Chapter 01 – Julia Brabazon

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Julia Brabazon

The gens Julia was a long-standing aristocratic clan in ancient Rome, the most famous member of which was Julius Caesar.  Julia Brabazon’s bearing befits an association of her name with Caesar:  she often tries to take command of situations, she is ambitious for herself, and she is concerned about her status.  [RR 2012]


Harry the schoolmaster

At the start of the novel, the Cambridge-educated Harry Clavering is a fellow of his college and a teacher at St. Cuthbert’s, a prestigious school.  Although Harry foregoes a possible academic career, Trollope presents him assuming a teacherly stance at points in the novel:  he quotes Latin to Florence in Chapter 10 to illustrate his point, and we learn in Chapter 43 that he once taught Julia a bit of Horace.  [RR 2012]


Hermione Clavering

In Greek mythology, Hermione is the daughter of Helen and Menelaus.  Trollope’s use of the name in The Claverings probably owes more to Shakespeare than to Classics:  in Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, Hermione is a wife treated poorly by her husband, and in The Claverings Hermione is mistreated by her spouse,  Sir Hugh Clavering.  [RR 2012]

Chapter 02 – Harry Clavering Chooses His Profession

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I see a better path, and know how good it is, but I follow ever the worse

Trollope plants this paraphrase from Medea’s soliloquy in Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the mind of the Rev. Henry Clavering.  In the Ovidian scene containing this quotation, Medea has just seen Jason and is instantly lovestruck.  She knows that aiding him against her father’s will would be a betrayal of her duty as a daughter and a princess; nevertheless she is tempted beyond her ability to resist.  Likewise, Rev. Clavering disregards his duties as rector, instead allowing the enthusiastic and industrious curate Mr. Saul to do the work of the parish.  [SH 2012]

Source:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.20-21.


the old story of the fox who had lost his tail

Fanny Clavering references this fable from the Aesopian tradition in a conversation with her brother Harry.  It tells the story of a fox who lost his tail in a trap and, after enduring much ridicule, tried to convince the other foxes that being tailless was more convenient and attractive; the fable counsels readers not to heed advice given out of self-interest. In the Greek version of the fable, the fox is female, making the comparison to Mary Clavering even more fitting.  Fanny and Harry’s sister Mary, who is engaged to a clergyman, is upset with Harry for deciding not to enter the clergy despite their father’s wishes.  By comparing Mary to the fox in Aesop’s fable, Fanny suggests that Mary has lost the ability to give unbiased advice concerning Harry’s profession.  Mary’s engagement to a reverend constitutes “losing her tail” in this context.  [SH 2012]

Source:  A Greek version and an English one of the fable on Laura Gibbs’s Aesopica website.

Chapter 03 – Lord Ongar

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Grecian sculptor, Julia as a goddess

In sketching the appearance of Julia Brabazon, Trollope mentions that her nose is “as finally modelled as though a Grecian sculptor had cut it,” and that her figure is “like that of a goddess.”  Although Trollope thereby establishes Julia’s beauty, he does so in a way that makes her more imperious and static than the lively Florence Burton.  Trollope elsewhere demotes statuesque feminine beauty even while acknowledging it:  see commentary for Chapter 11 of Framley Parsonage.  [RR 2012]


hecatombs of partridges

In ancient Greece, a hecatomb was a large sacrifice of cattle–literally 100 of them, though sizeable sacrifices of fewer than 100 could be called “hecatombs” as well.  Grafting this Classical association onto partridge shooting in Clavering Park, Trollope produces humor with the shift from oxen to birds and the implicit comparison of the ancients’ religious devotion to the Victorian men’s zealous, and secular, pursuit of hunting.  [RR 2012]


halcyon days

Trollope often enlists the adjective “halcyon” to describe the time of a couple’s courtship; in so doing, Trollope is sensitive to the etymology of this word and its association with marital happiness.  The adjective is derived from the name of Alcyone:  in myth, she mourns the loss of her spouse, Ceyx, during a storm at sea, and both are eventually turned into birds who nest by the sea on calm or “halcyon” days.  Trollope depicts this time in the courtship of Julia and Lord Ongar as peaceful, with Lord Ongar enjoying his new status as a soon-to-be-married man.  Although these early days of their relationship are pleasant, stormy times are to come, and in this regard Trollope’s use of “halcyon days” may be ironic:  in the myth, the halcyon days come after the disastrous storm, but in The Claverings they precede the difficulties of Julia’s marriage to Lord Ongar.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.410-748.



After her wedding, Julia and Lord Ongar take a carriage to the railway station.  Trollope’s choice to call the carriage a “chariot” may cooperate with the Classical resonance of Julia’s name (see commentary for Chapter 1):  like a victorious Caesar, Julia rides in a triumphal chariot, her ambition of a successful marriage achieved.  [RR 2012]

Chapter 04 – Florence Burton

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 05 – Lady Ongar’s Revenge

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 06 – The Rev. Samuel Saul

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 07 – Some Scenes in the Life of a Countess

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The Adelphi is an area of London near the Thames, so named after the Adelphi Buildings constructed there in the 18th century.  In Greek adelphoi means “brothers,” and the Adelphi Buildings were erected by a group of brothers:  John, Robert, James, and William.  It is one of these buildings that Harry begins his work as an engineer in London.  It is also where he comes to know his future brother-in-law, Theodore Burton.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Entry on the Adelphi in the London Encyclopaedia.


a flying goddess

Harry’s office is in one of the Adelphi Buildings, which has been repurposed from its former use as a luxurious private home.  The ceiling of the room where Harry works retains its original Neoclassical decoration, including a goddess painted at its center.  The fate of the Adelphi building echoes the transformation that Harry himself is undergoing by leaving behind his ties to the Classically oriented academic world and beginning a new career as an engineer.  [RR 2012]


lad of wax

This odd but complementary turn of phrase may have Classical origins; see commentary for Chapter 4 of Doctor Thorne.  Although it is meant kindly, Harry considers it too familiar.  [RR 2012]


Theodore Burton

The name “Theodore” is composed of the Greek words for “god” and “gift.”  Although Harry sometimes mentally disparages his future brother-in-law Theodore Burton, Theodore and his family become a sort of god-send for Harry in his troubles.  [RR 2012]


money as Sir Hugh’s god

Julia recognizes that her brother-in-law’s highest loyalty is to money, not family.  In Julia’s formulation here, money is presented as if one of the many gods of antiquity, and Hugh Clavering thus becomes a latter day pagan in his devotion to it.  [RR 2012]

Chapter 08 – The House in Onslow Crescent

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Sophy Burton

“Sophy” comes from the Greek noun sophia, meaning skill, knowledge, or wisdom.  Sophy Burton is only about four years old, so it is difficult to tell if her name speaks to her character.  However, it is ironic that her father, who disdains traditional Classical education and the airs it gives young men, would bestow a Classical name upon his daughter.  [SH 2012]


