Chapter 12 – Our Voyage to England

godlike heroism

President Neverbend, reflecting on whether or not he would have truly been able to make the arrangements to kill Crasweller, decides that he would ultimately have been unable.  He states that it would have required “godlike heroism” to do so.  This is clearly invoking the notion of the Greek hero, who was often divine, semi-divine, or possessed of super-human strength.  By having Neverbend state that such heroism is required–a heroism only possessed by figures of myth–Trollope is implying that no man could carry out such an act, no matter how rational its basis.  [CMC 2012]



Neverbend describes the prejudices against the Fixed Period as hydra-headed.  This is a reference to the hydra of Greek mythology.  Every time one of its heads is severed, two more grow in its place.  Neverbend is thus essentially saying that no matter how many arguments against the Fixed Period are defeated, even more will come up to take their place.  Further, only the mythical demigod Hercules was finally able to defeat the hydra, and Neverbend has previously stated that he does not possess “godlike heroism.”  [CMC 2012]



Neverbend is once again likened to Socrates, only this time not by himself.  When Neverbend says that facing public opinion in England will be hard to bear, Crosstrees reminds him that all visionaries bear hardships.  This last reference to Socrates is in some ways more honest than the previous ones, as they all came from Neverbend himself and not an outside commentator.  [CMC 2012]

Chapter 11 – Farewell

a little bag

Mrs. Neverbend has packed Mr. Neverbend’s clothes for his voyage to England, including a small bag worn about the neck to keep one’s shirt from bunching up.  In Trollope’s time, a bag of this sort had the Classically inspired name of “sternophylon,” which Trollope deliberately omits.  It is possible that this was done so to keep with Mrs. Neverbend’s character history of refusing to euphemize with Classical words when discussing the Fixed Period.  Such an obviously Classical word as “sternophylon” would sound strange coming from her character.

A 19th century list of London patents mention the sternophylon as “a chest and shirt protector” registered to Isaac Moses.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Sources:  David Skilton’s note in the World’s Classics edition of The Fixed Period.  Oxford:  Oxford UP, 1993, 185.
London Journal of Arts, Sciences, and Manufactures, and Repertory of Patent Inventions (34) 1849:  64.



President Neverbend, trying (one can assume) to find a modicum of salvation in his being taken to England by force, states that his being brought at the expense of Britain is in itself a triumph.  Trollope here is being ironically clever, as the image of Neverbend being brought back to England is reminiscent of Rome bringing back her defeated enemies for triumphs, to be paraded in front of the Roman people.  [CMC 2012]


glory of a great name

Neverbend is recollecting the last time he saw Crasweller, just as he left the carriage and turned away from the “glory” of being deposited.  The language Neverbend uses is Classical in origin, related to the Greek idea of achieving kleos (glory) by dying in battle and with it, immortality.  This is one of many instances of Neverbend using Classical references to elevate the Fixed Period.  [CMC 2012]


no Greek, no Roman, no Englishman

Crasweller explains his inability to be deposited for an entire year before his death, and he cites the Greeks and the Romans, as well as the English, as people who could not endure such a thing.  The Greeks placed a high premium on courage in the face of danger and much of their mythology revolved around facing death without fear.  The Romans also valued courage in the face of death, whether in service to one’s country, the performance of one’s duty, or Stoic and Epicurean philosophical contexts.  Trollope links the Greeks and Romans to the English (who at this time saw themselves as successors to Rome and Greece) in order to suggest that no man, even one belonging to the three consecutive “master” civilizations of the world (at least according to the English), could endure knowing his death was approaching to the exact hour for an entire year.  [CMC 2012]

Chapter 10 – The Town-Hall

iustum et tenacem propositi virum

As Sir Ferdinando is delivering his speech to the people of Brittanula, he offers this quotation from Horace to describe President Neverbend:  “a man just and firm of purpose.”  Sir Ferdinando does not extend the quotation, which–like his quotation of Juvenal in Chapter 9–would not necessarily cast a favorable light on Britain.  Horace’s portrayal of the just man asserts that he cannot be shaken by the power of a tyrant, and already in The Fixed Period has Neverbend repeatedly cast Britain as tyrannical in its actions.  Despite his removal from Brittanula at British hands, Neverbend will persevere.

It is worth noting that this quotation from Horace echoes the literal meaning of the president’s last name, “Neverbend.”  [KS & RR 2012]

Source: Horace, Odes 3.3.1-4.


Great Britain and Brittanula

The inherent contrast that was mentioned in Chapter 9 appears again.  [KS 2012]

Chapter 09 – The New Governor

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.

Chapter 08 – The “John Bright”

triumphal march

President Neverbend describes the procession to the college, where he hopes to deposit Gabriel Crasweller, as a triumphal march.  In ancient Rome, a triumphus was given to successful generals, who were driven through the city in a chariot.  Spoils of war and slaves followed him as a testament to his success.  However, while in the chariot, a slave would hold a laurel wreath above his head and chant memento mori, “remember that you die.”  Crasweller, in the fashion of a Roman triumph, will be led publicly through Gladstonopolis on his way to the college.  President Neverbend intends this to be an honor to him, but the impending fact of his death by euthanasia haunts Crasweller.  [CD & RR 2012]

Source:  OCD.


City of the Dead

Eva calls Necropolis, the proper name of the college which will house people in the year before their death, the “City of the Dead,” which is the literal translation of its Greek components.  President Neverbend is often concerned about the way language is used in reference to the Fixed Period.  Calling the place where those who’ve reached the end of their period “the college,” or “Necropolis,” gives that place a less sinister feel.  When Eva uses Anglo-Saxon derived words, she isn’t using the sophistication and respect that President Neverbend hopes the citizens of Brittanula will display when the talk about the Fixed Period.  Eva is prone to reference the college with these negative words because her father will be the first to be deposited. [CD 2012]