in Small House at Allington

Chapter 45 – Valentine’s Day in London

approving the better course but following the worse

Trollope sums up Crosbie’s failure by saying that “he had seen and approved the better course, but had chosen for himself to walk in that which was worse.”  Trollope’s turn of phrase recalls Medea’s internal monologue in book 7 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  While debating whether she should support her father or Jason, Medea says:  video meliora proboque, / deteriora sequor–“I see and approve better things, I follow worse ones.”  Although Medea knows that remaining true to her father and fatherland is the better path, she ultimately chooses to aid Jason and flee with him to Greece.  Similarly, Crosbie knows that remaining true to Lily Dale would have been better than marrying Lady Alexandrina.  Perhaps there is an element of foreshadowing here:  just as Jason eventually deserts Medea, Lady Alexandrina will leave Crosbie.  [RR 2006]

Sources:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.20-21.