Theodore Burton’s estimation of a Classical education

At the end of Chapter 8, Harry’s future brother-in-law gives a rather biting appraisal of Harry’s Classical education, stating that it makes men pretentious even though it “requires no experience and very little real thought.”  Theodore further claims that such an education makes men of no “real use” in society.  This harsh evaluation highlights the class differences and value systems of the Burton and Clavering families.  The Claverings are members of the gentry and esteem Harry’s fellowship and intellectual pursuits as fitting for his station; the Burtons have achieved middle-class success through work and are interested in practical knowledge that one can use to create something productive for society and to make a living.  [SH 2012]

Chapter 09 – Too Prudent by Half

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 10 – Florence Burton at the Rectory

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a Latin line to show that a constant dropping of water will hollow a stone

Harry deploys his Classical knowledge to display and assert power by quoting this Latin proverb, gutta cavat lapidem, to Florence.  Harry means that his persistence in harassing Florence will result in her eventually consent to an earlier marriage date than she has been counting on.  Florence is less educated than Harry, and the use of this proverb against her would remind her of that fact.  Harry is also asserting his masculinity, in tandem with his higher education, against Florence in this debate:  society at the time dictates that she do as men tell her.  Harry may also be channeling the spirit of his former job as a schoolmaster, showing Florence that he knows better than she does what is best for their relationship.  With all these hierarchical relationships at play—educated and uneducated, man and woman, teacher and pupil—Florence is more likely to give in to Harry’s desire.  [SH & RR 2012]

Source:  Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto 4.10.5.

Chapter 11 – Sir Hugh and His Brother Archie

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Sir Hugh’s clouded brow

Sir Hugh is displeased when his baby makes a little noise among company.  With a clouded brow he chastises Hermione for bringing the child in.  The image may have ancient origins:  in one of his Epistles, Horace urges his addressee to strike the cloud from his forehead (deme supercilio nubem) in order to appear more pleasant.  [RR 2013]

Source:  Horace, Epistle 1.18.94.


claret drunk almost in silence

After dinner at the Clavering estate, the women retire to the drawing room and the Clavering men–Sir Hugh, Captain Archie, the Reverend Clavering, and Harry–remain in the dining room to drink wine and have conversation.  This setting would normally be reminiscent of a symposium (literally “drinking together”) in ancient Greece, during which men would pass a wine bowl around the room, discuss politics, and entertain each other.  These were friendly settings in Classical society, but the scene Trollope creates is a symposium gone awry:  Rev. Clavering refuses to drink any wine at all, and what conversation there is is strained at best.  When compared to what this setting should have involved, the anti-symposium Trollope has created seems even more like a sham of a family gathering.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OCD.


dog in the manger

The story of the dog in the manger is part of the Aesopian tradition:  a dog keeps hay from cattle, even though the dog doesn’t eat hay himself.  Laura Gibbs notes that although there is not a Latin or Greek version of this particular fable, the scenario is alluded to by Lucian, and so its proverbial status is ancient.  Harry runs the risk of behaving like the dog when he, now engaged to Florence, chafes at the idea of Archie’s courtship of Julia.

Source:  Entry on the fable at Laura Gibb’s Aesopica site.

Chapter 12 – Lady Ongar Takes Possession

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rich she was in horses, how rich in broidered garments and in gold

Lady Ongar repeats this thought to herself as she sits alone, trying to convince herself that all her struggles against her late husband and his family have paid off.  In a way, she has already won a battle because she has secured Lord Ongar’s estate as her own; however, she must now fight society to restore her reputation.  Trollope’s representation of Julia’s train of thought uses a translation of Vergil’s description of Turnus as he marches to war in the Aeneid.  Just as riches were not enough to ultimately save Turnus, Lady Ongar knows that merely winning the estate is not enough to win her respect in the community.  [SH & RR 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 9.26.

Chapter 13 – A Visitor Calls at Ongar Park

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Sophie Gordeloup

Sophie Gordeloup is the sister of Count Pateroff and Julia’s persistent, though increasingly undesired, companion.  While she makes a pretense of her willingness to help various other characters throughout the novel, her primary concern is for herself, and she schemes for ways to stay connected to Julia.  She is also rumored to be a foreign spy.  Her caginess may justify the etymology of her name:  “Sophie” comes from Greek sophia, “wisdom.”  Sophie’s unappealing craftiness contrasts with the winning sweetness of the similarly named Sophy Burton.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 14 – Count Pateroff and His Sister

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he was no longer an Adonis when he married her

Count Pateroff, the late Lord Ongar’s close friend, makes this dramatic comparison of Lord Ongar and Adonis in a conversation with Harry Clavering.  In Greek mythology, Adonis was Aphrodite’s handsome young lover, but everyone knew that there was no love between Lord and Lady Ongar.  Pateroff also draws a sharp contrast here between the physical status of Adonis and Lord Ongar, the latter of whom had fallen far from his prime and was in ill health when he married.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OCD.

Chapter 15 – An Evening in Bolton Street

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letters with (and without) godlike perfection

At the start of Chapter 15 Florence receives from Harry a long and affectionate letter.  Trollope tells us that she enthusiastically shares it with Harry’s sister Fanny and urges Fanny to acknowledge it as a “perfect” love-letter.  Florence later receives a hastily written note from a distracted Harry; this letter she keeps to herself and does not claim for it any “godlike perfection.”  Elsewhere in the novel Harry is described in divine terms; here the divinity (or lack thereof) is transferred to his missive.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 16 – The Rivals

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drowsy Phoebe

Lady Ongar’s maid Phoebe grows tired as she waits for her mistress.  Her name means “shining one” in Greek and may recall either the sun or the moon:  Phoebus Apollo is the Classical god of the sun, and “Phoebe” (the feminine form of Phoebus and originally the name of a Titan) is often used as an alternate name for the moon or for Artemis, the sister of Apollo who is herself associated with the moon.  If the resonance with Phoebus is active here, the maid’s name aptly illustrates her difficulty retaining consciousness, since the sun which her name recalls has long since set.  If the connection to Phoebe is pursued, the maid’s name serves to underscore the lateness of the hour:  even the moon is tired.  [SH 2012 & RR 2013]


godlike Harry and his laughter like heavenly music

The concept of “music of the spheres” is of Pythagorean origin.  Pythagoras knew that vibrations and motions of various frequencies caused sound, so he concluded that the motion of planets and heavenly bodies must also create sounds; since nature is ordered and harmonious, those sounds must create harmonious heavenly music.  By likening Harry Clavering’s laughter to this perfect music and his appearance to that of the gods, Trollope vividly describes Florence’s view of Harry as a superhuman, glorious character.  [SH 2012]

