Chapter 01 – Hiram’s Hospital

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personification of Scandal

Within the first few paragraphs of the novel, Trollope employs a very Classical technique: the personification of intangible forces.  Very much like Vergil’s personification of Rumor in the Aeneid, Trollope personifies Scandal in his description of the rumors about Mr. Harding’s preferment.  [JC 2005]

In the Aeneid, the personified Rumor (or Fama) not only spreads the news of Aeneas and Dido’s affair, but she also focuses her tale on how the two lovers are neglecting their duties, which elevates Rumor to a position of quasi-judge of these authority figures.  Similarly, in The Warden, Scandal “had reprobated” the bishop for favoring Mr. Harding and, before that, had “blamed” him for not favoring him.  Though Trollope’s personification of Scandal only occurs at the beginning of the novel, it highlights what will become a theme for the novel and a major impetus for the characters’ actions.  In the Aeneid, Rumor also acts as a driving force for Dido, informing her of Aeneas’ plan to leave her, which causes her descent into madness and her eventual suicide.  [JE 2014]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 4.173-197 and 4.298.299.



In his presentation of the hospital, Trollope describes the portal “through which the more happy portion of the Barchester elite pass into the Elysium of Mr. Harding’s dwelling.”  Elysium, in Classical mythology, is the place where the blessed dead reside in the Underworld.  This image helps not only to create an image of how peaceful and happy a place the hospital is, but also to strengthen the sense of Mr. Harding’s holiness and his good luck in getting the wardenship.  [JC 2005]

Chapter 02 – The Barchester Reformer

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The Latin word for “priest” is used here as the pseudonym on a pamphlet written by Dr. Grantly.  This term seems to claim for him a high degree of religious authority, since Dr. Grantly gave this name to himself.  The use of a Latin word for the title of a Victorian pamphlet also seems to give him a high degree of cultural authority, because Latin was a language which was learned by educated citizens.  [MD 2005]


Argus (and Plumstead Episcopi)

Dr. Grantly is said to “have as many eyes as Argus.” Argus was a giant in Greek mythology who had at least a hundred eyes and was ordered to be a sentinel for Hera, the wife of Zeus.  Argus’ duty was to watch over Io, whom Zeus had turned into a cow, and with whom he was committing adultery.  This allusion shows that Dr. Grantly’s character is always vigilant and commanding in both his own and others’ affairs.  However, this reference could also be seen to be humorous, in that Argus is a monster with superhuman abilities and Dr. Grantly cannot be more watchful than humanly possible.  [MD 2005]

Trollope’s identification of Dr. Grantly with many-eyed Argus resonates somewhat with the name of Dr. Grantly’s home, Plumstead Episcopi, since episcopi in Greek means “of the overseer” as well as “of the bishop.”  Not only is Dr. Grantly the son of the bishop, but he is also very vigilant about watching diocesan business.  [RR 2013]


dignity of an ancient saint

This phrase is used to describe Dr. Grantly and his typical, respectable demeanor.  It seems to be an allusion to the dutiful lives of Christian saints and clergymen, many of whom lived and worshipped during the time of the Roman Empire.  The idea of the noble lives which these men lived is what Trollope seems to be evoking here. However, this phrase is followed by the words “with the sleekness of a modern bishop.”  Together, these two descriptions seem to give Dr. Grantly the personality of one who knows how to work and survive in the modern church system, but who takes the job very seriously and has tremendous respect for his duties.  [MD 2005]

It may also suggest the degree to which Dr. Grantly is able to assume the external aspect of religious gravity to great effect.  [RR 2011]



Dr. Grantly is directly contrasted with Homer in the phrase “unlike Homer, he never nods.”  This is an allusion to the ancient Greek poet Homer, who is credited with composing the Iliad and the Odyssey. The English saying “even Homer nods” is drawn from the Roman poet Horace, who wrote aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus (“sometimes good Homer falls asleep”) in his Ars Poetica.  This phrase illustrates the point that even the famous Greek poet Homer must have made mistakes when composing his poems.  The description of Dr. Grantly as being very precise and not making mistakes seems to agree with his other character traits, through which he is presented as being very professional.  This reference almost makes it seem, perhaps satirically, that Dr. Grantly is above the mistakes of mere humans, even extraordinary talented ones like Homer, and is therefore placed in a more esteemed position than the rest of humankind.  [MD 2005]

Source:  Horace, Ars Poetica, 359.  The phrase is included on this list of tags from Horace’s Ars Poetica.

Chapter 03 – The Bishop of Barchester

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St. Cecilia

Warden Harding suggests that because of his musical skills and the bedesmen’s attitude towards them, his precinct might be especially appropriate for the worship of St. Cecilia, a patron saint of ecclesiastical music. Cecilia was a Roman Christian woman who had made a vow of chastity in her youth, but was forced to marry a nobleman when she came of age.  She managed to convert both her husband and his brother to Christianity and thereby preserve her virginity, but the trio of Christians were later martyred for their faith, sometime in the second century.  Because, at her marriage, she “sang in her heart to God” she was popularly represented in art singing or with an organ, and thus came to be related to church music over time.  [JM 2005]

Source:  Lives of the Saints. Rev. Thomas J. Donaghy.  Totowa, NJ:  Catholic Book Publishing Co, 1998.



