Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Thespis

Click a term to expand the definition; Search for a term; Select other Opera Chapters; Go to the Lexicon menu for introductory and afterword content..

Enter part of a term; e.g., "gill" for Gillow's.

Act I

Commissionaire

The Corps of Commissionaires was organized in Victorian times to find jobs for former military men of good character. They had their own uniform and could be hired for light duty such as doorkeepers, hall porters, and messengers (162).

Beadle

Pronunciation: parish beadle

A minor parochial official, or other liveried flunky; sometimes a watchman. Often presented as personifying stupid officiousness (43).

Dustman

Garbage man or trash collector.

Christmas boxes [Your Christmas boxes ought to be something considerable]

Gifts of cash, food, or anything else given to servants, mail carriers, trash collectors, paper carriers, and the like, on Boxing Day (the first weekday after Christmas). In bygone days the gifts were collected in boxes, which explains the term (58, 107, 229, 245, 257).

Odes

Poems intended to be sung, or lyric poems of exalted tone.

Hymen

The Greek god of marriage.

Cupid

In Roman mythology the god of love, equivalent to the Greek Eros. He was supposedly the son of Mercury and Venus, but his mother’s personal life was such that one could never be sure as to his sire. He is generally portrayed as a winged infant with bow and arrow, and is most in demand around Valentine’s Day.

Celestial [I’m the celestial drudge]

Pertaining to the heavens.

Ranked [I’m ranked for it]

Mercury is implying that his services rank him at the bottom of the celestial hierarchy (11).

Noodles [Though noodles are baroned and earled]

Simpletons.

Baroned

Elevated to the rank of baron.

Earled

Elevated to the rank of earl. (You will find a summary of these noble ranks on page 85.)

Rate [though I rate at ’em]

Scold, censure, berate. In short, yell. See also The Grand Duke.

Nectar

The fabled drink of the gods, conferring immortality.

Rack [a terrible liquor to rack us]

In this case, to cause pain.

Bacchus

Pronunciation: BACK-uss

The god of wine. Bierce (39) defines him as “A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk.”

Minerva
Sketch of Minerva

Roman goddess of wisdom, equivalent to the Greek Athena.

Plate-powder

Polishing paste, for silverware, with chalk powder content. Mercury has made a verb of the expression, meaning to polish.

Jove [Jupiter, by Jove!]

Another name for Jupiter.

Votive offerings [sacrifices and votive offerings]

Offerings to the gods, given in keeping with vows.

Pages