in Three Clerks

Chapter 25 – Chiswick Gardens

Aristides and a god

Despite their dissimilar characters, Alaric and Fidus Neverbend maintain their acquaintance: Alaric considers the possible utility of an notoriously honest connection, and Fidus admires Alaric’s ambition and rise. To describe Fidus’ integrity Trollope calls him an “Aristides,” after the ancient Athenian politican Aristides the Just.  Legend gives this example of Aristides’ integrity: Aristides supposedly helped a fellow citizen write down his own name during a vote for ostracism! To describe Alaric’s elevation in Fidus’ eyes Trollope calls Fidus’ admiration “that reverence which a mortal always feels for a god.” Classics fuels hyperbole in both descriptions. [RR 2016]

source: Plutarch, Life of Aristides 7.


cui bono?

Trollope summarizes Lactimel Neverbend’s utilitarianism with the Latin principle cui bono?, which can be translated “to what good?” or “to what good for whom?” Trollope notes that Lactimel herself probably doesn’t frame her principles in Latin; we might compare this to Trollope’s crystallization of Mrs. Davis’ perspective in a Latin phrase in Chapter 20. Though in both case the female characters are noted as not using Latin to express their views, Trollope’s “translation” of their outlook into Latin imparts some of the force of an abstract principle. [RR 2016]


the cause of Terpsichore

The narrator refers to Monsieur Victoire Jaquêtanàpe, Clementina’s suitor, as her “labourer in the cause of Terpsichore.” One of the nine muses, Terpsichore was an ancient Greek deity of dance. Clementina is known for her dancing and admires the dancing of Monsieur Jaquêtanàpe, with whom she will partner at Mrs. Val’s evening party. [GZ & RR 2016]


bona fide

At the flower show, Katie Woodward worries that it is inappropriate for her to talk to her attendant Frenchman because she hasn’t yet been “bona fide introduced to him.” The use of this common Latin phrase, meaning “with/in good faith,” dignifies Katie’s actions and reminds us of her good upbringing. In turn, the reader may be reminded of her love for Charley, who didn’t have such a good upbringing, and the conflict that their different upbringings necessitate. [GZ 2016]

It is interesting to note that Trollope’s use of this phrase retains the literal force of the Latin ablatives: Trollope uses it as equivalent to an adverbial phrase, though we rarely do so anymore in English. [RR 2016]


temple of the roses

Trollope refers to an area of in the Chiswick Gardens as “the temple of the roses.” Though Trollope often humorously identifies Victorian sites as “temples” or “shrines” (e.g., the Cat and Whistle is so described in Chapter 20), here the architectural reference may be more literal since the Chiswick Gardens included many Classicizing features. [RR 2016]



Elysium is the name given to part of the underworld in which the dead existed in eternal paradise. Referring to Katie and Charley’s situation at the flower show as an Elysium is fitting not only because they’re in a very beautiful area but also because their time together is spiritually and emotionally fulfilling. However, the use of this Classical reference could imply that Katie and Charley may only truly be together in death—a point that is left in suspense until the novel’s conclusion. [GZ 2016]