The word “halcyon” comes from an ancient myth in which a woman named Alcyone, at the death of her husband (Ceyx) at sea, throws herself into the ocean out of grief.  The gods, taking pity on them both, change them into sea birds.  The sea bird which takes her name, the halcyon, nests on the shores, and Aeolus, the king of the winds, compassionately calms the winds during the birds’ nesting periods, giving rise to the phrase “halcyon days.”  The word “halcyon” itself has come to mean “calm” or “restful.”  [JM 2005]

Trollope usually employs “halcyon” in contexts of courtship or marriage, retaining some connotation of the mythological story with which it is connected.  Here, however, the word is used to describe the careful intimacy of Bunce and Mr. Harding.  [RR 2013]

Sources:  OED.
Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.410-748.



Trollope chooses to use the word “patron” here, perhaps implying that Bunce and the warden have something similar to the patron/client relationship of antiquity.   Certainly, Harding considers himself Bunce’s advocate and protector, and Bunce is clearly grateful to be so beneficently overseen.  [JM 2005]



Trollope agains seems to be setting up a patron/client situation, this time between Harding and the archdeacon Grantly.  In this scenario, Grantly is the benefactor and Harding the beneficiary; Harding is in a very real sense under the protection of the archdeacon.  [JM 2005]

Chapter 04 – Hiram’s Bedesmen

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fiat justitia ruat coelum

The phrase means “let justice be done, [although] the world may perish.”  It is often attributed to Gnaeus Piso.  Seneca writes an account of the story.  Piso ordered a man executed for murder.  When the man was about to be executed the supposed victim stepped out of the crowd saying that he was alive.  Next, the centurion in charge returned to Piso and explained the events to him.  Piso’s response was that all were to be executed:  the centurion for not following his orders, the murderer because a death sentence cannot be revoked, and the man supposed to have been murdered because he had caused the deaths of two innocent men.  The phrase is used to say that the letter of the law must be followed.  In the end the results are still tragic.  It signifies a sense of just injustice and law without conscience.  To John Bold, however, it seems to mean that justice must be carried out despite his personal feelings.  He uses the phrase to comfort himself.  Regardless of his concern for Eleanor he feels that the letter of the law must be carried out.  [TH 2005]

Although the phrase is commonly linked to the story about Piso told by Seneca in his De Ira, Seneca does not use this phrase itself.  Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations identifies the phrase in use in English by the early 17th century and a similar phrase (fiat justitia et ruat mundus) in use by the 16th.  [RR 2011]

Sources:  Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
Entry in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.


non compos mentis

The phrase literally means “not in possession of one’s mind.”  However, it is often interpreted as “not of sound mind.”  Finney proposes that a petition signed by all of the bedesmen and addressed to the bishop would help increase the support for John Bold’s side in the suit.  Realizing, however, that Bunce would never sign the petition, Finney says that 11 signatures would be enough.  He says that Bunce can be declared non compos mentis.  It is an attempt by Finney to claim that Bunce can’t speak for himself.  If he is not able to speak for himself, then not having his signature would be less of an issue.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest recorded use of the phrase in English was in 1607.  [TH 2005]

Sources:  OED. for non compos mentis and compos mentis.


Skulpit’s clouded brow

Job Skulpit’s hesitation to endorse the other bedesmen’s petition may stem in part from his uncertainty about his penmanship.  It had been a point of his pride that he–unlike his peers–could write his name, but when the time comes to put pen to paper, he delays.  His worry dissipates when Abel Handy suggests that Skulpit could use a mark instead of a signature so that his sign of endorsement does not seem different from the rest.  Trollope tells us that at this suggestion “the cloud began to clear from Skulpit’s brow.”  The image of a clouded brow may have a Classical origin:  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 2014]

Source:  Horace, Epistle 1.18.94.

Chapter 05 – Dr. Grantly Visits the Hospital

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mock epic simile

Trollope writes, “As the indomitable cock preparing for the combat sharpens his spurs, shakes his feathers, and erects his comb, so did the archdeacon arrange his weapons for the coming war, without misgiving and without fear.”  This simile is very reminiscent of the epic similes found in the Iliad.  Compare Trollope’s simile with this Homeric simile from Iliad 8:  “As a hound grips a wild boar or lion in flank or buttock when he gives him chase, and watches warily for his wheeling, even so did Hector follow close upon the Achaeans…”  It is also impossible to miss the humor in the simile that Trollope concocts.  Rather than comparing Dr. Grantly with a fierce animal such as a hound or lion, he compares him to a rooster.  [JC 2005]

Sources:  Samuel Butler translation of Iliad book 8 quoted.



