in Old Man's Love

Chapter 16 – Mrs. Baggett’s Philosophy


Mrs. Baggett describes Mary Lawrie as “philandering” with John Gordon. The Greek etymological components of this word are phil (love) and andr (man), and the English word usually refers to a man’s flirtatious or promiscuous behavior. Mrs. Baggett’s reverse usage—to refer to loving a man rather than a man loving—reflects the force of the Greek adjective philandros (man-loving or husband-loving). [RR 2018]


Mr. Whittlestaff and Horace

We are told that Mr. Whittlestaff weighs what he reads in Horace’s works, pondering whether or not the poet incorporated the wisdom of his words into his own life. Gemmas, marmor, ebur…Sunt qui non habeant; est qui non curat habere comes from Horace’s Epistle 2.2 (“There are those who do not have jewels, marble, ivory; there is he who does not care to have them”), and Me lentus Glycerae torret amor meae comes from Ode 3.19 (“A slow desire for my Glycera burns me”).  Despite Horace’s poetic protestation of love and versified praise of moderation, Mr. Whittlestaff supposed that the actual Horace cared more for wealth and less for Glycera than his writing suggests. Trollope presents a dynamic relationship between ancient author and reader here: while Horace holds pride of place as Mr. Whittlestaff’s favorite Classical author, Mr. Whittlestaff also interrogates him, questioning the relationship between fine-sounding words and lived life. [RR 2018]

Sources: Horace, Epistle 2.2.180-182 and Ode 3.19.28.