harnesses the seeming authority of a Latin phrase but reverses the point Alcuin used it to make.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Alcuin, Epistle 132.


Amaryllis and Neaera

Both of these names can be found in ancient pastoral poetry.  Both names are used by Vergil in the Eclogues, while Horace utilizes Neaera in the Epodes.  Trollope uses these names to describe what those men who race one another loose in the process:  the love of a woman.  It is also worth noting that the two names are also used together by Milton, who himself used an abundance of Classical references and whom Trollope employs at other times in The Bertrams as a model for using Classics.  [CMC 2012]

Sources:  Vergil, Eclogue 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 (Amaryllis); 3 (Neaera).
Horace, Epode 15.
Milton, Lycidas 68-69.


first in Classics

One of Arthur Wilkinson’s main subjects of study at Cambridge was Classics, and he had hoped that his final exams would earn him a “first”–that is, an honor of the first degree.  In this first chapter we learn that Arthur’s hope was not fulfilled; he has fallen victim to the system of competition Trollope has been lamenting in the chapter.  [CMC & RR 2012]


all men said all good things of him

Trollope describes Arthur Wilkinson as a good boy and states that “all men said all good things of him.”  This is a translation from the Roman comedy Andria written by Terence.  The protagonist’s father is worried that his son is associating with the wrong type of people, although everyone seems to think and speak will of the son.  The quotation is especially appropriate here because Trollope also uses it to talk about a father being told about the character of his son.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Terence, Andria 96-97.



George Bertram is described as the academic victor when compared to Arthur Wilkinson (and indeed all his fellow students).  This active noun is in contrast with the passive participle that forms part of the title of this chapter (victis) which means “conquered.”  George is not the conquered, but rather is the conquerer.  [CMC 2012]



George Bertram is described as having spouted Latin hexameters at secondary school and because of his skill winning a medal.  This is in contrast to Arthur Wilkinson, who did not even qualify to compete.  Hexameter is a form of poetry that contains six feet to a line.  The hexameters mentioned here are most likely dactylic hexameters, well known as the standard meter of ancient epic poetry.  Trollope could be being clever here, as the use of the epic verse in describing George Bertram’s victory adds to its grandness.  George is described as being a hero in the realm of academia, so it makes sense for Trollope to associate him with the art form commonly used to portray heroes.  [CMC 2012]



Wilkinson is described here as a hero having been beaten out of the field of academic competition by the seemingly effortlessly brilliant George Bertram.  Given the plethora of Classical references in this chapter, it seems likely that Trollope is using “hero” in its Classical sense here.  It is with a degree of gentle humor though, as poor Arthur can hardly be called a true epic hero after working so hard but still being beaten.  [CMC 2012]



George Bertram is described as Arthur Wilkinson’s triumphant friend.  The use of this adjective is especially appropriate given the title of the chapter.  In contrast to the conquered Arthur, George is triumphant in his acquisition of a double-first.  This is in keeping with the overall theme of the chapter.  [CMC 2012]

“Triumphant” also recalls Roman triumphs, the celebratory parades granted to highly successful Roman commanders.  George has emerged victorious from his academic “campaign.”  [RR 2012]


play of Aristophanes

As Arthur tries to write to his father, George picks up a play of Aristophanes as some light reading to pass the time.  Aristophanes was a Greek playwright who lived in the 5th c. BCE.  He was an author of comedies, which is why Trollope uses him as an example of “light reading” befitting a newly-minted double-first.  However, as the play would have still been in Greek and not English, Trollope is also being cheeky, since Greek can hardly be considered light reading.  [CMC 2012]

Chapter 02 – Breakfast and Lunch

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The Frogs

While Arthur is attempting to write to his father, George reads Aristophanes’ Frogs.  This play is a comedy in which Dionysus travels to the Underworld in order to retrieve the tragedian Euripides.  This play is the “light reading” mentioned by Trollope in the previous chapter.  [CMC 2012]


second in Classics

Unlike George Bertram, Arthur Wilkinson is not at the top of his university class.  Instead, he receives a second-class honors in the field of Classics, which neither he nor his father had hoped for.  Arthur is, because of this, one of the victi (“conquered”) Trollope talks about in the previous chapter.  [CMC 2012]


triumphed in the triumph of his son

Mr. Wilkinson is disappointed upon receiving the letter from his son Arthur which describes how he finished his studies.  Trollope states that the vicar would have taken joy in his son’s accomplishments, but that he was not capable of summoning sympathy for him in his current state.  The piling-on of “triumph” activates the Classical associations of the word.  A triumph was given to a victorious Roman general and consisted of a large parade, public celebration, and sacrifices.  Trollope here uses “triumph” in its negated form to show just how high the hopes of Mr. Wilkinson were for his son and how very disappointed he is now.  [CMC 2012]


a statue of George Bertram

As a joke, Harcourt states that there will be an alabaster statue made of George due to his double first.  Harcourt then says that he personally would rather have it be made of marble.  Though meant to be humorous, the image of a statue in marble of a triumphant individual is itself a very Classical image, a fitting tribute to someone whose success is in the field of Classics.  [CMC 2012]


dura ilia

The festivities revolving around George Bertram’s triumph involve a fair amount of drinking.  One of their companions suggests that they immediately leave Parker’s and continue on to dinner.  Harcourt remarks that they could do such a thing as freshmen, but no longer, since they no longer have the first-years’ dura ilia.  This Latin phrase, “tough stomachs,” is used humorously in Horace’s Epodes to describe the fortitude of those who harvest garlic.  Harcourt speaks among university-educated men who can be expected to notice and understand the reference.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Horace, Epodes 3.4.



George Bertram’s academic success is again described as a triumph.  In this instance, Harcourt describes the triumph as belonging to all those who went to Trinity, his college.  This could be seen as similar to the way in which the troops of a triumphant Roman general would share in his success.  [CMC 2012]


tide in the affairs of men

Bertram and Harcourt are discussing Wilkinson’s future prospects given that his academic career did not have a strong finish.  Trollope quotes Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to elaborate on this point.  This quotation is appropriate in both its content and its play of origin.  Julius Caesar is about the assassination of one of Rome’s most famous citizens.  In the context of the quotations, Brutus, one the assassins, states that they must act against the supporters of Caesar quickly, before Fate turns against them.  It is fitting that Trollope should use a play that is so very Classical in a discussion centering around two men who just finished their Classical university education.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Shakespeare, Julius Caesar 4.3.218-219.


do at Rome as Romans do

Harcourt, in justifying the sometimes questionable behavior of barristers, states that he does in Rome as the Romans do.  Here, Rome is London and the actions of the Romans are the actions of the barristers.  Harcourt is trying to persuade Bertram follow in his footsteps and enter into the law profession, despite any ethical qualms Bertram might have.  Perhaps Harcourt is referring to Rome to appeal to the newly-minted first in Classics.  The sentiment can be found in a letter to Augustine from Ambrose.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Entry in  Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

Chapter 03 – The New Vicar

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the Wilkinsons’ patron

Following the death of Arthur Wilkinson’s father the vicar, the Wilkinson family fears that they will be destitute.  However, Trollope explains that the living was conferred upon the late vicar by his patron, the marquis Lord Stapledean.  The marquis summons Arthur to his seat in the north of England and gives him the living–provided that most of the income goes into the direct control of the newly widowed Mrs. Wilkinson.  Here, “patron” takes on Classical coloring.  Patrons in ancient Rome would have a number of clients whom they would help support financially and through other means in return for loyalty and (often) votes.  Arthur is acting as the client of the marquis by receiving the living from him.  The Classical resonance here helps the reader to understand that the relationship is a two-way street; both of them need and gain something.  Arthur secures his family’s future, and the marquis fills the vacant seat and is able to provide for Mrs. Wilkinson.  [CMC 2012]


accept the goods the gods had provided

At this point, Arthur has decided to accept the marquis’ offer of the parish living, despite the stipulation that most of the income be under the control of his mother.  Trollope states that Arthur has resolved to “accept the goods the gods had provided him, clogged though they were with alloy, like so many other gifts of fortune.”  The notion of accepting the gifts of the gods recalls Paris in book 3 of the Iliad, who tells Hector to stop insulting his good looks (a divine gift) after Hector has told him that his womanizing has put the entire city in danger.  Both Paris and Arthur have complicated gifts from the gods, as both have the potential to cause significant trouble for their owners.  [CMC 2012]

A similar sentiment is voiced in a Roman comedy by Plautus:  habeas quod di dant boni (“keep that which the good gods give”).  Trollope’s phrasing here particularly echoes a verse from Dryden:  “Take the goods the gods provide thee.”  In Chapter 32 of The Last Chronicle of Barset, Mr. Toogood quotes this excerpt from Dryden directly.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Homer, Iliad 3.65.
Plautus, Rudens 1229.
Dryden, “Alexander’s Feast,” 106.

Chapter 04 – Our Prima Donna

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divine beauty

In describing Adela, Trollope states that he will not disclose her physical attributes in writing.  Instead, he invites readers to ascribe to her as much “divine beauty” as they wish.  This is in stark contrast to the other main female character of the novel.  In describing Caroline Waddington, Trollope uses a mountain of divine descriptors, most often calling upon the image of Juno, queen of heaven.  This contrast in description of the two leading ladies is mirrored by the contrast in their characters.  Adela is quite passive, whereas Caroline is very active in the world.  Further, Adela is constant in her purpose and opinions throughout the novel, while Caroline changes.  [CMC 2012]


Sophia Wilkinson

Adela mentions to Arthur that his sisters Sophia and Mary have always been active in the parish that Arthur is about to become the vicar of.  Sophia is the Greek word for “wisdom,” and although Sophia Wilkinson is such a minor character in this novel that we don’t get much of a chance to see if the etymology of her name is appropriate for her, in Chapter 42 she does show greater sagacity than her sister:  she realizes that Adela loves Arthur.  [CMC & RR 2012]


Cupid’s phrases

Adela is heartbroken and upset that Arthur has decided that he cannot marry under the conditions set upon his living by the marquis.  Although Arthur had never explicitly declared his love to her, Adela feels that they had an implicit understanding about their feelings which Arthur has now foresworn.  Although Trollope sympathizes with Adela throughout the novel, he explains here that any oaths made by lovers are “Cupid’s phrases”–the words of the changeable Roman god of love–and not to be trusted.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Chapter 05 – The Choice of a Profession

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According to Herodotus, Solon, who was an Athenian and considered one of the wisest people of his time, came to visit Croesus.  Croesus was the king of Lydia and had many treasures.  Croesus displayed all his riches to Solon and then asked who was the happiest person in the world.  In answer, Solon described three other men, which was to the dismay of Croesus as he believed himself to be the happiest because of his riches.  Mr. Bertram is likened to Croesus in this situation because he has an extreme amount of wealth.  Throughout the novel we will see that happiness eludes Mr. Bertram, in spite of his money.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Herodotus, History 1.29-33.


Daily Jupiter

Jupiter was the king of the Roman gods, and Trollope bestows the name on a fictitious London newspaper.  This publication appears in several of Trollope’s other novels (e.g., The Warden, Barchester Towers, Framley Parsonage), though it is variously referred to as “Jupiter” or “The Jupiter.”  The name of the paper signifies that it is very authoritative and preeminent.  [KS & RR 2012]


great in Greek

Mr. Bertram and George are discussing George’s time at university, but Mr. Bertram is hardly impressed.  As usual with most undergraduates during the Victorian period, George studied Classics and spent a good amount of time with Greek.  Mr. Bertram can respect George for not being idle, but he will not applaud George for being proficient in Greek because Mr. Bertram does not find it practical.  [KS 2012]


black is white; white is black

George is arguing with Mr. Bertram over the idea of becoming a lawyer.  George has no strong desire at this point to take up law, and he sees it as a slightly disgusting business.  In one of his satires, Juvenal writes about his friend Umbricius, who has decided to leave Rome because he is revolted with the state of Roman society.  Umbricius states “those who turn white into black” should remain in Rome.  Umbricius feels that a man can not make an honest living in Rome anymore.  George shares the same sentiments towards lawyers, as–in his opinion–nothing they do is honest. They merely turn “black into white and white into black.”  [KS 2012]

Source:  Juvenal, Satire 3.30.


writing Greek verses

George and Mr. Bertram continue their discussion about a good profession for George.  Mr. Bertram shows his distaste and lack of care for George’s university education by stating that “writing Greek verses” will not bring him any success or fortune.  [KS 2012]



As the conversation between George and Mr. Bertram draws to a close, George ponders the notion that by going into law he would essentially be throwing away a lot of the skills and time he spent learning in university.  George refers to Aristotle, who was a Greek philosopher, as someone who occasioned him much study.  [KS 2012]

Chapter 06 – Jerusalem

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George expects his trip to Jerusalem to offer some sort of meaning to his life.  George hopes that he will be able to have a holy or revelatory experience during his stay.  However, as George enters Jerusalem, his “ecstatic pathos” is delayed because of the pain he feels from his saddle.  George curses the saddle “to all the fiends of Tartarus,” which is the lowest part of the Underworld in Classical mythology.  The utilization of the mythological Tartarus stands in contrast with the Christian religious experience that George hopes for.  [KS & RR 2012]



