in Three Clerks

Chapter 16 – The First Wedding

nymphs and Hymen

In Classical mythology nymphs are natural spirits taking the form of maidens. In Latin and ancient Greek, the words nympha (Latin) or nymphē (Greek) can refer to these spirits, as well to maidens generally and to brides specifically. Trollope’s description of bridesmaids as “nymphs” imparts to them a cloud of Classical resonance. Classics is more explicitly invoked in the next sentence, when Trollope refers to the marriage ceremony as a “sacrifice to Hymen,” the Greek god of marriage. The conflation of Classical imagery with Christian ritual here is lightly humorous and helps Trollope to gently critique the current practice of having a number of bridesmaids. [RR 2016]


cum tot sustineas, et tanta negotia solus

This Latin quotation, which comes from the opening of one of Horace’s Epistles, was meant to flatter Augustus, the first Roman emperor and one of Horace’s patrons. It can be translated as, “since you uphold so much, and, you alone, such great duties.” That such a phrase would be used by the author to describe Sir Gregory Hardlines underscores his high-ranking authority and involvement in civic affairs. And yet there is some satirical poking at Hardlines here: though important, and no matter how important he considers himself, he is certainly not a Roman emperor. [GZ & RR 2016]

source: Horace, Epistles 2.1.1.