Study Guide

Tom Jones Allusions

By Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones has many (ever so many) literary, cultural, and historical references. Fielding includes them on almost every page. Here, we have chosen to focus on his most prominent literary references and on the historical and cultural stuff you need to know to understand the novel. So you can consider these lists the cream of the crop: we aren't going to cover every shout-out, but we are going to pick out the best shout-outs.

The Big Guys: Fielding's Favorite Literary References

Alexander Pope (1.1.6; 5.1.16; 5.11.1—chapter title; 6.2.5; 7.12.8; 8.1.2; 8.1.17; 8.5.9; 11.7.7; 14.1.10): eighteenth-century poet who specialized in satire and biting wit.

  • "True wit is nature to advantage drest,/What oft' was thought, but ne'er so well exprest." from "An Essay on Criticism"
  • "Sleepless himself, to give his readers sleep" (5.1.16): from The Dunciad, Book 1, slightly altered. The line is actually, "Sleepless themselves, to give their readers sleep."
  • "Mr. Pope's Period of a Mile" (5.11.1—chapter title): reference to Alexander Pope's Imitations of Donne, Satire IV: "'But sir, of writers?'—'Swift for closer style,/But Hoadley for a period of a mile.'" Pope is mocking Bishop Hoadley for being so long-winded.
  • "Mr. Pope's Odyssey" (6.2.5): see "Homer."
  • Pope's Homer (7.12.8; 8.5.9; 11.7.7): see "Homer" 
  • "As a genius of the highest rank observes in his 5th chapter of the Bathos, 'The great art of all poetry is to mix truth with fiction; in order to join the credible with the surprizing." (8.1.17) A quote from Pope's Peri Bathous, Or the Art of Sinking in Poetry; Pope uses this work (like 90% of his other pieces) to make fun of other poets of his day.
  • "what Mr. Pope says of women" (14.1.10): in Pope's "Epistle to a Lady" (1743), he writes that "Most Women have no Characters at all."

Homer (1.8.4; 4.1.3; 4.8.1—chapter title and all of Book 4, Chapter 8; 6.2.5; 7.12.10; 8.1.2; 8.5.9; 9.5.3; 11.7.7; 12.1.6; 13.1.1; 13.1.6; 13.2.2; 14.1.2; 14.1.5; 16.1.7):

Homer is probably one of the most famous poets, if not the most famous poet in the world, ever: he lived about the 8th or 9th century B.C.E. in Greece, and he wrote two epic classics, The Odyssey and The Iliad, about the Greek siege of the city of Troy.

Of course, now there are theories that Homer never existed, or that he was multiple people, but whoever he was, the epic poetry attached to his name has strongly influenced many later European poets and writers right up to the present day.

  • the "laughter-loving goddess" (1.8.4): Homer describes love goddess Aphrodite (or Venus, since Tom Jones gives her Latin name) this way in The Iliad, Book Three
  • "the everlasting watchfulness, which Homer hath ascribed to Jove himself" (4.1.3): Jove (and Jupiter) are both later Latin names for the ancient Greek deity Zeus, king of the gods. In Homer's ancient Greek epics, Zeus mostly hangs back to watch the events of the narrative from afar (though he does throw a few lightning bolts around here and there). Perhaps it's Zeus's habit of sitting back and spectating that Fielding is thinking of when he mentions the "everlasting watchfulness" of Homer's Zeus/Jove?
  • "A Battle Sung By the Muse in the Homerican Stile" (4.8.1—chapter title; 4.8.5, 4.8.8): the muses are ancient Greek goddesses of artistic and scientific inspiration. Both of Homer's epics start out claiming that they come from the voice of a muse (instead of directly from the poet). The Odyssey begins, "Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero," as though it's the muse who's telling the story, and not Homer.

Similarly, The Iliad begins, "Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus"—as though The Iliad is the song of the goddess and not of the poet. Lots of later poets imitate Homer's whole address-to-the-muse thing to make their work seem more formal and classical.

And Fielding mocks this "Homerican stile" (in other words, "Homer-like style") when he starts out "Ye Muses then, whoever ye are, who love to sing battles […] assist me on this great occasion" (4.8.5). He makes fun of stuffy classical style by using this Homer-ish language to describe something as non-epic and silly as a fight between Molly and the village ladies.

  • "we have the authority of him [Homer], who […] introduces the heroine of his Odyssey, the great pattern of matrimonial love and constancy, assigning the glory of her husband as the only source of her affection towards him" (4.13.14): the heroine of The Odyssey is Odysseus's wife Penelope, who is famously faithful for him during his ten years' absence from his home in Ithaca. Fielding is being tongue-in-cheek when he says that Penelope's only reason for loving Odysseus is his "glory." 
  • "King Alcinous, in Mr. Pope's Odyssey, offers his daughter to Ulysses" (6.2.5): Mrs. Western refers here to Pope's translation of Homer's Odyssey; King Alcinous is the father of Nausicaa and offers her hand in marriage to Odysseus (a.k.a. Ulysses in Latin).
  • "D—n Homo with all my heart" (7.12.10): By "Homo," the ensign Northerton means Homer. But this is also a pun, because "homo" is the Latin word for "man."
  • "Mr. Pope's Odyssey"; "Pope's Homer" (6.2.5; 7.12.8; 8.5.9; 11.7.7): referring, of course, to Alexander Pope's famous translation of Homer's The Odyssey.

Ovid (1.10.16; 2.3.15; 8.5.8; 8.9.1; 8.11.26; 8.12.5; 9.3.10; 10.8.13; 16.3.7): ancient Roman poet; Fielding first introduces Ovid in comparison to Captain Blifil, who is supposed to be as familiar with love as this poet. Still, Ovid actually wrote a long poem called the Art of Love (Ars Amatoria), while Captain Blifil's main success in this arena is that he convinces Bridget Allworthy to marry him. We think Ovid wins this competition hands down.