The catalogue of cities in Caroline’s grand tour includes Athens.  Athens was considered the epicenter of Classical Greek culture and is the capital of modern Greece.  [KS 2012]



While touring the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, George notices the differences between the shrines of the orthodox Greeks and the “Latins.”  The utilization of “Latins” to name the Roman Catholics places Roman Catholicism within a Classical context.  The Roman Catholic Church used Latin in their services.  [KS & RR 2012]


sanctum sanctorum

George is observing people entering the Tabernacle of the Holy Sepulchre, and it is later referred to as the “sanctum sanctorum,” which in Latin means “holy of the holies.” However, the procession is not depicted as being very holy, as George notices that the entrance is very small, it is over-crowded, and he does not find the Christians there to be very “cleanly.”  The use of this Latin phrase seems to elevate the place, but that is undermined through its description.  [KS 2012]


tantalizing glimpse

“Tantalizing” recalls Tantalus, a Classical mythological figure punished in the Underworld by reaching for water and fruit that ever-retreat from him.   Trollope writes that a Greek religious service was conducted behind a grating through which worshippers could get only a “tantalizing glimpse.”  In describing a Christian Greek service with a reference to non-Christian Greek mythology, Trollope implicitly questions the Christian authenticity of the Greek mass.  [KS & RR 2012]

Chapter 07 – The Mount of Olives

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no Roman labour

George visits the remains of the temple in Jerusalem and notes the massive stones that served as its base.  Trollope states that the stones were “cut…by no Turkish enterprise, by no mediaeval empire, by no Roman labour.”  The tricolon construction works successively backwards in time and emphasizes the antiquity of the temple as well as the great effort that must have been involved in building it.  [KS & RR 2012]


the Latin, the Greek, and their strange gods

The narrator is describing Muslims, who possess the keys to Christian churches in Jerusalem, watching over Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox believers practicing their religion.  In doing so, he uses Classical expressions (Latin, Greek, gods) to characterize the Muslim perspective.  While not an outright Classical allusion, the simplifying of Roman Catholic to Latin, Greek Orthodox to Greek, and the Trinity to “strange gods” can be viewed as a means to present the Christians as pagan.  Muslims, with their focus on the one-ness of Allah, would view the Christian worship of the Trinity with suspicion.  The equation of the believers to Classical worshipers of many gods allows the narrator to describe the perspective of Muslims watching Christians worship.  [CD 2012]

Chapter 08 – Sir Lionel Bertram

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ars celare artem

“It is art to conceal art.”  This phrase is often attributed to Ovid.  Though it is not found verbatim in Ovid’s works, Ovid does express a similar sentiment in his poetry:  si latet, ars prodest (“if it is hidden, art is useful” in the Ars Amatoria) and ars…latet arte sua (“art is hidden by its own artfulness” in the Metamorphoses).  Sir Lionel lives out this aesthetic directive by cultivating a personal appearance which does not seem to be the result of extensive care.  [KS & RR 2012]

Sources:  Ovid, Ars Amatoria 2.313.
Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.252.


expediency was his god

In the description of Sir Lionel’s character Trollope states that “expediency was his god.”  Expediency is personified as a divinity, which was very common in Classical antiquity; an example would be Fortuna, who was the embodiment of fortune.  Since we first meet Sir Lionel in the holy city of Jerusalem, this characterization implicitly paints him as a kind of heretic or apostate.  [KS & RR 2012]

Chapter 09 – Miss Todd’s Picnic

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Caroline Waddington as Juno

Caroline Waddington’s appearance and character are likened to Juno, wife of Jupiter and queen of the gods in Roman mythology.  Juno is presented in Classical sources as having a regal bearing, and many epithets describe her royalty and beauty.  In Vergil’s Aeneid, Juno is a powerful figure who attempts to influence the course of the Fate with varying degrees of success.  Caroline is described as regal, majestic, and dignified in her bearing, and her beauty is easy and graceful.  These descriptions and Trollope’s likening of her to Juno give her character outstanding nobility.  Her similarity to Juno’s bearing is put in stark contrast to characteristics of Venus–Caroline’s character is not given to love, desire, or longing.  [CD 2012]

We can add pride to the common characteristics of Juno and Caroline.  Juno’s wounded pride and consequent anger led her to try to thwart Aeneas’ destiny in the Aeneid.  Caroline’s pride and anger will come into play in the course of The Bertrams and will alter the course of her life as well as the lives of those around her.  [RR 2012]



Drawing out the comparison and contrast of Caroline with Juno and Venus, the narrator uses a Classical myth to praise to Caroline’s beauty further.  The Judgment of Paris is the story of a beauty contest between the goddesses Juno, Minerva, and Venus.  They came to the Trojan prince Paris in order that he might choose the most beautiful of the three.  Each goddess promised him a reward if he would pick her.  Venus’ bribe, that he would be given the most beautiful women in the world, won him over and he chose her as the most beautiful goddess.  Yet Caroline’s beauty–regal, dignified, and reminiscent of Juno–is so striking that if Paris were to choose a Venus over her, he would know he made the wrong decision.  [CD 2012]


Grecian nose

Caroline has up to this point been described with imagery heavily borrowed from Classical sources, specifically her likeness to Juno.  The narrator’s insistence that she does not have a Grecian nose breaks the reliance on Classical imagery.  This discontinuation allows Caroline’s character to be not totally determined by a Classical type.  She is not simply a one-dimensional Juno-esque beauty, regal and noble to the extreme.  Her lack of a Grecian nose, which would have been one more signifier of nobility, allows her character and beauty to possess passion.  This use of Classical imagery is particularly striking because it is a visual image, whereas most Classical references in Trollope are literary.  [CD 2012]


vera incessu patuit dea

A quotation from Vergil’s, Aeneid:  “The true goddess was exposed by her walk.”  At this point in the Aeneid, Aeneas’ mother, Venus, has come to him disguised as a huntress.  However, Venus’ godhood is so powerful that she is given away by the manner in which she walks and carries herself.  Likewise, Caroline Waddington’s gait is described as giving away her noble and regal character.  The majority of women aren’t capable of walking gracefully, relates the narrator, yet Caroline possesses such grace in her gait that she isn’t able to hide her queenly nature.  [CD 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 1.405.


Caroline’s will

Trollope describes Caroline as having a “stubborn, enduring, manly will; capable of conquering much, and not to be conquered easily.”  With this characterization, Caroline Waddington is further connected to Juno, especially the presentation of Juno in Vergil’s Aeneid.  In the Aeneid, Juno is a powerful goddess who has nothing but scorn for Aeneas and the Trojans.  Her hatred is so powerful that she is continually throwing Aeneas off course from Italy with storms and attempting to get him to settle in other countries and cities.  In her fight against Aeneas, she is fighting against the founding of the Roman race, an event which has been decreed by fate and the gods.  Juno’s will is strong enough to stand up to Jupiter and fate.  Caroline is described as being similarly headstrong and determined.  [CD 2012]


Roman pillars

As with the description of Caroline’s nose, instead of a literary allusion, Trollope is using a visual image from Classical antiquity to describe an object.  “Roman pillars” adorn the tomb of St. James, an early Christian leader.  This seems to be a reminder of the history of the Holy Land.  Judea, the area’s Latin name, was under Roman control from c. 63 BCE onwards.  [CD 2012]


set the Thames on fire

“He won’t set the Thames on fire” is an English proverb that means one won’t make a very noticeable impression, or leave behind a reputation.  Sir Lionel Bertram says this of Mr. Cruse and Mr. M’Grabbery, Cambridge-educated men who look with distrust on George Bertram for having gone to Oxford, and for having charmed Caroline Waddington more easily than M’Grabbery.  This proverb is descended from a Latin proverb which has much of the same meaning:  Tiberim accendere nequaquam potest, “one is by no means able to set light to the Tiber.”  [CD 2012]

Source:  Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.


cupbearer, nectar, Jupiter, Juno, Hebe

The use of the image of a cupbearer introduces an extended series of Classical references that take place in a playful conversation between Miss Todd and Sir Lionel.  Sir Lionel describes his joy at picnics as that of a god, reclining on a cloud with thunderbolts near, having his cup filled with nectar by a goddess.  Miss Todd correctly understands this as a reference to Jupiter, king of the gods, and Sir Lionel flatters her when he states that he would be a happy Jupiter if she were Juno, Jupiter’s spouse.  After this, Miss Todd backs away from the Juno/Jupiter comparison, and compares herself to Hebe, a minor goddess and cupbearer to the gods.  Overall, this series of Classical allusions is playful, and these references allow Miss Todd and Sir Lionel to have a conversation using cultural signifiers and to understand each other as members of a similar social group.  [CD 2012]

Chapter 10 – The Effects of Miss Todd’s Picnic

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sanctum sanctorum

Sanctum sanctorum is the Latin phrase for the Hebrew “Holy of Holies.”  This was the inner part of the Temple in Jerusalem that Yahweh himself was supposed to inhabit.  [CD 2012]



The Muslims who hold the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and stand watch by the door are called “janitors,” not in the modern sense of “custodial staff,” but in the Latin sense of “door-keepers.”  This use of the word is in line with the Latin etymon of the English word, ianitor.  [CD 2012]


summum bonum

This is a Latin phrase which means “the highest good.”  This is a philosophical concept that originated with Aristotle and later played an important role in Thomism.  The summum bonum is the goal toward which a human endeavors–the goal that one attempts to bring about through actions.  Often this concept is closely related to morality and ethics, and shows up specifically in discussions of what is good for humans, and what good should humans strive for.  Caroline Waddington is portrayed as having both an ethical summum bonum and an ambition to possess money.  She will not marry without love, and not just for money; thus she is described as possessing a summum bonum that isn’t looking to money for happiness.  Yet, because of her regal, Juno-esque character and bearing, she believes strongly in her own worth, and knows that money will need to figure significantly in her marriage calculations.  [CD 2012]

Source:  “Ethics” entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica, online academic edition.

Chapter 11 – Vale Valete

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Vale Valete

Vale and valete are the singular and plural imperative, “Farewell!”  As a chapter heading, Vale Valete announces the coming break in company:  George Bertram and his father are going on toward Constantinople, and Miss Waddington and Miss Baker are going to Jaffa.  [CD 2012]



Croesus is a figure from Herodotus’ History.  He is king of Lydia and wildly rich, and Herodotus describes the many gifts that he sends to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi.  In English, his name has become synonymous with great wealth.  Its use here occurs in more description about Caroline Waddington’s views on marriage.  In choosing a husband, it is important for her to love and respect him.  Her summum bonum won’t allow her to marry simply for money or a title.  [CD 2012]

Croesus was used by Trollope earlier, in his discussion of the elder Mr. George Bertram; see commentary for Chapter 5.

Source:  Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
Herodotus, History 1.50-51.


Medea’s secret

Humorously, Sir Lionel relates that his attraction to Miss Waddington is strong enough that he would allow himself to be “chopped and boiled” in order that he might be transformed into his younger self.  This is a reference to an episode in the mythological career of Medea.  Ovid’s Metamorphoses relates the resurrection of Jason’s father, Aeson, by Jason’s wife Medea.  Medea and Jason return from the quest for the Golden Fleece to find Aeson nearing the end of his life.  Medea, a powerful witch, slits his throat and boils him in a pot, and Aeson comes back to life as a young man.  Sir Lionel, impressed with her beauty and knowing that she is in the charge of his rich brother, George Bertram, would gladly commit himself to being chopped up and born anew in order to court her himself.  [CD & RR 2012]

Source:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.268-329.

Chapter 12 – George Bertram Decides in Favor of the Bar

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ancient Latins

In describing the Romansh language, the narrator states that their dialect originated with the “ancient Latins.”  The Romansh language is a Romance language spoken in Switzerland that is almost directly descended from the spoken Latin language.  [CD 2012]

Source:  Entry on “Rhaetian dialects” in the Encyclopedia Britannica, online academic edition.


summum bonum

See commentary for chapter 10.  The phrase is used ironically in this passage, as Sir Lionel’s highest good isn’t an ethical good, but material wealth.  [CD 2012]



See commentary for chapters 5 and 11.   George Bertram senior is an extremely rich businessman, and Henry Harcourt assumes that George Bertram junior is in line to be his uncle’s heir.  In referring to George’s uncle as a “Croesus,” Harcourt can be confident that his Classically educated friend will understand the reference; it can function like an “in joke” between them.  [CD & RR 2012]


white and black

George Bertram, thinking over future career prospects, has reservations concerning becoming a lawyer.  His friend Henry Harcourt, a young lawyer, tells of his success in a case, which the narrator says was dependent upon his turning white into black.  This is a jab at the work of a lawyer and intimates disgust at the use of rhetoric in attempting to sway people.  This particular reference comes from one of Juvenal’s Satires in which Juvenal has a character, Umbricius, lament the moral decline in Rome.  See commentary for Chapter 5.  [CD 2012]


Aeneas and Styx

The narrator declares that Mr. Pritchett is as in awe of George’s travels in Palestine as he would be of Aeneas’ journey beyond the River Styx.  In Book 6 of the Aeneid, Aeneas travels to Cumae and then crosses Styx into the Underworld to meet and receive a prophecy from his father, Anchises.  Likewise, George Bertram has traveled to a place far away from England in order to meet his father, and Mr. Pritchett is amazed.  [CD 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 6.


golden egg

George is worried about being able to live without an income while he is studying law. Mr. Bertram, however, gives him a yearly allowance, and the problem is solved.  George’s worry had led him to ponder how he would subsist “till he might be able to open the small end of the law’s golden eggs.”  One of the fables attributed to Aesop tells of man who cut open a hen that laid golden eggs and found no gold in its corpse.  Here, the law is described as the bird, since it is the thing which will provide money for George.  However, George will not make money from practicing the law for quite a while, so he must rely on his uncle’s allowance till he gains a steady income.  [CD 2012]

Source:  A translation of the fable at Aesopica, Laura Gibb’s Aesop site.

