in Bertrams

Chapter 21 – Sir Lionel in Trouble

res angusta

Res angusta is a phrase from one of Juvenal’s SatiresHaut facile emergunt quorum virtutibus obstat / res angusta domi–“Men do not rise easily whose virtues scanty affairs at home obstruct.”  In this section of the poem, the speaker, Umbricius, discusses how difficult it is for men to rise in their social station–especially in Rome–when they are poor.  Living spaces, slaves, clothes, all cost money, and gaining material wealth allows one to have these indicators of class.  This sentiment is satirically applied to Sir Lionel, who has limited monetary funds because of his own spending habits.   While in Littlebath on vacation, he has been a great socialite while renting rooms, horses, and servants.  Sir Lionel’s lack of any greater wealth, in his mind, prevents him from maintaining the social identity that he desires.  [CD 2012]

Source:  Juvenal, Satire 3.164-165.


lusus naturae

Lusus naturae is a Latin phrase that meaning “joke of nature,” which is the origin of the English phrase “freak of nature.”  The narrator is describing the unmarried Miss Baker’s passions, and affirms that she is a “normal” woman who wants love and admiration, and is not a “freak of nature” who scorns the affections of men.  [CD 2012]


quarrels of lovers have ever been the renewal of love

Once again, Miss Baker has hope that George and Caroline will reconcile, and her hope of that reconciliation is founded on a sentiment from the Andria, a comedy by the Roman playwright Terence’s.  See commentary for Chapter 20.  [CD 2012]


two nominative cases

Here, the narrator refers to the possibility of reconciliation between George Bertram and Caroline Waddington in grammatical terms.  Just like a verb between two words in the nominative case (the case which usually indicates the subject of a sentence) can agree with either of them, so can agreement arise between two quarreling lovers.  Comparing agreement between lovers to agreement between verbs and subjects allows compromise and harmony to become theoretical concepts that are a very real possibility, as if the grammatical workings of ancient languages can illuminate the patterns of people living in the world.  This reference, because it is alluding to the grammatical workings of either Latin or Ancient Greek, is different from most of Trollope’s other Classical references, which are historical, mythological, or literary.  Nevertheless, this use of Classics, which posits grammar as a model of something happening in the world, is similar to other Classical references that attempt to give a deeper character to persons or things by referring to Classical exemplars or concepts.  [CD 2012]