a monstrous cruelty and potency in Fortune
Fortune, in this instance, is portrayed as an active being, which resonates with the Roman embodiment of fortune, Fortuna. Neverbend is lamenting that Jack’s love and the agreement that Jack and Sir Kennington Oval made will keep him from realizing his dream, which is the Fixed Period. Fortune brought Jack and his love together and Fortune allowed Jack and Sir Kennington Oval to reach an agreement. [KS 2012]
Romans and the telegraph
Neverbend poses the question of whether the Romans would have accepted the telegraph or not. It seems significant that Neverbend poses this question specifically about the Romans. Neverbend seems to have great respect for the Romans, as he has invoked the paterfamilias and other Roman customs. Neverbend believes that even the Romans–often used as his standard or benchmark for behavior–would not have been able to tolerate such a change; thus, he should not be surprised that his own proposed innovation meets resistance. [KS 2012]
Great Britain and Brittanula
A funny pairing, as Great Britain implies the largeness of Britain while Brittanula’s smallness is built into its name. In Latin, a diminutive form can be created by adding a suffix such as -ula to a word–thus, Brittanula is a diminutive form of Britain. The witty linguistic contrast emphasizes the actual threat that Great Britain poses to Brittanula and Neverbend. It may also suggest that Great Britain acts the part of bully, since Brittanula is not of similar size. [KS & RR 2012]
to die would be as nothing
Neverbend believes that he would rather die than see his aspirations as president fail. In Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, there is a similar sentiment as Lucretius states that “death, therefore, is nothing to us.” For Lucretius, once the soul and body are no longer together, one does not have to worry because one does not feel. Neverbend would not have to feel the pain of his failure if he were dead. [KS 2012]
Source: Lucretius, The Nature of Things 3.830.
highest respect is paid to the greatest battalions
Sir Ferdinando and Neverbend are discussing Neverbend’s departure from Brittanula. Neverbend alludes to the British ship’s gun and the possibility of his not complying with Britain’s wishes. Sir Ferdinando implies that typically the country with the greatest might holds sway. This is reminiscent of the Athenians’ attitude towards the Melians as expressed in book 5 of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. The Athenians offer an ultimatum to the Melians to surrender or be conquered and believe that the polis with the most might is right. Sir Ferdinando believes that Brittanula and Neverbend will have to obey Great Britain because Britain is the mightier country. [KS & RR 2012]
Source: Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 5.105.
Roma patrem patriae Ciceronem libera dixit
This lines comes from Juvenal’s Satire 8 and is translated as “Free Rome called Cicero the father of the country.” Juvenal is advising his friend, Ponticus, to lead a better life than some of Rome’s leaders. Juvenal mentions Cicero as someone who gained his noble status through peace rather than through military victories as Octavian had done. Neverbend likewise has earned his place in Brittanula’s history through civic rather than military activity.
Sir Ferdinando’s use of this quotation might intimate more (or differently) than he would want it to. Juvenal suggests that because Rome was a free republic during Cicero’s life-time, the Romans were able to recognize Cicero’s excellence; under imperial rule, such recognition might not be possible. The Brittanulans, while self-governing, could celebrate President Neverbend, but now that they are again subjects of the British Empire, they must submit to the exile of their former leader. [KS & RR 2012]
Source: Juvenal, Satires 8.244.