Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Princess Ida

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Act I

Verbal fences

Oral thrusts and parries (as in fencing).

Amatory [With ballads amatory]

Pertaining to love.


Descriptive of a passionate appeal.

Wizen [Growing thin and wizen]

Short for wizened, or shriveled.

Requisitions [Of our requisitions]

Formal demands.

Bail [And bail they will not entertain]

Security (usually cash) pledged to a court to ensure that a person charged with a crime will show up at a later date to stand trial. The same term occurs in The Sorcerer, The Mikado, and Utopia, Limited.



Mandate [Should she his mandate disobey]

An official order.

Act II


In classic literature, the highest heaven, or region of pure elemental fire (75).

Lore [Of every kind of lore]



Study of the literature, art, and life of ancient Greece and Rome.

Helicon [If you'd climb the Helicon]

Elikón is a mountain in south-central Greece. In classical mythology it was the mountain of poetic inspiration, being regarded as the abode of Apollo and the muses.

Anacreon [You should read Anacreon]

Famous lyric poet of Greece sixth century B.C. His poems ring the praise of wine and love (75). The Walmisleys (299) note that Anacreon was "an amusing voluptuary and an elegant profligate." He lived to the age of 85, but died "from suffocation by swallowing a grapestone, while drinking." Cameron (66) assures us that all of the authors Psyche mentions are inclined to be bawdy. But be not shocked; a few lines later Psyche advises reading only cleaned-up versions: "Bowdlerized."

Metamorphoses [Ovid's Metamorphoses]

A long poem, considered Ovid's masterpiece. The common thread is the mythological transformations by which inanimate objects receive human souls or humans are turned into something else. Daphne's metamorphosis into the laurel tree is an example. The epic contains many yarns about nymphs, goddesses, and mortal maidens who lose their virtue.


Greek writer of comic plays such as The Birds, The Frogs, and Lysistrata. He lived around 450-380 B.C., and was distinguished for his keen satire and ribald jokes.


Roman satirical poet who inveighed against the social defects of his day. He lived around A.D. 55-135. Scholastic editions of Juvenal customarily omit the juicier parts.

Bowdlerized [You will get them Bowdlerized]

Expurgated. After Thomas Bowdler's cleaned-up, family edition of Shakespeare, 1818. As his friends may have declaimed, there's nothing bawdy about old Bowdly.

Not at all good form

Cricket players' expression meaning unfair or downright dishonest. A more general meaning is not in keeping with established conventions of good manners and behavior (54).

Ribald [Man's a ribald -- Man's a rake]

Pronunciation: RIB-eld

A vulgar, scurrilous, bad-mouthed person -- the kind who crinkles candy wrappers during Ida's first solo.


Among other things, an immoral rogue.

Mate [with whom you give each other mate.]

Refers to the winning position in chess in which one player has trapped the other's king. Asimov (11) says the pertinent term "checkmate" is from "a Persian expression meaning the king is dead."


A baby carriage, or pram.

Paragon [Paragon of common sense]

A model of perfection.

Erudition [Running fount of erudition]

Scholarship. Bierce (39) defines it as "dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull."


The Roman version of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and patroness of the arts and trades. Rumor has it that she sprang, with a tremendous battle cry and fully armed, from the brain of Jupiter. Wow!

Unillumined [Their unillumined eyes]



New converts, novices.

Rule of three [That's rule of three]

The routine for solving simple problems in arithmetical proportions. Given three terms in a proportion, you can find the fourth by multiplying the second and third and dividing by the first. Behold: 2 is to 4 as 6 is to X. To find X, multiply 4 times 6, then divide by 2. So X equals 12. Now try this: given that a man's brain is to an elephant's as a woman's brain is to a man's, who is smarter -- a man, a woman, or an elephant?

Pedant [The narrow-minded pedant]

One meaning is an unimaginative, literal-minded person.

Swan, Edgar, Gask, et al.

These were all smart London shops with compound names. All are now defunct. A few details may be gleaned from Goodman (140) and Bradley (47).