in Doctor Thorne

Chapter 26 – War

Gordian knot

When Mary is told she cannot see the Greshams because of Frank’s feelings for her, Mary believes that the situation is a “Gordion knot not to be cut.”  The Gordian knot was a knot tied by the king of Phrygia.  He became king after an oracle proclaimed that the man driving the wagon that next entered the square should rule.  He placed his wagon outside the temple of Zeus and tied it up so tightly that it was impossible to untie it.  Supposedly, when Alexander the Great approached the knot he choose to cut through it instead of untying it. Whereas Alexander could simply cut his knot, Mary has no easy way to untie her problems.  In this sense a Gordion knot is a perplexing conundrum for which Mary has no ready solution.  [TH 2005]

Source:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.


fortune favours none but the brave

When Lady Arabella visits Dr. Thorne to discuss her concerns about Mary and her son, she is initially surprised by the vehemence of Dr. Thorne’s reaction.  However, “she soon recovered herself, remembering, doubtless, that fortune favours none but the brave.”  This recalls the Latin saying “Fortune favors the brave/bold.”  [TH 2005]

Sources:  The expression is found at Terence, Phormio 203, and Vergil, Aeneid 10.284.