in Framley Parsonage

Chapter 18 – The New Minister’s Patronage

the Greek of Chaldicotes and his gift

This is a reference to Mr. Sowerby, and it is based on a line from Vergil’s Aeneidtimeo Danaos et dona ferentis, or in English: “I fear Greeks even bearing gifts.”  This line is spoken by the Trojan Laocoon, who is trying to warn his companions that the huge wooden horse which has been left outside the gates by the Greeks is in fact a trap and not a gift as they believe.  In Framley Parsonage, Mr. Sowerby has written a letter to Mark in which he says that he can secure another church position for Mark that earns 600 pounds a year, and that Mark need only come up to London to receive this appointment.  Mark is naturally excited about this occurrence, but his wife Fanny is skeptical about the situation; she is the one who thinks of Sowerby as the Greek of Chaldicotes and does not fully trust his motives.  Mark believes that Lady Lufton will also not be happy with his acceptance of the position; in predicting Lady Lufton’s reaction, Trollope again makes reference to the Greek from Chaldicotes and his tricky gift.  In the Aeneid, the Greek horse does in fact turn out to be a trap, and with the use of it the Greeks end up capturing the city of Troy and defeating the Trojan army. In Framley Parsonage, the offer of the prebendary also turns out to be a sort of trap for Mark Robarts; with a view to this additional income, Sowerby convinces Mark to buy a horse from him for 130 pounds, but this is in addition to Sowerby’s bills for 900 pounds, to both of which Mark had already signed his name. Therefore, Laocoon is equal to Fanny Robarts in this allusion (both of them attempt to give a warning about something which turns out to be a trap), while the Greek wooden horse can be seen to be the prebendal stall from Barsetshire, urged by Sowerby.  [MD]

Sources:  Vergil, Aeneid 2.49.


keen discontent of political Juvenals

This is a reference to the ancient Roman poet Juvenal, who wrote his Satires in the second and third of the 2nd century CE.  These poems target aspects of Roman society and politics, and this criticism is what is being referenced here.  Trollope says that members of both political parties had criticized the Premier’s last appointment to the position of Lord Petty Bag (before Harold Smith) and thus, this phrase voices these people’s discontent.  [MD 2005]

Sources:  OCD.


He was a Juno whose form the wicked old Paris had utterly despised…

This Classical allusion is a reference to the beauty contest which was held between Juno, Venus, and Minerva, and of which Paris was the judge.  Here the allusion is used to represent the fortunes of politicians in the government and their struggles to gain influence.  Mr. Harold Smith and Mr. Supplehouse have been complaining about the way in which the government has been handling situations, but all of a sudden Mr. Smith is selected for a prestigious position in the government, the office of Lord Petty Bag.  Mr. Supplehouse is overlooked for the job, and he thus vents his anger at not being selected by writing vindictive columns about Mr. Harold Smith in The Jupiter newspaper. In this allusion, Mr. Harold Smith is depicted in the role of Venus, who was ultimately chosen by Paris as the most beautiful of the three goddesses in the contest.  Juno, who was scorned by the Trojan prince Paris, became infuriated with all the Trojan people for this lack of respect and thus aided the Greeks in their war with the Trojans; we can see her continuing anger throughout the pages of the Aeneid in the difficulties in which she places Aeneas and his fellow surviving Trojans.  Paris himself can be said to be the government, or Lord Brock specifically, who selected Mr. Harold Smith as the new Lord Petty Bag and thus picked him as the winner of the contest. This allusion is humorous because it equates Victorian politicians to squabbling goddesses in a beauty contest; Trollope’s use of gender reversal in Classical allusions is a frequent occurrence in his works.   [MD & RR 2005]


higher governmental gods

This is the first identification of the dominant political party with the Olympian gods.  In Chapter 20, the various governmental offices are more particularly identified with specific Classical deities.  In Chapter 23, Trollope portrays the change in government as a battle between the gods and giants, and he continues to use the god/giant motif throughout the rest of the novel.  [RR 2005]