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

Chapter 17 – Let Her Know That You’re There

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knowing the right course but not following it

Although Harry knows that he should tell Julia about his engagement to Florence, he does not.  To express this fact Trollope uses a turn of phrase that hearkens back to Ovid’s Metamorphoses:  caught between love for Jason and loyalty to her father and country, Ovid’s Medea says, “I see and approve better things; I follow worse” (video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor).  In knowingly following a worse path, Harry is like his father, whom Trollope also described using this Ovidian formulation.  See commentary for Chapter 2.  [RR 2013]

Source:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.20-21.


hectoring Hugh

In laying plans for his courtship of Lady Ongar, Archie Clavering chooses to consult Captain Boodle rather than his brother Hugh.  Captain Boodle is more companionable than Hugh because he does not have any of Hugh’s “hectoring, domineering way” about him.  The English verb “hector” is derived from the Homeric hero Hector who often exhorts his fellow Trojans to fight.  In book 6 of the Iliad, Hector speaks sharply to his brother Paris, who is returning to battle after spending time with Helen; Archie does not want similar badgering from his own brother as he prepares his “campaign” to win Julia.  [RR 2013]

Source:  Homer, Iliad 6.520-529.

Chapter 18 – Captain Clavering Makes His First Attempt

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letting her know he was there in a manner sufficiently potential

In this case, “potential” is used to mean “possessing potency or power;” this is closer to its etymological meaning than to the more common definition, “possible.”  “Potential” comes from the Latin word potentia, meaning power.  Archie must make himself known to Lady Ongar in a powerful way if she is to take notice of him.  The use of the word here also plays on the more common meaning of “possible,” since at this point Archie’s fate as concerns Lady Ongar is not certain, but is still changeable.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OED.



Harpies were winged female monsters in mythology, especially known for torturing Phineas by stealing his food daily.  The word “harpy” comes from the Greek verb harpazo and literally means “snatcher.”  Here, Archie Clavering compares lawyers to harpies because “there is no end to their charges,” implying that they essentially steal money from their clients.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OCD.


which do you like best, the town or the country?

To this question of Sophie Gourdeloup’s, Lady Ongar responds, “Whichever I’m not in, I think.”  In one of Horace’s satires, a slave accuses his master of exactly this fickleness.  Sophie suggests that Lady Ongar is restless because she is idle; Horace seems to suggest that this restlessness is partly due to having money and the ability to indulge one’s every whim.  By bringing in this reference to Horace, Trollope shows that the fickleness and dissatisfaction of the rich are age-old problems.

Sources:  Horace, Satire 2.7.28-29.


to be very fond of your friends…it is the salt of life

This is a paraphrase of the Latin proverb vitae sal amicitia, “friendship is the salt of life.”  Sophie Gourdeloup speaks this line of worldly wisdom, which at first seems appropriate since her name comes from the Greek word for wisdom.  However, Sophie does not seem to be a trustworthy character at this point in the novel; neither Lady Ongar nor Harry Clavering considers her a true friend.  With these relationships at play, then, it seems odd for Sophie to deploy this proverb about friendship when she is speaking to those with whom she can claim only a pseudo-friendship.  [SH 2012]

Chapter 19 – The Blue Posts

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 20 – Desolation

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 21 – Yes; Wrong;–Certainly Wrong

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as many children as Priam

Priam, the king of Troy during the Trojan War, had 50 sons as well as many daughters.  So many children would be a sign of wealth and prosperity.  Trollope makes this reference to show that Harry truly does not begrudge his cousin Archie anything material–even prosperity on the level of Priam would not incite his jealousy.  However, prosperity in the form of children means something more in this context.  If Archie were to have children, or if Hugh were to have more children, Harry’s chance of becoming a baronet would lessen.  Therefore, Harry is also saying that he would not resent Archie becoming baronet.  From this it becomes clear, then, that all of Harry’s irritation with Archie stems from his own, newly re-discovered infatuation with Lady Ongar.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OCD.


drop wearing the stone

Julia worries that Harry may come to believe ill of her if he is exposed to the repeated insinuations of others.  To explain this to Harry, Julia refers to a Latin proverb (“a drop hollows the stone”) which Harry himself had cited to Florence earlier in the novel; see commentary for Chapter 10.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 22 – The Day of the Funeral

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 23 – Cumberly Lane Without the Mud

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Mr. Saul’s desire for heroism

Although Mr. Saul is “no knight,” he wants to achieve his own victory on the field of love, winning Fanny’s heart without assistance from others.  Trollope uses several words with Greco-Roman resonance to describe Mr. Saul’s aspiration:  “…he had a feeling that the spoil which he desired to win should be won by his own spear, and that his triumph would lose half its glory if it were not achieved by his own prowess.”  The curate is thus transformed into a Classical hero, which emphasizes (with a tinge of humor) the seriousness of his intention.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 24 – The Russian Spy

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a bona fide sporting transaction

Archie Clavering has some reservations about bribing Sophie Gordeloup to help him win Lady Ongar’s affection, but he decides to go through with it on the advice of his friend, Captain Boodle.  Trollope’s use of the Latin phrase bona fide, “in/with good faith,” is ironic because bribery is a course of action filled with subterfuge.  It is also ironic because Sophie’s actions are untrue to her word, and her motives are concealed:  she takes Archie’s money with no intention of helping him gain Lady Ongar’s hand.  [SH 2012]



“Triumviri might be very well; Archie also had heard of triumviri; but two were company, and three were none.”  Trollope records this thought of Archie’s after Hugh denounces the idea that Sophie Gordeloup is a Russian spy.  Archie decides not to include Hugh in his and Boodle’s plan to bribe Sophie, thus ruling out the possibility of triumviriTriumviri is a Latin word meaning “three men;” in ancient Rome, this meant men associated in power or authority.  The first triumvirate, consisting of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus in 60 BCE, was actually an unofficial coalition.  The second triumvirate was a true ruling group, consisting of Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian; they were appointed rulers in 43 BCE.  Even though a coalition of Archie, Boodle, and Sophie would be a three-person coalition, it still would not be triumviri because Sophie is a woman.  [SH 2012]

Although Archie acknowledges a Classical model for a three-man alliance, Archie dismisses it, citing to himself a version of a traditional proverb (“two is company; three is none”) as a higher authority.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.


seven thousands of pounds, what you call per annum

This is Sophie Gordeloup’s description of Lady Ongar’s fortune in her conversation with Archie Clavering.  Sophie has noticed and deployed the British custom of defining annual income with the Latin phrase per annum, “per year.”  By doing so, Sophie makes it clear that she has noticed the British use of Latin phrases such as per annum that would signal her an outsider if she could not employ them herself.  Although she does still mark her origin with the phrase “what you call,” she proves that she is clever, observant, and able to use British turns of phrase properly.  Such knowledge of Classicisms in British culture allows her to integrate herself into society and converse on a level field with Archie and others.  [SH 2012]


altogether of the harpy breed

The word “harpy” comes from the Greek verb harpazo and literally means “snatcher.”  In Greek mythology, harpies are winged female beings who carry off various people and objects and are especially known for plaguing Phineas by snatching away his food.  Here, Archie Clavering calls Sophie a harpy because she quite literally snatched his twenty pounds out of his glove when he attempted to bribe her.  With such a fantastical comparison, Trollope shows that Archie views Sophie as so cunning that she must not even be the same kind of creature as he is.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OCD.