Chapter 13 – Littlebath

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homely muse

Trollope begins Chapter 13 by stating that narrative surprises are not supported by his homely muse.  He contrasts his own straightforward style with that of the Gothic authors, who (according to Trollope) use secret passages and hidden plot devices.  Trollope states important facts plainly, in this case that Mr. George Bertram is Caroline’s grandfather.  In Classical mythology, the Muses were the personifications of the arts and inspired artists in their respective areas.  Indeed, poets in antiquity presented themselves as vessels by which the Muses could express themselves to the mortal world.  “Homely” in the British sense means “plain and simple but comfortable and cozy.”  Thus, Trollope is saying that while his plots and the Muse who inspires them may be simple, they are comfortable for himself and his readers.  [CMC 2012]



George is relating to Arthur how he has been taken under the wing of the barrister Mr. Neversay Die as an apprentice.  He describes himself as “one of the myrmidons.”  The Myrmidons were a people who lived in Phthia, the region of Greece from which Achilles hailed; Achilles’ soldiers in the Trojan War are referred to as the Myrmidons.  The name recalls the Greek noun for “ant,” myrmēx, and a mythological story told by Ovid accounts for the similarity by having the people originate from ants on an oak sacred to Jupiter.  If the “ant” resonance is active in Trollope’s use of the word, George is saying that he is now but one of many legal aspirants, industrious as ants; if the connection to Achilles is considered, we picture George as a legal soldier serving the renowned Mr. Die.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Sources:  Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology.
Ovid,  Metamorphoses 7.517-660.



The “lighter fast set” of people who frequent Littlebath are described as “worshippers of Terpsichore.”  Terpsichore is one of the nine Muses, and she is associated with choral poetry and dance; her Littlebath followers are preoccupied with public balls.  Trollope’s religious language is humorously paired with his descriptions of the other two kinds of people in Littlebath:  those who are “the votaries of whist” and those who are pious in the Christian sense.  Trollope is poking fun at all three “religions” at once:  two pagan, one Christian.  [CMC & RR 2012]



In discussing the marriage of George and Caroline, Miss Baker says that it will be necessary to wait over a year.  George is anxious to wed Caroline, and Trollope states that if George could have, he would have vetoed such a long delay.  The word veto in Latin means “I forbid,” and in ancient Rome tribunes had veto power over proposals of the Senate, while the consuls could veto one another.  Trollope’s use of “veto” here has this almost legalistic force, as George is so anxious to marry that he wishes he had the power to forbid any prolonging of the engagement.  [CMC 2012]

Chapter 14 – Ways and Means

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Sir Augustus

George is telling Harcourt about Caroline Waddington.  Harcourt is much more concerned with worldly matters than George, and as such is immediately interested in Caroline’s lineage.  Harcourt is attempting to make sure that any prospective bride will be appropriate for George’s station (present or future) in society.  His naming of a “Lord Augustus” conveys this concern through the title associated with the name and the name itself.  “Augustus” was an honorific reserved for the Roman emperors and carried with it enormous civil prestige and a quasi-religious significance.  This makes the hypothetical Lord Augustus the exemplum of an appropriate family for George to marry into, at least according to Harcourt.  [CMC 2012]


Hadley oracle

Mr. Bertram is the “Hadley oracle” to whom Miss Baker reports the news of George and Caroline’s engagement.  Trollope describes Mr. Bertram’s reaction as “like most oracle-answers…neither favourable nor unfavourable.”  Mr. Bertram is being presented as if he were akin to the ancient oracle at Delphi who delivered often cryptic messages from Apollo to inquiring visitors.  Trollope’s designation of Mr. Bertram as an oracle shows the importance he has in other characters’ lives because of his money; the ambiguity of his response emphasizes the uncertainty that often surrounds his emotions and attachments.  [RR 2012]


middle course

In deciding when to marry, George and Caroline are of two very different minds.  George wishes to marry right away and live on the four hundred pounds a year they will have.  Caroline, however, wishes to wait until he is called to the bar and secure in a much greater income.  Trollope states that Miss Baker favors a middle course of waiting until the two thousand pounds from Mr. Bertram become a reality and then marrying.  The concept of a “middle course” is derived from the ancient idea of moderation, mean, and the middle road (via media in Latin).  Aristotle extols the excellence of moderation with such statements as “And in all things the middle for us is best.”  This philosophical orientation relies on seeing the flaws inherent in two polar views and seeking a path somewhere between them, much as Miss Baker is doing with regards to the nuptials of Caroline and George.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics 2.1220b.



George and Harcourt have finally made plans for Harcourt to meet Caroline.  Harcourt has resolved not to find fault with her, despite his misgivings about her station.  George is able to discern this, at least on a superficial level.  George states that he knows Harcourt will not criticize Caroline, even if he thinks she is “as ugly as Hecate.”  Hecate was a goddess of magic and witchcraft associated with the Underworld and often depicted as having three faces.  It is for comic hyperbolic effect that Trollope has George suggest that even if a three-headed sorceress were presented as his betrothed, Harcourt would not speak ill of her to George.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.

Chapter 15 – Mr. Harcourt’s Visit to Littlebath

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Mr. Die’s prophesying

Trollope describes George as working quite hard with Mr. Die the barrister, and Mr. Die prophesying greater and greater things for him.  Prophecy in the ancient world was notoriously difficult to interpret and often frustrating.  Further, it often came without stipulations as to when the events foretold would occur.  This could reflect George’s frustration with his current work situation, in which he is told he will be great by Mr. Die, but he has yet to see anything materialize.  [CMC 2012]


Penelope Gauntlet

Penelope Gauntlet is the aunt of Adela.  She lives in Littlebath, and allows Adela to visit and thus be with Caroline.  In Greek mythology, Penelope is the name of Odysseus’ extremely dutiful wife.  This aspect of the name does not appear to be used by Trollope.  However, Penelope Gauntlet is seen later in a manner not befitting the character she was named for:  when Adela needs her after the death of her father, her aunt is not at home but traveling.  This is in contrast to the Penelope of the Odyssey, who stayed at home while waiting for Odysseus to return.  [CMC 2012]



Upon meeting Caroline, Harcourt is actually charmed and seems to fall into easy conversation with her.  This greatly delights George, as he sees himself as having conquered Harcourt’s earlier apparent determination to not like her (if not outright judge her unworthy of George).  This use of “triumph” as well as the victorious language employed by Trollope to describe George’s feelings point to the Classical associations of the word, involving a Roman general who has defeated an enemy and been afforded a triumph by the Senate.  [CMC 2012]



Harcourt, upon meeting Caroline, is rendered speechless by her entrance into the room, her beauty, and her overall presence.  She is described by Trollope with divine imagery connected to the goddess Juno.  It is worth noting that Juno as queen of heaven had a certain degree of masculine agency, much like Caroline.  Also like Caroline, Juno is occasionally led into trouble by her pride.  By associating Caroline so strongly with Juno, Trollope is able to express a lot about Caroline’s character in relatively few words–Juno becomes a kind of allusive literary shorthand.  [CMC & RR 2012]


fox that lost its tail

George, Adela, and Harcourt are discussing Arthur and his current situation regarding the living, his mother, and the fact that he is not married.  George states that all clergymen with livings should be married.  Adela, in an attempt to appear light-hearted on the matter, likens George to the fox that lost his tail in Aesop.  In this fable, a fox loses her tail escaping from a trap.  Embarrassed by her misfortune, she tries to convince all the other foxes that having no tail is an advantage and that they should cut them off (she ultimately fails).  Adela is poking fun at George, saying that just because he is getting married does not mean all men must.  However, poor Adela is just putting on a brave face, as she secretly longs to marry Arthur.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  A translation of the fable at Aesopica, Laura Gibb’s Aesop site.



Caroline declares that she will not marry George until he is called to the bar, effectively extending their engagement for three more years.  George is annoyed at this declaration, and begins to become cross with Caroline.  Caroline states that she has made this decision because she has vetoed poverty.  This creates a comic echo of George’s earlier wished-for mental veto of their long engagement (see commentary for Chapter 13).  Certain Roman magistrates had the power to veto (Latin for “I forbid”) proposals of the Senate, and consuls had the ability to veto one another.  By using this word, Trollope puts imperious force of law behind Caroline’s absolute objection to poverty.  [CMC 2012]


the god that was to come down upon the stage

Caroline and George have reached an impasse with their marriage plans.  Due to pride, neither will yield in their wishes:  George to marry as soon as possible, Caroline to marry as soon as they are financially stable.  Miss Baker is hopeful that Mr. Bertram, the rich uncle and grandfather, will prove to be the god who comes down onto the stage and fix this problem by naming them his heirs.  This image comes from Greek tragedy’s deus ex machina, a god presented aloft who often extracts the other characters from an impossible situation.  It is interesting to note that in Trollope’s Victorian England, it is wealth that imparts this ability and not divinity, raising wealth and the power it gives to a near-divine status in society.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Chapter 16 – The New Member for the Battersea Hamlets

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In jumping ahead two years within a single chapter, Trollope states that “unities” are no longer important.  Trollope is referencing Aristotle’s unities, which are circumscribed treatments of action, place, and time distinctive of tragedy.  As described in the Poetics, the action of a play does not typically take place over more than a day.  Trollope cannot keep to this convention, as he wishes to examine the development of his characters over the course of years.  Further, in Greek tragedy this would have been far more practical, as the story is often known by the audience from the beginning of the play.  By stating that he is not following a Classical ideal, Trollope is telling his readers that he will only use Classics when it is appropriate and not just for the sake of using Classics.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Aristotle, Poetics 1449b.


all men…said all manner of good things of him

Harcourt is doing very well at the bar.  Trollope states that after two years, all men said all manner of good things about him.  This recalls a line in a Roman comedy by Terence.  In the play, Simo, the father of the main character, Pamphilus, is concerned about his son’s relationship with a prostitute; nevertheless, Simo reports that people seem to have all sorts of good things to say about Pamphilus.  While the phrase in itself is good, it is possible that Trollope is also poking fun at Harcourt, who is seen in a less than ethically sound relationship with Caroline Waddington at this point.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Terence, Andria 96-97.



