in American Senator

Chapter 73: “Is It Tanti?”

A man at Rome ought to do as the Romans do

This sentiment dates back to antiquity.  St. Ambrose is said to have stated this in reply to St. Augustine:  “When I am at Milan, I do as they do at Milan; but when I do as they do at Milan; but when I go to Rome, I do as Rome does.”  [KS 2012]

Source:  Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.



Mary Masters gives the nickname “Reg” to Reginald Morton after their engagement.  This shortened version of Reginald’s name is phonetically similar to the Latin stem of his name reg-, meaning “king.”  It is appropriate that this nickname is given to him following his assumption of the squireship and his betrothal, as both of these make him a proper king in the universe of Trollope.  [CMC 2012]



Reginald is discussing with Mary the possibility of taking up hunting as one of his social duties as squire.  Although Reginald did not hunt when he lived quietly and economically at Hoppet Hall, he states that he hates the “philanimalists.”  Trollope’s use of this Latin/Greek hybrid adds a humorous and satirical flair; the use of the word itself seems to discount the views of those whose “love of animals” leads them to oppose hunting, the custom of the country.  [KS & RR 2012]



As Reginald and Mary discuss the various social obligations they will have to take on, Reginald suggests to Mary that she should “regulate” all that she does according to “the great doctrine of ‘tanti.'”  Tanti is the genitive singular of the Latin adjective tantus, which means “so much.”  Tanti is being utilized as a genitive of value, which means “of so much worth.”  The word in this form can also be translated as “worthwhile.” Social customs and expectations can be worth performing even if they are not strictly necessary.

The chapter is entitled “Is It Tanti?”  This could be understood as the question Mary should ask herself about each of her actions as she implements Reginald’s doctrine.  It could also be a question asked about fox-hunting and its social function.  In fact, Reginald introduces the idea of “tanti” to Mary while they are talking about fox-hunting:  Reginald maintains that opponents of the practice do not understand that recreation is as important as the material necessities of life.   Trollope closes this chapter by asserting that the “day’s sport certainly had been ‘tanti,” answering his own question.  [KS & RR 2012]