  • "Leve fit, quod bene fertur onus" (2.3.15): line from Ovid, from Book II of his Elegies; Fielding includes the translation, "A burden becomes lightest, when it is well borne." In other words, if you're having a tough time, the best you can do is buck up and bear it well.
  • "Parva leves capiunt animos" (4.5.1): from Art of Love, Book I, line 159. Fielding gives the translation, "Small things affect light minds"; we also found, "Small things please light minds."
  • "Si nullus erit, tamen excute nullum" (5.8.7): from Art of Love, Book 1, line 151. Fielding translates, "If there be none, wipe away that none." This line appears as part of Ovid's advice to a young man trying to seduce a woman. He suggests that the young man appear really helpful, like, if a fleck of dust falls on his beloved, he should flick it away. And even if there is no dust, he should flick away that nothing.
  • "tempus edax rerum" (8.5.8; 8.13.18): from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book 15, Fables II and III, line 234: "Time, the consumer of all things."
  • "per devia rura viarum" (8.9.1): Latin meaning "into out-of-the-way country places." According to Tom Jones editor R.P.C. Mutter, this line echoes Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book 1, line 676: "per devia rura capellas", which means "through the pathless country."
  • "while Echo seemed so pleased to repeat the beloved sound, that if there is really such a person, I believe Ovid hath belied her sex" (10.8.13): Ovid writes about the myth of Echo and Narcissus in the Metamorphoses, Book 3 Here, the narrator jokes that Squire Western repeats Sophia's name so often as he's looking for her that it echoes through the estate, making it sound as though the lady nymph Echo is really a man (no matter what Ovid says).
  • "Ovid tells us of a flower into which Hyacinthus was metamorphosed, that bears letters on its leaves" (16.3.7): in Greek mythology, Hyacinthus was a boy whom Apollo loved; when he was killed, Apollo turned his blood into a flower. Apollo left the words "ai, ai" (for "grief") on the flower's leaves.
  • "Ovid's Epistles" (8.11.26): the Epistles (also known as the Epistulae Heroides, or "Letters from Heroines")are kind of like a very, very early works of fanfiction. In them, Ovid writes from the perspective of famous women from Greek classical literature. So, for example, he writes letters as Helen to Paris, as Briseis to Achilles, and as Penelope to Odysseus.
  • "irritamenta malorum. Effodiuntur opes, irritamenta malorum" (8.12.5): from the Metamorphoses, Book 1, Line 140. In English, the line goes, "riches were dug up, the incentives to vice." It's the second half of that line—riches as the causes of evil—that Partridge wants to emphasize: it's not that money itself is evil; it just causes evil. 
  • "spicula and faces amoris" (9.5.10): Latin for "the darts and flames of love"; Fielding isn't referring to a specific verse in Ovid here. These are the terms Ovid commonly uses in his erotic poetry.

Colley, Cibber, An Apology for a Life: "Tho' we have properly enough entitled this our work, a history, and not a life; nor an apology for a life, as is more in fashion" (2.1.1): Tom Jones editor R.P.C. Mutter writes that this passage is a reference to the famous eighteenth-century actor Colley Cibber, who wrote a popular autobiography that he called an Apology for a Life in 1740.

Poor Colley—in addition to being stuck with the worst name we have ever heard in our lives, he was also publicly mocked by all the smart alecks of his day, even though he was a talented and entertaining memoirist. In addition to Fielding's brief, snide reference to Colley's Apology here in Tom Jones, Colley Cibber was also one subject of famous poet Alexander Pope's long satire The Dunciad. In fact, Colley Cibber was the main Dunce of Pope's 1743 edition of the poem.

Aristotle (2.3.1 [chapter title]; 2.7.8; 3.3.1-2; 4.13.13; 5.1.2; 5.10.6; 7.1.3; 8.1.7; 8.13.14; 11.1.14; 14.1.5) Aristotle was a fourth-century B.C.E. Greek philosopher who broke from Plato to make his own sweeping philosophical claims. Fielding uses him as a reference all the time.

William Shakespeare (2.3.14; 3.6.4; 5.7.19; 6.1.10; 7.1.6; 7.14.15; 8.1.11; 9.1.9; 9.3.7; 10.1.1; 10.8.7; 11.1.8; 11.1.10; 12.10.8; 13.1.4; 15.3.15; 16.5—whole chapter (references to Hamlet); 16.10.3; 17.3.14) Only the greatest English playwright ever. Also, the man could really pull off a starched collar.

  • "To make a life of jealousy,/And follow still the changes of the moon/With fresh suspicions […] To be once in doubt,/Was once to be resolved" (2.3.14): From Shakespeare's Othello, Act III, Scene iii. 
  • "stuff o' the conscience" (3.6.4): Also from Othello, this time Act I, Scene ii. Iago assures Othello, "Though in the trade of war I have slain men,/Yet do I hold it very stuff o' the conscience/To do no contrived murder." 
  • "Square wiped his eyes, albeit unused to the melting mood. As to Mrs. Wilkins, she dropt her pearls as fast as the Arabian trees their medicinal gums" (5.7.19): boy, does Fielding like his Othello. Both of these italicized phrases are echoes of Othello Act V, Scene ii: "of one whose subdued eyes, /Albeit unused to the melting mood,/Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees/Their medicinal gum."
  • "put the world in our own person" (6.1.10): from Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene i, slightly misquoted: "it is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice that puts the world into her person." 
  • "Life's a poor player, /That storms and struts his hour upon the stage,/And then is heard no more" (7.1.6): slightly wrong; the line is from Macbeth, Act V, Scene v: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/And then is heard no more." 
  • "bloody Banquo" (7.14.15): the title character in Shakespeare's Macbeth sends assassins after Banquo to shut him up; Banquo then appears post-death as a bloody ghost at Macbeth's dinner table.
  • "the play of Hamlet" (8.1.11): written, of course, by Shakespeare; Fielding mentions it in the context of this vicious real-life murder because Hamlet is all about guilt. 
  • "Desdemona […] Cassio […] the unfortunate Moor" (9.3.7): "the unfortunate Moor" in Fielding's plot summary here is Othello, from Shakespeare's play of the same title. Othello's servant Iago succeeds in making Othello insanely jealous over his wife, Desdemona, by using her requests for Othello's help with the career of his lieutenant Cassio as proof of a (totally not real) affair between Desdemona and Cassio. Fielding mentions Othello here as an example of how jealous you can make someone by asking them for favors on behalf of someone else.
  • "E'en such a man, so faint, so spiritless,/So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone,/Drew Priam's curtains in the dead of night,/And would have told him, half his Troy was burn'd." (10.8.7): from Henry IV, Part 2, Act 1, Scene i.
  • "Who steals my gold steals trash …" (11.1.8): Fielding quotes (yet again; clearly, this was his favorite play) from Othello, Act III, Scene iii (with slight changes). The original lines go: "Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;/'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands:/But he that filches from me my good name/Robs me of that which not enriches him/And makes me poor indeed."
  • "we may parody the tender exclamation of Macduff. Alas! Thou hast written no book." (11.1.10): from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene iii; when a character tries to comfort Macduff about the murder of his wife and children, he answers, "He has no children." 
  • "even from his boyish years/To th' very moment he was bad to tell" (12.10.8): once more unto the breach of Othello, dear friends, once more! In other words, Fielding has quoted practically this whole play by now. This particular line is from Act I, Scene ii (slightly altered): "Even from my boyish days/To the very moment that he bade me tell it."
  • "He swore 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange;/'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful" (12.10.8): from Othello, Act I, Scene ii (same speech as the lines quoted above)
  • "Between the acting of a dreadful thing,/And the first motion, all the interim is/Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream:/The genius and the mortal instruments/Are then in council; and the state of man,/Like to a little kingdom, suffers then/The nature of an insurrection" (15.3.15): from Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene i.
  • "As soon as the play, which was Hamlet Prince of Denmark, began, Partridge was all attention" (16.5.8): actually, most of Book 16, Chapter 5 is one long reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet. As Partridge sits in the audience, he makes Mystery Science Theater 3000-style comments about the production, but without any sense of irony.
  • "that green-eyed monster mentioned by Shakespear in his tragedy of Othello" (16.10.2): the "green-eyed monster" is jealousy. The phrase comes from Act III, Scene iii of Othello
  • "it is a wise father that knows his own child" (17.3.14): from The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene ii.