“The archdeacon, who was a practical man, allowed himself the use of everyday expressive modes of speech when among his closest intimates, though no one could soar into a more intricate labyrinth of refined phraseology when the Church was the subject, and his lower brethren were his auditors.”  The use of “labyrinth” here is clearly reminiscent of the Greek myth of father and son Daedalus and Icarus.  In this myth, Daedalus was commissioned by King Minos to build a labyrinth in which to hold the Minotaur, a monster that was half-man, half-bull.  After having built the labyrinth, Daedalus and his son Icarus found themselves trapped inside.  Daedalus realized that the only way out would be through the top, and so he  fashioned wings with which they escaped, though Icarus subsequently drowned.  The comparison with the archdeacon perverts the myth.  Dr. Grantly’s craftiness is in his eloquence, but instead of using it to escape entrapment, he employs his eloquence in trapping his conversational partners.  He uses his special skills to soar into the labyrinth rather than out of it.  [JC 2005]


St. Cecilia

See gloss in commentary for Chapter 3.


Dr. Grantly as a statue

Trollope’s description of Dr. Grantly just as he is about to make his speech to the bedesman is very classical in its detail.  Just as Homer devotes many lines to the clothes, hair, and build of his characters, Trollope devotes a lengthy paragraph to a detailed description of everything from the archdeacon’s shovel hat–“large, new, and well pronounced”–to “his heavy eyebrows, large open eyes, and full mouth” to his “decorous breeches.”  Compare this passage from Book 6 of the Odyssey:  “When [Odysseus] had thoroughly washed himself, and had got the brine out of his hair, he anointed himself with oil, and put on the clothes which the girl had given him; Minerva then made him look taller and stronger than before, she also made the hair grow thick on the top of his head, and flow down in curls like hyacinth blossoms; she glorified him about the head and shoulders as a skilful workman who has studied art of all kinds under Vulcan and Minerva enriches a piece of silver plate by gilding it–and his work is full of beauty.”
  [JC 2005]

Sources:  Samuel Butler translation of Odyssey book 6 quoted.



At the end of chapter 5, Mr. Harding begins to worry that he will end up like “that wretched octogenarian Croesus, whom men would not allow to die in peace–whom all the world united to decry and abhor.” He refers to the Lydian king Croesus, whose story Herodotus tells in book 1 of his History.  Croesus suffered in fulfillment of an oracle that was given after an ancestor five generations before him committed regicide.  Croesus was very successful in the beginning of his life, conquering many lands and accumulating a large amount of wealth.  Herodotus tells us that at his high point, Croesus was visited by Solon, a wise Greek man.  Croesus asked Solon to name the happiest people he knew, and was insulted that Solon named various men who had died happily, but not Croesus himself.  Croesus imagined that all his wealth and success was sufficient to secure his place on that list, but Solon warned him that anything could happen to destroy his happiness while he was still alive.  According to Herodotus, Croesus eventually did lose all his wealth and almost lost his life, but was spared. Croesus is often held up as a figure who suffers due to hubris, or excessive pride, and also as a figure of the extreme wealth that was the source of his pride.  [JC 2005]

Sources:  Herodotus, History 1.

Chapter 06 – The Warden’s Tea Party

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the consolation of a Roman

The ideal Roman citizen was one who was supposed to place the success of the state and fulfillment of duty above his own personal interests.  John Bold adheres to these ideals by pursing that which he believes is his own duty and which is also the best thing for the country.  He is determined to continue his case against the hospital, regardless of how this will affect his personal relationship with Eleanor Harding.  [MD 2005]



When Mary Bold urges her brother to give up his involvement in the debate about the warden’s position, she calls her brother’s investment in the situation “a chimera—a dream” and “a suicidal thing.”  Mary’s use of “chimera” refers to a fire-breathing mythological monster—part goat, part lion, part snake—eventually overcome by Bellerophon.  While the word “chimera” came to be used in English as a way to name a fanciful notion, perhaps its deployment here encourages some additional resonance:  Mary is criticizing her brother’s self-image as a heroic fighter and suggests that his battle with the imagined monster will be to his own detriment because it will endanger his relationship with Eleanor.  [RR 2014]


Barchester Brutus

This could be a reference to Lucius Junius Brutus who helped found the Roman Republic by overthrowing the ruling Tarquin kings.  Brutus also became a consul who had to condemn his own two sons to death for their conspiracy to try and restore the Tarquins to the throne.  If this is the case, then this allusion shows us that John Bold is entirely devoted to the laws and the system of the English government.  Even members, or potential members of his own family, such as Eleanor Harding, will not be an obstacle to his pursuit of justice.  However, this could also be an allusion to the later Roman, Marcus Junius Brutus, who helped assassinate Julius Caesar in what he claimed was a defense of the state and its systems. The methods used by Brutus to kill Caesar might be seen as a parallel to John Bold’s back-stabbing of Eleanor Harding and her father, Bold’s friend, Septimus Harding.  Brutus was an associate of Caesar for many years, yet was one of the main conspirators who helped plan the death of Caesar, and was actually one of the people who killed him.  [MD 2005]

Sources:  Livy, History of Rome, end of book 1-beginning of book 2 (for the stories about Lucius Junius Brutus).


