Galen was an ancient physician from Pergamum. He was born in 129 C.E. and likely died in the year 199 C.E. He was well educated. He studied in Smyrna and Alexandria before returning to practice medicine in Pergamum. He settled in Rome around the year 161. He served four emperors and wrote numerous treatises on medicine. His knowledge acted as the foundation for subsequent medical learning in the Middle Ages. Galen was a distinguished physician during his time. Dr. Thorne is referred to as a Galen in a somewhat mocking but affectionate way by Trollope. He is no Galen in truth but only a modest country doctor. [TH 2005]
Ichor is the blood of the gods in Greek mythology. It is mentioned in Book 5 of Homer’s Iliad when Aphrodite is wounded in the wrist by Diomedes while she rescues her son, Aeneas. Dr. Thorne has noble blood; his heritage sets him apart from others. For this reason, Trollope uses the word “ichor” in describing his blood. Ichor is also used in reference to the blood of the Ullathorne Thornes in Barchester Towers Chapter 22. [TH 2005]
Homer, Iliad 5.339-340.
Dr. Thorne is described as having a purer ichor than the Omnium family. Omnium in Latin means “of all people.” If we understand omnium in its literal Latin sense, Trollope could be covertly saying that Dr. Thorne’s blood is purer than everyone else’s. [TH 2005]
Scatcherd, his sister, and Henry Thorne
When Mary Scatcherd was supposedly engaged to a respectable tradesman, Roger Scatcherd bragged to his drinking companion, Henry Thorne, that his sister was beautiful and that the marriage suited his ambitions. After such remarks about Mary Scatcherd, Henry Thorne decided to pursue her and even offered marriage. In the end, he left her pregnant and without a husband. In revenge for her being so publicly dishonored, Roger Scatcherd killed Henry Thorne. This story follows a familiar pattern. In his History of Rome Livy gives an account of Lucretia, the wife of Collatinus, who was dishonored by Sextus Tarquinius. One night while at a party Collatinus bragged before the assemblage that his wife was more virtuous than all the rest. The men set out to see if this was true. While the other wives of the assembled men were found engaged in parties with acquaintances, Lucretia was found with wool-work and her maids around her. Sextus Tarquinius later returned to Lucretia and through coercion slept with her. She killed herself in front of her husband and family after explaining that Tarquin had forced her to have sex with him. In addition, she exacted a pledge from those present that they take revenge for her on Sextus Tarquinius. Like Lucretia, Mary Scatcherd is dishonored through dishonest means after her quality was established in the presence of a corrupt but prominent man. Both women are then publicly placed in a position of dishonor which leads members of their families to take revenge upon the offending man. Unlike Lucretia, though, Mary is not actually raped but is seduced by promises of marriage. Mary, also, does not go to the extreme of killing herself when faced with potential shame nor does she desire her brother to take out revenge. Instead, Roger Scatcherd does so on his own, and Mary Thorne moves to America. [TH 2005]
Sources: Livy, History of Rome 1.57-59.