Chapter 25 – What Would Men Say of You?

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divine Julia

Trollope refers to Lady Ongar as “the divine Julia” when he summarizes a meeting between Archie and Sophie to discuss Archie’s prospects of courting Julia successfully.  The epithet seems to echo Sophie’s tendency to speak of Lady Ongar in terms of fawning over-endearment.  [RR 2013]


by Jove

This exclamatory invocation of the Roman king of the gods is uttered by Archie when he emphatically dismisses the possibility that Harry could be interested in Julia for himself.  Sophie mockingly repeats the phrase in her own mind when she asserts to herself the likelihood of Harry’s interest.  [RR 2013]


Julia looking like Juno

When Julia confronts Harry with Florence Burton’s name, her stance is proud and majestic, befitting Juno, the Roman queen of the gods.  Although Julia’s bearing is striking and bespeaks strength, it also signals a possible remove from humanity–see commentary for Chapter 3 on Trollope’s description of Julia as a Greek statue and goddess.  In The Bertrams, Caroline Waddington is persistently identified with Juno, and in the course of the novel she is brought, painfully, down from her divine pedestal (see commentary on The Bertrams passim).  By the end of The Claverings, Julia too will be lowered a notch or two, partly through her experiences and partly through her own choice to relinquish her aspirations as well as some of her wealth.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 26 – The Man Who Dusted His Boots with His Handkerchief

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 27 – Freshwater Gate

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Sophie considers it lucky for herself that Harry is engaged to Florence and that the news of their engagement disturbs Julia.  In Sophie’s reflections on her situation, her luck is made into a quasi-divine force, Fortune.  Such a personification of Fortune was common in Classical antiquity.  [RR 2013]


The old poet told us how Black Care sits behind the horseman

Here Trollope quotes the “old poet” Horace, who claims in his ode to simplicity that wealth does not help one escape Atra Cura, “Black Care.”  No amount of material abundance makes one impervious to illness or melancholy or worry.  As she travels to the Isle of Wight, Lady Ongar is a perfect example of how wealth does not appease Atra Cura.  Though she has the means to flee from London, where her troubles with Harry and Count Pateroff have been afflicting her, she cannot flee from her worry and emotional turmoil.  [SH 2012]

Trollope makes a bid for the timeless nature of Horace’s insight:  he suggests that a poet of his own time will describe this disturbing “goddess” fueling the fire of a train.  Julia’s trip by locomotive is the modern equivalent of the horse and horseman in Horace’s ode.  [RR 2013]

Source:  Horace, Odes 3.1.40.


Julia making herself divine

When Count Pateroff intercepts Julia during her time on the Isle of Wight, he suggests that by marrying him she can escape the unpleasant rumors surrounding her.  Julia, however, insists that she would prefer to lessen her misery by jumping off a cliff.  Count Pateroff applauds the poetic passion of Julia’s assertion–saying that with it she makes herself divine–but reminds her of the prosaic reality of such a fall.  The count’s description of Julia as “divine” echoes two references to Julia in Chapter 25:  the epithet was applied to Julia during a summary of a discussion between Sophie and Archie, and Trollope describes Julia as a Junoesque figure when she confronts Harry about his engagement to Florence.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 28 – What Cecelia Burton Did for Her Sister-in-Law

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children gracious as young gods

Trollope gives Theodore Burton’s opinion of his children to show the reader how happy Theodore is with his life.  To think that the children are young gods is to think that they are perfect, and that they can only become more of a joy to Theodore as they grow.  This picture of a heavenly air at the Burton home makes for an even stronger contrast between Theodore’s typical outlook on life and his current anxiety about Harry’s conduct toward Florence.  [SH 2012]


sins which the gods should punish with instant thunderbolts

Zeus (or Roman Jupiter), the king of the gods, was often depicted in antiquity holding thunderbolts that he used to issue warnings or to strike down evildoers.  By referencing this ancient image of divine retribution, Trollope conveys Theodore Burton’s feeling that Harry’s offences toward Florence are great enough to deserve attention and even punishment from the heavens.  [SH 2012]


she has postponed her love of to you to love of money

When Cecelia Burton confronts Harry about Julia, she asks him:  “And is Florence to suffer because she [i.e., Lady Ongar] has postponed her love of you to her love of money?”  The English verb “postpone” is derived from the Latin postponere,  literally “to place after.”  Trollope’s use of “postponed” here reflects the word’s Latin etymological components:  in choosing to marry Lord Ongar, Julia put her affection for Harry after her concern for wealth.  The OED gives examples of this usage in English from the 16th through 19th centuries.  In Latin, forms of postponere could be followed by both an accusative direct object and a dative indirect object; Trollope uses the equivalent English syntax here, as do some of the analogous examples provided in the OED.

In English nowadays we most often use “postpone” to mean “put off until another time,” and a shade of that meaning could also be at work in Cecelia’s wording:  Lady Ongar delayed pursuing her interest in Harry until after she had acquired Lord Ongar’s wealth.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.

Chapter 29 – How Damon Parted from Pythias

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Damon and Pythias

The story of Damon and Pythias (originally Phintias) was one of the Greek tales of “friendship under tyranny.”  Phintias had been condemned to death under the tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse.  Damon offered himself up as security so that the condemned Phintias could say goodbye to his family.  Phintias was delayed in returning to Syracuse, and Dionysius was leading Damon to be executed when Phintias returned at the last moment to rescue him.  Their honorable friendship and sacrifice for each other so touched Dionysius that he spared them both.  Trollope contrasts this amazing friendship with the pseudo-friendship of Sophie Gordeloup and Lady Ongar.  Lady Ongar ends their intimacy after Sophie betrays her.  Since Sophie has not been Lady Ongar’s security, Lady Ongar refuses to be Sophie’s.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OCD.