Horace (Epigraph; 2.4.5; 2.8.5; 3.2.8; 4.2.9; 5.1.15; 5.7.6; 5.9.8; 7.1.13-4; 7.6.5; 8.1.2; 8.1.9; 8.5.1; 8.6.11; 8.13.18; 9.1.4; 9.1.7; 9.5.13; 10.1.5; 11.1.14; 12.1.6; 12.2.13-4; 12.3.17; 13.3.2): ancient Roman poet and critic; the narrator first refers in passing to his Epistles.

  • "Tu secanda marmora/Locas sub ipsum funus: et sepulchri/Immemor, struis domos" (2.8.5): from Horace's Odes, Book II, Ode 18. Fielding translates: "You provide the noblest materials for building, when a pick-ax and a spade are only necessary; and build houses of five hundred by a hundred feet, forgetting that of six by two" (2.8.5). In other words, don't spend tons of money on plans for the future without remembering that there is always a chance of death! (Now that's a grim philosophy.) 
  • "fruges consumere nati" (3.2.8): From Horace's Epistles; as Fielding translates, "born to consume the fruit of the earth" (3.2.8). Fielding uses this quote to make a play on words, calling poachers those who are "feras consumere nati," "born to consume the beasts of the field" (3.2.8). 
  • "Nitor splendens Pario marmore purius." (4.2.9): Fielding translates this Latin line as "A gloss shining beyond the purest brightness of Parian marble." This line appears in Horace's Odes, Book I, Ode 19. Another translation has it, "I burn for Glycera's beauty,/Who gleams much more brightly than Parian marble." Racy stuff! 
  • "Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus,/Verum operi longo fas est obripere somnum." (5.1.15): from Ars Poetica, lines 359-60. Our translation has it, "And yet I'm displeased too when great Homer nods,/Somnolence may steal over a long work it's true." In other words, Horace gets disappointed when even the great Homer's language slows down, but long works are boring sometimes, he has to admit. 
  • "Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus Tam chari capitis?" (5.9.8): from Horace, Odes Book 1, Ode 24 ("A Lament for Quintilius"), lines 1-2. Fielding translates this, "What modesty or measure can set bounds to our desire of so dear a friend?" but we have also found, "What limit, or restraint, should we show at the loss/of so dear a life?"
  • "so did Scipio the Great, and Laelius the Wise, according to Horace, many years ago [play the fool]" (7.1.13): referring to Horace, Satires Book 2, Satire 1, lines 69-74: "Yet Lucilius satirised/The leading citizens, the people tribe by tribe,/Only truly favouring Virtue and her friends./Why, when good Scipio and wise, gentle Laelius,/Retired to privacy from life's crowded theatre,/They'd talk nonsense with him, relaxing freely." In other words, great men can also be silly from time to time. No one is always either hero, villain, or comic relief.
  • "the famous nil admirari" (7.1.14): from Epistles, Book 1, Epistle 6, meaning "marvel at nothing"
  • "we shall strictly adhere to a rule of Horace; by which writers were directed to pass over all those matters, which they despair of placing in a shining light" (7.6.5): from Ars Poetica, lines 148-150: "He always hastens the outcome, and snatches the reader/Into the midst of the action, as if all were known,/Leaves what he despairs of improving by handling." 
  • "the rule prescribed by Horace, to introduce supernatural agents as seldom as possible" (8.1.2): from Ars Poetica, lines 191-2: "And no gods should intervene, unless there's a problem/That needs that solution."
  • "non si male nunc & olim sic erat" (8.5.1): from Horace's Odes, Ode 10, lines 17-8: "Non, si male nunc et olim/sic erit" In other words, "If there's trouble now/It won't always be so." 
  • "nil desperandum est Teucro duce et auspice Teucro" (8.6.11): from the Odes, Book 1, Ode 7, line 27. Partridge gets it slightly wrong; it should be "nil desperandum Teucro duce et auspice Teucro." In English, the line goes, "Never despair, if Teucer leads, of Teucer's omens!" In other words, if you're following Teucer's (or in this case, Tom's) leadership, don't worry about omens! Your luck won't matter, because he is so awesome. 
  • "Fortis, et in se ipso totus teres atque rotundus/Externi ne quid valeat per loeve morari/In quem manca ruit semper Fortuna" (8.13.18): from the Satires, Book 2, Satire 7. Fielding uses the 1746 verse translation of Philip Francis: "Firm in himself who on himself relies,/Polish'd and round who runs his proper course,/And breaks misfortune with superior force."
  • "scribimus indocti doctique passim" (9.1.4): from the Epistles, Book 2, Epistle 1, line 117; Fielding quotes from the 1746 verse translation of Philip Francis: "But every desperate blockhead dares to write/Verse is the trade of every living wight." 
  • "The first is genius, without a rich vein of which, no study, says Horace, can avail us" (9.1.7-8): from Ars Poetica lines 409-11: "I've never seen the benefit/Of study lacking a wealth of talent, or of untrained/Ability." In other words, as a writer, you've got to have genius—but you also have to have "study," which Fielding gets to in the next paragraph. 
  • "The author who will make me weep, says Horace, must first weep himself" (9.1.11): from Ars Poetica, lines 102-3: "if you want to move me to tears, you must first grieve yourself." 
  • "dignus vindice nodus" (9.5.13): from Ars Poetica, line 191-2. This Latin phrase means, "a knot worthy of an untier." It's part of a longer line in Horace's Ars Poetica (The Art of Poetry) that means, "And no god should intervene [in the action of a story] unless there's a problem/That needs a solution." Fielding also refers to this passage in Book 8, Chapter 1, when he's talking about why it is not okay to introduce supernatural elements into a realistic novel. 
  • "quas humana parum cavit natura" (10.1.5): from Ars Poetica (clearly, Fielding <3 this work), lines 352-3 (slightly altered): "quas aut incuria fudit,/aut humana parum cauit natura." In English, the whole line is, "a few blots won't offend me, those carelessly spilt, or that human frailty can scarcely help." Note that Fielding quotes more of the passage in Book 11, Chapter 1. 
  • "Verum ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis/Offendor maculis, quas aut incuria fudit,/Aut humana parum cavit natura" (11.1.17): from Ars Poetica, lines 351-3. It means, "Yet where there are many beauties in a poem,/A few blots won't offend me, those carelessly spilt,/Or that human frailty can scarcely help." In other words, I'm not going to hate a book just because it has a few flaws. Fielding includes a translation from Philip Francis's 1746 edition: "But where the beauties, more in number, shine,/I am not angry, when a casual line/That with some trivial fault unequal flows)/A careless hand, or human frailty shows." Note that a part of this passage also appears in Book 10, Chapter 1.
  • "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori./Mors et fugacem persequitur virum/Nec parcit imbellis juventae/Poplitibus, timidoque tergo" (12.3.13): from Horace's Odes, Book 3, Ode #2, lines 13-16: "It's sweet and fitting to die for one's country./Yet death chases after the soldier who runs,/And it won't spare the cowardly back/or the limbs, of peace-loving young men." Fielding uses Philip Francis's translation: "Who would not die in his dear country's cause?/Since, if base fear his dastard step withdraws,/From death he cannot fly:—One common grave/Receives, at last, the coward and the brave."

