Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Thespis

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Act II


The food of the gods, which, like nectar, conferred immortality.


To intoxicate, make drunk.

Rosy [Olympian rosy]

Rosé or other wine (274).

Vulcan [Then why object to Vulcan?]
Sketch of Vulcan

In Roman mythology the god of fire and metalworking.

Arcadee [Little maid of Arcadee]

Arcadia, the poetic land of rustic contentment in the Peloponnesus, which is a large peninsula in the southern part of Greece, and location of Sparta.

Tenpenny nail

A common nail. They are nearly three inches long and there are from 70 to 90 of them in a pound. The “penny” term dates back to fifteenth century England. Nail sizes then were designated by the retail price per hundred (229). The prices have changed, but the designation has not.

Squint [And Venus should not have a squint in her eyes]

Having eyes that point in different directions, perhaps cross-eyed (229).


In Greek mythology, the god of the lower world, also known as Hades. He is also sometimes known as the giver of wealth, hence the term plutocrat.

Onus [On some it has come as a serious onus]

Burden or responsibility.

Life Office

Life insurance company.

In the court

Presumably the bankruptcy court.

Popping [Young ladies are popping all over the place]

Popping the question. Proposing marriage.

Artist who sugars the cake

The confectioner who decorates wedding cakes.

Dab [there isn’t a dab in it]


Quibble [quibble and shuffle and shirk]

Use sneaky, evasive arguments.


“To make use of false pretences or unfair shifts” (115).


To avoid doing what one should.

Downing Street

The British prime minister’s residence has been at 10 Downing Street since 1735. The street, built in 1684, was named after its original developer, the speculative contractor Sir George Downing. After the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 all those properties, which had been owned by the Earl of Lichfield, became forfeit to the crown. Number ten was included. Later, during the reign of George II, the house became vacant. The king offered it to his prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole. That gentleman replied that it should not be a personal gift but should be attached to the office of prime minister, and so it remains to this day (140).

Lemprière’s Classical Dictionary

John Lemprière’s definitive compendium of who’s who on Olympus (187). The book, first published in 1788, was founded on Sabatier’s Dictionaire des Auteurs Classiques (105).

Issa [“Apollo was several times married, among others to Issa, Bolina, Coronis, Chymene, Cyrene, Chione, Acacallis, and Calliope.”]

Pronunciation: ISS-uh

Lemprière (187) tells us Issa was “a daughter of Macareus, the son of Lycaon. She was beloved by Apollo, who to obtain her confidence changed himself into a shepherd to whom she was attached.”


Pronunciation: BO-line-ah or BO-lean-ah

“A virgin of Achaja, who rejected the addresses of Apollo, and threw herself into the sea to avoid his importunities. The god made her immortal” (187).


Pronunciation: co-ROE-nis

This mythological lady was loved by Apollo, who made her pregnant, but later killed her because she had an affair with Ischys the Thessalian. According to some accounts, Diana killed her because of her infidelity to Apollo, and Mercury saved the child from her womb. The child was Aesculapius, whose name reappears in The Zoo.


Pronunciation: KY-men-ee

Gilbert (or his printer) may have misspelled this. He presumably means Clymene {KLY-men-ee}, an oceanid (a sea nymph and inferior deity), “the mother of Phaeton by Apollo” (187).


Pronunciation: sigh-REE-nee

Daughter of Peneus. Apollo carried her off to Africa, where she produced Aristaeus as a souvenir of her travels. The ancient Greek state of Cyrenaica was named after her.


Pronunciation: KY-oh-nee

Daughter of Daedilion, panted after by both Apollo and Mercury. To obtain her unwitting favors, Mercury lulled her to sleep with his caduceus (that winged staff with entwining serpents). Apollo, disguised as an old woman, managed to share those favors as well. She says.


Pronunciation: ah-cah-CAL-is

A nymph, and yet another victim (whether willing or not) of Apollo’s versatile courting techniques. She bore him two offspring, Philander (named in honor of his father?) and Phylacis. These children were exposed to the wild beasts of Crete, but a motherly goat nursed them and preserved their lives.

“Thing” [he goes out every evening with that “thing.”]

A term applied to a person held in pity or contempt. In this case we may infer that Daphne was using it as a euphemism for a woman of easy virtue, which is a euphemism for a wayward woman, which is a euphemism for a slut. Oh, I could go on. The point is that proper Victorian ladies liked their words to be well insulated from anything sounding the least bit vulgar.

Espoused [I espoused him properlee]


Portal [He may take you to his portal]

The door of his house, meaning he may take you home as his bride.

Scurvy [Oh villain scurvy]

Low, vile, and contemptible.