in Fixed Period

Chapter 06 – The College


The place where those who have lived out their “Fixed Period” are to be deposited is referred to as “the college.”  This recalls Roman collegia, or recognized legal entities having to do with a particular trade or group of people.  Several collegia were concerned with organizing funerals.  This is an example of a Latinate word being used euphemistically to soften what would be a stark reality when described by Anglo-Saxon or Germanic vocabulary.  [CMC 2012]


sanguine hopes for euthanasia

President Neverbend says that his hopes for Crasweller’s deposition are sanguine.  This English adjective means “cheerful” or “optimistic,” but its basic Latin element (sanguin-) literally means “blood.”  Given the method of euthanasia that Neverbend hopes to employ, it is likely that Trollope is using the etymology of the word “sanguine” to express humor (albeit dark humor).  [CMC 2012]



The name decided upon for the college is “Necropolis,” a Greek term that literally means “city of the dead.”  Here, the Greek word is being used as a euphemism to obfuscate the nature of the college and lessen the anxiety of the citizenry of Brittanula surrounding the Fixed Period.  Further, the London Necropolis Company was controversial in Trollope’s time for constructing a massive cemetery complex, complete with multiple railway stations, a telegraph station, and different areas for different religions.  This caused debate in London, as many were reluctant to move away from the traditional churchyards within their respective cities and towns.  [CMC 2012] 

Source:  Encyclopedia Britannica, electronic edition.



This was the name that President Neverbend had proposed for the college, which is finally named “Necropolis” instead.  This Latin noun means “an access” or “entrance.”  It is probable that Neverbend considered the name appropriate on multiple levels:  the college being an entrance for those deposited into a year of peace before a calm departure, and the Fixed Period being the entrance into a new age of rationality and civilization.  The proposal of a Classically inspired name could be considered part of Neverbend’s overall language program that attempts to acclimate Brittanula to the Fixed Period through words of Classical origin.  [CMC 2012]



The place within Necropolis where the deposited are to die is referred to as “the temple” by President Neverbend.  It is likely that Neverbend is calling it this because he sees it as a place built to glorify not only the Fixed Period, but also his society’s enlightenment and rationality.  More ominously, as Trollope would have been aware, Classical temples are invariably associated with blood sacrifice.  [CMC 2012]


wisdom wrapped in candied sweets

President Neverbend explains the need for making the college look as nice as possible by stating that children need wisdom given to them in candied sweets.  This motif is possibly taken from Lucretius, who was a Latin author of Epicurean poetry.  His poetry attempts to enlighten people to not fear death.  In his De Rerum Natura, he says that the truth needs to be sweetened in the same way that a doctor would mix honey with medicine given to a small boy to get him to drink it.  Trollope uses this motif here because Lucretius and Neverbend both seek to dispel a fear of death by using external sensory perceptions.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 4.1-25.



Mr. Exors is one of the oldest men in Brittanula and is scheduled to be deposited not long after Crasweller.  His name is derived from the Latin exsors, meaning “chosen one.”  He is mentioned in a group of others who are due to be deposited.  All have said in their own way that they will not set foot in the college.  The idea of “chosen one” has an almost sacrificial connotation in The Fixed Period, as though Trollope is signaling that Exors is chosen by Neverbend’s law to be sacrificed and lead Brittanula and the world into a new age of enlightened living (and dying).  [CMC 2012]


ploughing across the waves…to be drowned or succeed

President Neverbend is attempting to self-motivate by reminding himself that he is intellectual kin to Galileo and Columbus, that he must plough on through the sea and succeed or die trying.  The image of ploughing across the sea may be taken by Trollope from the opening of  Vergil’s Aeneid, where Aeneas and his crew are described as ploughing (ruebant) the sea in their ship.  The connection between Neverbend and Aeneas may be worth considering:  both have travelled away from their mother countries to found new societies, and just as a glorious future was foretold for Aeneas, Neverbend imagines that the establishment of the Fixed Period will bring him fame.  [CMC, CD, & RR 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 1.35.