The World War I poet Wilfred Owen wrote a brutal, moving response to Virgil's patriotic pro-war sentiments; we strongly recommend that you check out Owen's version of "Dulce et decorum est." Have a kleenex ready, though.

  • "Vir bonus est quis? Qui consulta patrum, qui leges juraque servat" (12.3.17): from Horace's Epistles, Book 1, Epistle #16, lines 40-1: "Who's the good man?/'Whoever observes the Senate's decrees, laws, statues'." 
  • "Pone me pigris ubi nulla campis/Arbor aestiva recreatur aura/Quod latus mundi nebulae, malusque/Jupiter urget./Pone, sub curru nimium propinqui/Solis in terra domibus negata;/Dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo/Dulce loquentum" (12.10.11): from Horace's Odes, Book 1, Ode 21, lines 17-24: "Set me down on the lifeless plains, where no trees/spring to life on the burning midsummer wind,/that wide stretch of the world that's burdened by mists/and a gloomy sky:/set me down in a land denied habitation,/where the sun's chariot rumbles too near the earth:/I'll still be in love with my sweetly laughing,/sweet talking Lalage." Note that the person Tom toasts in Book 12, Chapter 10 is "Lalage" (12.10.12), the nymph named in Horace's ode (and a stand-in for Sophia Western's name).

As per his usual habits when it's a Horatian ode, Fielding quotes Philip Francis's 1746 translation: "Place me where never summer breeze/Unbinds the glebe, or warms the trees;/Where ever lowering clouds appear,/And angry Jove deforms th'inclement year/Place me beneath the burning ray,/Where rolls the rapid carr of day;/Love and the nymph shall charm my toils,/The nymph who sweetly speaks, and softly smiles." 

Plato (3.3.1-2; 7.3.17; 8.13.14; 16.5.5; 18.4.2): Plato is a famous ancient Greek philosopher of moral and political issues; he lived during the fourth century B.C.E., a little before the time of Aristotle (the other major Greek guy who comes up all the time in Tom Jones). Mr. Square supposedly follows Plato's moral beliefs, but the narrator keeps emphasizing that Mr. Square's approach to morality is totally theoretical. He has no interest in practical morality, but only in moral philosophy. Honestly, we don't think Plato would approve.

Samuel Butler, Hudibras (4.1.2; 4.8.5; 8.1.3; 8.9.3; 10.9.9) Butler was seventeenth-century writer of comedies, of which Hudibras is the main one Fielding cares about.

  • "who attributes inspiration to ale" (4.1.2): Fielding refers here to a section of Samuel Butler's parody Hudibras, in which he writes that "ale, or viler liquours/Did'st inspire WITHERS, PRYN, and VICKARS" (Hudibras Part 1, Canto 1, lines 645-6).
  • "thou, who whileom didst recount the slaughter in those fields where Hudibrass and Trulla fought, if thou wert not starved with thy friend Butler" (4.8.5)

Miguel de Cervantes (4.8.18; 8.4.1—chapter title; 13.1.4; 16.1.7): seventeenth-century Spanish novelist and clear influence on Fielding.

Juvenal (4.10.5; 4.10.13; 7.13.8; 10.1.4; 12.4.10; 14.8.1): a Roman writer famous for his satires.

  • "Rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno" (4.10.5): From Latin writer Juvenal's sixth Satire; Fielding translates, "a rare bird upon the earth, and very like a black swan" (4.10.5). Since the Romans were around long before Natalie Portman's Oscar turn as a freaked out ballerina in Black Swan, they thought that black swans were pretty much impossible. So to say something is like a black swan is to say that it basically doesn't exist. A more modern translation gives the line, "a prodigy as rare upon the earth as a black swan!"
  • "Ingenui vultus puer ingenuique pudoris" (also spelled "uoltus" instead of "vultus") (4.10.13): again with the Juvenal, Mr. Supple? This one is from Satire 11. Fielding translates, "A lad of an ingenuous countenance, and of an ingenuous modesty" (4.10.13). You could also translate this as, "a lad of open countenance and simple modesty," "countenance," of course, meaning "facial expression."
  • nemo repente fuit turpissimus (7.13.8): from Satire 2, line 83, meaning, "no one reaches the depths of turpitude all at once." "Turpitude" is a pretty great SAT word meaning "wickedness" or "vileness."
  • "nulla virtute redemptum A vitiis" (10.1.4): from Satire 4, lines 2-3. In English, it sounds pretty harsh: "a monster without one redeeming virtue/To offset his faults."
  • "orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano" (12.4.10; 12.5.2): from the Satires, #10, line 356: "you should pray for a sound mind in a sound body." 
  • "the sentiment of the Roman satirist, which denies the divinity of fortune" (14.8.1): reference to Juvenal's Satires, #10: "Thou wouldst have no divinity, O Fortune, if we had but wisdom; it is we that make a goddess of thee, and place thee in the skies."

Virgil (5.1.11; 5.4.7; 5.10.7; 5.11.1; 8.4.6; 8.6.6; 8.14.16; 10.1.3; 10.6.5; 12.1.6; 12.6.4; 13.1.1; 13.1.6; 13.2.8; 14.1.2; 14.1.5; 16.1.7; 16.3.7) Virgil is a Latin poet who wrote the epic Aeneid as a Roman response to Homer's much earlier poems The Iliad and The Odyssey.

