in Claverings

Chapter 10 – Florence Burton at the Rectory

a Latin line to show that a constant dropping of water will hollow a stone

Harry deploys his Classical knowledge to display and assert power by quoting this Latin proverb, gutta cavat lapidem, to Florence.  Harry means that his persistence in harassing Florence will result in her eventually consent to an earlier marriage date than she has been counting on.  Florence is less educated than Harry, and the use of this proverb against her would remind her of that fact.  Harry is also asserting his masculinity, in tandem with his higher education, against Florence in this debate:  society at the time dictates that she do as men tell her.  Harry may also be channeling the spirit of his former job as a schoolmaster, showing Florence that he knows better than she does what is best for their relationship.  With all these hierarchical relationships at play—educated and uneducated, man and woman, teacher and pupil—Florence is more likely to give in to Harry’s desire.  [SH & RR 2012]

Source:  Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto 4.10.5.