Griselda Grantly is described by Trollope as “reaping fresh fashionable laurels” at what Lady Lufton considers disagreeable houses in London. The laurel plant is a plant sacred to Apollo, Dionysus, and Artemis. Here Trollope makes reference to the crown of laurels originally worn by priestesses of Apollo. The laurel became a symbol of victory in the Classical world when its wearing was extended to victors in the Pythian games. In ancient Rome laurels were worn by military victors. After the 14th century the laurel became associated with a successful poet or poet “laureate.” Griselda Grantly can be said to have won symbolic laurels in that she has accumulated her honors by attending the most notable parties in London and by dancing with many notable gentlemen such as Lord Dumbello. [TH 2005]
Sources: Bell, Robert. Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.
Ferber, Michael. Dictionary of Literary Symbols. Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 1982.
Literally means “meat-carrier” in Latin. [TH 2005]
Ganymede was a young Trojan prince who was selected by Zeus to be his cup-bearer on account of his attractiveness. Zeus also rewarded him with immortality by placing him in the stars as the constellation Ganymede. The later Greek and Roman accounts of Ganymede often emphasize the sexual aspect of his relationship with Zeus, while Renaissance versions prefer to dwell on the constellation that bears his name, considering it a symbol of the soul’s rise to heaven. For Trollope, however, Ganymede in this sense is merely a young man who serves refreshments to guests at a party. In Trollope’s lengthy rant about the practice of “handing around” food and drink at parties, Trollope claims that the servers fail to keep the party-goers in sherry. He also describes the necktie of this particular Ganymede and “the whiteness of his unexceptionable gloves.” Ganymede is most well known as a symbol of male beauty. Trollope uses this description of the server being a Ganymede to speak more broadly about servers being hired by his contemporaries. He criticizes the fact that they are all show without providing any actual service. The parties are designed to restrict costs and advertise for the host. The parties themselves are all resplendent dignity with very little food actually being served. Mrs. Proudie is putting on a great fuss about her conversazione, but she is taking steps to prevent guests from eating too much of the food or drinking any substantial portion of the drink. This is precisely what Trollope is protesting as a discourteous act of stinginess on the host’s part. [TH 2005]
Sources: Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.
battling in the arena
Mrs. Proudie perceived an insult when Mrs. Grantly ironically commented that Griselda Grantly could not compare with the Proudie daughters. Mrs. Proudie is described then as not wanting “to do battle on the present arena.” Trollope refers to the gladiatorial games with his mention of arena combat. However, the irony is that this is not a game or a military battle–it is a social call. He is describing the sparring of two leading ladies in terms of gladiatorial combat. He treats Mrs. Grantly and Proudie with a degree of satire. [TH 2005]