  • "Inventas, qui vitam excoluere per artes" (5.1.11): from The Aeneid Book 6, line 663. Fielding translates, "Who by invented arts have life improv'd" (5.1.11). In simpler terms, "those who improved life, with discoveries in Art or Science."
  • "Captique dolis lachrymisque coacti/Quos neque Tydides, nec Larissaeus Achilles,/Non anni domuere decem, non mille carinae." (5.4.7): From Book 2 of Virgil's Aeneid, lines 196-8. Fielding quotes the famous Aeneid translation from seventeenth-century poet John Dryden: "What Diomede nor Thetis, greater son/A thousand ships, nor ten years' siege had done —/False tears and fawning words the city won."
  • "Speluncam Blifil dux et divinus eandum/Deveniunt —" (5.10.7): a parody of the line from Book 4 of Virgil's Aeneid: "speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem/deveniunt," which means "Dido and the Trojan leader reach the very same cave." Fielding's version reads "Blifil and the noble leader (Thwackum) came to the same cave."
  • "Procul, O procul este, profani;/Proclamat vates, totoque absistite luco" (5.11.1): line from the Aeneid, Book 6, spoken by the Sibyl (an oracle protecting "the Samean mysteries" (5.11.1)—fertility rituals on the island of Samos, which was supposed to be the birthplace of Hera (ancient Greek goddess of marriage). John Dryden translates (and Fielding copies): "Far hence be souls prophane,/The Sibyl cry'd, and from the grove abstain." In other words, get out of here, non-sacred people! You're not allowed to look at our sacred (possibly sexy) activities!
  • "non omnia possumus omnes" (8.4.6; 10.5.3): from Virgil's Eclogues: "we can't do all things"
  • "non tanti me dignor honore" (8.4.6): from Aeneid Book 1, line 335, slightly changed: "tali me dignor honore"." In English: "Nay, I claim not such worship."
  • "infandum, regina, jubes renovare dolorem" (8.6.6; 8.9.3; 12.3.12; 14.3.8): from Aeneid Book 2, line 3. In English: "O queen, you command me to renew unspeakable grief." This "unspeakable grief" is the retelling of the final fall of Troy. For Little Benjamin (or rather, Partridge, as we discover later), the "unspeakable grief" of which he speaks is the moment when King George II proclaimed that barber-surgeons either had to be barbers or surgeons. Since Little Benjamin/Partridge is still both, we can see how this might be cause for "unspeakable grief," we guess.
  • "varium & mutabile" (8.14.18, first edition (revised out in the second edition)): as the Man on the Hill says, the original line in Virgil's Aeneid is about women. The line is from Aeneid, Book 4, line 569: "varium et mutabile semper/femina." In other words, "Woman is ever fickle and changeable." But in Tom Jones, the thing that is "ever fickle and changeable" is England itself. 
  • "horrida bella" (10.6.5): from the Aeneid, Book 6, line 86. In English, "horrible wars." (We're sure there is a Bella Swan joke in here somewhere.)
  • "Virgil, I think, tells us, that when the mob are assembled in a riotous and tumultuous manner …" (12.6.4): Fielding refers to the Aeneid, Book 1, lines 148-53: "the common rabble rage with passion, and soon stones/and fiery torches fly (frenzy supplying weapons),/if they then see a man of great virtue, and weighty service,/they are silent, and stand there listening attentively:/he sways their passions with his words and soothes their hearts."
  • "Virgil recommended [the hyacinth] as a miracle to the Royal Society of his day" (16.3.7): we're getting very sophisticated now: Fielding mentions a reference in Virgil's Eclogues (Eclogue #3) to yet another text, the story of Hyacinthus in Ovid's Metamorphoses. See under "Ovid" if you want to know more about the source of this double reference.

Tully (a.k.a. Cicero) (5.2.4; 7.1.13; 12.1.6; 12.13.14; 14.1.2-5; 14.8.1; 15.4.2; 15.7.11; 17.4.5; 18.4.2): Marcus Tullius Cicero was a really, really famous Roman politician and philosopher during the first century B.C.E. (In the eighteenth century, the English affectionately called him Tully.)

  • Tusculan Questions (5.2.4): Cicero wrote the Tusculan Questions (or Disputations) as a popular Latin text to show the public the processes of philosophical reasoning.
  • "nay, Cicero reports them to have been 'incredibly childish.'" (7.1.13): the "they" in this reference is Scipio the Great and Laelius the Wise, both great Roman soldiers. Fielding uses this citation, along with the Satires (see our reference under "Horace") to show that even heroes like to relax and act like kids sometimes. 
  • "non longè alienum à scaevolae studiis" (12.13.14): from Cicero, Ad Atticum, Book 4, Letter 16, line 3. In English: "Not unknown to Scaevola's interest." In other words, Tom is telling Partridge (in an admittedly bizarre way) that hanging is highly relevant to this question (i.e. "not unknown to [his] interest"). Partridge gets distracted by the case of "alienum" (in the original) vs. "alienus" (what Tom says), and totally ignores the substance of Tom's point.
  • "quam quisque norit artem in ea se exerceat" (14.1.4): a Greek proverb translated into Latin and quoted in Cicero's Tusculan Disputations, Book 1, #18: "Apply your talents where you are best skilled."

John Vanbrugh (5.5.17; 12.5.10; 14.1.8): seventeenth-century comic playwright.

  • "like Mr. Constant in the play" (5.5.17): "the play" in this reference is to Sir John Vanbrugh's The Provoked Wife (1697). 
  • "the Provoked Husband" (12.5.10): Colley Cibber's revision of Vanbrugh's "low" play A Journey to London. So when the narrator calls the puppet show version of The Provoked Husband "fine and serious" (12.5.10), he's clearly being pretty sarcastic. For more on Colley Cibber, check out our entry under "Apology for a Life."

Joseph Addison (5.7.3; 15.10.8): eighteenth-century essayist, poet, and all-around wit.

  • "Let guilt or fear/Disturb man's rest, Cato knows neither of them;/Indifferent in his choice, to sleep or die." (5.7.3): From Act 5, Scene 1 of Joseph Addison's 1713 play Cato (A Tragedy in Five Acts).
  • "The Alps, and Pyrenaeans, sink before him!" (15.10.8): from Cato, Act 1, Scene 3.

Thomas Otway (8.2.3; 8.10.4; 9.1.9; 11.5.7): Otway was a seventeenth-century playwright.

  • "Angels are painted fair to look like her./There's in her all that we believe of heaven,/Amazing brightness, purity and truth,/Eternal joy, and everlasting love." (8.2.3): These lines appear in Otway's tragedy Venice Preserv'd (1680s).
  • "She answered exactly to that picture drawn by Otway in his Orphan" (8.10.4): In Otway's The Orphan, or, The Unhappy Marriage, Act 2, Scene 1: "I spy'd a wrinkled hag, with age grown double."
  • "an old woman, who seemed coeval with the building, and greatly resembled her whom Clarmont mentions in the Orphan" (11.5.7): Fielding refers to the same passage in 8.10.4: In Otway's The Orphan, or, The Unhappy Marriage, Act 2, Scene 1: "I spy'd a wrinkled hag, with age grown double."

Terence (8.5.1; 8.5.8; 8.9.2; 9.6.3; 12.13.13): Terence was a second-century B.C.E. writer of Latin comedies

  • "Pro deum atque hominum fidem" (8.5.8): This phrase, "pro deum atque hominum fidem," appears several times in his plays. It means "by our faith in the gods!"
  • "I prae, sequar te" (8.9.2): this Latin phrase meaning, "you go first; I will follow you" comes from Terence's Andria, Act 1, Scene 2: "i prae, sequar.
  • "Veritas odium parit" (9.6.3): also from Andria, Act 1, line 68. It means, "sincerity [causes] dislike." 
  • "fortuna nunquam perpetuo est bona" (12.13.13): From the play Hecyra, Act III, Scene iii. It means, "O fortune, thou has never been found constant!" In other words, good luck never lasts forever.
  • "homo sum: nihil humani a me alienum puto" (15.8.11): from The Self-Tormentor (Latin title? Heautontimorumenos. Now that would be a good Scrabble word) Act 1, Scene 1: "I am a man, and nothing that concerns a man do I deem a matter of indifference to me."

Important Historical and Cultural References

Bridewell (1.3.5; 1.9.7; 4.9.6; 5.4.2; 7.9.1; 7.9.3; 7.9.10): an early house of correction in London

William Hogarth (1.11.7; 2.3.6; 3.6.7; 10.8.7; 14.1.8): Eighteenth-century British artist and social satirist.

Methodism: (1.10.12; 8.8.2; 13.8.14; 18.13.13) Protestant religious denomination founded in the 18th century as a movement to reform the Anglican church.. Fielding expresses a lot of prejudice against Methodism in his passing references, implying that Methodists are puritanical and anti-fun.

