Charley as client making a morning visit to his “patron” Mr. M’Ruen
Charley Tudor is financially indebted to Mr. M’Ruen, a moneylender who provides money to Charley at usurious rates. Just as Charley Tudor heads to the home of Mr. M’Ruen in the early morning so too did ancient Roman clients proceed to the homes of their own patrons at the crack of dawn. In the client-patron relationships of ancient Rome, a client was usually socially subservient and worked to earn the benefits that his powerful patron could afford him. In the case of Charley and Mr. M’Ruen, however, the dichotomy is destructive rather than beneficial. Charley is not in a place to responsibly pay back his debts, and Mr. M’Ruen is not a principled patron. Further, though Charley is financially indebted to Mr. M’Ruen, by birth he is in a higher social category than his patron. [GZ & RR 2016]
Verax Corkscrew is a clerk at the Internal Navigation office and is introduced to us in a humorous episode. Planning to attend a party on Thursday instead of going to work, Verax drafts a letter to Mr. Snape on Wednesday evening, writing that he became ill on Thursday morning due a bad plate of pork chops the night before. However, the letter is delivered on the same day as it was written, and Mr. Snape realizes Verax’s plot. The name of this character fits nicely with the story: the Latin adjective verax means truthful, while his last name, Corkscrew, alludes to his tendency to bend the truth. [GZ 2016]
Fortune as blind
When describing the outcome of Mr. Verax Corkscrew’s lying, the narrator states that “Fortune on this occasion was blind.” Fortune was a personified ancient Roman deity, and her association with blindness—suggesting that she impartially doles out both the good and the bad—is mentioned in the Natural History of Pliny the Elder. While it was unfortunate for Verax that Mr. Snape received the letter before Verax had intended it to be delivered, it’s humorous that Fortune would have had no merits by which to judge Verax, even if she could. [GZ 2016]
source: Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 2.22.
senior and junior
Two Latin comparative adjectives are used to describe relative status in the office of Internal Navigation: senior (literally, older) and junior (literally, younger). Latin’s cultural status is enlisted to provide terms of bureaucratic status. [RR 2016]