mock epic battle, Apollo, and a nymph

In this scene, Trollope describes a party at Mr. Harding’s home, and uses a number of different classical allusions.  The flirting of the young men and women in the room is compared to a battle between two armies advancing, retreating, and fighting.  Apollo (the god of music) is mentioned several times as a member of the party, who is in the corner playing music.  One of the young women with whom Eleanor is sitting at the piano is also referred to as a nymph.  These elements combine to make the entire scene seem like it has come straight out of ancient mythology.  The idea of presenting flirting between men and women in terms of battle imagery may also be seen as humorous and poking fun at epic battle scenes which classical authors described.  [MD 2005]


Eleanor’s heart as sacrifice

Mr. Harding is aware of Eleanor’s affection for Mr. Bold, and as contention over the warden’s position escalates Mr. Harding “tried to arrange in his own mind how matters might be so managed that his daughter’s heart should not be made the sacrifice to the dispute which was likely to exist between him and Bold.”  Trollope’s use of “sacrifice” here paves the way for the more developed references to the sacrifice of Iphigenia later.  Unlike Agamemnon, Mr. Harding would like not to sacrifice his daughter, even metaphorically, to defend his own position.  [RR 2014]


Mr. Harding apologises

Trollope tells us that when Mr. Harding spoke with his daughter, he “apologised” for Mr. Bold.  Trollope here uses “apologise” in a sense corresponding to the meaning of the ancient Greek verb to which it is related:  apologeisthai, “to defend.”  [RR 2014]


“I shall always judge my father to be right….”

Eleanor shows that she is staunchly behind her father and his decisions; she will believe that he is correct and his opposing party is wrong, no matter what the scenario. This sets Eleanor up to partake in a continuing allusion to Iphigenia in the following chapters.  [MD 2005]

Chapter 07 – The Jupiter

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The Jupiter

See entry in Proper Names list.  In naming the newspaper after the king of the gods in Roman mythology, Trollope suggests both the power of the press and the press’ own elevated notion of itself.  [RR 2011]



Archdeacon Grantly refers to a famous 18th century writer of political letters who signed his work with this Classically resonant pseudonym.  “Junius” could recall Lucius Junius Brutus, oft cited as the founder of the Roman Republic.  [RR 2014]

Chapter 08 – Plumstead Episcopi

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See Vocabula.  There is a certain irony or humor to Trollope’s use of the word, given its generally religious connotation yet its application here to the Grantly’s dressing-rooms.  [TH & RR 2005]

Chapter 09 – The Conference

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ipsissima verba

The phrase means “the very words themselves.”  It is used in conjunction with a quotation to indicate that the author’s “very words” are being used.  In reference to the opinion of Sir Abraham, the archdeacon could not be certain he had seen the ipsissima verba of the document.  [TH 2005]

Chapter 10 – Tribulation

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omnipotent pedagogue

“They spoke together of the archdeacon, as two children might of a stern, unpopular, but still respected schoolmaster, and of the bishop as a parent kind as kind could be, but powerless against an omnipotent pedagogue.”  Here Trollope uses the formality of English words derived from Latin and Greek in a playful manner.  While one can certainly sympathize with Harding and Eleanor’s feelings towards the archdeacon, it is somewhat absurd that they should be so afraid of a man who through filial ties should be subordinate to Mr. Harding and only slightly superior to Eleanor.  The entire parallel that Trollope draws is comical.  His use of words with classical roots to describe what is really not a grand position at all is funny in itself, but also stays in tune with his simile.  The Latinate phrase reflects the elevated sort of fear and awe that a child would have of such a schoolmaster.  [JC 2005]



Trollope identifies Tom Towers as “a very leading genius, and supposed to have high employment on the staff of the Jupiter.”  Towers’ association with the Classically named Jupiter may activate one of the Latin meanings of genius here:  a resident or guardian spirit.  Like the paper for which he works, Tom Towers is almost supernatural.  [RR 2014]

Chapter 11 – Iphigenia

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Iphigenia and Agamemnon

Eleanor is compared to the mythological figure Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon, who is sacrificed to pacify the goddess Artemis so that her father’s ships, held at Aulis by a contrary wind, may set sail to Troy.  This mythological comparison is maintained for the entire chapter.  Eleanor is being compared to Iphigenia because she feels she will have to make a great sacrifice for her father’s happiness.  Of course, unlike Agamemnon, Mr. Harding did not ask his daughter to sacrifice in any way.  Furthermore, Eleanor is not being called upon to give up her life, but rather her love, Mr. Bold, and largely only because she feels the sacrifice is necessary.  By setting up such an exaggerated comparison, Trollope makes Eleanor a somewhat humorous character in her dramatic view of herself and her situation.  [JM 2005; rev. JE & RR 2014]

Sources:  Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis.