Mr. Die is described again as an oracle, only this time it is with reference to Harcourt and not George Bertram.  Harcourt has gone to Die, asking about political strategy.  Die advises him to commit himself to the popular opinion about repealing a set of laws, but Die also implies that “committing” is not in reality binding.  According to Trollope, Harcourt is still young and thus does not quite understand the wisdom of Mr. Die’s advice.  This is similar to the oracles of ancient Greece, which were often not understood until after the events they foretold occurred.  [CMC 2012]

Chapter 17 – Retrospective–First Year

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George wrote Caroline a letter stating that he would be patient in awaiting her reply to his proposal.  Caroline was aggravated with the letter as she sensed in it a tone of “triumph.”  The word “triumph” recalls the large public observances of military success in ancient Rome. The parallel with military observances also emphasizes the notion that Caroline sees their relationship in terms of military victory or surrender.  Their relationship will play a part in illustrating Trollope’s opening thesis of vae victis.  [KS 2012]


world’s battle

Caroline believes that she desires George to be less passionate and to view their relationship as a union to fight in the “world’s battle.” Again we find the notion that their relationship is some sort of battle and is understood in terms of military activity, but it is taken further in this instance.  Although they are in conflict with one another, in Caroline’s terms they should be united and be in conflict with the world around them.  [KS 2012]


jovial days at Richmond, jovial Bacchanalian nights in London

Because Caroline has been postponing their wedding, George has been shirking his work.  Instead of studying law, he spends time enjoying himself.  The repeated use of “jovial” associates George with Jove or Jupiter, which may be apt when we consider Trollope’s strong association of Caroline with Juno, Jupiter’s consort.  George’s nights in London are “Bacchanalian,” as well; that is, they are connected with the celebrations of Bacchus, god of wine.  Trollope generates humor by using mythological resonances to describe George’s partying.  [RR 2012]

Chapter 18 – Retrospective–Second Year

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orthodox, heterodox, doxy

Trollope humorously uses word play in his description of George’s essays as lacking any sort of “doxy.”  Trollope merely removes the Greek prefixes hetero- (“other”) and ortho– (“right”) to display the essays’ complete disregard for public opinion.  [KS 2012]

We can find Trollope making a similar move in Doctor Thorne, when he describes Sir Roger Scatcherd’s bouts of solo drinking as “posiums” rather than “symposiums.”  See commentary for Chapter 9 of Doctor Thorne.  [RR 2012]


George’s triumph

To describe George’s success on many fronts Trollope again uses the Roman image of military triumph.  George seems to be a victor rather than one of the conquered who were lamented in Chapter 1’s cry of vae, victis.  And yet, soon after George’s triumph is mentioned here, Trollope tells us that the relationship between George and Caroline has become strained:  George is not universally fortunate in achieving all his desires, and his pride–as well as Caroline’s–stands in the way of their happiness.  [RR 2012]

Chapter 19 – Richmond

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In this instance, Fate is personified by Trollope, which is reminiscent of the Classical conception of Fate as an uncontrollable agent in the lives of humans.  Despite George’s attempts to practice law, Fate has decided that he must be an author.  [KS 2012]



George is pursuing an answer from Henry Harcourt about the circumstances under which Henry read George’s letter to Caroline.  Although Harcourt’s reading of the private correspondence does not show discretion, Trollope presents an “apology” for him.  Here, “apology” is used in a Classical sense; apologia in Greek–from which our “apology” comes–refers to a speech in one’s defense.  Trollope realizes, however, that his apology for Harcourt will not completely exonerate him.  [KS & RR 2012]


black, white, and brown

Trollope mentions that the defense of Harcourt will not turn his questionable actions white; even with the defense, some may consider them brown or still black.  Trollope here applies and extends a motif, borrowed from Juvenal’s Satires, which he has already used to describe the attempts of the legal profession to turn black to white.  See commentaries for Chapter 5 and Chapter 12.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source: Juvenal, Satires 3.30.



George is baffled by Henry’s apology for reading his letter to Caroline.  George states that “it is incredible.”  Henry interprets “incredible” with reference to its Latin etymological meaning, “not believable.”  However, George meant the phrase to paint the situation as being extraordinary or astounding.  Trollope tells us that Henry attempts to redirect George by “purposefully” misunderstanding him.  [KS 2012]

Chapter 20 – Juno

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Throughout Chapter 20 Caroline is explicitly compared to Juno.  Juno is an ancient Roman goddess who held a high position in the divine hierarchy.  Juno was considered the queen of the gods and was married to Jupiter.  Despite being held in high regard, Juno was also known for her extreme pride and anger, which is fully highlighted in Vergil’s Aeneid.  The identification of Caroline with Juno furthers the militaristic imagery that Trollope has used with Caroline.  Caroline is able to retain a feminine identity, but with certain masculine attributes, and Juno was often depicted in a similar vein.  [KS 2012]


archaic language used to address Caroline as a goddess

Trollope address Caroline with archaic language–“thou,” “didst,” “thy,” “hadst,” etc.–to further convey Caroline’s goddess-like manner.  The employment of this language seems to elevate her status and place her on the “pedestal” of Juno.  However, this elevation is undone in the course of the novel, as Caroline will fall from her pedestal and become more human.  In her pride she clings to her pedestal, but such pride will be part of her undoing.  [KS & RR 2012]


Juno and thrice-built Troy

The ancient city of Troy, located in Asia Minor, was destroyed more than once according to Classical mythology.  Not only did the Greeks famously defeat the city in the Trojan War, but Hercules also conquered it earlier.  Juno was a staunch opponent of Troy, largely due to her being slighted by Paris, a Trojan prince, who gave to Venus, not Juno, the title of the loveliest of the goddesses.  Juno’s animosity against the Trojans continued even after the destruction of the city:  throughout Vergil’s Aeneid she attempts to thwart Aeneas and other Trojan survivors in their attempt to establish a new home.  Here Trollope likens Caroline to a Juno poised to destroy Troy yet again–angry, grieved, and jealous in defeat but maintaining her royal dignity and preparing to strike again.  Just as Juno in mythology rarely achieves her heart’s desire, Caroline will not be happy as long as she maintains a Juno-like stance.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.


quarrels of lovers

Caroline informs Miss Baker of the argument which she had with George and which led to the cancellation of their engagement.  Miss Baker inquires if they have “quarrelled” and she gives herself some assurance that all will be fine by recalling that there is “some old proverb about the quarrels of lovers.”  The “proverb” comes from Terence’s Andria, a Roman comedy.  As Simo and Chremes discuss the argument held between Simo’s son and his son’s lover, Chremes assures Simo that “the quarrels of lovers are the renewals of love.”  Miss Bakers utilizes this proverb to reaffirm her hope that all could be well between George and Caroline.  [KS 2012]

Source: Terence, Andria 555.

Chapter 21 – Sir Lionel in Trouble

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res angusta

Res angusta is a phrase from one of Juvenal’s SatiresHaut facile emergunt quorum virtutibus obstat / res angusta domi–“Men do not rise easily whose virtues scanty affairs at home obstruct.”  In this section of the poem, the speaker, Umbricius, discusses how difficult it is for men to rise in their social station–especially in Rome–when they are poor.  Living spaces, slaves, clothes, all cost money, and gaining material wealth allows one to have these indicators of class.  This sentiment is satirically applied to Sir Lionel, who has limited monetary funds because of his own spending habits.   While in Littlebath on vacation, he has been a great socialite while renting rooms, horses, and servants.  Sir Lionel’s lack of any greater wealth, in his mind, prevents him from maintaining the social identity that he desires.  [CD 2012]

Source:  Juvenal, Satire 3.164-165.


lusus naturae

Lusus naturae is a Latin phrase that meaning “joke of nature,” which is the origin of the English phrase “freak of nature.”  The narrator is describing the unmarried Miss Baker’s passions, and affirms that she is a “normal” woman who wants love and admiration, and is not a “freak of nature” who scorns the affections of men.  [CD 2012]


quarrels of lovers have ever been the renewal of love

Once again, Miss Baker has hope that George and Caroline will reconcile, and her hope of that reconciliation is founded on a sentiment from the Andria, a comedy by the Roman playwright Terence’s.  See commentary for Chapter 20.  [CD 2012]


two nominative cases

Here, the narrator refers to the possibility of reconciliation between George Bertram and Caroline Waddington in grammatical terms.  Just like a verb between two words in the nominative case (the case which usually indicates the subject of a sentence) can agree with either of them, so can agreement arise between two quarreling lovers.  Comparing agreement between lovers to agreement between verbs and subjects allows compromise and harmony to become theoretical concepts that are a very real possibility, as if the grammatical workings of ancient languages can illuminate the patterns of people living in the world.  This reference, because it is alluding to the grammatical workings of either Latin or Ancient Greek, is different from most of Trollope’s other Classical references, which are historical, mythological, or literary.  Nevertheless, this use of Classics, which posits grammar as a model of something happening in the world, is similar to other Classical references that attempt to give a deeper character to persons or things by referring to Classical exemplars or concepts.  [CD 2012]

Chapter 22 – Miss Todd’s Card-Party

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invocation of Calliope

The narrator calls upon the Muse Calliope, who is the patron of epic poetry, to help him write the story of Miss Todd’s party.  The Muses were ancient goddesses who inspired poets to write, and epic poems usually began by asking the help of a Muse.  There is a humorous tension in the narrative between the narrator’s invocation of the Muse and his subject material.  Calliope is the Muse associated with epic poetry, which generally is grand and serious in its style, yet the narrator calls on her to describe a card-party.  There is a disconnect between the humor of the card-party and the seriousness that invoking Calliope suggests.  [CD 2012]


to conquer or to die

“To conquer or to die” is an English translation of a common Latin family motto, aut vincere aut mori.  It is used in mock seriousness describing Miss Ruff, one of the attendees of Miss Todd’s party, who is dedicated to winning in her games of whist.  [CD 2012]



“Hecatomb” comes from the Ancient Greek noun hekatombē, which denotes the religious practice of sacrificing a hundred cattle to a divinity.  Trollope here says that the Littlebath curate Mr. O’Callaghan does not receive “hecatombs of needlework” from his female parishioners.  Trollope uses a humorous conflation of ancient Greek and Christian religious practices to comment on Mr. O’Callaghan’s popularity as a religious figure:  he does not have very many handicrafts from the community because his parishioners find him severe.  [CD & RR 2012]


grammatical axiom

See the gloss on “two nominative cases” in the commentary for Chapter 21.


lovers always do quarrel, and always do make it up again

A variation of a passage from Terence’s  Andria, in which Miss Baker places great hope for the reconciliation of George and Caroline.  See commentary for Chapter 20.  [CD 2012]

Chapter 23 – Three Letters

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grammatical rule

See the gloss on “two nominative cases” in the commentary for Chapter 21.


a man for a woman to worship

Caroline alludes to George as a man worthy of worship by a woman, implicitly casting him as a god.  This is particularly interesting given the number of times that Caroline has been compared to Juno.  Towards the beginning of the novel, Caroline’s beauty and bearing were explicitly linked to Juno, yet Trollope also allowed Caroline to seem mortal, with characteristics like an un-Grecian nose.  Caroline’s worship of George, her growing love and passion for him, are other ways in which she is described as a human, and not just a cold-hearted Juno.   [CD 2012]

Chapter 24 – Bidding High

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Labor omnia vincit improbus

In reference to Henry Harcourt’s various gifts to Mr. Bertram, George quotes from Virgil’s Georgics, 1.145-146.  This phrase translates as “persistent work overcomes all things.”  Harcourt has been visiting Mr. Bertram and bringing gifts in order to befriend him.  It is presumed that Harcourt is doing this in the hope that he may become heir to Mr. Bertram’s fortune.  The Georgics is an agricultural poem that recommends hard work in farming.  Harcourt is industrious so that he may be rewarded with a great fortune.  George’s likening of Harcourt to a hard-working farmer is humorous, since Harcourt’s labor isn’t physical, but lies in persuading Mr. Bertram to part with his money.  [CD 2012]

In the Georgics Vergil uses a perfect tense verb rather than a present tense one:  vicit rather than vincit, “has overcome” rather than “overcomes.”  The sentiment is often expressed with present tense, however, which gives it the ring of a motto or mantra.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Georgics 1.145-146.


Mr. Bertram’s god

Mr. Bertram repeatedly attempts to convince George to re-engage himself to Caroline Waddington by offering him great sums of money.  Yet George does not accept these bribes.  Mr. Bertram, in offering this money, is offering the thing which has the highest value for him.  In this way, his money is a god to him.  Mr. Bertram believes that money in omnipotent in the affairs of the world, and feels heavily scorned when his nephew doesn’t worship money as he does.  [CD 2012]

Chapter 25 – Does He Know It Yet?

