in Last Chronicle of Barset

Chapter 67 – In Memoriam

In Memoriam

The title of this chapter is a Latin phrase meaning “to the memory [of],” often used in reference to the deceased.  [EB 2006]


He mixed up this information with so much medical Latin

Dr. Filgrave’s report about Mrs. Proudie’s heart condition is described as having little effect on Bishop Proudie since the doctor makes excessive use of confusing Latin terminology.  [EB 2006]


That lady’s patronage

Mrs. Quiverful is described as having been received her home from the “patronage” of Mrs. Proudie.  This recalls the Roman patron-client relationship, in which a citizen of higher status gave various favors and opportunities to a client of lower social status.  [EB 2006]


Halcyon days

This phrase, which is often used in English to refer to fondly remembered times in the past, is derived from the Classical myth about Ceyx and Alcyone found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  In the story, Alcyone warns her beloved husband Ceyx that she feels that he would be in danger if he goes on a planned sea voyage.  He sails despite her concern and is drowned in a storm.  Since Alcyone sacrificed to Juno for Ceyx’s safety, the goddess took pity on her and revealed her husband’s fate in a dream.  Alcyone finds his body on the shore, and the gods turn them both into birds, kingfishers who mate during seven days in the winter known as ‘”halcyon days” when the sea is perfectly calm.  [EB 2006]

Sources:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.410-748.


Your proverb of “De mortuis”

The full Latin phrase referenced by Archdeacon and Mrs. Grantly in their conversation is De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est, meaning “About the dead nothing but good must be spoken.”  The phrase is attributed to Chilo by Diogenes Laertius.  [EB 2006]

Sources:  Entry in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.


There was a broken column

Mrs. Proudie’s grave features this element that is taken from Classical architecture.  The fact that the column is broken suggests a feeling of grief and life interrupted rather than the usual connotations of austerity attached to Classical art and architecture.  [EB 2006]


Requiescat in Pace

This Latin phrase means “may s/he rest in peace” and is often found on tombstones.  [EB 2006]