in Dr. Wortle's School

Chapter 11 – The Bishop

quasi and arch

Lady Margaret is the aunt of Augustus Momson, a student at Dr. Wortle’s school; she is also the first cousin of Mrs. Stantiloup, Dr. Wortle’s antagonist.  Trollope reports that “There had been a question indeed about whether young Momson should be received at the school—because of the quasi connection with the arch-enemy.”  With quasi (Latin “as if,” “as it were”) and “arch-” (Greek “first,” “foremost”), Trollope gives a Classical inflection to the causal clause explaining the hesitation about admitting Augustus to the Classical school.  [RR 2014]


Augustus Momson

Augustus Momson, the worst behaved and dullest boy in Bowick, is named after the first emperor of Rome.  After the emperor’s death, Augustus (meaning “venerable,” “magnificent”) was passed on to later emperors as a title.  There is humor in the fact that the Latin honorific of one of the most celebrated emperors is given to such an unworthy recipient.  The use of the name here shows some arrogance in the family that has spoiled the boy.  [BL 2013; rev. RR 2014]

There may be further humor in that Augustus Momson’s last name recalls Theodor Mommsen, a noted Roman historian who lived and wrote in the 19th c.  It is ironic that the name of such an unpromising student is given a name with a doubly Classical resonance.  [RR 2014]