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panem et circenses

Trollope is writing a mini-essay following his mention of George Bertram’s arrival in Paris.  He is lamenting that Paris has begun a steady decline marked by its citizens’ interest in the material and not honor, virtue, etc.  In answering his own rhetorical question about what men want, he states that men want panem et circenses, Latin for “bread and circuses.”  This is a phrase taken from the satires of Juvenal, in which he laments that the people of Rome are no longer interested in participating in politics, but only in bread and circuses, gifts of the rulers to the populace.  Trollope sees something similar in 19th century Paris, albeit in a broader sense.  By using this phrase instead of just stating that men only want creature comforts, Trollope is able to use the historical and literary weight of the phrase to his advantage.  Further, it allows Trollope to set up his true theme for this sort of essay section–Victorian England itself.  Trollope sees Paris as already having fallen, but Britain could be close behind.  By using a Roman source, Trollope taps into Victorian England’s vision of itself as the heir of Rome; the Latin quotation serves as both a lamentation and a warning.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Juvenal, Satire 10.81.


the latter days of ancient Rome

Trollope is countering the claim that England is already a nation of shopkeepers, pointing out that nations which concern themselves with the material and spectacular have fallen.  Ancient Rome in its late imperial period was said to have cared more about material goods and possessions and less about old Roman virtue.  Juvenal’s panem et circenses (discussed above) is related to this, but represents only the beginning of the period of supposed decline.  Indeed, during the Victorian era it was popularly accepted that Rome’s late decadence was a major reason for its ultimate fall.  England during the Victorian age sees itself as heir to the Roman Empire.  Trollope is warning his audience that being the heir to Rome has a darker side.  Trollope uses the seeming universality of Classics and the special resonance of Rome with his Victorian audience to make a point and issue a warning.  [CMC 2012]


Daily Jupiter

While in Paris, George Bertram reads a copy of the Daily Jupiter, the newspaper that Trollope invented to be the major news source in his novels.  George sees a story on the new government which reports that Harcourt is now Her Majesty’s solicitor-general and has been knighted.  The Jupiter’s news stories are like the thunderbolts of Jupiter, the king of the Roman pantheon.  This is especially resonant here, as the news regarding Harcourt does in fact hit both the reader and George Bertram like a bolt of lightning.  [CMC 2012]


hymeneal altar

George Bertram has just received word that Caroline and Harcourt are to be married.  Trollope says that they will be wed at the “hymeneal altar.”  Hymen was the ancient god of matrimony.  Trollope makes the impending nuptials between Caroline and Harcourt seem almost pagan rather than Anglican.  Trollope may use this image to elevate the event itself beyond an ordinary marriage (after all, it is the solicitor-general marrying the alleged heiress of a millionaire) and to strengthen the Classical associations of Caroline.  [CMC 2012]


realms of Plutus

George Bertram has just received news of the impending marriage of Caroline and Harcourt.  Plutus was the ancient god of wealth.  Henry’s star in the legal/political world is fast rising, and he is about to be married to the presumed heiress of a millionaire; thus, he is secure in the realm of Plutus and in fact may soon become Plutus in a way similar to that in which Caroline is Juno.  This reinforces earlier images in the novel of wealth being akin to god-like power–in this case, the very power of the god of wealth.  It associates Harcourt with this divine power.  The use of this phrase contrasts with the two other things Harcourt now has in spades:  success in love and politics.  Trollope’s use of  a Classical association for wealth and simple words for the other two reinforces the great significance of wealth for Harcourt and the status it brings him.  [CMC 2012]


clouded face

George Bertram has just received letters from Harcourt and Caroline which detail their plans to wed.  Trollope is remarking on the fact that bringing letters in at breakfast can be a good idea, but at other times the recipient’s face will inevitably become clouded.  The image of the clouded face may come from Horace’s Epistles.  Horace addresses Lollius and tells him to remove the cloud from his brow.  Trollope is being clever here, as he is taking a line from a poetic letter of Horace to describe the possible negative effects of receiving a letter.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Horace, Epistle 1.18.94.


sick of the very name of the old man’s money

George is tired of other people’s advice to court Mr. Bertram with a view to becoming his heir.  The phrasing which Trollope uses to describe George’s attitude recalls the way in which the Romans’ ancient dislike of monarchy was expressed in the 19th century:  the Romans were said to “hate the very name of king.”  George balks at the way in which his uncle’s money is seen by others as a ruling concern; he prefers his freedom.  For more on this turn of phrase, see commentary for Chapter 14 of The American Senator.  [RR 2012]

Chapter 26 – Hurst Staple

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George Bertram is reflecting on the choices that he made in Jerusalem due to Caroline.  He turned away from his plan to join the Church because of Caroline, making himself an apostate.  The idea of George as an apostate is amplified by the fact that Caroline is so likened to the pagan queen of the gods, Juno.  In this, George is likened to a figure such as Julian the Apostate, a Roman emperor who attempted to turn the empire away from Christianity and back to the religion of old Rome.  Trollope uses this subtle nod to history to reinforce the image of Caroline as Juno.  For the first time, Caroline is seen as a bit of a temptress, in that she tempted George away from the Church.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  OCD.


no one becomes an infidel at once

George Bertram is reflecting on the abandonment of his plans to become an Anglican minister.  Trollope points out that no man becomes an infidel (loses their faith) all at once, but that once the first step is taken it is all downhill.  The phrase “no one becomes an infidel at once” is a play on a famous line of Juvenal’s–nemo repente fuit turpissimus–that says in English that no man becomes superlatively immoral all at once.  The theme of Juvenal’s satire in which this line appears is the hypocrisy of moralists without morals.  It is likely that Trollope is using the theme of this satire to poke fun at George Bertram, as his heart was never fully committed to becoming part of the Anglican clergy even without Caroline.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Juvenal, Satire 2.83.


Flora Buttercup

George and Arthur are arguing over the tenets of the Anglican faith.  To make a point, George invents a country girl whom he names Flora Buttercup.  Trollope is being humorous with this name, as flora is Latin for “flower” and a Buttercup is a type of flower.  [CMC 2012]


Caesar’s tribute should be paid to Caesar

George and Arthur are discussing the nature of faith and the literal truth of the Bible.  George says that for him, he must be able to take all of it as true or none at all.  He says that the sun standing still upon Gibeon must be as true as the wisdom of Christ stating that the people of Jerusalem should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s–namely, taxes.  Trollope is cleverly blending two common sources of allusion in the novel:  the Bible and Classics.  He combines them to give this quasi-essay portion of the novel special resonance with his Victorian audience.  British people during this age would have been quite attuned to issues of the Church of England, especially when intermixed with Classical and overt Biblical references.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Matthew 22:21.

Chapter 27 – The Wounded Doe

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welcome the coming, speed the parting guest

George is asking Adela if she means to leave the Wilkinsons’ house that day.  Upon her saying yes, George quotes Alexander Pope’s translation of the Odyssey.  The quotation is taken from book 15, where Athena is encouraging Telemachus to return to Ithaca from the court of Menelaus at Sparta.  Trollope is being ironic here, as Telemachus is returning home, but pitiable Adela has no real home to go back to.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Pope’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey 15.84 (line number in Pope’s text).



Adela is preparing to journey to Littlebath.  Adela would rather have had George as her driver, but Arthur takes her to the station instead.  Trollope states that it is impossible for Arthur to say that he will not be Adela’s “charioteer.”  In addition to being a generic noun for a person who drove a chariot, charioteers in ancient Rome were greatly admired as racers in the Circus Maximus.  The word “charioteer” also carries with it the connotation of the Homeric chariot-borne hero.  Here, Trollope is being humorous, as the image of Arthur driving Adela to the train station in a phaeton full of luggage is hardly the image associated with any form of ancient charioteer.  [CMC 2012]

Chapter 28 – The Solicitor-General in Love

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Elysium and asphodel

Trollope has shifted into an essay-like register just as Caroline and Harcourt are walking together after church.  He generalizes that walking with one’s lover is an Elysium on earth, and that it is the closest mortals can come to walking through the fields of asphodel.  Elysium was the realm of Greek heroes in the afterlife, and asphodel was a plant that grew there.  Trollope has switched into a high Classical register for this “essay” in order to convey the magnitude of his feelings on the matter.  The use of Elysium and asphodel furthers this tone.  It is of note that these are associated with the dead who have died valiantly in battle, not living lovers.  The contrast between the Classical/martial and Trollopean/domestic uses of the two words creates tension for the reader.  [CMC 2012]


goddess made of buckram and brocade, human beings with blood in their veins

Trollope is talking about the pleasures of walking alone with one’s lady-love, stating that being alone with them allows one to discover that they are not untouchable goddesses but mortal.  The contrast between divinity and mortal echoes a scene in the Iliad in which Athena is wounded in battle and–as the poet explains–since she is divine she bleeds not blood but ichor.  Caroline has already been likened extensively to the goddess Juno, and Trollope’s language here reminds his readers that all woman, and Caroline especially, are not goddesses but actual humans.  Although Caroline will later become much more goddess-like and less human, frozen as a bloodless statue in her marriage to Harcourt, by the end of the novel she will have re-entered the human fold.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Homer, Iliad 5.340.



After mentioning that Harcourt and Caroline are walking together after church, Trollope is describing at length the joys of walking with one’s lover.  He addresses readers of his own age as his “friends, born together with me in the consulship of Lord Liverpool” and reminds them that, for them, such joys are in the past.  The consulship belonged to two citizens for one year and was considered the highest attainable office in the Roman Republic (with the possible exception of the censor).  Trollope is dating himself and his contemporaries as being born in the “consulship” of Lord Liverpool the Prime Minister.  Trollope is equating the British office with that of consul, playing on Victorian England’s view of itself as successor to Rome, since Romans often dated things by consulships as well.  By using “consulship” to date himself and his audience, Trollope maintains the Classical register of this passage and associates Rome with England very strongly.  [CMC & RR 2012]


vixi puellis nuper idoneus, et militavi

Trollope here is speaking about how he and his contemporaries are not as young as they once were, and he laments that love is no longer the same as when he was a young man.  He quotes Horace to illustrate this point:  “I lived, recently, suitable for girls, and I fought not without glory.”  (Trollope quotes only as far as “I fought,” assuming that his audience will be able to complete the tag or at least understand its point.)  Horace too laments that he is too old to successfully play the game of love, though once he was quite good at it.  Trollope is using Classics as a universal standard here:  the phenomenon is common enough, but Classics serves to crystallize it.  This is also in keeping with the register of the rest of the mini-essay on love in this part of the novel.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Horace, Ode 3.26.1-2.


five lustrums

Trollope is asking his readers if they envy young men who are still fresh to the world and to the game of love.  In telling the age of the hypothetical young men, Trollope chooses to use the phrase “five lustrums” in place of “25 years.”  In ancient Rome a lustrum was originally a sacrifice that was performed after the census, which took place every five years.  It came to mean a period of five years.  By using this phrasing, Trollope is able to maintain the Classical register and tone that he has been employing now for some time during his exposition on love.  [CMC 2012]



Trollope is describing Harcourt’s astonishing good fortune in life, especially at such a young age.  Given Harcourt’s political success, wealth, and choice of bride, Trollope rhetorically asks whether he had indeed found an Elysium on earth.  Elysium was the realm of heroes in the Greek underworld.  Harcourt has found his own Elysium as he has seemingly triumphed in heroic fashion over Victorian society and its brutal competition: he has excelled and (at least for the time being) found paradise.  Trollope is using Classics as a universal benchmark here, but he could also be using Elysium to comment on what English society now views as heroic.  [CMC 2012]


goddess class and beauty of a marble bust

Harcourt and Caroline are walking after church, and Harcourt is admiring his choice of bride.  In thinking about her beauty, he is happy to note that it is not tied to the appeal of youth.  Instead, it belongs to a “goddess class” that seems to defy age.  This description of Caroline is in keeping with her earlier characterization as Juno.  However, here the reader begins to notice a subtle change in the way Caroline is described.  When first describing Caroline, Trollope was careful to point out her all-too-human slight flaws.  Here, there is no such attempt.  Trollope could be signaling a change in Caroline, that she is slowly turning into a frozen statue of a goddess:  beautiful and ageless yes, but also less alive.  [CMC 2012]

In other novels Trollope finds statuesque looks, however remarkable, less desirable than the beauty of fully alive, fully human women.  Griselda Grantly in Framley Parsonage is lovely and likened to a statue, but Trollope clearly prefers Lucy Robarts and her animation.  In The Warden Eleanor Harding’s personality surpasses the attractiveness of a Classical bust.  See commentary for Chapter 11 of Framley Parsonage and Chapter 11 of The Warden.  [RR 2012]

Chapter 29 – Mrs. Leake of Rissbury

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footsteps heavier than Camilla’s

Sir Lionel has been denied the opportunity to walk with Adela Gauntlet and Miss Todd. As Miss Todd fetches her bonnet, Trollope states that her footsteps are “heavier than Camilla’s.”  In Roman mythology, Camilla is the daughter of King Metabus, who dedicated her to the goddess Diana.  Following in the footsteps of her divine patron, Camilla does not marry; in this regard, she is like Miss Todd.  But there the similarity ends.  Camilla was also a huntress and fighter notable for her quick feet.  At the end of book 7 of the Aeneid, Vergil offers a detailed description of Camilla’s swiftness.  Trollope seems to be poking fun at Miss Todd by commenting on her gait and (presumably) weight.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 7.803-817 (description of Camilla’s running) and 11.535.-594 (Diana’s recapitulation of Camilla’s history).



Trollope is describing Mrs. Leake and notes that she has some sort of relationship with the “county-ocracy,” which is the cause for admiration from the other women of Littlebath.  Trollope employs this word for some linguistic humor. The suffix “-ocracy,” comes from the Greek element krat-, which means “power” or “rule.”  By referring to the county society as “county-ocracy,” Trollope seems to elevate its importance.  Trollope attempts to elevate it because that is how Mrs. Leake and the women of Littlebath would make it out to be, but its importance is somewhat undermined by Trollope’s linguistic absurdity.  [KS & RR 2012]


being at Rome, did as Romans do

This expression dates back to antiquity.  St. Ambrose is said to have written this in reply to St. Augustine:  “When I am at Milan, I do as they do at Milan; but when I go to Rome, I do as Rome does.”  Miss Todd is described as someone who does not enjoy visiting Mrs. Leake, but since she is in Littlebath, she intends to do as the people of Littlebath do.  There is humor in the juxtaposition of the seat of the Roman empire and the modest resort of Littlebath.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.



Sir Lionel is described as someone who is thought about by the “Lucretias” of Littlebath.  Lucretia was the wife of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus and was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, the son of the then-king of Rome.  Lucretia committed suicide because of the shame she felt, and the event is often presented as one of the driving forces behind the overthrow of the monarchy in early Rome.  Lucretia’s extreme adherence to an ideal of female purity caused her to be admired by many.  In likening the women of Littlebath to a bunch of “Lucretias,” Trollope creates a sense of irony because they are willing to leave behind their “maiden meditations” and give up their chastity for Sir Lionel.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  OCD.