Eleanor is contrasted with a Classic bust

Trollope goes into detail about the features of Classical beauty, seemingly disparaging Eleanor slightly in that she does not possess them, and then describing how Eleanor, through her favorable and lively personality, actually surpasses statuesque beauty.  [JM 2005]

The contrast between Eleanor and a bust may also bring to mind the story of Pygmalion.  In Ovid’s account, the sculptor Pygmalion falls in love with a maiden statue of his own creation, and the statue is then brought to life by Venus.  The statue’s beauty comes from those qualities which Eleanor lacks, and even when the statue is brought to life, she is still rather passive, whereas Eleanor’s beauty comes from her more active liveliness.  The statue’s passivity contrasts nicely with the active role which Eleanor assumes in this chapter.  [BL 2013]

Source:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.243-297.


peculiar bond

Mary Bold strives in conversation to connect herself, her brother, and Eleanor “as though they three were joined in some close peculiar bond together; as though they were in future always to wish together, contrive together, and act together.”  English “peculiar” is related to Latin pecus, “herd” and its use here etymologically underscores Mary’s efforts to make the trio into a familial group.  [RR 2014]


Iphigenia’s sacrifice

“The gods had heard her prayer, granted her request, and were they not to have their promised sacrifice?”  The comparison with Iphigenia is drawn explicitly, but unlike tragic Iphigenia, Eleanor will not be called upon to make the sacrifice; her relationship with Mr. Bold remains safe.  [JM 2005]

Eleanor’s experience perhaps resonates more with the version of the Iphigenia myth in which Artemis whisks Iphigenia away from the sacrificial altar to Tauris.  If Trollope’s text is viewed through the lens of this version of the myth, Mr. Bold takes the position of Artemis, at first needing to be appeased and then, later, saving Eleanor by sweeping her away into matrimony.

Another interesting point of comparison stems from Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis, in which Agamemnon tricks Iphigenia’s mother, Clytemnestra, into bringing Iphigenia to Aulis by telling her that her daughter is to be married to Achilles.  This particular detail of the myth produces irony when compared to Eleanor’s case.  Iphigenia arrived at Aulis with the hope of marriage, not sacrifice, but Eleanor arrived at Mr. Bold’s home determined to be a sacrifice and resist their love.  This use of Classics creates a comic undertone in the depiction of Eleanor’s circumstances by comparing unequal experiences and keeps the reader from becoming too invested with concerns about love in the novel.  [JE 2014]

Sources:  Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis and Iphigenia in Tauris.


Eleanor’s triumph and vanquishment

When John Bold promises Eleanor that he will not involve himself any longer in matters about the hospital, she “enjoy[s] a sort of triumph,” and the word “triumph” may summon images of a Roman commander celebrating victory.  However, at the chapter’s end Eleanor’s victory is mixed with defeat.  With a string of military images Trollope relates Eleanor’s acquiescence to Bold’s proposal:  “all her defences demolished, all her maiden barriers swept away, she capitulated, or rather marched out with the honours of war, vanquished evidently, palpably vanquished, but still not reduced to the necessity of confessing it.”  This cluster of military language bolsters a reading of “triumph” earlier with Roman resonance.  [RR 2014]


the altar on the shore of the modern Aulis

Although Eleanor was prepared to follow in Iphigenia’s footsteps and sacrifice herself for her father, she ultimately finds herself not at the sacrificial altar but on her way to the matrimonial one.  [RR 2014]

Chapter 12 – Mr. Bold’s Visit

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sacred precincts

Trollope uses this phrase to refer to the home of the Grantly family and the office of Dr. Grantly, who is the archdeacon of Barchester.  This occurs when John Bold is about to visit Dr. Grantly and is feeling very apprehensive about his visit.  Even the very Grantly residence and property is viewed as holy, ancient, and respectable by Mr. Bold.  [MD 2005]


sanctum sanctorum

Trollope refers to the office of Archdeacon Grantly in his house as “the holy of holies.”  This gives the room the (humorously heightened) feeling of a very private place, Dr. Grantly’s innermost sanctuary.  [MD & RR 2005]



Trollope refers to St. John Chrysostom, a Christian priest who was very well known in the fourth and fifth centuries CE for his eloquent sermons and speaking style, and thus received the nickname Chrysostom, or “golden-mouthed.”  For the first part of his life, St. John was a monk, but his popularity dramatically increased when he became archbishop of Constantinople in 397 CE.  His bust is mentioned here as sitting alongside those of other famous Christian men.  [MD 2005]

Sources:  Information from the now defunct


St. Augustine

A reference to St. Augustine, first a priest and later a bishop, who lived during the fourth and fifth centuries CE.  St. Augustine was a very popular Christian writer, who wrote such works as the Confessiones (Confessions) and De Civitate Dei (The City of God), which would influence Christian doctrine for centuries to come.  St. Augustine’s bust is here mentioned as sitting next to some of Christianity’s other most famous men, who share in common a history of examining the relationship between church and state.  This allusion is noted by Gilmour as being a possible reference to the Roman monk Augustine, who was the first archbishop of Canterbury and converted many English to Christianity; however, this seems an unlikely reference when examining the other names of very famous men who are mentioned alongside that of St. Augustine.  [MD 2005]

Sources:  Robin Gilmour’s note in Penguin edition of The Warden (2004), 194.