Charlotte Cradock (4.2.5; 13.1.1): Fielding's first wife, who died in 1744, five years before the publication of Tom Jones.

  • "she resembled one whose image never can depart from my breast" (4.2.5): Sophia Western is modeled on Charlotte Cradock.
  • "under the fictitious name of Sophia, she reads the real worth which once existed in my Charlotte" (13.1.1): the narrator totally confirms that, yes, Sophia is meant to be a fictional version of his late wife.

Deism (4.4.4): Deism is the belief that you can prove that God exists only through human reason and natural observation; deists do not believe in miracles or in the supernatural side of religious faith. Mr. Square is supposed to be a deist, as opposed to Mr. Thwackum's absolute and total belief in Christian teaching. For more on this opposition, see our "Character Analyses" of these two.

Stoic philosophy (4.12.13): the classical Stoic philosophers believed that emotions like love and passion are based on false ideas that can only be cured by following a life of strict moral and intellectual perfection. Obviously, this is nota life that Sophia really wants to achieve, no matter what she thinks in Book 4, Chapter 12.

Presbyterian (6.2.5; 6.5.9; 12.7.26; 12.7.28): Presbyterianism is a Protestant Christian movement that began in the sixteenth century under the influence of religious activists such as John Calvin. Presbyterianism spread throughout Scotland through the work of John Knox, a famously strict Protestant reformer.

Because Charles Stuart—Bonnie Prince Charlie—was a Catholic and not a Protestant (and because the Stuart kings had not practiced religious tolerance while they did have the throne), most Scottish Presbyterians did not support his claim to the monarchy (unlike many Highland Catholics).

And since Bonnie Prince Charlie chose to stage his invasion of the British Isles in Scotland in 1745, this religious and political split between Scottish Presbyterians and Catholics really made a difference to his efforts. When Squire Western throws the term "Presbyterian" around, he uses it the same way he uses "Hanoverian": to mean people who are not Jacobite and who do not support the restoration of Bonnie Prince Charlie to the English throne. For more on all of this stuff, see our "Detailed Summary" of Book 7, Chapter 11—or check out our learning guide on Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, which is set in Scotland in the immediate aftermath of the failed rebellion of 1745-6.

Hanoverian (6.2.5; 6.14.1; 7.5.9; 15.6.13; 15.6.17; 16.2.15; 17.3.3): referring to the supporters of the Hanoverian line of kings of England, versus the pro-Stuart Jacobites. Eighteenth-century British politics is really hard to keep straight.

Round-heads (6.14.1): the Roundheads were the soldiers who supported Parliament against the Royalists during the English Civil Wars. The term also links thematically to the Hanoverians (discussed earlier in this reference list), who were monarchs appointed by constitutional right by the Parliament.

Squire Western's references to both of these groups (the Hanoverians and the Roundheads) using these insulting terms show that he's a Jacobite—but there's no need to sweat the small stuff on these political differences.

The rebels (7.11.8 and throughout the novel): the sergeant means the anti-George II supporters of the son (James Stuart) and grandson (Charles Stuart) of exiled king James II and VII as heirs to the British throne. We get into these issues in our "Detailed Summary" of Book 7, Chapter 11.

The Duke of Cumberland (7.11.8; 11.6.14; 12.7.18): the leader of George II's forces against the supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 and 1746.

King George (7.11.10; 8.9.3; 10.6.2): meaning King George II

The Duke of Marlborough (7.12.1): John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, was the leading British general during the War of the Spanish Succession

The Protestant religion (7.12.13; 8.9.3; 8.14.16): So there were two people with claims to the throne involved in this 1745 rebellion: there's Bonnie Prince Charlie, grandson of James II and VII, and there's George II, a member of the Hanoverian dynasty appointed to the British throne by an act of Parliament.

The eighteenth century was still a time when there were serious political differences between Catholics and Protestants in England. Bonnie Prince Charlie was Catholic, while George II was Protestant and also popular with the strongly anti-Catholic Protestants who controlled the Parliament. That's why Tom and the lieutenant keep describing the pro-George II cause as "the Protestant interest" (7.12.15).

The battle of Dettingen (7.14.7): a 1743 battle during the War of Austrian Succession.

"Harry the Fifth" and "the victory of Agincourt" (8.1.7; 18.12.9): Fielding is referring to King Henry V's defeat of the French in the Battle of Agincourt. The Battle of Agincourt remains a really popular patriotic rallying cry for English nationalists, in part thanks to Shakespeare's famous Saint Crispin's Day speech from the play Henry V.

Herodotus, "the successless armament of Xerxes" (8.1.7): Fielding is talking about the battle of Thermopylae, when a tiny group of Greek soldiers held off the much larger Persian armies of Xerxes. (Xerxes was "successless" in the sense that he had many, many more soldiers than the Greek forces had, but the Greeks still held off the Persians for a while. The Greeks eventually beat the Persians back during a naval battle the following year, but the Persians did technically win at Thermopylae.) Fielding uses this reference as proof of the unbelievable things that happen in recorded history.

Arrian, "the successful expedition of Alexander" (8.1.7): Arrian was a second-century Roman historian who wrote about Alexander the Great's conquests in modern-day Iran, Egypt, and India.

Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, the Battle of Narva (8.1.7): Charles the Twelfth defeated a Russian army over three times larger than his own at the Battle of Narva (1700), in the Great Northern War.

Tyburn (8.1.16; 17.1.3-4): Tyburn was the site of a permanent gallows near London, where people were publicly executed every week. These public hangings became a spectacle for the entertainment of extremely morbid Londoners.

The Spectator (8.5.9; 8.9.1; 9.1.2-3): the Spectator was a newspaper published from 1711 to 1714 (with some interruptions); it included submissions by Alexander Pope (mentioned in our list of literary shout-outs).

  • "the ingenious author of the Spectator was principally induced to prefix Greek and Latin mottoes to every paper" (9.1.2): According to a footnote in Ross Hamilton's edition of Tom Jones, Joseph Addison wrote in Spectator #221 that a motto ensure "at least one good line in every paper."

Jacobite (8.9.3; 12.7.31): the pro-Stuart rebels fighting against the King's armies in Scotland; see our "Detailed Summary" of Book 7, Chapter 11, as well as our "Reference" entries on "the rebels," the "Hanoverians," and the "round-heads," for more on the crazy politics of Fielding's day.

"James or Charles" (8.9.3): meaning James Stuart (the father) and Charles Stuart (his son, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Charlie), the direct descendants of exiled King James II and VII.

"If this woman had lived in the reign of James the First, her appearance alone would have hanged her" (8.10.4): King James I and VI (who Scotland from 1567-1625 and also ruled England from 1603-1625) was a big fan of witchcraft trials, and actually wrote his own book on demonology.

Lord Justice Page (8.11.26): this whole episode that Partridge recounts is based on a real-life case, presided over by Sir Francis Page (a famed "hanging judge," meaning that he often condemned people to death) in 1739. Sir Francis actually found the prisoner not guilty.