Chapter 30 – Doodles in Mount Street

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tell him from me that he have chose a very bad Mercury

Mercury was the messenger of the gods in Roman mythology.  In this scene, Captain Boodle has gone in Archie Clavering’s stead to negotiate the return of Archie’s money from Sophie.  However, Boodle does a terrible job in his negotiations, thus making himself a bad choice of messenger for Archie.  It is amusing that while she insults Boodle’s ability to convey messages, Sophie simultaneously commands Boodle to tell Archie about her disdain.  And in an even more ironic twist, Boodle obeys Sophie and proves himself to be a “bad Mercury” indeed:  he presents himself as the victor in his interaction with Sophie, even though she was the one giving orders.  [SH 2012]

Chapter 31 – Harry Clavering’s Confession

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 32 – Florence Burton Packs up a Packet

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Florence packs up a packet

In titling this chapter, Trollope employs a verb (“pack”) and cognate accusative (“packet”).  Such a construction—using a verb with a linguistically related word as its object—can be found in both Latin and Greek as well as English:  “sing a song,” “paint a painting.”  Although we use these expressions easily and (largely) unconsciously in English, a Classical education puts a grammatical spotlight on them.  The tidiness of the formulation here reinforces the firmness of Florence’s decision to release Harry from their engagement and return to him his letters and gifts.  [RR 2013]


Florence bore it as the Spartan boy bore the fox beneath his tunic

In his Life of Lycurgus, Plutarch tells the story of a Spartan boy who stole a fox and then allowed it to maul him to death underneath his tunic rather than be discovered as a thief.  Trollope compares this boy’s fortitude to that of Florence Burton.  At this point in the novel, Florence has not heard from Harry in weeks and knows that something is terribly wrong in their relationship.  Nevertheless, she shows few signs of emotional distress, even to her own family.  [SH 2012]

Source:  Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus 18.

Chapter 33 – Showing Why Harry Clavering Was Wanted at the Rectory

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larger dimensions of spirit, manhood, and heart

Fanny comes to realize that Mr. Saul is “of larger dimensions of spirit, manhood, and heart” than she had first thought.  Although Trollope does not use the word “magnanimous” here, it is implied by the idea of “larger dimensions of spirit” in that English “magnanimous” is composed of Latin magn- (“large”) and anim- (“spirit”).  Latin has its own parallel adjective, magnanimus, which means “high-spirited” and “brave.”  Although “magnanimous” is now most often used to describe a generous person, in the 19th century it could still convey some of this ancient meaning.  Mr. Saul’s excellence is not immediately apparent to many, but Fanny slowly learns that he is great-spirited, or magnanimous, indeed.  [RR 2013]

Sources:  OED, LS.


my Alpha and my Omega

When Mr. Saul parts from Fanny after she has implicitly accepted him, he declares:  “You are my Alpha and my Omega, my first and last, my beginning and end,–my everything, my all.”  Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  Trollope has arranged his list so that a reader need not know that in order to understand Mr. Saul’s sentiment; “my first and last” and “my beginning and end” restate the idea.  Though Mr. Saul is known as a conscientious, pious, and committed member of the clergy, here he appropriates God’s words from the Book of Revelation:  “I am the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end.”  Mr. Saul has transferred the concept and its articulation from the cosmic to the personal.  [RR 2013]

Source:  Revelation 1:8.



Mr. Clavering does not view Mr. Saul as belonging to the same class as himself and his son-in-law Mr. Fielding.  Though Mr. Saul be a gentleman, he does not have the connections to landed families which Mr. Clavering and Mr. Fielding do.  Trollope uses “squirearchy” to refer to local gentry.  The word, attested in other 19th c. sources, contains the combining form -archy, derived from Greek and meaning “rule by.”  Trollope also uses “squirearchy” in Chapter 2 of The American Senator, and in both instances it seems to be gently humorous, gesturing to the power of the status but also its relative circumscription.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.


Mr. Saul’s clouded brow

When Mr. Clavering dismisses Mr. Saul, Mr. Saul’s brow is darkened by a cloud.  This image may have Classical origins.  See commentary for Chapter 11.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 34 – Mr. Saul’s Abode

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Fanny’s eulogium

While talking with her mother, Fanny defends Mr. Saul, his behavior, and his status as a gentleman.  Trollope reports Fanny’s words directly and calls them a “eulogium” or speech of praise.  Eulogium is a Latin word showing the influence of Greek eu- “well” and log- “word.”  Although the Classically derived word “eulogium” might seem to elevate Fanny’s utterance, Trollope combines his application of this lofty rhetorical term with his mention of Fanny’s sobs while speaking, and the direct speech of the “eulogium” itself is presented as broken by Fanny’s crying.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 35 – Parting

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In the wake of his son’s death, Sir Hugh resolves to do whatever he wants without justifying it to his spouse:  “There should be no plea put in by him in his absences, that he had only gone to catch a few fish, when his intentions had been other than piscatorial.”  The Latinate “piscatorial” (“pertaining to fish or fishing”), coming as it does at the end of the sentence and following the Germanic “fish,” strikes a humorous note.  The further combination of “piscatorial” with the also Latinate “intentions” casts a euphemistic veil as well as a linguistic raising of eyebrows at Sir Hugh’s anticipated activities.  [RR 2013]


intentions, intended, intended, intention

In detailing Sir Hugh’s thoughts, Trollope combines two Classical rhetorical devices:  polyptoton and chiasmus:  “There should be no plea put in by him in his absences, that he had only gone to catch a few fish, when his intentions had been other than piscatorial.  He intended to do as he liked now and always,—and he intended that his wife should know that such was his intention.”  Polyptoton is the use of etymologically related words in different forms or different parts of speech, such as “intentions” and “intended.”  Trollope presents the elements of his polyptoton in a chiasmus, or A-B-B-A word order:  “intentions…intended…intended…intention.”  Trollope is fond of both chiasmus and polyptoton; their combination here seems noteworthy and conveys the pointed, rhetorical force with which Sir Hugh frames his resolution.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 36 – Captain Clavering Makes His Last Attempt

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string to my bow

Archie and Doodles are discussing Archie’s chances with Julia, and they weigh Julia’s attachment to Harry.  Archie reckons that his new status as Hugh’s heir might be a point in his favor over Harry’s claims on Julia’s affections:  “It’s my son who’ll have the Clavering property and be the baronet, not his.  You see what a string to my bow that is.”  Archie here uses an English turn of phrase whose origin rests in the fact that an archer would carry an extra bowstring.  Although this image is not of Classical origin, Trollope often uses it in the context of courtship, which conflates the bow with Cupid’s love-inspiring weapon of choice.  [RR 2013]

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


as beautiful as a Phoebus

Phoebus is another name of Apollo, god of the sun and the ideal of young male beauty in ancient Greece.  Apollo was often associated with the higher intellectual parts of civilization, so the ongoing comparison between him and Harry Clavering, who is fit to be a gentleman and not a working man, is further apt.  This particular comparison to the god is made by Sophie Gordeloup in a letter to Lady Ongar.  After reading it, Lady Ongar considers Sophie’s argument and decides that Harry is indeed “qualified to shine” as Phoebus the sun god.  [SH 2012]


by Jove

This emphatic exclamation calls on Jove, another name for the Roman god Jupiter.  Although it has a literary pedigree (it occurs in Shakespeare and Pope), Trollope most often puts it in the mouths of non-literary male characters.  [SH 2012 & RR 2013]