Chapter 13 – The Warden’s Decision

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the rants of a tragedy heroine!

Eleanor is described as a tragic heroine.  She was depicted in a similar fashion in Chapter 11, when first depicted as an Iphigenia.  However, the description of Eleanor in this chapter also marks the end of the Iphigenia theme surrounding her.  The Greek Iphigenia is considered a tragic heroine because of the ordeal she suffered in support of her father, Agamemnon.  She was needed by Agamemnon as a sacrifice to Artemis.  Without her being sacrificed, the Greek ships would not have been able to sail to Troy.  Her mother and their supporters opposed the sacrifice, but it was Iphigenia who made the choice to acquiesce to her father’s will.  Eleanor is very much like Iphigenia.  In all of these events Eleanor acts independently.  She is not ordered by her father to make any sacrifice.  She is willing to sacrifice her love for John Bold, in order that her father’s interests are served.  [TH 2005]

Sources:  Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis.


Crabtree Parva

Upon resigning from the wardenship, Mr. Harding will rely on his position as pastor for Crabtree Parva.  Only a small income and house are attached to this living, and the very name of the place reinforces this fact, since “Parva” is a form of the Latin adjective parvus, meaning “small.”  Notice how many markers of smallness Trollope packs into one and half sentences:  “Crabtree Parva was the name of a small living which Mr. Harding had held as a minor canon, and which still belonged to him.  It was only worth some eighty pounds a year, and a small house and glebe….”  Also notice in this passage how readers who know the Latin meaning of parvus are given an intimation of the smallness before readers who do not.  Nevertheless, Trollope makes sure that less Classically inclined readers are not alienated; Trollope does not depend wholly on “Parva” to paint his picture of Mr. Harding’s possible future home.  See the entries for Crabtree Parva and Crabtree Canonicorum in the Proper Names list.  [RR 2014]

Chapter 14 – Mount Olympus

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Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus is the highest peak in Greece and was considered to be the dwelling place of the most powerful gods and goddesses.  It was also the place whence Zeus (the Romans’ Jupiter) launched thunderbolts to punish mortals who had angered him.  [JC 2005]

For a good portion of this chapter Trollope sustains a comparison between the headquarters of the Jupiter and Mount Olympus.  In addition to its humorousness, such a comparison draws attention to a very real concern about the power of the media, prompting questions about whether a newspaper should be placed in a the godlike position that Mount Olympus represents and whether a newspaper should be accorded the same level of control and judgement over human affairs as a god.  [JE 2014]


thunderbolts and Tom Towers

“…that laboratory where, with amazing chemistry, Tom Towers compounded thunderbolts….”  In this reference to Jupiter’s favored weapon, Trollope not only equates Towers with the king of the gods, but also makes him in a way more powerful.  Jupiter could not make his own thunderbolts, but had to have them made by Vulcan, the smith of the gods.  Towers, on the other hand, does not depend on anyone but himself for his power.  Tom Towers’ name also connects him in a small way with the gods.  If Towers is taken as a verb, it is very easy to see the implication that he towers over the rest of humanity, just as the gods in Olympus tower over the mortals below.  [JC 2005]


great goddess Pica

The Latin phrase for “great goddess,” magna dea, was used as an honorific for a number of female deities in antiquity.  Here, Trollope raises a typeface to the position of a goddess and gives her a place in the new pantheon of the Jupiter newspaper.  [RR 2014]


Castalian ink

Castalia was a sacred spring on Mount Parnassus near Delphi and was thought to be a source of poetic inspiration.  Here Trollope makes it the source of Towers’ inspiration, but instead of water, it flows with ink (which he then uses to write his articles).  [JC 2005]

Sources:  Entry on the Castalian Spring at Wikipedia.


upper air

Trollope remarks, tongue in cheek, that some people “doubt the Jupiter” and yet “live and breathe the upper air.”  Latin authors used expressions equivalent to “upper air” to refer to the world of the living as opposed to the underworld; for instance, Vergil has the Cumaean sibyl explain to Aeneas that descending to the underworld is easy—it is the return “to the upper airs” (ad superas auras) that is hard.  Trollope’s use of a Classically resonant phrase contributes to the Classical flavor of this chapter.

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 6.126-128.


workshop of the gods

Trollope is continuing his portrait of Towers as a combination of both Jupiter and Vulcan by referring to the Jupiter‘s office as the “workshop of the gods.”  Vulcan was the only god with a workshop as he was their blacksmith.  Towers is in a sense more powerful than Jupiter, who had to rely on Vulcan to make the fire-bolts which were his weapon of choice.  Towers relies on no one but himself.  [JC 2005]


ambrosia and nectar as toast and tea

Ambrosia and nectar are the food and drink of the gods.  Trollope is again poking fun at Towers’ overconfident view of himself.  If Towers is a god, then he must not eat the food of mortals–therefore his toast and tea must be called ambrosia and nectar.  The fact remains, however, that it is in reality toast and tea and Towers is no god.  [JC 2005]


favored abode of Themis

Themis is the goddess of law and justice and therefore would likely favor the Inns of Court, where English lawyers in London are found.  [JC 2005]


towers of Caesar

“…the rich tide that now passes between the towers of Caesar to Barry’s halls of eloquence…”  The Inns of Court are located near the Thames between the newly built Houses of Parliament (completed in 1860) and the Tower of London which was thought to have been built by Julius Caesar.  Trollope clearly uses the Tower as a reference point for the grandness of the allusion to Caesar.  He could have just as easily used the Westminster Bridge (which was built together with Barry’s Houses of Parliament) and the London Bridge which would have pinpointed his location more accurately.  [JC 2005]