"To drink the Bath waters" (8.13.21): Bath is a city in England; it is also the site of a (more or less) intact Roman bath complex; the mineral waters of the area are supposed to have healing properties.

The Duke of Monmouth (8.14.12): James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth, was the illegitimate son of King Charles II. When Charles II died, the Duke of Monmouth thought that he would be a better candidate for the throne than his uncle, James II, because he was Protestant and his uncle was Catholic. England was in the middle of a wave of anti-Catholic hysteria, and the Duke thought that he could ride that wave right into the throne. He invaded England from the Netherlands in 1685 to try and overthrown James II, but he didn't even come close to succeeding. He was beheaded for treason.

"A Popish prince" (8.14.16): "Popish" is an offensive term for "Catholic"; James I and his descendants (including James II, exiled in 1688, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, who invaded Scotland in 1745) were all Catholic. Fielding very clearly identifies himself with the Protestant side, painting England's Catholic rulers as religiously intolerant and power-hungry. The particular prince in this reference is King James II.

King James II and VII (8.14.16): King James II of England and VII of Scotland, exiled from the throne by an act of Parliament during the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

"There have been two rebellions in favor of the son of King James, one of which is now actually raging in the very heart of the kingdom" (8.14.17): the first of these two rebellions was the Jacobite uprising of 1715; the second is, of course, the Jacobite Uprising of 1745. If you haven't already, you should definitely check out our "Detailed Summary" of Book 7, Chapter 11 to find out more about that, since it's historical context for the current events of Tom Jones.

The Battle of Sedgemore (or Sedgemoor) (8.14.19): the final battle that put an end to the Duke of Monmouth's hopes of overthrowing James II. (Why he ever thought he'd be able to conquer England with 4,000 people at his back, we'll never know.)

The Glorious Revolution (8.14.24): the name of the 1688 Parliamentary move to invite Dutch Protestant William of Orange to co-rule England along with his wife (and James II and VII's daughter) Mary; King James II and VII was successfully exiled from England, and the Stuart family lost its place on the English throne.

[Nicholas] Rowe (9.1.3; 10.1.1; 14.4.1): Fielding uses Rowe as an example of an imitator of other great writers. But we think this is a little unfair. Rowe was one of the first serious editors of Shakespeare's work; he also printed a biography of the man. He's still regarded as an extremely important figure in Shakespeare scholarship. He's not just an imitator

  • "When ev'ry eye was clos'd, and the pale moon,/And silent stars shone conscious of the theft." (14.3.1): After Fielding's anti-Rowe dig, we can't help but notice that he still quotes the guy. This passage comes from his tragedy The Fair Pentitent, Act 1, Scene i. The character Lothario's "theft" is of his lover's chastity.

[Aphra] Behn (10.2.10): Aphra Behn was a hugely successful woman playwright and novelist in the seventeenth century. Fielding refers to her here because she includes a lot of sex in her work—some of it is pretty pornographic. So when the narrator talks about Mr. Maclachlan "filling his mind with good literature," he is being snide about Mr. Maclachlan wanting to "[recommend] himself to the ladies" (10.2.10). Still, we have to say in Behn's defense that actually, a lot of her work is good literature. We're a little surprised at Fielding's snobbery!

Arria (10.9.3): this historical figure was famous for her fulfillment of the classical Roman ideal of womanhood. Her son dies while her husband is sick, and Arria hides the fact of his death from her husband so that he can recover in peace (which echoes the whole Bridget/Squire Allworthy thing in Book 5, Chapter 8). And then, when her husband has to kill himself for political reasons, she stabs herself first and tells him that it doesn't hurt.

"The young Chevalier" (11.2.19; 11.2.21): meaning Bonnie Prince Charlie, a.k.a. Charles Stuart, a.k.a. the Young Pretender, a.k.a. the head of the Jacobite rebel forces invading Scotland in 1745. (Man, this guy had a lot of nicknames!) For more on his cause, check out our entries under "the rebels" or the "Detailed Summary" for Book 7, Chapter 11.

Jenny Cameron (11.2.23; 11.3.7; 11.6.5; 11.8.4; 12.8.12): this Highland woman was falsely arrested and accused of being Bonnie Prince Charlie's lover (though there is no evidence that they ever actually met).

"The young Pretender" (11.3.7; 11.8.4): meaning Charles Stuart; see under "the young Chevalier"

Nell Gwynn (or Gwynne) (11.8.7): seventeenth-century actress and mistress to King Charles II.

"Jephtha's Rash Vow" (12.6.3): the story of Jephthah comes from the Hebrew Bible, Book of Judges, Chapter 11, verses 30-34. Jephthah leads the Israelites in war against the Ammonites. He promises God that, if he wins, he will sacrifice the first thing he sees when he comes home. (That's the "Rash Vow" part). The Israelites win, and Jephthah goes home. The first thing he sees is his daughter, coming out of his home to welcome him. And because Jephthah made a promise to God, he does, in fact, sacrifice her.

[Marcus Aurelius] Antoninus (12.12.37): Marcus Aurelius Antoninus more commonly goes by the name Marcus Aurelius; he was Emperor of Rome in the second century C.E.. He was not only a great emperor (though he did lead Rome into a lot of wars), but he was also a serious philosopher. You know the guy who played the first Dumbledore, Richard Harris? He plays Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator. So basically, Marcus Aurelius is the Dumbledore of the Roman Empire. Fielding refers to Antoninus and Marcus Aurelius together as the Antonini; this is because Marcus Aurelius's last name was also Antoninus.

"Men of wit and pleasure" (13.5.7): Fielding is referring to men such as Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, who wrote for magazines such as the Spectator and the Tatler in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

"Will's or Button's" (13.5.8): two famous London coffee-houses. Even in the eighteenth century, cafés were the place to go if you wanted to hang out and have long philosophical and/or intellectual conversations.

"Meditating speeches for the House of Commons, or rather for the magazines" (13.5.8): The Gentleman's Magazine and London Magazine paid for people to write up Parliamentary debates for them to publish.

"The Common-Prayer Book, before the Gunpowder-Treason plot" (16.5.7): the Book of Common Prayer is the standard prayer guide for the Anglican church. 

Mythological References

Tisiphone and "her sisters" (1.8.4; 7.8.6): Tisiphone is one of the three Furies in Greek mythology; these supernatural sisters take revenge on criminals and murderers by driving them crazy.
Boreas (1.8.5; 4.2.1): Greek god of the north wind.
Saint Bridget and "any other female in the Roman kalendar" (1.10.7): Saint Bridget (also spelled Brigid) is a famous Irish holy figure whose worship blurs the lines between Catholic and Pagan belief systems; Fielding uses her ironically here to suggest that Bridget Allworthy is not a real saint, no matter how she may appear.
Xantippe (2.3.6; 2.4.2; 8.11.2): The name of Greek philosopher Socrates's wife. The name "Xantippe" (also "Xanthippe") is now a common term for a wife who nags her husband all the time.
Nemesis (2.4.3; 7.15.3): a Greek goddess who punished people who received too much undeserved good luck. (Wow, the Greeks had gods to cover everything.)
"Amazonian heroine" (2.4.16; 4.8.8; 4.8.11; 9.3.15): Amazon isn't just a giant online bookstore; the Amazons were also a tribe of strong warrior women in Greek mythology.
Flora (4.1.7; 4.2.1): Roman goddess of flowers and spring
Zephyrus (4.2.1): Greek god of the west wind.
Eurus (4.2.1): Greek god of the east wind.
Venus (4.2.3; 4.2.8; 4.8.10; 5.11.1; 8.4.8; 12.2.8): Roman goddess of love; her Greek name is Aphrodite.
Venus de Medici (4.2.3; 4.2.8): life-sized marble statue of Venus; this statue was sculpted in Athens in the second century B.C.E. and then dug up in the seventeenth century and restored in Italy.

