in American Senator

Chapter 44 – “Particularly Proud of You”

Caesar and his Commentaries

Trollope again connects Arabella and Caesar (see commentary for Chapter 21 and Chapter 36).  When Arabella clings to her hope of an engagement to Rufford despite his abrupt departure from Mistletoe, Trollope likens her to “Caesar still clinging to his Commentaries as he struggled in the waves.”  Both Suetonius and Plutarch record that, when attacked at Alexandria, Julius Caesar jumped into the water and swam to a safety but kept one hand out of the water to protect some notebooks or documents.  Neither ancient author identifies these as Caesar’s Commentaries, but Trollope is not alone in making such a connection.  On this topic James Anthony Froude remarks:  “Legend is more absurd than usual over this incident.  It pretends that he swam with one hand, and carried his Commentaries, holding them above water, with the other.  As if a general would take his MSS. with him into a hot action!”  Arabella, though persistent, will be less successful than Caesar in her particular campaign.  [CD & RR 2012]

Sources:  Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 64.
Plutarch, Life of Julius Caesar 49.4.
James Anthony Froude, Caesar:  A Sketch.  London:  Longman, Greens, and Co., 1920 (reprint; originally published 1879); see footnote on p. 458.


Arabella’s missile

Arabella plans to write a “serious epistle” to Lord Rufford, and Trollope calls that letter a “missile.”  “Missile” is derived from a Latin adjective describing something sent; Trollope could be using it as a near synonym for “missive,” which has a similar etymological history.  But “missile” has an additional advantage:  it usually refers to weapons that are thrown or hurled, and this resonance of the word furthers the association of Arabella’s marital campaign with military action.  [RR 2012]