in Claverings

Chapter 03 – Lord Ongar

Grecian sculptor, Julia as a goddess

In sketching the appearance of Julia Brabazon, Trollope mentions that her nose is “as finally modelled as though a Grecian sculptor had cut it,” and that her figure is “like that of a goddess.”  Although Trollope thereby establishes Julia’s beauty, he does so in a way that makes her more imperious and static than the lively Florence Burton.  Trollope elsewhere demotes statuesque feminine beauty even while acknowledging it:  see commentary for Chapter 11 of Framley Parsonage.  [RR 2012]


hecatombs of partridges

In ancient Greece, a hecatomb was a large sacrifice of cattle–literally 100 of them, though sizeable sacrifices of fewer than 100 could be called “hecatombs” as well.  Grafting this Classical association onto partridge shooting in Clavering Park, Trollope produces humor with the shift from oxen to birds and the implicit comparison of the ancients’ religious devotion to the Victorian men’s zealous, and secular, pursuit of hunting.  [RR 2012]


halcyon days

Trollope often enlists the adjective “halcyon” to describe the time of a couple’s courtship; in so doing, Trollope is sensitive to the etymology of this word and its association with marital happiness.  The adjective is derived from the name of Alcyone:  in myth, she mourns the loss of her spouse, Ceyx, during a storm at sea, and both are eventually turned into birds who nest by the sea on calm or “halcyon” days.  Trollope depicts this time in the courtship of Julia and Lord Ongar as peaceful, with Lord Ongar enjoying his new status as a soon-to-be-married man.  Although these early days of their relationship are pleasant, stormy times are to come, and in this regard Trollope’s use of “halcyon days” may be ironic:  in the myth, the halcyon days come after the disastrous storm, but in The Claverings they precede the difficulties of Julia’s marriage to Lord Ongar.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.410-748.



After her wedding, Julia and Lord Ongar take a carriage to the railway station.  Trollope’s choice to call the carriage a “chariot” may cooperate with the Classical resonance of Julia’s name (see commentary for Chapter 1):  like a victorious Caesar, Julia rides in a triumphal chariot, her ambition of a successful marriage achieved.  [RR 2012]