Chapter 19 – “Nobody has Condemned You Here”

Mr. Peacocke as a hero

Mrs. Peacocke admits that different circumstances could have made her first husband a better man, but she also asserts that Ferdinand Lefroy could never have been a “hero” like Mr. Peacocke.  Through his faithfulness and determination, the quiet Classical scholar has become a quasi-Classical mythological figure in Mrs. Peacocke’s estimation.  [RR 2014]


Mrs. Peacocke’s conscience

Mrs. Peacocke explains to Mrs. Wortle that “to the best of [her] conscience” Mr. Peacocke is her husband and that she is not ashamed of herself.  Mrs. Peacocke’s words recall both her conversation with her husband in Chapter 9 (see commentary) and Mr. Peacocke’s quotation of Horace in Chapter 8 (see commentary).  Though Horace is not quoted directly here, Mrs. Peacocke again echoes the Horatian sentiment.  [RR 2014]

Chapter 18 – The Journey

dead as Julius Caesar

Robert Lefroy tells Mr. Peacocke that Ferdinand Lefroy is as “dead as Julius Caesar.”  Here, Robert Lefroy unsuccessfully attempts to bond with Mr. Peacocke through a Classical reference.  The humor of Robert Lefroy’s joke is in its exaggeration:  one does not become much more dead than after multiple stab wounds and over 1900 years.  [BL 2013]



Mr. Peacocke learns that Ferdinand Lefroy died of DT, delirium tremens.  This Latin medical term translates to “shaking madness” and refers to the severe symptoms that can occur as a result of excessive alcohol consumption and/or withdrawal from such consumption.  [BL 2013 & RR 2014]


prosecute his journey

“Prosecute” is used here to signify “go forward with,” and this usage accords with the meaning of the Latin verb from which the English verb is derived:  prosequi, “proceed,” “continue with.”  The relationship between English “prosecute” and Latin prosequi is especially apparent in the Latin verb’s perfect participle prosecutus. [RR 2014]

Chapter 17 – Correspondence with the Palace


See commentary for the use of “vulgar” in Chapter 14.


in terrorem

When Dr. Wortle writes a response to the bishop’s letter, he questions the bishop’s purpose in holding “the metropolitan press in terrorem over [his] head.”  A literal translation of the Latin phrase could be “with a view to terror or alarm,” and it can describe a warning meant to pressure someone to act in a certain way.  Dr. Wortle seems to use it here for its formal and cold connotations.  Its distancing effect contrasts with the social bonding through Classics seen in the correspondence between John Talbot and Dr. Wortle (see commentary for Chapter 12).  [JE & RR 2014]


amo (again)

The phrase “amo in the cool of the evening” comes to epitomize the newspaper article and its attack on Dr. Wortle.  Perhaps, in addition to its innuendo, Dr. Wortle may be vexed by the way in which the article has employed Classics to undermine Dr. Wortle’s position of authority:  a marker of Dr. Wortle’s status is now used against him.  [JE & RR 2014]

Chapter 15 – “‘Amo’ in the Cool of the Evening”

amo in the cool of the evening

Dr. Wortle is not concerned with the reference to tuptō in the article but rather with the mention of amo.  While Latin amo can have the lighter meaning of “I am fond of,” or “I like,” Dr. Wortle’s lawyers concur that in this case amo seems meant to refer to making love.  This is also how readers of the article would interpret the implications of the Latin in context.  The Latin amo would be far more recognizable than the Greek tuptō, and there may have been additional associations of amo with the French noun amour.  The Oxford English Dictionary demonstrates that the use of amour in English to mean “affection” or “friendship” was obsolete by the 19th c.; instead, the preferred meaning at this time was “love affair,” particularly an illicit one.  [JE 2014]


shirt of Nessus

When Dr. Wortle reads the article from Everybody’s Business sent to him from the bishop’s palace, the article’s mockery is compared to the shirt of Nessus.  In Classical myth, Nessus is a centaur who tried to steal Heracles’ wife Deianira.  When Heracles shot Nessus with a poisoned arrow, Nessus gave his bloodstained clothing to Deianira and told her that it would keep her husband faithful to her.  Many years later, upon learning that her husband had taken Iole as a concubine, Deianira sent Heracles the garment; however, instead of securing Heracles’ fideltiy, it caused him to experience such unbearable pain that he begged for death.  Just as Deianira did not expect to harm Heracles, the bishop did not anticipate that his attempt to save Dr. Wortle from disgrace would cause him such offense.  [BL 2013; rev. RR 2014]

Source:  Sophocles, Trachiniae.


remitting Classical lessons

While Mr. Peacocke is in America, Dr. Wortle has to step in to continue the Classical lessons at the school.  However, when Dr. Wortle needs to speak with his lawyer, the lessons have to be cancelled.  The Peacockes’ scandal thus disrupts the Classical education of the students.  [BL 2013]



When Dr. Wortle’s lawyer shows him the apology which the newspaper Everybody’s Business has offered to print, the apology includes the date demarcation “of the — ultimo.”  Latin ultimo here modifies an implied mense to mean “of the last month.”  The word lends formality to the apology while also elevating the writer (and the newspaper being written for) through the use of Latin.  [JE & RR 2014]