Chapter 37 – What Lady Ongar Thought About It

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whether that Phoebus in knickerbockers should or should not become lord of Ongar Park

Here Trollope continues the comparison between Harry Clavering and Phoebus/Apollo, the Greco-Roman god associated with the sun and young male beauty.  Knickerbockers were a kind of loose knee-length trousers gathered at the bottom, worn by boys and men for outdoor activities.  Trollope paints a comical image of the beautiful young Phoebus parading around his estate in knee pants in order to poke fun at Harry.  Harry is idealized by all the women in his life, especially his lovers, but Trollope and the reader both know that his fickleness and weak will do not become him, just as knickerbockers would not at all become the true Phoebus.  [SH 2012]

Of course, there is some humor simply in Trollope’s dressing of the ancient god in 19th c. clothing, and that humor also serves to detract somewhat from the divine status accorded Harry by the women around him.  We might want to compare Lily Dale’s depiction of Crosbie as an Apollo playing croquet; see commentary on Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of The Small House at Allington.  Both Harry and Crosbie are identified as Apollo figures, sometimes humorously by the author and sometimes sincerely by the women in their lives.  Harry is somewhat like Crosbie in that he engages the serious affections of two women simultaneously, but unlike Crosbie he will not finally jilt the woman to whom he is affianced.  [RR 2013]


gods laugh at the perjuries of lovers

In her conversation with Cecilia Burton, Julia excuses Harry’s fickleness by invoking an unnamed authority:  “Has not somebody said that the gods laugh at the perjuries of lovers?”  The “somebody” is Shakespeare, who has Juliet remark that “at lovers’ perjuries / They say Jove laughs.”  Julia’s paraphrase becomes stronger in context by not specifying Shakespeare or Jove.  The point becomes one of age-old wisdom not pinned down to a particular time, place, or divinity.  Near the end of the chapter Cecilia returns to this notion and admits to herself that, even though gods and men may excuse the perjuries of lovers, she hopes Harry is somehow punished if he permanently backs out of his engagement with Florence.  [RR 2013]

Source:  Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet 2.2.92-93.


not without something more than vehemence

Julia tells Cecelia that she considers the potential happiness of Harry as more weighty than the feelings of another woman.  In characterizing Julia’s tone, Trollope aptly uses litotes, the technique of expressing an idea by negating its opposite.  Litotes allows Trollope to convey Julia’s severity without calling it such outright and thereby potentially alienating readers from sympathizing with her.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 38 – How to Dispose of a Wife

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clouded brow

At Julia’s suggestion that Hermione could come and live with her, Sir Hugh’s brow again gets clouded.  For the possible Classical origin of this image, see commentary for Chapter 11.  [RR 2013]


postpone his anger to his prudence

Trollope again uses the English equivalent of an accusative and a dative with the Latinate “postpone.”  For an explanation of the Latin construction, see commentary for Chapter 28.  [RR 2013]

Chapter 39 – Farewell to Doodles

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I think she’s a medium—or a media, or whatever it ought to be called

Doodles says this to Archie about Sophie Gordeloup just before Hugh and Archie depart for their yacht trip.  The Latin word medium is the neuter singular form of the adjective medius, media, medium; as a substantive, medium means “a thing in the middle.”  It can also refer to an intermediary or a means of communication.  In English the word can be used as a noun in the same sense, or to mean a substance through which an effect is transmitted, but here Doodles employs its meaning of a person who acts as an intermediary between dead spirits and the living.  [SH 2012]

Doodles knows enough about Latin to want to make the Latinate “medium” reflect Sophie’s gender, so he removes the Latin neuter ending -um and adds the Latin feminine ending -a.  The result is silly, since English “medium” in the sense of “spiritual intermediary” is used to refer to either a man or a woman.  Doodles is perhaps trying to show a certain amount of finesse and gentlemanly knowledge, but he ends up seeming inept.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.

Chapter 40 – Showing How Mrs. Burton Fought Her Battle

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Florence sacrificed

Cecilia explains to Theodore her motivation for visiting Lady Ongar:  she wants to do her utmost to save the engagement of Florence and Harry.  In her words, “I could not bear that Florence should be sacrificed whilst anything remained undone that was possible.”  Florence as a bride would stand before a marriage altar; if Florence’s marriage is cancelled, she metaphorically stands before the sacrificial altar and becomes the sacrificial victim herself.  See commentary for Chapter 30 of The Bertrams for a different juxtaposition of sacrificial and marital altars.  [RR 2013]


Julia “not uncivil”

This double negation uttered by Cecilia Burton is an example of the Classical rhetorical phenomenon called litotes.  Litotes is a construction that renders a statement more emphatic by denying or negating the opposite of what is meant.  Cecilia chooses not to say positively that Lady Ongar was civil, but rather to say negatively that she was “not uncivil.”  This biting negative statement clues the reader into the fact that Cecilia’s dislike for Lady Ongar has not changed much since their interview.  In fact, Cecilia’s remark might stem from her dislike of Lady Ongar:  if she still thinks of Lady Ongar as immoral and bold, she might not believe her to be capable of true civility.  The closest Lady Ongar can come to receiving a positive reaction from those around her is in receiving a non-negative reaction.  [SH & RR 2012]

Chapter 41 – The Sheep Returns to the Fold

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in such matters as these his wife, he knew, was imperative and powerful

The word “imperative” stems from the Latin verb impero, which means “command.”  Usually the English adjective is used to mean “urgent” or “obligatory,” but here Trollope activates its etymological meaning.  He describes Mrs. Clavering as “imperative” because in the matter of Harry’s marriage, she shuts down her husband’s whisperings about Harry marrying Julia Ongar rather than Florence, and essentially commands that it shall not be so.  The Reverend Clavering recognizes that to argue with such a commanding presence would be pointless.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OED.


