in Dr. Wortle's School

Chapter 15 – “‘Amo’ in the Cool of the Evening”

amo in the cool of the evening

Dr. Wortle is not concerned with the reference to tuptō in the article but rather with the mention of amo.  While Latin amo can have the lighter meaning of “I am fond of,” or “I like,” Dr. Wortle’s lawyers concur that in this case amo seems meant to refer to making love.  This is also how readers of the article would interpret the implications of the Latin in context.  The Latin amo would be far more recognizable than the Greek tuptō, and there may have been additional associations of amo with the French noun amour.  The Oxford English Dictionary demonstrates that the use of amour in English to mean “affection” or “friendship” was obsolete by the 19th c.; instead, the preferred meaning at this time was “love affair,” particularly an illicit one.  [JE 2014]


shirt of Nessus

When Dr. Wortle reads the article from Everybody’s Business sent to him from the bishop’s palace, the article’s mockery is compared to the shirt of Nessus.  In Classical myth, Nessus is a centaur who tried to steal Heracles’ wife Deianira.  When Heracles shot Nessus with a poisoned arrow, Nessus gave his bloodstained clothing to Deianira and told her that it would keep her husband faithful to her.  Many years later, upon learning that her husband had taken Iole as a concubine, Deianira sent Heracles the garment; however, instead of securing Heracles’ fideltiy, it caused him to experience such unbearable pain that he begged for death.  Just as Deianira did not expect to harm Heracles, the bishop did not anticipate that his attempt to save Dr. Wortle from disgrace would cause him such offense.  [BL 2013; rev. RR 2014]

Source:  Sophocles, Trachiniae.


remitting Classical lessons

While Mr. Peacocke is in America, Dr. Wortle has to step in to continue the Classical lessons at the school.  However, when Dr. Wortle needs to speak with his lawyer, the lessons have to be cancelled.  The Peacockes’ scandal thus disrupts the Classical education of the students.  [BL 2013]



When Dr. Wortle’s lawyer shows him the apology which the newspaper Everybody’s Business has offered to print, the apology includes the date demarcation “of the — ultimo.”  Latin ultimo here modifies an implied mense to mean “of the last month.”  The word lends formality to the apology while also elevating the writer (and the newspaper being written for) through the use of Latin.  [JE & RR 2014]