Chapter 37 – The Return to Hadley

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 35 – Can I Escape?

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 34 – Mrs. Madden’s Ball


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 33 – A Quiet Little Dinner

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 32 – He Tries His Hand Again


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.