convalescent invalid

In describing Harry as a “convalescent invalid,” Trollope pairs two words which share the Latin element val- “well” or “strong.”  Harry is an invalid because he is not strong; in- negates the val-.  Nevertheless he is also convalescent because he is getting stronger; -sc- signals a process underway.  [RR 2013]


a cupid in mosaic surrounded by tiny diamonds

At this point in the novel, Florence has decided to break her engagement with Harry, and she sends him a package containing all the letters and presents he has given her.  Harry, meanwhile, has been sick and under his mother’s heavy influence for several days, and she has convinced him to renew his commitment to Florence and forget the possibility of marrying Lady Ongar for good.  When the package from Florence arrives at the Clavering home, it is Mrs. Clavering who writes to Florence concerning Harry’s resolve to marry her, and it is she who instructs Harry about how he should repack Florence’s package and send it back.  It is fitting, then, that the woman who has worked so hard to keep the two lovers together should give Harry the image of a cupid to pass on to Florence.  Cupid was the Roman counterpart to the Greek god of love, Eros, who played a role in much mythological match-making.  The cupid Mrs. Clavering gives to Harry symbolizes the role of Cupid that she plays in Harry and Florence’s relationship.  In fact, even in giving this gift, she plays that role:  she knows that the extra gift in the package will win Florence’s heart.  [SH 2012]


peccavi sounds soft and pretty when made by sweet lips in a loving voice

This statement is part of Trollope’s explanation about confession being a feminine activity:  women enjoy confessing their wrongdoings and receiving forgiveness, while men hate to admit their failures.  Peccavi is a perfect form of the Latin verb pecco; peccavi means “I have sinned.”  The Latin language and confession of sins are tied up in the culture of the Christian church, particularly in the Catholic sacrament of confession.  Trollope conflates church hierarchy and societal gender hierarchy by using a Latin word to discuss the confession of a woman.  Combining the imagery of priest over parishioner and man over woman strengthens the demarcation of gender hierarchy.  [SH & RR 2012]


hours of one long ovation

The word “ovation” come from the Latin ovatio, which means “a minor triumph or processional entry.”  In Roman times, an ovatio was a less lavish honor than a triumph, but still a great acclamation celebrated with a parade into the city.  In this scene of the novel, Cecilia and Florence Burton welcome Harry Clavering back into their family with open arms after he has rejected a union with Lady Ongar and has renewed his commitment to Florence.  Harry’s journey to Onslow Terrace and his welcome there are a sort of “processional entry” back into the Burton clan.  [SH 2012]

Although Harry is treated as a conquering hero by Cecelia and Florence, there may be a disconnect between the way he is viewed by them and the way he is viewed by a reader.  To a reader, Harry’s “ovation” may be misplaced:  what has he done worth celebrating other than honor his promise at last?   By adding a Classical echo through the use of “ovation,” Trollope heightens the Burton women’s reception of Harry and potentially increases the distance between their treatment of Harry and a reader’s own assessment of his behavior and the recognition it is (or isn’t) due.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.

Chapter 42 – Restitution

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chambers in the Adelphi

The conversation between Harry and Theodore Burton seems, on the surface, to be simply about their workplace at the Adelphi, from which Harry has been absent recently.  However, in this case, “Adelphi” refers not only literally to the building in which their office is housed, but also to their status as future family members.  The Greek word adelphoi means “brothers,” which is what Harry and Theodore will be if Harry marries Florence Burton.  Harry has only just been reconciled to Florence earlier in the evening, after she tried to end their engagement.  By asking Harry about his return to work, Theodore is, on another level, inquiring after how soon Harry is going to resume his familial position and duties as his future brother-in-law’s employee.  See commentary on the Adelphi in Chapter 7.  [SH 2012]


peculiar fold

Harry realizes that he should frequent the “sheepfold” of Theodore Burton’s house until he sets up “a small peculiar fold” with Florence.  Because “peculiar” contains the Latin pecu-, meaning “flock” or “herd,” Trollope’s phrase “peculiar fold” doubly expresses the image of Harry’s family-to-be as a little flock of its own.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.


dog in the manger

Trollope refers to one of Aesop’s fables here.  In the fable, a dog asleep in a manger is awakened by cows coming into the barn after a long day of work.  Even though the cows are tired and hungry, and even though the dog cannot eat hay, the dog will not let the cows anywhere near the hay in the manger.  Julia knows that since she cannot enjoy Ongar Park herself, she should not behave as the dog and keep it away from someone who could enjoy it.  Since her late husband’s relatives have expressed interest in the park, Julia makes the financially difficult but unselfish choice to give the park to Lord Ongar’s family for no charge.  [SH 2012]

Source:  Entry on the fable on Laura Gibbs’s Aesopica website.

Chapter 43 – Lady Ongar’s Revenge

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short halcyon days

Trollope uses this phrase to describe the state of peace and happiness in which young lovers like Harry Clavering and Florence Burton live.  The word “halcyon,” which means “calm” or “restful,” comes from an ancient myth about a woman named Alcyone, whose beloved husband Ceyx was killed in a shipwreck.  Ceyx comes to Alcyone in a dream to tell her that he has died, and the next morning Alcyone goes to the shore and discovers that his drowned body has floated there.  Overcome with grief, she throws herself towards the sea, but at the last moment she is transformed into a bird and skims along the surface.  Ceyx’s body is also changed into a bird, and the two are reunited.  The days on which Alcyone broods are the calmest days of the sea, according to the story, hence the modern meaning of the word, which is employed here.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OED.
Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.410-748.


Constance Vane

Julia mentions Constance Vane to Harry as a type of a fashionable English girl not particular appealing to either of them, though neither says so explicitly.  Though Trollope does not tell us much about Constance, he tells us enough to realize that her name is partly ironic and partly fitting.  Her first name, “Constance,” is related to the Latin participle constans, meaning “standing firm” or even “remaining unchanged.”  But Constance has not been constant in her looks:  she has changed from “a waxen doll of a girl” to a “stout mother of two or three children.”  Her maiden name, “Vane,” recalls the Latin adjective vanus, meaning “empty” and is apt, since Trollope asserts that “she had never had a thought in her head, and hardly ever a word on her lips.”  By giving her this name, Trollope adds linguistic depth to an otherwise insubstantial character.  [RR 2013]



“Pandemonium” is a Classically based coinage used by John Milton as a name for the capital of hell in Paradise LostPan is Greek for “all,” and demon is Greek for “demon” or “spirit.”  The suffix is Latinate.  When Julia mentions pandemonium, she is aware of the word’s Miltonic heritage because she contrasts Harry’s current “paradise” (his relationship with Florence) and the “pandemonium” he has avoided with her.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.


Nil conscire sibi

Julia quotes this Latin phrase from one of Horace’s Epistles to Harry; it means “to be conscious of no guilt.”  According to Julia, Harry taught her this phrase when they were young lovers.  She has not lived her life in a way “to be conscious of no guilt,” and since Harry has betrayed Florence, neither has he.  Julia is explicitly applying the phrase to herself, but she also implicitly applies it to Harry.  She essentially re-teaches Harry, with a piercing commentary on his own behavior, the very phrase (and the ideal it expresses) which he taught her.  Harry, who taught both Julia and Florence bits of Latin, has now been turned into the student.  Julia humbles him with this switch of roles, teaching him his own lesson in turn.  [SH & RR 2012]

Source:  Horace, Epistle 1.1.61.