Paphian goddess and Cyprus

Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and beauty; the epithet “Paphian” refers to Paphos, a city on the island of Cyprus.  Cyprus was especially associated with Aphrodite, and in some mythological accounts it figures as the first land visited by the goddess after her birth.  The discretion afforded by this part of London makes it as ideal for trysts as the goddess of love’s special island.  [JC 2005; rev. BL & RR 2014]


wildest worshipper of Bacchus

Bacchus (Greek Dionysus) is the god of wine.  His worshipers are considered “wild” because of the altered states of consciousness that often occurred during the business of worshiping him.  [JC 2005]


tenth Muse

There were nine Muses in Greek and Roman mythology who were patronesses of the arts.  Here Trollope creates a tenth Muse “who now governs the periodical press” and is the source of Towers’ skill at this particular art.  [JC 2005]


Sebastian with his arrows

St. Sebastian, a Roman martyr, survived being pierced by several arrows and is a favorite example of martyrdom, appearing as the subject of numerous works of art.  [JC 2005]



Sybaris was an ancient Greek colony located in Italy (Magna Graecia) and traditionally known as a place of luxury.  Therefore its inhabitants, Sybarites, were people who loved luxury. In his Deipnosophistae Athanaeus mentions the Sybarites’ traditional reputation.  [JC 2005]

Sources:  Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 12.36.


Tom Towers man and god in one

“It is probable that Tom Towers considered himself the most powerful man in Europe; and so he walked on from day to day, studiously striving to look a man, but knowing within his breast that he was a god.”  Trollope is making one of two references here (or perhaps both of the two):  either Towers is like the gods who from time to time take human form and walk among mortals, or he is like the Roman emperors, men who certainly must have known themselves to be the most powerful men in Europe and were also considered divine.  [JC 2005]

Chapter 15 – Tom Towers, Dr. Anticant, and Mr. Sentiment

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A Roman magistrate who would have the duty of overseeing public morality, being able to review members of the senate, the equestrian class or the general populace, and remove their ability to vote or remain in positions of authority.  [JM 2005]

Sources:  OCD.


poet, maker, creator

All different words for the same concept but from different languages:  “poet” from the Greek poiein “to make,” “creator” from the Latin creare, also “to make.”  The English “maker” is rooted in Old English and the Germanic family of languages.  The tricolon gains force and texture from its combination of etymological influences.  [JM 2005; rev. RR 2014]


in extremis

Latin, “in extreme circumstances.”  [JM 2005]


the ancient Roman could hide his face within his toga, and die gracefully

Describing the death of Julius Caesar, Plutarch relates:  ”And now Caesar had received many blows and was looking about and seeking to force his way through his assailants, when he saw Brutus setting upon him with drawn dagger. At this, he dropped the hand of Casca which he had seized, covered his head with his robe, and resigned himself to the dagger-strokes.”  [RR 2011]

Sources:  Plutarch, Life of Brutus 17.6, translation by Bernadotte Perrin quoted above.


Athenian banquets and Attic salt

A reference to fine wit using ancient idiom.  Pliny expounds on the uses and importance of salt, even concluding that “the higher enjoyments of life could not exist without the use of salt:  indeed, so highly necessary is this substance to mankind, that the pleasures of the mind, even, can be expressed by no better term than the word “salt,” such being the name given to all effusions of wit.”  [JM 2005]

The references to “Athenian” and “Attic” indicate that the intellectual pleasures imagined are of the highest quality, since Athens was regarded as a cultural center.  [RR 2011]

Sources:  Pliny, Natural History 31.41, translation by John Bostock and H. T. Riley quoted above.
Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.


Mount Olympus

Trollope continues to draw comparisons between Tom Towers and Jupiter, and between his office and Mount Olympus, the home of the gods.  Here Tom is described perhaps mockingly as inhumanly forbearing and calm, such that Mr. Bold gets no more response from him than he would from a doorpost.  [JM 2005]



A source of divinatory wisdom in ancient times, here applied to The Jupiter newspaper.  [JM 2005]

Calling the Jupiter an oracle implies a supposed absoluteness to its remarks.  Its articles are not just divine commands; they are declarations of truth.  However, ancient oracles were not always impartial.  For example, the priests at Delphi instructed the Spartans to free Athens in exchange for having their temple restored by the exiled Alcmaeonid family.  The oracular Jupiter is all the more dangerous for its being considered absolute while not necessarily being unbiased.  [BL 2013]

Source:  Sarah B. Pomeroy, Stanley M. Burstein, Walter Donlan, and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts, A Brief History of Ancient Greece:  Politics, Society, and Culture.  New York:  Oxford UP, 2009, 136.