Chapter 30 – Marriage-Bells

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the sacrifice

Before Caroline’s wedding to Harcourt, Trollope describes Caroline as readying “herself for the sacrifice.”  Trollope has conflated the Christian wedding altar with the sacrificial altars of Greek and Roman antiquity, and he thereby suggests that Caroline herself is the sacrificial victim to be offered up on her wedding day.  [KS & RR 2012]


attendant nymphs

The bridesmaids for Caroline are referred to as “attendant nymphs.”  Nymphs are minor divinities who take the form of beautiful maidens and may accompany a goddess, so in this instance Trollope seems to be continuing the representation of Caroline as a goddess.  [KS & RR 2012]


much she could do, was now doing, was prepared to do

Trollope effectively uses a tricolon construction here to convey Caroline’s resolution to marry Harcourt although she does not love him.  Each clause in the tricolon contains a form of “do,” which reinforces a sense of Caroline’s firmness just before Trollope mentions what Caroline cannot do–that is, behave like a typical excited bride.  The repetition of words in different forms but containing the same basic element is a rhetorical device known as polyptoton.  [RR 2012]


sed post equitem sedet atra cura

Henry Harcourt has just received 500 pounds from Mr. Bertram as he and Caroline depart on their honeymoon, and Caroline says that she is pleased.  Yet all is not well, as Trollope signals with this line from an Horatian ode:  “but black care sits behind the knight.”  In the ode, Horace uses this line to illustrate the fact that worry can beset even the fortunate.  Caroline should be happy as she rides off in the carriage with new husband, but Trollope ends this chapter with the foreboding Horatian image followed by an explicit mention of the “very black” care that now sits behind Caroline, a “female knight.”  [KS & RR 2012]

Source: Horace Odes 3.1.40.

Chapter 31 – Sir Lionel Goes to His Wooing

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Niobean deluge

Trollope notes all the things that Caroline does not do during her honeymoon with Harcourt.  Unlike other ladies, she does not turn “herself into a Niobean deluge” in distress during her travels, but she is also incapable of showing affection for Henry.  Niobe, according to mythology, had a large family and claimed that she was better than the goddess Leto on that basis.  When Leto’s children–Apollo and Diana–killed Niobe’s sons and daughters, Niobe’s husband committed suicide in his grief, and Niobe herself was transformed into an ever-weeping spring.  Trollope’s hyperbolic Classical allusion here is aimed at women who exaggerate their discomforts while traveling abroad.  We might also contrast Niobe and Caroline in another regard:  Niobe feels excessive emotion when she loses her family, while Caroline does not feel anything for her husband Harcourt.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.146-312.


vestal zone

Sir Lionel considers the possibility of proposing to Miss Baker and realizes that he has a time constraint because she will visit Mr. Bertram soon.  After that, she would also have to be willing to wear her “vestal zone” as they wait for Mr. Bertram to die.  In this instance, “zone” follows Greek usage and refers to a belt or sash.  Vesta was the Roman goddess of the hearth and home.  Vesta was considered a virgin, and the fire in her sanctuary in the Roman Forum was guarded by Vestal Virgins, who were required to remain chaste throughout their time of service.  The use of “vestal zone” highlights Miss Baker’s long-standing maiden status as well as her service through the years in providing a home for Caroline.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  OCD.



Sir Lionel begins to prepare himself for his proposal to Miss Todd.  Trollope notes that despite his old age, Sir Lionel still holds himself well and has “that decent look of military decorum which, since the days of Caesar and the duke, has been always held to accompany a hook-nose.”  In the pairing of Julius Caesar and the Duke of Wellington we can find another instance of Victorian England’s presentation as the continuation and heir of imperial Rome.  While Sir Lionel’s appearance seems to follow in a grand tradition, Trollope’s praise perhaps comes to a humorously anti-climactic end with mention of a “hook-nose.”  [KS & RR 2012]


the Graces

Sir Lionel continues in his preparation, but he chooses to make “no unusual sacrifice to Graces.”  The Graces are daughters of Zeus and are considered goddesses of beauty.  In mythological sources we can find them participating in the toilettes of Aphrodite and Pandora.  Sir Lionel decides not to adorn himself because he thinks a seemingly uncultivated appearance will be more appealing to Miss Todd.  [KS & RR 2012]

Sources: Homer’s Odyssey 8.364-366 (Graces with Aphrodite).
Hesiod, Works and Days 73-74 (Graces with Pandora).



As Sir Lionel and Miss Todd are discussing Miss Baker, Miss Todd speaks of Miss Baker’s beauty.  Sir Lionel believes that this does not “augur well for his hopes.” An augur was an ancient Roman diviner who interpreted the flight and activity of birds and how that related to the will of the gods. Miss Todd’s appraisal of Miss Baker does not “augur” well for Sir Lionel, because Miss Todd believes that Sir Lionel should be interested in Miss Baker and not her.  [KS 2012]

Chapter 32 – He Tries His Hand Again

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Miss Todd has left Sir Lionel after rejecting his proposal, and she feels a sense of “triumph.”  Triumph, in the Classical sense, connotes the large observances of military success in Rome.  Trollope invokes this sense of “triumph” to elevate the feeling of success that Miss Told has.  There is humor at play, as well:  the public spectacle of a Roman triumph contrasts with Miss Todd’s more private “triumph at her heart,” and her domestic victory is achieved over a Sir Lionel, himself a military man.  Despite success in his occupation, Sir Lionel is beaten by Miss Todd.  [KS & RR 2012]


Littlebath Galen

When Miss Todd visits Miss Baker and Penelope Gauntlet, she has them guess what has just happened to her.  Miss Gauntlet suggests that perhaps she has been with “the doctor.”  By “doctor” Miss Gauntlet means Dr. Snort, a celebrated Littlebath clergyman; Trollope clarifies by differentiating between the minister and “the Littlebath Galen,” i.e., a medical doctor.  Galen was a prominent physician in Rome in the 2nd c. CE, and he acted as court physician during Marcus Aurelius’ reign.  As with the reference to the Littlebath Lucretias in Chapter 29, Trollope playfully juxtaposes significant Roman figures with the inhabitants of Littlebath.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  OCD.

Chapter 33 – A Quiet Little Dinner

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triumph and ovations

When Sir Lionel learns that his brother Mr. Bertram would not endorse a marriage between himself and Miss Baker, Sir Lionel realizes that even if Miss Baker would now agree to the match, “such triumph would be but barren” since it would not bring with it any of Mr. Bertram’s money.  Upon return to Littlebath Sir Lionel finds himself the “centre of all those amatory ovations which Miss Todd and Miss Gauntlet had prepared for him.”  The use of “triumph” and “ovations” in proximity recalls two kinds of celebratory processions for victorious Roman commanders, with an ovation being a lesser honor than a triumph.  In this context, both words convey irony, since Sir Lionel’s matrimonial plans have not, and will not, meet with success.  [RR 2012]


Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat

The narrator, in assessing Harcourt’s desire to see Caroline and George become friends, quotes this proverb in Latin–“whom God wishes to destroy, first he drives insane.”  The desire to see Caroline and George reconciled will lead Harcourt to become crazed, since the relationship with his wife will become strained to the point that he spies on her.  Given Trollope’s inclination to use the sentiments in Latin phrases to model plot development and patterns in his novels, this proverb seems to be an instance of foreshadowing.  We don’t know yet how Harcourt will be destroyed, but we do know that his destruction is coming after he is driven insane.  [CD 2012]

Trollope’s use of Latin also suggests that the sentiment expressed has trans-historical applicability.  Trollope’s introduction to the quotation reinforces its timelessness:  “…was not all this explained long even before Christianity was in vogue?”  [RR 2012]


Caroline’s triumphs

The narrator describes Caroline’s marriage to Harcourt and her subsequent social success as “triumphs” which she bears quietly.  Her victory is having married a rich, socially mobile politician of whom many people think highly, and the use of “triumph” is related to the Roman practice of publicly celebrations of military victories.  However, Caroline’s reserved reaction to her victories runs counter to the normal mode of public celebration.  This reflects how she has changed since she and George broke off their engagement.  In her marriage to Harcourt, she isn’t capable of giving love, and so she commits herself to serving Harcourt with a sense duty and pride.  Her lack of emotion doesn’t allow her to openly or even privately rejoice in her marriage.  Trollope also comments in general on the triumphs of beautiful women.  Caroline is the kind of woman for whom the “triumph” of a good marriage or large house comes easily, because “the world,” as the narrator says,” was ready to throw itself at her feet” on account of her beauty.  [CD 2012]


goddess’ shrine

The particular place on a couch from which Caroline receives and entertains guest is called her “goddess’ shrine.”  The use of this imagery develops Caroline’s character.  Before her marriage to Harcourt, she was described as having a balance of divine and human passions.  Now in a marriage that denies her emotional fulfillment, Caroline is seen as a statue of a goddess set up in an ancient shrine.  Her lack of affection and her commitment to ambition and pride leave her beautiful and awe-inspiring, but loveless and cold.  [CD 2012]


noli me tangere

When Caroline meets guests, she bows, and this bow seems to say noli me tangere.  This is a Latin translation of John 20:17, “Don’t touch me!”  Jesus says this to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection, reminding her to be respectful of his godhood and to keep her distance.  When Caroline bows, she is reminding her guests not only that they shouldn’t touch her, but that any sort of emotional connection isn’t allowed them.  The distance apparent between Caroline and her guests is a further development of her life within her marriage.  Her godhood, her commitment to pride and duty are pursued to such an extent that she isn’t capable of loving Harcourt or relating intimately to anyone else.  She is beautiful and impressive as a goddess, yet detached in her relationships.  [CD 2012]


his spirit acknowledged her as a goddess

Upon seeing Caroline, George remembers his last encounter and with her and feels that he didn’t give her due respect.  Now meeting her as Lady Harcourt in her own home, he realizes how noble she appears and how much she seems like a goddess.  This aspect of her character makes him awkward and blush.  This episode further develops Caroline’s resemblance to a goddess.  George, who knew Caroline when she was most loving and human, now recognizes and fears Caroline’s bearing.  She seems to him a goddess, someone both beautiful and terrifying.  [CD 2012]


Acheron and Libitina

George, Harcourt, Baron Brawl, and Mr. Stistick are discussing various contemporary political figures and guessing as to their future reputations.  George mentions two politicians who were famous three and four decades ago, but are still remembered in the present time.  He describes their continuing fame as an escape from being swallowed completely by the Acheron.  The Acheron was a river in Classical mythology which flowed through the Underworld.  The politicians have escaped historical obscurity, and haven’t completely entered the land of the dead.  Baron Brawl then asks if Lord Boanerges, a contemporary politician, “will escape Libitina.”  Libitina was the Roman goddess of burial.  Like the Acheron, in this passage Libitina is associated with obscurity after death.  All these Classical references to the Underworld and to a burial goddess allow the gentlemen to have a playful discussion about the reputations of dead and living politicians while also wittily exercising the cultural literacy appropriate to their class.  As a group of educated men, they can all appreciate and participate in the allusions.  [CD & RR 2012]

Source:  OCD.



George answers Baron Brawl’s question about the future reputation of Lord Boanerges by saying that he will escape obscurity, but will probably not be worshiped as a hero.  In Ancient Greece, religious rites and practices grew around a group of mythological figures known as heroes.  These heroes were worshiped for the great deeds they had done, and occupied a state of being somewhere between human and divine.  The reputation of Lord Boanerges won’t be obscure, but he won’t have a devoted following of admirers comparable to a cult surrounding a hero.  [CD 2012]

Source:  OCD.



The upstairs room where Mrs. Stistick and Caroline spend the evening is called an “elysium.”  Elysium was a beautiful, temperate part of the Underworld in which heroes dwelt after their death.  The room’s description as an elysium is ironically opposed to Mrs. Stistick, whose lack of graceful conversation and engagement with her hostess has made her truly bad company for Caroline in their after-dinner retirement upstairs.  [CD & RR 2012]


Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat

After George has left Caroline’s house, she is thinking about her husband’s “wretched folly,” and the consequences that it may have.  This is the sentiment apparent in the proverb that was mentioned earlier in this chapter, Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat, “whom God wishes to destroy, first he drives insane.”  The narrator explains explicitly that Caroline isn’t thinking about the Latin proverb itself, but a related feeling.  By allowing Caroline to experience the sentiment without reference to the proverb, Trollope is fortifying the truthfulness of the saying.  The proverb describes a universal principle, and one doesn’t necessarily need to know Latin in order to understand it.  [CD 2012]

Chapter 34 – Mrs. Madden’s Ball

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While at a ball, Caroline and George dance together and afterwards carry on a conversation about their lives since they broke their engagement.  George states that Fortune, the Roman personification of chance, is crushing him while being kind to Caroline.  In Classical literature, Fortune is often described as being inconsistent, alternately blessing people and beating them down with no overarching organization or equal distribution.  This reference allows George to communicate his feelings about his and Caroline’s respective circumstances.  Caroline has married well and seems to be living a charmed, happy life, while George is unsure of his future and miserable in London.  [CD 2012]


Lord Echo

Though only a passing reference, the choice of naming this character “Echo” probably describes some quality he holds.  Echo was a mythological figure, a nymph who could talk only by repeating the words of others.  Trollope, in naming the character Lord Echo, focuses on the Lord’s lack of originality, either in thought or word.  Lord Echo probably repeats much of what he hears from others.  [CD 2012]

Source: OCD.

