in Barchester Towers

Chapter 34 – Oxford – the Master and Tutor of Lazarus


Trollope here treats the concept of fate in a Classical manner as a deity, with a capitalized name.  Mr. Harding has made up his mind to relinquish any idea of going back to his comfortable job at the hospital; he will instead take whatever comes to him, and stay in his little room in Barchester.  [JM 2005]


deux ex machina

Latin, “god from the machine,” meaning the device used to suspend gods over the stage during Greek plays; comes to mean an unexpected and providential circumstance that solves a problem.  Dr. Gwynne is potentially the deus ex machine who can act against Slope and save Barchester from his actions, yet he may not be able to act in this capacity because “the avenging god is laid up with the gout.”  Dr. Gwynne is unfit for this battle, and thus may not be able to serve as the deus ex machina.  [JM 2005]

Sources:  OED.


status quo

Latin, “state in which,” the currently accepted way of doing things.  [JM 2005]


alma mater

Latin, “nourishing mother.”  This phrase referred to several Roman goddesses, especially Cybele and Ceres, and has been used in English to refer to schools or universities that act almost as mothers to their students and alumni.  [JM 2005]