in Bertrams

Chapter 09 – Miss Todd’s Picnic

Caroline Waddington as Juno

Caroline Waddington’s appearance and character are likened to Juno, wife of Jupiter and queen of the gods in Roman mythology.  Juno is presented in Classical sources as having a regal bearing, and many epithets describe her royalty and beauty.  In Vergil’s Aeneid, Juno is a powerful figure who attempts to influence the course of the Fate with varying degrees of success.  Caroline is described as regal, majestic, and dignified in her bearing, and her beauty is easy and graceful.  These descriptions and Trollope’s likening of her to Juno give her character outstanding nobility.  Her similarity to Juno’s bearing is put in stark contrast to characteristics of Venus–Caroline’s character is not given to love, desire, or longing.  [CD 2012]

We can add pride to the common characteristics of Juno and Caroline.  Juno’s wounded pride and consequent anger led her to try to thwart Aeneas’ destiny in the Aeneid.  Caroline’s pride and anger will come into play in the course of The Bertrams and will alter the course of her life as well as the lives of those around her.  [RR 2012]



Drawing out the comparison and contrast of Caroline with Juno and Venus, the narrator uses a Classical myth to praise to Caroline’s beauty further.  The Judgment of Paris is the story of a beauty contest between the goddesses Juno, Minerva, and Venus.  They came to the Trojan prince Paris in order that he might choose the most beautiful of the three.  Each goddess promised him a reward if he would pick her.  Venus’ bribe, that he would be given the most beautiful women in the world, won him over and he chose her as the most beautiful goddess.  Yet Caroline’s beauty–regal, dignified, and reminiscent of Juno–is so striking that if Paris were to choose a Venus over her, he would know he made the wrong decision.  [CD 2012]


Grecian nose

Caroline has up to this point been described with imagery heavily borrowed from Classical sources, specifically her likeness to Juno.  The narrator’s insistence that she does not have a Grecian nose breaks the reliance on Classical imagery.  This discontinuation allows Caroline’s character to be not totally determined by a Classical type.  She is not simply a one-dimensional Juno-esque beauty, regal and noble to the extreme.  Her lack of a Grecian nose, which would have been one more signifier of nobility, allows her character and beauty to possess passion.  This use of Classical imagery is particularly striking because it is a visual image, whereas most Classical references in Trollope are literary.  [CD 2012]


vera incessu patuit dea

A quotation from Vergil’s, Aeneid:  “The true goddess was exposed by her walk.”  At this point in the Aeneid, Aeneas’ mother, Venus, has come to him disguised as a huntress.  However, Venus’ godhood is so powerful that she is given away by the manner in which she walks and carries herself.  Likewise, Caroline Waddington’s gait is described as giving away her noble and regal character.  The majority of women aren’t capable of walking gracefully, relates the narrator, yet Caroline possesses such grace in her gait that she isn’t able to hide her queenly nature.  [CD 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 1.405.


Caroline’s will

Trollope describes Caroline as having a “stubborn, enduring, manly will; capable of conquering much, and not to be conquered easily.”  With this characterization, Caroline Waddington is further connected to Juno, especially the presentation of Juno in Vergil’s Aeneid.  In the Aeneid, Juno is a powerful goddess who has nothing but scorn for Aeneas and the Trojans.  Her hatred is so powerful that she is continually throwing Aeneas off course from Italy with storms and attempting to get him to settle in other countries and cities.  In her fight against Aeneas, she is fighting against the founding of the Roman race, an event which has been decreed by fate and the gods.  Juno’s will is strong enough to stand up to Jupiter and fate.  Caroline is described as being similarly headstrong and determined.  [CD 2012]


Roman pillars

As with the description of Caroline’s nose, instead of a literary allusion, Trollope is using a visual image from Classical antiquity to describe an object.  “Roman pillars” adorn the tomb of St. James, an early Christian leader.  This seems to be a reminder of the history of the Holy Land.  Judea, the area’s Latin name, was under Roman control from c. 63 BCE onwards.  [CD 2012]


set the Thames on fire

“He won’t set the Thames on fire” is an English proverb that means one won’t make a very noticeable impression, or leave behind a reputation.  Sir Lionel Bertram says this of Mr. Cruse and Mr. M’Grabbery, Cambridge-educated men who look with distrust on George Bertram for having gone to Oxford, and for having charmed Caroline Waddington more easily than M’Grabbery.  This proverb is descended from a Latin proverb which has much of the same meaning:  Tiberim accendere nequaquam potest, “one is by no means able to set light to the Tiber.”  [CD 2012]

Source:  Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.


cupbearer, nectar, Jupiter, Juno, Hebe

The use of the image of a cupbearer introduces an extended series of Classical references that take place in a playful conversation between Miss Todd and Sir Lionel.  Sir Lionel describes his joy at picnics as that of a god, reclining on a cloud with thunderbolts near, having his cup filled with nectar by a goddess.  Miss Todd correctly understands this as a reference to Jupiter, king of the gods, and Sir Lionel flatters her when he states that he would be a happy Jupiter if she were Juno, Jupiter’s spouse.  After this, Miss Todd backs away from the Juno/Jupiter comparison, and compares herself to Hebe, a minor goddess and cupbearer to the gods.  Overall, this series of Classical allusions is playful, and these references allow Miss Todd and Sir Lionel to have a conversation using cultural signifiers and to understand each other as members of a similar social group.  [CD 2012]