Chapter 35 – Can I Escape?

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Hadley Croesus

See commentary for Chapter 11.  Harcourt’s ambitions require that he possess a large fortune, and he sees Mr. Bertram as his most likely chance of gaining that fortune.  Since he has cultivated a friendship with Mr. Bertram and now married his granddaughter, Harcourt hopes that he will be an obvious heir to the fortune of that “Croesus.”  [CD 2012]


Fortune favours the brave

Harcourt’s ambition and political position obligate him to spend large sums of money.  He doesn’t have a large, inherited fortune, which would decrease risk of incurring great debt.  However, Harcourt believes that his boldness in spending money will be rewarded.  This belief is expressed with reference to a Latin tag, audentes fortuna iuvat or fortis fortuna adiuvat–“fortune favors the bold/brave.”  Found in Terence’s Phormio and Vergil’s Aeneid, it came into general English usage as a proverb.  It describes the sentiment that bravery and daring will lead to favorable results.  Harcourt’s belief in this maxim lets him more easily spend great sums of money, because he thinks these expenses will be rewarded in the future.  [CD & RR 2012]

Sources:  Terence, Phormio 203.
Vergil, Aeneid 10.284.


punishment lame of foot

Caroline realizes that her loveless marriage to Harcourt was a mistake, and that the love she has for George outweighs her devotion to pride.  Her marriage, first a crime, is now a punishment.  Trollope, mixing the general and the particular as well as merging his narrative voice with Caroline’s internal monologue, remarks:  “Seldom, indeed, will punishment be so lame of foot as to fail in catching such a criminal as she had been.”  This is a reference to a poem by Horace, in which he states that “punishment, with limping foot, rarely abandons the advancing wicked man.”  Once again, Trollope uses a Classical literary quotation to express a universal sentiment.  In this case, the immoral person almost always will be punished in some way for their crime.  Caroline, in her miserable marriage, is being punished.  [CD & RR 2012]

Source:  Horace, Ode 3.2.31-32.


Mezentian embrace

Caroline’s marriage is described as a “Mezentian embrace.”  In Vergil’s Aeneid, Mezentius is an Etruscan king known for his perverse cruelty, such as binding together a living human and a corpse as a punishment.  In comparing her marriage to such an embrace, the narrator is describing Caroline’s extreme emotional response to Harcourt.  For Caroline, this is her punishment for rejecting her true love, George, in favor of the social status that Harcourt could provide.  Being bound to a creature that is dead to her and fills her with disgust is the punishing consequence for letting ambition choose her path in life.  [CD 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid, 8.485-488.

Chapter 36 – A Matrimonial Dialogue

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 37 – The Return to Hadley

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Sir Omicron

Caroline has just left Harcourt to stay at the home of her grandfather, Mr. Bertram.  Harcourt is reluctant to tell his friends that she has gone due to a fight with him, so he invents a story about London disagreeing with her health.  In order to support this, he says that the famous physician Sir Omicron advised Caroline to quit London immediately.  Omicron is a letter of the Greek alphabet.  Trollope is calling upon general associations of Classics (and Greek in particular) with medical authority.  [CMC 2012]


grandpapa Croesus

In describing where Caroline has gone following their fight, Harcourt states that her health has caused her to quit London and visit her grandfather.  Harcourt refers to Mr. Bertram as “grandpapa Croesus.”  Croesus is an Anatolian king who features prominently in the first book of Herodotus’ History.  Eventually conquered by the Persians, he is known for his great wealth.  It is because of this great wealth that he is associated with Mr. Bertram.  [CMC 2012]

Harcourt had earlier referred to Mr. Bertram as a “Croesus” when talking with George in Chapter 12; here Harcourt uses the Classical reference while talking with another friend, Mr. Madden.  Harcourt assumes that his friend will understand the reference and the joking way in which it is being deployed; their shared understanding helps to consolidate their relationship.  [RR 2012]


iron fate

After leaving Harcourt and coming to Mr. Bertram’s house, Caroline lays aside all of the fine clothes and jewelry that she received during her engagement or after her marriage.  The only ring she keeps is her wedding ring, which “iron fate” will not let her take off (no matter how much she wishes she could).  The notion that fate is unbreakable and cast in iron is a Classical idea.  In the closing portion of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Venus laments that Julius Caesar must die according to the iron decree of the Fates.  Likewise, in the Thebaid of Statius the Fate Clotho is given the adjective ferrea, “iron.”  In Classical antiquity, Fate was considered both inescapable and often cruel, mirroring Caroline’s current predicament in her marriage.  Interestingly, we now see Caroline in a way more reminiscent of a tragic hero caught in the workings of Fate than an epic goddess.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Sources:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 15.781.
Statius, Thebaid 3.556.



Caroline is seen at the very church in which she married Harcourt seemingly “in triumph.”  Now, she is there obviously alone and sad.  Trollope introduces the image of a Roman military triumph here only to retract it, stating that Caroline never had any real triumph in her marriage, only wretchedness.  This is part of a large character shift for Caroline during this portion of the novel, in which the reader observes her transformation from a goddess to human woman.  [CMC & RR 2012]


Did a man ever behave so madly?

Adela and Caroline are talking about Caroline’s marriage difficulties.  Caroline’s rhetorical question refers to Harcourt’s decision to invite George to dinner at his and Caroline’s house.  This echoes an earlier Latin quotation which summarily states that the god first drives men mad before destroying them.  By using these references, Trollope gives this section of the novel an almost tragic feel.  The reader is unsure who the tragic hero is meant to be, Caroline or her husband–or both.  See commentary for Chapter 33.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Chapter 38 – Cairo

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the Sir Omicron of the Hurst Staple district

At the beginning of this chapter, it is revealed that Arthur’s health is in decline.  In order to remedy this, his physician tells him that he should travel to Egypt.  Trollope names the doctor only as the “Sir Omicron of the Hurt Staple district.”  Sir Omicron was the physician Harcourt cited in the previous chapter as having recommended that Caroline quit London for the sake of her health. As previously discussed, Omicron is a Greek letter that serves to associate the physician with the prestige of Classical (and specifically Greek) medicine.  [CMC 2012]

No doubt there is some humor intended by so referring to a country doctor, even a well-respected one.  [RR 2012]


so we will pass on

Trollope chooses to skip over a description of the journey that George and Arthur take to get to Alexandria, instead inserting the reader directly into a description of the city.  The technique of mentioning something only to state that it will not be mentioned is called praeterito.  Given the expansive nature of the plot both geographically and temporally, this is of useful practical significance to Trollope.  Further, it allows him to progress immediately into a description of Egypt and its cities.  [CMC 2012]



Trollope begins the Egyptian portion of the novel with a lengthy lamentation regarding the modern state of the city of Alexandria.  Founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria was once the center of the Hellenistic world.  It was known all over the Mediterranean as a nexus of science, learning, and culture.  Trollope contrasts this with the current city.  This supports the Victorian image of England as the successor to the Hellenistic and Roman world.  If London is the new center of the world, than it makes sense for the previous cities which occupied this seat to have decayed.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  OCD.


auri sacra fames

In describing modern Alexandria, Trollope states that the motto of modern Greece is auri sacra fames, “the cursed greed of gold.”  This is part of a line from the Aeneid, where Vergil points out that a lust for gold will drive men to the worst things.  Trollope is using this quotation to contrast the virtue of ancient Greece, to which England sees itself as the successor, and modern Greece, which according to Trollope is beset by greedy men.  [CMC 2012]

The adjective sacra can be translated as either “cursed” or “holy,” and both meanings are at play in the Latin phrase:  the inordinate desire for gold as if it were holy leads becomes a terrible trouble.  Trollope imagines his modern Greeks as seeing gold as sacred, while Trollope himself suggests that a driving desire for it is accursed.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 3.56.


auri sacrissima fames

Trollope uses a play on part of a line from the Aeneid to describe the foreigners that live in modern Alexandria.  Trollope modifies the adjective in the original line (sacra) to its superlative form (sacrissima).  It can now be rendered into English as “most accursed [or most holy] greed of gold.”   Trollope highlights the utter moral decay of modern Alexandria when compared to its illustrious (idealized) past.  It is this past, and not the greedy modern incarnation, that Trollope’s Victorian audience would have identified with and seen themselves as heirs to.  [CMC 2012]


Pharos, Pompey’s Pillar, Cleopatra’s Needle

In describing Alexandria, Trollope lingers on some of the better-known physical landmarks of the city.  Pharos was the island in the harbor at Alexandria that had once held the great lighthouse, a marvel of Hellenistic engineering and a testament to the city’s mercantile importance.  It is also considered one of the Wonders of the Ancient World.  Pompey’s Pillar is a large triumphal column.  Pompey was a contemporary of Caesar and friend of the Ptolemys of Egypt; he was eventually killed in Egypt on the orders of Ptolemy XIII during the Civil War that ended the Roman Republic.  Cleopatra’s Needle is an obelisk:  a square column topped with a pyramid and carved with hieroglyphics.  All of these physical landmarks have strong associations with the grand Classical past of the city.  They are used by Trollope as a contrast to the modern state of the city.  It is Alexandria’s Classical past that Trollope’s audience would have identified with.  [CMC 2012]



George and Arthur are reminiscing on their past few years while viewing the pyramids.  George asks Arthur to remember back to when they had just completed their university degrees and he had been so full of triumph while Arthur had been in despair.  Triumph here is the being used in the Roman sense of the word, as the language Trollope used to describe George at that point in the novel had military connotations.  Here, George is anything but triumphant, and that characterization is heightened by the contrast the character himself draws with his past, care-free self.  [CMC 2012]


Lucifer and Pandemonium

George and Arthur are observing a whirling dervish, a member of the Muslim Sufi sect involved in a mystical relationship with Allah.  Part of Sufi ritual involves spinning until the point of exhaustion.  The groans of the participants are described as being like the legions of Lucifer within the bowels of Pandemonium.  Lucifer is another name for Satan, used by John Milton in Paradise Lost.  Pandemonium is literally “the place of all demons,” a word coined by Milton using Greek elements.  In Paradise Lost, Milton closely associated the Classical past with the forces of Satan.  Here, Trollope is tapping into that same idea, only he is conflating Classics, Satan, and Islam.  [CMC & RR 2012]



As George and Arthur watch the climax of the ritual, Trollope describes the sounds that the participants make as coming from Tartarus itself.  Tartarus was the deepest part of the Greek Underworld.  This reference continues Trollope’s association of Islam with Classics and the Christian Hell.  It is a very tidy way of communicating to his audience what one Victorian attitude toward Islam was.  [CMC 2012]

Chapter 39 – The Two Widows

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clouded brows

On their return voyage George and Arthur have met two widows, Mrs. Cox and Mrs. Price.  The two women had previously been attached to two other gentlemen.  The two gentlemen now displaced are said to have clouded brows.  This turn of phrase references an epistle by Horace and was used earlier in the novel by Trollope (see commentary for Chapter 25).  In the epistle, Horace tells his addressee Lollius to remove the cloud from his brow.  By using this reference, Trollope calls the reader’s attention back to the previous instance of this reference, in which George is upset at the news of the marriage of Caroline to Harcourt.  Here, George is humorously the cause of another presumed lover’s clouded brow.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Horace, Epistle 1.18.94.


divinely perfect Mrs. Cox

The major and captain to whom Mrs. Cox and Mrs. Price had been attached prior to the arrival of Arthur and George had been bragging to their friends on the ship about their lady friends.  Mrs Cox is said to be divinely perfect.  This is an echo of earlier descriptions of Caroline, though not nearly as extended.  Here, Trollope appears to be using the description in jest, as it is presumed that Major Biffin and Captain M’Gramm have exaggerated to their friends.  The humor extends beyond the two men, as the reader is invited to contrast this description of George’s current female companion with that of Caroline, with whom he really belongs.  [CMC 2012]


hinc illae lacrymae

Prior to the arrival of George and Arthur, passengers on the boat had assumed that Major Biffin and Mrs. Cox were engaged.  Major Biffin had boasted about the favour he found with Mrs. Cox but had not confirmed their engagement–and so Mrs. Cox felt free to transfer her attention and affections to George, leaving Major Biffin on his own.  “From this source those tears”–a quotation taken from Terence’s comedy Andria.  The fact that Trollope’s source-text here is a Roman comedy reinforces Trollope’s humorous presentation of the on-ship romances.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Terence, Andria 1.1.126.



