in American Senator

Chapter 29 – The Senator’s Letter

old hero

In Mr. Gotobed’s letter to Josiah Scroome, Gotobed refers to an “old hero” and his companions who, tempted by “beautiful women and luscious wine” run the risk of being turned into animals.  Although Gotobed never explicitly states who the old hero is, he can be recognized as Odysseus.  In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus and his men fall victim to Circe’s charms.  Circe drugs Odysseus’ men and turns them into pigs, which is what Gotobed alludes to when he states, “they would all be turned into filthy animals should they yield to the allurements around them.”  Gotobed imagines that he could be in a similar situation, yielding to the luxuries found among the British elite.

It seems significant that Gotobed does not directly state that this person is Odysseus. The decision to leave him unnamed allows Gotobed to stick to his egalitarian politics.  He appeals to the Classical poem as if it were a folk-tale so that the story’s application can be more universal.  Gotobed is able to strike a balance in this manner.  He can display his knowledge of Classics while at the same time make his meaning apparent, no matter who the recipient is.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Homer, Odyssey 10.133-574.


state of things

An English version of the Latin phrase status rerum, used to refer to the prevailing or given arrangement of circumstances.  [RR 2012]


born to be a tyrant

Gotobed is discussing in his letter to Josiah Scroome his observations of British society.  Gotobed refers to a person being “born to be a tyrant” as someone who is born into a role that places them above the law, which is a Classical understanding of “tyrant.”  Gotobed objects to what he sees as a system of entrenched and inherited tyranny.  [KS & RR 2012]