Chapter 43 – The Race of Scatcherd Becomes Extinct

dies non

A Latin phrase literally meaning “a day not,” it is used here by Trollope to refer to the day of Sunday in regard to the operations of the Greshamsbury post office. Since mail isn’t delivered on Sunday, it can be described as a “day without” mail, or a “dies non” in Latin.  [MD 2005]

 

Mercury

Trollope uses the name of the ancient Roman messenger god to refer to the Greshamsbury post-boy.  [RR 2005]

Chapter 42 – What Can You Give in Return?

halcyon

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.”  Mr. Oriel, the parson, is engaged to be married to Beatrice Gresham.  Domestic concerns are therefore keeping him occupied:  his morning church services have been put on hiatus, and he has had to take on a curate to see to his parish during this time.  Thus these are “halcyon days” for his parishioners, who no longer have to attend so many services, as well as for the couple in love, preparing for their wedding.  [JM 2011]

Sources:  OED.
Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.410-748.

Chapter 39 – What the World Says About Blood

tablets of his mind

Trollope is referring here to Mr. Gresham’s views on the subject of whether or not Frank needs to marry a person who is wealthy. The squire himself likes Mary Thorne, with whom Frank is in love, but the De Courcy relatives, along with Lady Arabella, feel that Frank needs to marry money in order to save the Greshamsbury estate. Trollope says that the De Courcy family has not engraved this idea on the tablets of Mr. Gresham’s mind–in other words, he does not share their beliefs on this subject.  We find this turn of phrase in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound.  Before Prometheus prophesizes to Io about her future, he tells her:  “write it in the tablets of your mind.”  [MD & RR 2005]

Sources:  Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 788-789.