Battle in the arena
Trollope states that the bishop would do anything to avoid battling his wife, Mrs. Proudie, in the arena. The arena refers to gladiatorial games. Trollope is being funny as he likens a domestic quarrel to a gladiatorial battle. [KD 2006]
Amazons were a mythical race of female warriors who were often known for their skills in combat. There are many stories about Greek heroes, such as Heracles and Achilles, fighting and conquering Amazons. Trollope uses this allusion to explain that the bishop was able to triumph over his formidable wife in their dispute about Mr. Crawley’s position. [KD 2006]
Bishops usually signed their letters with the name of their diocese. It is possible that Trollope invented “Barnum” as the Latin name for Barchester after the model of “Sarum” for Salisbury. [KD 2006]
Sources: Trollope, The Last Chronicle of Barset. Ed. Sophie Gilmartin. London: Penguin, 2002. See note on p. 868.
The story of Oedipus
The Crawley family often uses Mr. Crawley’s reading of Classics to determine that he is in a good mood. Crawley and his daughter Jane are here reading Oedipus, written by Sophocles. Therefore the reader can infer that Mr. Crawley is content with the fact that he must see the bishop and is ready for the upcoming confrontation. [KD & RR 2006]