in Warden

Chapter 15 – Tom Towers, Dr. Anticant, and Mr. Sentiment


A Roman magistrate who would have the duty of overseeing public morality, being able to review members of the senate, the equestrian class or the general populace, and remove their ability to vote or remain in positions of authority.  [JM 2005]

Sources:  OCD.


poet, maker, creator

All different words for the same concept but from different languages:  “poet” from the Greek poiein “to make,” “creator” from the Latin creare, also “to make.”  The English “maker” is rooted in Old English and the Germanic family of languages.  The tricolon gains force and texture from its combination of etymological influences.  [JM 2005; rev. RR 2014]


in extremis

Latin, “in extreme circumstances.”  [JM 2005]


the ancient Roman could hide his face within his toga, and die gracefully

Describing the death of Julius Caesar, Plutarch relates:  ”And now Caesar had received many blows and was looking about and seeking to force his way through his assailants, when he saw Brutus setting upon him with drawn dagger. At this, he dropped the hand of Casca which he had seized, covered his head with his robe, and resigned himself to the dagger-strokes.”  [RR 2011]

Sources:  Plutarch, Life of Brutus 17.6, translation by Bernadotte Perrin quoted above.


Athenian banquets and Attic salt

A reference to fine wit using ancient idiom.  Pliny expounds on the uses and importance of salt, even concluding that “the higher enjoyments of life could not exist without the use of salt:  indeed, so highly necessary is this substance to mankind, that the pleasures of the mind, even, can be expressed by no better term than the word “salt,” such being the name given to all effusions of wit.”  [JM 2005]

The references to “Athenian” and “Attic” indicate that the intellectual pleasures imagined are of the highest quality, since Athens was regarded as a cultural center.  [RR 2011]

Sources:  Pliny, Natural History 31.41, translation by John Bostock and H. T. Riley quoted above.
Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.


Mount Olympus

Trollope continues to draw comparisons between Tom Towers and Jupiter, and between his office and Mount Olympus, the home of the gods.  Here Tom is described perhaps mockingly as inhumanly forbearing and calm, such that Mr. Bold gets no more response from him than he would from a doorpost.  [JM 2005]



A source of divinatory wisdom in ancient times, here applied to The Jupiter newspaper.  [JM 2005]

Calling the Jupiter an oracle implies a supposed absoluteness to its remarks.  Its articles are not just divine commands; they are declarations of truth.  However, ancient oracles were not always impartial.  For example, the priests at Delphi instructed the Spartans to free Athens in exchange for having their temple restored by the exiled Alcmaeonid family.  The oracular Jupiter is all the more dangerous for its being considered absolute while not necessarily being unbiased.  [BL 2013]

Source:  Sarah B. Pomeroy, Stanley M. Burstein, Walter Donlan, and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts, A Brief History of Ancient Greece:  Politics, Society, and Culture.  New York:  Oxford UP, 2009, 136.



The twists and turns of the Temple are likened to a maze.  While Trollope used Mount Olympus and associated imagery to depict the Jupiter‘s power, here he may gesture (more subtly) to the formidable mythological labyrinth of Crete to enhance his portrayal of the “impregnability” of the newspaper and its editor, Tom Towers.  [RR 2014]


Ridiculum acri fortius et melius magnas plerumque secat res

Trollope quotes directly from Horace’s Satires:  “Ridicule generally cuts great matters stronger and better than sharpness.”  In the Satires Horace praises satire for its directness and effectiveness.  Trollope deploys this quotation while he is discussing the power of the popular novel to sway public opinion.  In the sentences preceding this quotation Trollope set up a comparison between “former times,” when the “heavy tasks” of reformers were undertaken with “grave decorum” through philosophical argument, and the contemporary use of humor in novels.  Neither medium is shown in an entirely positive or negative light.  The method of “former times” creates treatises that “took a life to write, and an eternity to read,” with none of the concision that Horace would advocate.  Yet “ridicule” and novels, though more concise and convincing, rely on “imaginary agonies” and are subject to the forces of popularity and economics.  Trollope’s discussion suggests complications in the context and ethics of satire and the novel.

In The Warden, Trollope himself is using a satirical novel to pose reformative questions.  By including this quotation from Horace, Trollope invites readers to note and consider his own use of satire.  While Trollope uses satire as a tool, he does not elevate it above other media, but judges all media with the same humorous eye, including satire itself.  [JE 2014]

Source:  Horace, Satires 1.10.14-15.