in Small House at Allington

Chapter 02 – The Two Pearls of Allington

Damon to any Pythias

Damon and Pythias are legendary friends whose story was recorded by Valerius Maximus in De Amicitiae Vinculo. Pythias was condemned to death by the ruler of Syracuse, Dionysius I, but was allowed to return to his home before the execution on the condition that his friend Damon would die in his place if he failed to return.  Damon was nearly executed since Pythias returned late.  When the ruler of the city saw their courageous loyalty to one another, he let them both live.  Here Trollope says that Bernard would not have shown the kind of extraordinary friendship exemplified by these figures to any average clerk, signifying Crosbie’s greater renown.  [EB 2006]

Sources:  Link to an English version of Valerius Maximus’ account of Damon and Pythias.



This reference is the first instance of a recurring parallel made between the Classical god Apollo and Adolphus Crosbie.  Apollo was the god of arts, music, prophecy, and healing, who was also associated with the sun and was typically portrayed as an idealized, beautiful young man.  Here Lily makes the comparison with irony, suggesting that Crosbie must think of himself as a glorious, Apollo-like figure.  These references continue, as Crosbie and Bernard Dale join the end of Lily’s conversation with Bell.  Later in the chapter Lily mentions that “Apollo can’t get through the hoops,” creating a humorous image of a god failing at a game of croquet.  Unfortunately, Lily later comes to truly admire Crosbie as an elevated Apollo.  [EB & RR 2006]

Sources:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.


boundary of thick laurel hedge

The laurel was a plant often associated with Apollo.  This association can be traced to a myth recorded in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1.452-1.566), in which the nymph Daphne changed into a laurel in order to escape Apollo’s advances, and the god then appropriated the laurel as his symbol. Its presence immediately after the extended introduction of the Apollo-Crosbie parallel may serve to heighten the effect of the allusion.  It may also serve as a subtle foreshadowing of the future romantic troubles that Crosbie will be involved in, since Apollo’s romantic interests often turned out badly for the females he pursued.  [EB 2006]

Sources:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.452-567.


remnants of the haymaking

In this scene, Lily, Bell, Bernard, and Crosbie all take a slight part in assisting with the haymaking, creating an idyllic image of rural life like those found in Classical bucolic poetry.  Theocritus’ tenth Idyll, for instance, takes place during harvesting.  The scene’s association with Crosbie is interesting and unusual, since in the rest of the novel it is usually John Eames who participates in moments reminiscent of pastoral love.  [EB & RR 2006]


tablets of his mind

Crosbie here takes note of Lily’s sarcastic comment about Lady Hartletop.  The image of mental “tablets” can be found in Aeschylus’ play Prometheus Bound, where Prometheus reveals Io’s future to her.  There is a humorous contrast between the minor social comment that Crosbie commits to memory and the dramatic events foretold in Aeschylus’ play.  [EB 2006]

Sources:  Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 788-789.


quite after the manner of Apollo

Lily again refers to Crosbie as an “Apollo” in a somewhat derogatory fashion. See entry on Apollo earlier in the commentary for this chapter.  [EB 2006]