in Doctor Thorne

Chapter 12 – When Greek Meets Greek, Then Comes Tug of War

Greek meets Greek

A reference to a famous line from Nathaniel Lee’s Rival Queens:  “When Greeks joyn’d Greeks, then was the tug of war.”  Lee’s play treats the rivalry between two wives of Alexander the Great after his death.

Sources:  Lee, Rival Queens 4.2.


Barchester Galen

Dr. Fillgrave is referred to as a Galen.  Previously Dr. Thorne was referred to by this same title.  See the gloss in the commentary for Chapter 2.  [TH 2005]


frog and ox

Trollope describes Dr. Fillgrave’s attempt to carry himself with dignity by saying that “the effort would occasionally betray itself, and the story of the frog and the ox would irresistibly force itself into one’s mind at those moments when it most behoved Dr. Fillgrave to be magnificent.”  This is a reference to one of the fables of Aesop.  The story begins when a frog sees an ox.  The frog is seized by a jealous rage and tries to puff itself up to the size of the ox.  It asks its children which of them–the frog or the ox–is bigger, and each time the children answer, “the ox.”  Finally the frog explodes.  Dr. Fillgrave is compared to this frog because his injured pride leads him to try to act larger than he is.  He, like the frog, blows himself up to a large size only to end up looking far from dignified.  Dr. Fillgrave is upset because he is left waiting by Roger Scatcherd for 20 minutes and is then told that Roger won’t see him.  Lady Scatcherd offers him payment but he declines out of pride.  Finally he explodes with rage when he meets Dr. Thorne in the hallway.  Because Dr. Fillgrave is described as being short and plump, the imagery of a puffed up frog seems even more fitting for him.  [TH 2005]

Sources:  A translation of the fable at Laura Gibb’s Aesop site.


Achilles glaring at Hector

Achilles was a Greek hero in the Trojan War who is prominently placed in Homer’s Iliad.  Hector is the commander of the Trojan forces and the staunchest rival of Achilles.  Both meet in book 22 of the Iliad wherein Achilles triumphs over Hector.  Dr. Fillgrave, when trying to exit the residence of Roger Scatcherd, bumps into Dr. Thorne.  Dr. Fillgrave glares at him as Achilles might have at Hector.  Achilles and Hector seem a fitting pair for comparison with the intense rivals Dr. Fillgrave and Dr. Thorne.  [TH 2005]



Dr. Fillgrave is compared to Achilles.  Like Fillgrave, Achilles was offended by a person in power.  For Achilles, it was Agamemnon’s seizure of Briseis that provided the insult and the root of his anger.  For Dr. Fillgrave it is his belief that Dr. Thorne has publicly stolen his patient.  Dr.  Fillgrave is extremely hurt by this humiliation and thus retreats to make good on his threats against Dr. Thorne.  [Th 2005]

Sources: Homer, Iliad 1.



Latin, “in respect to.”  [RR 2005]