in Doctor Thorne

Chapter 03 – Dr. Thorne

children of Aesculapius

Latin form of the name Asklepios, a Greek hero later revered as a god of medicine and healing.  He was the son of Apollo and a mortal woman named Coronis, but became immortal himself after being killed by Zeus for reviving the dead with his medicinal skill, something only a god should have been able to do.  Trollope refers to Dr. Thorne’s fellow doctors as the “children of Aesculapius.”  [JM 2005]

Sources:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.
The Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology.


materia medica

Latin, “medical material.”  Dr. Thorne earns the disdain of his medical colleagues by actually making medicine rather than just experimenting with materia medica; he is seen as being more concerned with money than with the intellectual side of his career.  [JM 2005]


toga of silence

Trollope uses the quintessential garment of the Roman citizen to symbolize a dignified resistance to public attack.  Dr. Fillgrave, however, is unable to stayed wrapped in a toga of silence, and he engages in a public struggle with Dr. Thorne, conducted through newspaper letters.  [JM 2005]

The image may recall a detail from Plutarch’s account of the death of Caesar:  once he realized that Brutus was one of the attackers, he covered himself and submitted.  See the gloss in the commentary for Chapter 15 of The Warden.  [RR 2011]

Sources:  Plutarch, Life of Brutus 17.6.



A genius for a Roman would have been a minor divinity charged with the guardianship of a person or place.  Mary Thorne is to be the genius of Dr. Thorne’s home, newly and pleasantly refurbished in preparation for her coming.  [JM 2005]


drops falling, if they fall constantly, will bore through a stone

In Latin:  Gutta cavat lapidem.  Mr. Gresham and Dr. Thorne are fast friends, despite Lady Arabella’s disdain for the doctor; but over time she manages to weaken their relationship, as drops hollow stone.  [JM 2005]

Sources:  Ovid, Epistulae Ex Ponto 4.10.5 (though Ovid may be repeating a common proverb).