in Small House at Allington

Chapter 48 – Nemesis


Nemesis was a Greek goddess of justice who personified the retribution exacted on those who disrupted the natural balance of the world by violating moral codes or by possessing an excess such as wealth or pride.  This is fitting as the title of this chapter since Alexandrina and Crosbie are both punished with their unhappy marriage for the excessive social ambitions which motivated their wedding.  Further, Nemesis is considered in some traditions to be the mother of Helen of Troy, which may relate to the references to the Iliad scattered throughout the novel.  [EB 2006]

Sources:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.


No vengeance had overtaken him

This phrase describes the sense of distress those at Allington have about the fact that Crosbie has not been punished for his actions.  In reality, Crosbie is being punished through his unhappy new life, but none of the characters at Allington know of this.  In one of Horace’s odes the personification of vengeance, Poena, who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek Nemesis, is described as constantly pursuing (and catching up with) those who commit wrongs.  [EB 2006]

Sources:  Horace, Ode 3.2.31-32.


a black cloud upon his brow

The Greek god Zeus is often associated with storms, particularly when he is angry, since he wields the power of thunder.  Here this phrase is used to describe Crosbie’s obvious anger at his superiors for reprimanding him.  The image of the storm is a strong contrast to the earlier association between Crosbie and Apollo’s sun.  [EB 2006]

Trollope often invokes the image of a “clouded brow,” and that phrase may have Classical roots.  See commentary for Chapter 24 of Barchester Towers.  [RR 2011]