I have not poisoned the little ring, as the ladies would have done some centuries since

Julia Ongar makes this statement of the ring which she wishes Harry to pass on to Florence as a gift.  The “ladies…some centuries since” likely refers to Medea, the mythological woman who aided Jason in his quest for the golden fleece.  However, Jason abandoned Medea in order to marry the daughter of Creon, the king of Corinth.  Medea gives Creon’s daughter a dress as a wedding gift, but the dress is poisoned and catches fire when the girl wears it, killing both her and Creon as he tries to save her.  As Harry Clavering’s former lover who has been ultimately rejected for a new wife, Julia Ongar could consider herself in the position of Medea.  The possibility for cruel vengeance would be lost neither on Harry nor on Julia.  However, Julia wants to make it known to both Harry and Florence that, unlike Medea, she bears no ill will and poses no threat to her former lover’s new bride.  [SH & RR 2012]

Source:  OCD.

Chapter 44 – Showing What Happened off Heligoland

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to admit that her Apollo had been altogether godlike

Florence compares Harry Clavering, who has just become heir to Clavering Park, to the Greek sun god Apollo.  She has forgiven and completely forgotten all Harry’s sins concerning herself and Lady Ongar.  Her brother Theodore can forgive but not forget Harry’s conduct, which was duplicitous and certainly did not fit his definition of “godlike.”  Florence, like the other women in Harry’s life, idealizes him and places him on a pedestal as one would a god.  She can see no wrong in him or his behavior at all until she has no choice but to acknowledge it, and even after she does so, she accepts Harry back with open arms as soon as he apologizes to her.  Trollope, Theodore Burton, and the reader, however, can see the error of Harry’s past ways, and do not hold him as quite so high above everyone else as the women do.  [SH 2012]


better part of me

Harry refers to Florence as the “better part” of himself.  At the end of his Metamorphoses Ovid refers to his soul as the “better part of myself,” and in the preface to book 1 of  his Natural Questions Seneca calls the soul or mind “the better part of us.”  Harry’s formulation identifies his future wife as the more prudent, thoughtful part of himself.  [RR 2013]

Source:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 15.875.
Seneca, Natural Questions preface to book 1 section 14.

Chapter 45 – Is She Mad?

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 46 – Madame Gordeloup Retires from British Diplomacy

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our friend Doodles, alias Captain Boodle, of Warwickshire

Alias is a Latin word adopted into English as an adverb; it primarily means “otherwise called or named.”  Usually the word modifies a name other than a person’s real name, but here Trollope uses it to modify “Boodle,” which is presumably the Captain’s actual name.  Trollope writes this when Captain Boodle is leaving London with Sophie Gordeloup, who is suspected of being a Russian spy.  By adding the word alias in front of Captain Boodle’s name, Trollope recalls the suggestions of spying that surround Sophie.  [SH 2012]

Trollope’s application of alias to Captain Boodle’s name may also be humorous.  It could suggest that Boodle’s true, somewhat buffoonish, identity is better conveyed by his silly nickname “Doodles.” For the inept Boodle, his actual title and name act as a disguise.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.

Chapter 47 – How Things Settled Themselves at the Rectory

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Harry was again to be accepted among the Burton Penates as a pure divinity

In ancient Roman homes, the penates were household gods, worshipped alongside Vesta as guardians of the home.  Trollope says that Harry, whom he repeatedly compares to Apollo, has been recognized by the Burton’ Penates as divine.  This summarizes the Burton family’s opinion of him as a man residing on a different level of greatness from themselves.  Since Trollope specifies that Harry will “again” be considered a god, it is clear that the Burtons held a very high opinion of Harry before he temporarily abandoned Florence.  His behavior toward Florence clearly turned out not to be above reproach, so the comparison to a god is somewhat sarcastic or ironic.  Nevertheless, the Burtons are ready to forgive and forget all, since Trollope specifies that Harry is again “pure” in their eyes.  Trollope may also be gently criticizing the Burton family with this phrase, since Harry’s conduct was not pure, and placing any human person on the level with the divine is a bit excessive.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OCD.


this Apollo was to be an Apollo indeed

Florence Burton’s parents have just received the news that Harry is now an heir, fairly recently after they heard that Harry and Florence had reconciled.  Now he is not just “a god with so very moderate an annual income,” but rather one with a corresponding position in society.  The Burtons had been somewhat concerned about Harry’s ability to be happy working for his living, but now his financial situation finally fits his gentlemanly disposition.  [SH 2012]


a place of his own among the gods of Olympus

Olympus is the highest mountain on the Greek peninsula.  In mythology, it was presented as the home of the gods.  Trollope references the mountain here when describing the Burton family’s attitude toward Harry Clavering’s new position as the heir to a baronet.  Trollope has used references to Apollo/Phoebus, god of the sun, to describe the Burtons’ opinion of Harry throughout the novel, but now the metaphor is extended to include Apollo’s proper home among other gods.  With his new position and all the money and power it brings, Harry Clavering has risen greatly in society and no longer has to worry about making his way in the world; he is now among his peers, where he should be.  This shift in Harry’s social status is likened to Apollo gaining a spot to call his own in the society of his peers, the Olympian gods.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OCD.


Lady Clavering’s paraphernalia

In many of his novels Trollope expresses distaste for the traditional clothing worn by widows.  Here he writes of Hermione’s adoption of mourning attire:  “She had assumed in all its grotesque ugliness those paraphernalia of outward woe which women have been condemned to wear, in order that for a time they may be shorn of all the charms of their sex.”  Trollope’s use of “paraphernalia” has an ironic resonance with the word’s etymology, since its original meaning had special reference to the start of a marriage.  In ancient Greek the word parapherna referred to goods beyond (para) a dowry (phernē) which a bride brought with her when she married.  Hermione’s marriage has now ended in bereavement, which has its own equipment.  [RR 2013]

Source:  LSJ.


I don’t think I would care for a walk through the Elysian fields by myself

The idea of Elysium or the Elysian fields as the home of the blessed dead, reserved for celebrated heroes, comes from Classical mythology.  The eternal home of the honored and blessed would naturally be beautiful beyond imagination.  Julia’s reference to this mythical verdant place creates a hyperbole in her statement that, on her own, she does not care for gardens.  It seems Julia would not enjoy any place—not Clavering Park nor even Elysium—by herself.  [SH & RR 2012]

Chapter 48 – Conclusion

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lamb for the sacrificial altar

Fanny and Mr. Saul are to be allowed, at last, to marry.  Trollope substitutes the (Classical) sacrificial altar for the (Christian) marital one when he describes Fanny, who awaits the outcome of her mother’s conversation with Mr. Saul about their engagement, as a sacrificial lamb.  Although Fanny is in a serious mood befitting the ancient and religious imagery, a reader might be amused by the disparity between a sacrificial lamb and a soon-to-be bride.  [RR 2013]


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