in Bertrams

Chapter 05 – The Choice of a Profession


According to Herodotus, Solon, who was an Athenian and considered one of the wisest people of his time, came to visit Croesus.  Croesus was the king of Lydia and had many treasures.  Croesus displayed all his riches to Solon and then asked who was the happiest person in the world.  In answer, Solon described three other men, which was to the dismay of Croesus as he believed himself to be the happiest because of his riches.  Mr. Bertram is likened to Croesus in this situation because he has an extreme amount of wealth.  Throughout the novel we will see that happiness eludes Mr. Bertram, in spite of his money.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Herodotus, History 1.29-33.


Daily Jupiter

Jupiter was the king of the Roman gods, and Trollope bestows the name on a fictitious London newspaper.  This publication appears in several of Trollope’s other novels (e.g., The Warden, Barchester Towers, Framley Parsonage), though it is variously referred to as “Jupiter” or “The Jupiter.”  The name of the paper signifies that it is very authoritative and preeminent.  [KS & RR 2012]


great in Greek

Mr. Bertram and George are discussing George’s time at university, but Mr. Bertram is hardly impressed.  As usual with most undergraduates during the Victorian period, George studied Classics and spent a good amount of time with Greek.  Mr. Bertram can respect George for not being idle, but he will not applaud George for being proficient in Greek because Mr. Bertram does not find it practical.  [KS 2012]


black is white; white is black

George is arguing with Mr. Bertram over the idea of becoming a lawyer.  George has no strong desire at this point to take up law, and he sees it as a slightly disgusting business.  In one of his satires, Juvenal writes about his friend Umbricius, who has decided to leave Rome because he is revolted with the state of Roman society.  Umbricius states “those who turn white into black” should remain in Rome.  Umbricius feels that a man can not make an honest living in Rome anymore.  George shares the same sentiments towards lawyers, as–in his opinion–nothing they do is honest. They merely turn “black into white and white into black.”  [KS 2012]

Source:  Juvenal, Satire 3.30.


writing Greek verses

George and Mr. Bertram continue their discussion about a good profession for George.  Mr. Bertram shows his distaste and lack of care for George’s university education by stating that “writing Greek verses” will not bring him any success or fortune.  [KS 2012]



As the conversation between George and Mr. Bertram draws to a close, George ponders the notion that by going into law he would essentially be throwing away a lot of the skills and time he spent learning in university.  George refers to Aristotle, who was a Greek philosopher, as someone who occasioned him much study.  [KS 2012]