The twists and turns of the Temple are likened to a maze.  While Trollope used Mount Olympus and associated imagery to depict the Jupiter‘s power, here he may gesture (more subtly) to the formidable mythological labyrinth of Crete to enhance his portrayal of the “impregnability” of the newspaper and its editor, Tom Towers.  [RR 2014]


Ridiculum acri fortius et melius magnas plerumque secat res

Trollope quotes directly from Horace’s Satires:  “Ridicule generally cuts great matters stronger and better than sharpness.”  In the Satires Horace praises satire for its directness and effectiveness.  Trollope deploys this quotation while he is discussing the power of the popular novel to sway public opinion.  In the sentences preceding this quotation Trollope set up a comparison between “former times,” when the “heavy tasks” of reformers were undertaken with “grave decorum” through philosophical argument, and the contemporary use of humor in novels.  Neither medium is shown in an entirely positive or negative light.  The method of “former times” creates treatises that “took a life to write, and an eternity to read,” with none of the concision that Horace would advocate.  Yet “ridicule” and novels, though more concise and convincing, rely on “imaginary agonies” and are subject to the forces of popularity and economics.  Trollope’s discussion suggests complications in the context and ethics of satire and the novel.

In The Warden, Trollope himself is using a satirical novel to pose reformative questions.  By including this quotation from Horace, Trollope invites readers to note and consider his own use of satire.  While Trollope uses satire as a tool, he does not elevate it above other media, but judges all media with the same humorous eye, including satire itself.  [JE 2014]

Source:  Horace, Satires 1.10.14-15.

Chapter 16 – A Long Day in London

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Paternoster Row

The name of a real street in London, on which is located the fictitious publishing shop which published Mr. Harding’s Church Music.  This name consists of two Latin words, pater and noster, and refers to the Christian prayer the “Our Father,” or Pater Noster in Latin.  The ecclesiastical echo of the street’s name befits both Mr. Harding’s profession and his publication.  [MD 2005; rev. RR 2014]


he hoped better things

Perhaps hearkening to one of several popular Latin phrases such as spero meliora and sperans meliora, literally meaning “I hope better things” and “hoping better things.”  [MD 2005]



The patronage which the bishop of Barchester has given to Mr. Harding is the wardenship of the hospital, some 800 pounds a year. The bishop is referred to as the patron in this instance, and therefore Mr. Harding is shown to be the client in the relationship.  The patron-client relationship dates back to the Roman Empire; in it, a dominant, upper-class and powerful citizen would give monetary and physical support to an unspecified number of clients, who would in turn offer their services, votes, and any other requested support to their patron.  It was a mutually beneficial relationship, and Trollope is showing how the modern bureaucratic structure of the church has imitated the Roman patron-client relationship.  [MD 2005]


per annum

This Latin phrase means literally “through the year” or “by year,” thus “yearly,” and is used here to describe amounts of money received annually.  [MD 2005]



This word originally referred to the sacrifice of 100 animals, usually oxen, by the ancient Greeks.  It is used in this instance to refer to lobsters, which are being stored in the tavern in which Mr. Harding is eating at the time, and it surely refers to their future fate of being cooked. A hecatomb in ancient culture would probably have involved the burning of parts or entire bodies of animals; however, these lobsters would have been boiled, not burnt.  This allusion is probably meant to be humorous because it shows the reader that this is just a shop with a lot of food in it and that there are not going to be any actual sacrifices performed.  [MD 2005]

Chapter 17 – Sir Abraham Haphazard

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 18 – The Warden Is Very Obstinate

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(No uses of Classics identified.)

Chapter 19 – The Warden Resigns

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Paternoster Row

See gloss in commentary for Chapter 16.


Had he not gained a great victory, and was it not fit that he should step into a cab with triumph?

Perhaps Trollope is drawing a parallel between the cab and an ancient chariot, and between the victorious Mr. Harding and a Roman commander granted a triumphal procession.  Once again, a Classical allusion is being used to playfully aggrandize an everyday situation, in this case, Mr. Harding, a meek man, taking more control of his life from his somewhat overbearing daughter and son-in-law.  [JM 2005]

Chapter 20 – Farewell

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Priam, Hecuba, and a dozen Hectors

This is an allusion to the story of Homer’s Iliad, in which Priam is the king of Troy, Hecuba is his wife, and Hector is his son, the most talented of all the Trojan warriors.  Priam and Hecuba had nineteen sons and several daughters; they are being compared to Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful, who have a large family of twelve children themselves.  Trollope is making the somewhat humorous point that both Priam and Mr. Quiverful are in the position of providing food for a lot of mouths.  [MD 2005]

There is the further humor that results from the unlikeness between the royal family of Troy and Mr. Quiverful’s rather humble domestic unit.  [RR 2011]

Source:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.

Chapter 21 – Conclusion

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(No uses of Classics identified.)


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