  • "so famous was she in the fields of Venus, nor indeed less in those of Mars" (4.8.10): As we've just mentioned, Venus is the goddess of love. Mars is the Roman god of war. Fielding is saying that this woman, Goody Brown, is equally famous for her sexuality and for her violence. Venus Ferina (5.11.1): a little joke on Fielding's part; "ferine" means feral, or wild. "Venus Ferina" is Latin for "wild Venus," or the Venus of the wild animals. So "the temple of Venus Ferina" would be a place where wild animals worship Venus—in other words, the place where these animals are having sex.

Kalon (5.5.17): ancient Greek term for perfect beauty; it can be used to describe either a physical or a moral ideal.
"Aesculapian art"
(5.7.2): Aesculapius is the Latin name for the Greek god Asclepius, god of medicine and healing. People who practice the "Aesculapian art" are, in other words, doctors.
(5.12.6): an actual place in central Greece. The Roman poets (especially Virgil) wrote about Arcadia as a kind of paradise on earth filled with happy shepherds and small-scale gods. Thespis (7.1.1): the semi-legendary poet and inventor of Greek tragic drama.
(7.9.15): the Roman god of love, usually depicted as a winged child. (If you're at all a fan of Valentine's Day cards or OKCupid, you know this little guy.)
(also spelled Polyphemus) (8.1.2): Polyphemus was the cyclops who attacked Odysseus and his men in the Odyssey, successfully devouring six of them.
(8.1.2): a sorceress who turns Odysseus's men into pigs in the Odyssey.
"all the liquors of Hippocrene or Helicon"
(8.1.3): Helicon is a Greek mountain that is supposed to be the source of inspiration for the Muses, the goddesses of art and science. Hippocrene is a well bubbling up on Helicon's mountainside; drinking from the Hippocrene is supposed to give poetic inspiration.
(8.4.8; 9.5.6; 15.7.9): famously handsome Greek hero who was also Venus's lover.
(8.9.3; 15.5.16): a barbarian (from the Roman perspective, someone living beyond the Alps)
(or Briareus) (8.9.3): a Greek mythological giant with a hundred arms and fifty heads.
(9.2.1): Roman goddess of the dawn.
(9.2.1): medieval Latin term meaning "in regular English." (It's kind of hilarious to use Latin to signal that you're about to say something in everyday English. We guess that's Fielding's sense of humor all over.)
Orpheus and Eurydice
(9.2.19; 13.1.1; 14.8.9): Orpheus is a legendary musician in the mythology of ancient Greece. When his wife, Eurydice, dies, Orpheus travels to the underworld to bargain with Hades, the god of the underworld, for her freedom. Hades grants Orpheus's request for Eurydice's life, on one condition: Orpheus has to walk back to the world of the living without once looking back to see if Eurydice is following him. As he is leaving the underworld, Orpheus cannot resist looking behind him to check if Eurydice is there; as soon as he spots her ghost, she has to return to the world of the dead.
(9.3.5): Roman goddess of the hearth; her priestesses were virgins dedicated to the service of the goddess.
(9.3.19; 15.4.1): the narrator refers to Helen of Troy, whose kidnap from the Greek warrior Menelaus (her husband) by the Trojan prince Paris starts the Trojan War.
(9.5.3): Ulysses is the Latin name for the Greek king Odysseus, the central character of Homer's Odyssey. For more on the Odyssey, see our entry in the list of "References" under "Homer."
(9.5.6; 10.8.13): legendary Greek hero and all-around tough guy
"as whilome Hercules did that of Hylas"
(10.8.13): Hercules calls for his beloved Hylas when the Hylas ditches Hercules in favor of some river nymphs on the quest for the Golden Fleece and then drowns.
(9.5.9): Poseidon (ancient Greek god of the sea) casts a spell on Queen Pasiphae (wife of King Minos) to make her fall in love with a magic bull; together, the two of them produce a child, the half-man-half-ox man-eating Minotaur.
the Graces
(9.5.12): the Graces are the three Greek goddesses of charm and fertility.
(10.8.13): see above, under the entry for "Hercules"
(10.8.13): Echo was a nymph who faded away from unrequited love with Narcissus until only her voice remained.
(11.8.3): ancient Greek river nymphs; Fielding's translation of this term to mean "oyster-wenches" is definitely sarcastic. An oyster-wench is a girl who sells, well, oysters (we guess that part's obvious). Fielding is comparing the shrieks coming from Mrs. Honour when she hears about this Jenny Cameron business to the screech an oyster-wench makes if you complain about the quality of her fish.
(11.9.13): Boeotia is a region in Greece; its residents also have a reputation in classical literature for stupidity.
Mount Parnassus
(12.1.5-6): Greek mountain where Apollo, god of the sun, is supposed to live; the Romans wrote about Mount Parnassus as the source for the Muses' inspiration.
(or Mnemosyne) (13.1.1): the Greek goddess of memory and the mother of the nine muses.
(13.1.1): the river where Orpheus drowned
(13.1.1; 13.1.6): the supposed birthplace of Homer. We talk about Homer a whole heck of a lot in this list of "References"; see under "Homer."
(13.1.1; 13.1.6): birthplace of Virgil. For a (very long) list of ways that Virgil appears in Tom Jones, check out our entry for "Virgil."
Elysian Fields
(13.2.4): the paradise where Greek heroes get to go after they die.
(13.2.8): the three-headed dog who guards the underworld in Greek mythology. Fielding also points us to the sixth book of the Aeneid to found out more about this guy. Amphion (14.8.19): Amphion (like Orpheus, also mentioned in this passage) is a legendary musician in Greek mythology. When he plays the golden lyre given to him by Hermes, the stones of the walls of Thebes move by themselves.
the Sabine women
(15.4.1): the rape of the Sabine women is part of the founding legend of Rome. The city's earliest inhabitants (shepherds, robbers, runaways…) were all men. So Romulus (one of Rome's two legendary founders, along with his brother Remus) led a raid on Sabine communities nearby and abducted their young women to force them to bear Roman children. Ick.
Acton (or Actaeon)
(17.3.4): When Squire Western says "he'd rather be run by [his] own dogs, as one Acton was, that the story book says was turned into a hare" (17.3.4), he's talking about Actaeon. According to Greek mythology, this man is out hunting when he spots the virgin goddess Artemis while she is bathing. For his disrespect, she turns him into a stag (not a hare, as Squire Western thinks) and sets his own dogs loose on him. (Poetic justice, maybe—but an ugly way to go!)

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