in Framley Parsonage

Chapter 20 – Harold Smith in the Cabinet

music of the spheres

A concept based on the theories of the Greek mathematician Pythagoras.  According to Johannes Kepler, the motion of the stars and planets created a heavenly harmony.  [JC 2005]

Sources:  Encyclopedia Brittanica.


Olympian mansion

Trollope compares the Houses of Parliament to the dwelling-places of the gods thought to be on Mount Olympus.  [JC 2005]


Classical gods and Victorian politics

Themis was the goddess of justice and order, and also the mother of the three Fates.  She was a Titan, a daughter of Uranus and Gaia who ruled before Zeus (Jupiter) took over.  Ceres is more commonly known by her Greek name, Demeter.  She was the goddess of the harvest and a sister of Zeus (Jupiter).  Trollope probably uses her to represent the colonies because of all the riches that were “harvested” from them.  Pallas is more often called Pallas Athena or just Athena (Minerva to the Romans).  She was Zeus’ child, springing out of her father’s head in full armor and thereafter was “never seen without her lance and helmet” as Trollope says.  She was the goddess of war (the more strategical part of it) and wisdom.  She seems to appear more often in mythology than Ceres and Themis do, which is probably why Trollope mentions that they are not “heard with as rapt attention as powerful Pallas of the Foreign Office.”  It is also probably not a mistake that the goddess of war is associated with the Foreign Office, as it is with foreign countries that she will be making war.  Mars (in Greek, Ares) was the god of the chaos of war and had an affair with Venus (Aphrodite), the goddess of love and beauty who was the wife of Vulcan (Hephaestus), the blacksmith of the gods.  Saturn (Cronus) was Jupiter’s father, who ate his children in an effort to keep them from taking over.  Eventually his wife was able to save Jupiter, who grew up and took over as the leader of the gods.  Trollope compares him with “a relic of other days” which is what Saturn represents in reference to the Olympians.  Mercury (Hermes) was the messenger god who acts as a courier service for his fellow deities.  It is very appropriate that Trollope associates him with the Post Office.  Neptune (Poseidon) was another sibling of Jupiter’s.  He was the god of the sea, with the power to create violent sea-storms and earthquakes, and was also the god of horses.  Phoebus Apollo was the god of music, the arts, prophecy, and the sun (though he shares this position with Helios).  He is often depicted with his bow or lyre and is used as the standard example of male beauty.  Juno (Hera) was the ever-raging wife of Jupiter, who could not refrain from having liasons with nymphs and mortal women. Bacchus (Dionysus) was the god of wine and a son of Jupiter.  He was greatly associated with merriment as was Cupid (Eros), Venus’ son and a friend of Bacchus. Diana (Artemis) was Apollo’s twin sister, the goddess of the hunt.  She, like her brother, bears a bow and arrows; she remains chaste, preferring the company of a band of maiden nymphs.  It is probably her status as a staunch virgin (and thus as someone who is innocent) which makes her comparable to Harold Smith in his new position as Lord Petty Bag.  It is also a poke at Harold Smith to compare him to a goddess rather than a god.  Jove is another form of the name Jupiter, who is of course the king of the gods.  His weapon of choice is the thunderbolt, fashioned by Vulcan.  Trollope also gives his name to the influential London newspaper which is based on the actual London Times.  [JC 2005]

Sources:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.


inside and outside Elysium

“. . .why should a Supplehouse out of Elysium be friendly to a Harold Smith within it?”  Elysium was a special region of the Underworld reserved for the blessed.  Here Elysium is clearly Government.  Supplehouse is jealous that Harold Smith has been chosen to fill the Petty Bag position, so he writes a disparaging article about him in The Jupiter.  [JC & RR 2005]


Medea’s cauldron

Medea was a witch who had in her bag of tricks (so to speak) a way of rejuvenating the old by cutting them up and boiling them in her cauldron.  This is a clever allusion for Supplehouse to use in his article against Harold Smith, however, because of the most famous incident involving Medea and her cauldron.  Her husband Jason was supposed to have been reigning in Iolus, where his aging uncle, Pelias had usurped his throne.  Medea convinced Pelias’ daughters that they should chop their father up and boil him in her cauldron to restore his youth, which they willingly did after witnessing the results on an old ram.  What they did not know was that Medea did not intend for the procedure to work in Pelias’ case, and he was not rejuvenated after his dismemberment.  Similarly, the Prime Minister had felt that bringing Harold Smith into Government would have a rejuvenating effect, but through The Jupiter’s influence, it instead puts an end to his term.  [JC 2005]

Sources:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.
Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.297-349.


cold as ice

“Griselda. . .looked as cold as Diana when she froze Orion in the cave.”  Diana (Artemis) is the chaste goddess of hunting, and Orion was her one-time companion.  There are several versions of Orion’s death, but we have yet to find a Classical source that specifically mentions freezing and a cave.  Here Griselda gives Lord Lufton an icy treatment after they discuss Lucy Robarts.  The identification of Griselda with the committedly chaste (hence cold?) Diana may also emphasize the unsettlingly unflinching poise that is Griselda’s hallmark.  [JC & RR 2005]