George compares Mrs. Cox to Hebe, daughter of Zeus/Jupiter and Hera/Juno, the goddess of youthful beauty.  As they approach England, however, George sees Mrs. Cox less as a goddess and more as a widow who has acted inappropriately.  Trollope is using the comparison to Hebe for comedic effect and to make a point to his readers that outside of England, people often appear not as they truly are.  The rules and codes that govern behavior and social interactions within England itself are relaxed when characters travel outside of England.  [CMC 2012]

Trollope gives Mrs. Cox only the illusion of goddess-hood, while he has bestowed on Caroline more solidly divine characteristics and bearing.  Perhaps it is no mistake, then, that Trollope has George liken Mrs. Cox to a lesser divinity, Hebe, while Trollope connects Caroline to a major goddess, Juno.  As the goddesses differ in magnitude, so do the women differ in beauty and character–so also do the depths of George’s attachment to them:  his attraction to Mrs. Cox is passing, but his love for Caroline cannot be overcome.  [RR 2012]

Chapter 40 – Reaching Home

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Mrs. Cox is weighing the possibility of being married to a poor man again.  Trollope states that she knows very little about money, but she does know what happened to her last husband when his debts were called in.  She remembers that Jewish “harpies” descended on him, forcing him to pay his bills.  In Classical mythology harpies were monsters of hybrid form–part female, part bird–and their name literally means “grabbers.”  They were notoriously relentless as well as “grabby,” which seems to be the image Trollope is going for in his depiction of Jewish money-lenders of the time.  [CMC 2012]

We might want to note the cross-gendered nature of this reference:  while the mythological harpies are always female, the Jewish money-lenders are presumably male.  Trollope emphasizes the otherness of the money-lenders by identifying them as non-Christian and using an image which distances them from notions of masculinity.  [RR 2012]



Mrs. Cox is lamenting her life to George during their last dinner.  She says that Fate has ever been against her.  Trollope is using the Classical idea of Fate here, as something that Mrs. Cox believes she cannot escape from.  Trollope appears to be humorous, since Mrs. Cox is exaggerating and the reader, in fact, is aware that Mrs. Cox is largely responsible for her own current state.  [CMC 2012]


hate the very idea of home

Mrs. Cox expresses dislike at the prospect of returning to England, which brings with it distance from George and a loss of the freedom they have enjoyed on the boat.  The phrasing echoes the way in which the Romans’ ancient dislike of monarchy was expressed in the 19th century:  the Romans were said to “hate the very name of king.”  George earlier used similar phrasing to express his own distaste of the repeated mention of his uncle’s money; see commentary for Chapter 25.  [RR 2012]



George has resolved to not marry Mrs. Cox, and his steps away from her are described by Trollope as sounding triumphant.  Trollope is using the military sense of the word here (as he is so often when talking about triumphs of various sorts during the novel).  It is being used in an ironic sense, as one can hardly call resolving to not ask a widow to marry as being equal to the victory that would grant a Roman general a triumph.  [CMC 2012]

Chapter 41 – I Could Put a Codicil

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all the Sir Omicrons in Europe

George is about to visit Mr. Bertram after his trip to Egypt, and he has been told that Mr. Bertram’s condition is so poor that all the “Sir Omicrons” could visit him and it would do no good.  Sir Omicron is a character used by Trollope in other novels as a doctor of some standing.  Sir Omicron’s name derives from the name of a letter of the Greek alphabet.  [KS 2012]


maddening folly

As George settles himself at Hadley, he must regularly face Caroline, but they never mention nor repeat their moment of “maddening folly” in Eaton Square.  “Maddening folly” is reminiscent of the Latin aphorism used in Chapter 33, Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat, “Those whom God wishes to destroy he first makes crazy.”  Trollope first invoked this sentiment in reference to Harcourt and his desire to invite George to dinner, but its application broadens to include Caroline and George, as well.  See commentary for Chapter 33.  [KS & RR 2012]

Chapter 42 – Mrs. Wilkinson’s Troubles

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the more prudent Sophia

Now that Arthur has returned home with renewed strength and resolve, he prepares to face his mother and pursue his love for Adela.  Arthur asks his sisters if they think that Adela would come to visit them if invited.  While Mary thinks she would, the “more prudent” Sophia doesn’t.  “Sophia” comes from the Greek word, sophia, “wisdom.” Sophia seems to know that Adela has affection for Arthur and for that reason would not come to visit.  [KS & RR 2012]



Arthur receives Adela’s acceptance letter and arms himself with it against his mother, but he is afraid of Mrs. Wilkinson’s “Stapledean panoply.”  The notion of arming oneself resonates with the cry of vae victis and Classical theme of battle established in the opening chapter.  Although Arthur started the novel as one of the “conquered,” he ultimately prevails in his desire to marry Adela and in his contest with his mother.  [KS & RR 2012]

Chapter 43 – Another Journey to Bowes

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When Mrs. Wilkinson leaves Hurst Staple to see Lord Stapledean, the stable-boy serves as her “charioteer.”  “Charioteer” recalls the Classical motif of battle that was established in the opening chapter.  Mrs. Wilkinson is driven to the station as if she is going into battle.  Mrs. Wilkinson is depicted as being overly ambitious and militaristic in her attempts to curtail Arthur’s authority.  [KS 2012]


Cerberus and a region as little desirable might be

Mrs. Wilkinson has finally made it past Lord Stapledean’s butler, who is described as “Cerberus,” and will be able to make her pleas to the lord himself.  In Classical mythology, Cerberus was a beastly dog that guarded the Underworld.  Once Mrs. Wilkinson has bypassed the guardian butler she enters Lord Stapledean’s book-room–the arena in which she thought she would achieve victory turns out to be as uninviting as the Underworld, and the lord’s response to her is unsatisfactory.  [KS & RR 2012]


she had come so far to fight her battle

As Mrs. Wilkinson pleads to Lord Stapledean for help, she grows dejected:  she came so far to “fight her battle,” and now she realizes that she will not be victorious.  This militaristic discourse resonates with the Classical theme of vae victis announced in the opening chapter.  [KS 2012]


vae victis, Io triumphe, paean

Mrs. Wilkinson returns to Hurt Staple unsuccessful in her attempts and reports to Arthur that she will no longer fight his marriage.  In the past Arthur had been accustomed to cry vae victis, “woe to the conquered,” over his own losses, but now he has prevailed.  Io triumphe is an exclamation, “Ho, victory!”  A paean is an ancient Greek song celebrating victory.  Arthur started the novel as one of the conquered, but because he was never overly ambitious, he is now allowed the status of the victor.   [KS & RR 2012]

Chapter 44 – Mr. Bertram’s Death

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his god–his only god

Trollope states that Mrs. Bertram’s money had been “his god” throughout his life.  In this instance, money is personified as a deity.  Often in Greek and Roman mythology, certain things would be personified as gods; it is typical, for instance, to see Fate or Wisdom personified as a deity.  Here Trollope utilizes the trope of personification to illuminate the importance of money for Mr. Bertram.  In Trollope’s almost obituary-like narration, Trollope shows that Mr. Bertram was not an entirely good person as his only care was for his money.  [KS 2012]


his own mad anger

When Caroline pleads with George to ensure that she will not have to go back to her husband, George recalls “his own mad anger” that placed her in her situation with Harcourt.  The reference to “mad anger” recalls Trollope’s quotation of Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat, introduced in Chapter 33:  “Those whom God wishes to destroy he first makes crazy.”  Although Trollope first uses the proverb in reference to Harcourt, it applies in some degree to both Caroline and George.  The “mad anger” meant here is George’s outrage that Caroline had shown his letter to Harcourt and the breaking of their engagement which led to so much grief.  At this moment, however, George’s “mad anger” has passed, and neither George and Caroline will be utterly destroyed.  [KS & RR 2012]


my pride and my anger

Caroline explains that her own pride as well as her anger at George kept her from backing out of her marriage to Harcourt, even when she knew she should.  Both pride and anger are emotions attributed to Juno in the opening section of the Aeneid and are mentioned by Vergil as reasons for Juno’s behavior.  Here, Caroline acknowledges the motivating force of her Juno-esque emotions, but she also consigns them to the past.  Caroline has stepped down from her Juno pedestal.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Vergil’s Aeneid 1.23-33.


black be reckoned white, white be reckoned black

Although George will not become Mr. Bertram’s heir, he is pleased that he has made an honest and independent life for himself.  He has not fallen into the habit of changing his views or actions for material gain–that is, he has not been tempted to call black white and vice versa in exchange for his uncle’s wealth.  The notion of changing black into white or white into black comes from Juvenal’s Satires, and Trollope has already used the image when discussing George’s worries about becoming a lawyer.  See commentary for Chapter 5.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Juvenal, Satire 3.30.

Chapter 45 – The Will

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last sad duty to his brother’s remains

Sir Lionel, writing to Hadley, excuses himself from attending his brother’s funeral because of his health and the train schedule from Littlebath to Hadley.  These circumstances “unhappily” hinder Sir Lionel from giving the “last sad duty to his brother’s remains.”  This is perhaps a reference to the Roman poet Catullus, who wrote a poem concerning the death of his brother and his journey to his brother’s tomb in order to perform funeral rites.  Catullus writes that he undertook the journey “in order that I might give the last duty of the dead.”   The reference to this poem is meant to be humorous, since the relationship between Sir Lionel and Mr. Bertram had been practically non-existent and hostile for many years.  Sir Lionel is presented throughout the novel as a something of a dissimulator and scoundrel; he isn’t unhappy at missing his brother’s funeral since he doesn’t possess any fraternal love.  The letter is his own excuse for missing the funeral and a reminder to the reader of Sir Lionel’s character.  A reference to a poem famous for fraternal feelings highlights Sir Lionel’s lack of brotherly affection.

Source:  Catullus 101.


Mr. Mortmain

The undertaker who prepares the body of the elder Mr. Bertram for burial has a fitting surname.  “Mortmain” means “dead hand.”  The name is composed of Latin elements filtered through French:  mort- (death, dead) and man- (hand).   Not only does Mr. Mortmain handle the dead, but he also provides George Bertram with black gloves for the funeral.  [RR 2012]


ipsissima verba

Ipsissima verba is a Latin phrase meaning “the very words themselves.”  It refers to laws or legal cases and documents being quoted verbatim.  The narrator gives no exact details of Mr. Bertram’s will, saying that no critic shall be given the chance to think it illegal.  In this instance, ipsissima verba probably refers to the kinds of legal terms and provisions that are a part of wills in general.  The narrator also says that he is far from any legal practitioners who could give him advice, and this adds to his decision to not include any exact wording from Mr. Bertram’s will.  [CD 2012]

Source:  Garner, B. A., and H. C. Black. Black’s Law Dictionary.  8th ed.  St. Paul:  West Group, 2004.

Chapter 46 – Eaton Square

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preserve an even mind

As the novel progresses toward its completion, Harcourt’s mental stability lessens.  He is continually concerned with his position in society, and when a change in government occurred, he refuses to step down when his colleagues do.  Public opinion turns against him.  Many people also discover that Caroline has left him and that he has lied about the reason she left.  In setting up his frame of mind, the narrator alludes to an ode from the Roman poet Horace–“remember, for you will die, Dellius, to keep an even mind in difficult affairs, and also a temperate mind in good times, apart from excessive joy.”  Horace reminds his friend to be of a steady mind in hardship and in good fortune, and that death is the inescapable fortune of all men.  This reference is apt, and a foreshadowing of Harcourt’s suicide.  His spectacular rise and quick fall from power have unbalanced him, and he is driven to madness by his monetary and marital problems.  These circumstances lead to his death.  Once again, Trollope is providing a sentiment from Latin literature as a paradigm for actions in the world of his novel.  Harcourt has not carried the lessons of his Classical education into his life.  [CD & RR 2012]

Sources:  Horace, Odes, 2.3.1-4.


Daily Jupiter

A common reference in many of Trollope’s novels, the Daily Jupiter is a newspaper whose namesake is the Roman king of the gods, Jupiter.  The Daily Jupiter shares two main qualities with Jupiter:  it is omnipotent, and it is authoritative.  In printing the will, the Daily Jupiter will make it known to all of Sir Henry’s creditors that he was not the recipient of Mr. Bertram’s vast fortune.  The paper’s authoritativeness is intimated by the fact that it “had already given a wonderfully correct biography of the deceased great man.”  [CD 2012]

Chapter 47 – Conclusion

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not unhappy

In describing the subsequent marriage of George and Caroline, the narrator tells us that they are “not unhappy.”  The use of double negatives is a Classical rhetorical strategy that draws attention to what is being said.  In this case, the narrator is describing the happiness that George and Caroline possess.  The use of litotes emphasizes the great unhappiness that has tempered their lives and has stunted what real–unqualified–happiness they could have had.  While they do enjoy their life together, the use of litotes allows the narrator to show the consequences of George and Caroline’s earlier actions.  [CD & RR 2012]


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