Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for The Grand Duke

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Act II

Hyporchematic [We’ve a choir hyporchematic]

A hyporchema is a song accompanied by dancing and mime; hence a choir that sings and dances (66).

Choreutae [the choreutae of that cultivated age]

Pronunciation: ko-ROOT-ee

The plural of choreuta, a chorus member in the Greek theater (66).

Captious [all but captious criticaster]

Ill-tempered fault-finding.


A really bad critic. This may be a dig at a misguided journalist who was identified only as “Our Captious Critic” and who once wrote a most disparaging column about The Gondoliers in particular and the Savoy operas in general. As for professional critics, Oliver Wendell Holmes had these lines: “Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left.”


The leader of the chorus in the Greek theater (66). Barker (26) says the term may imply many additional functions, including everything from finance to artistic direction.

Attic [the early Attic stage]

Pertaining to Attica, a region of south-east Greece wherein Athens is located. May be interpreted as meaning Athenian (26).

Oboloi [all in oboloi and drachmae]

Pronunciation: OH-bull-oh

Plural of obol, an Attic coin of small value.


Pronunciation: DROCK-me

Plural of drachma, another Attic coin, worth six oboloi. Try that on your slot machine.

Kalends [at the Kalends that are Greek!]

Pronunciation: KAL-ends

As far back as the emperor Augustus, the expression has been used as meaning “never” (260). The word, is a variation of calends, the first day of the month with the Romans, who borrowed it from the Etruscans. Calends were not used in the Greek calendar and so the expression is equivalent to “the second Monday of next week” (115). (As Edwin so sagely observes, you don’t find two Mondays together.)

Periphrastic [Periphrastic methods spurning]

Verbose. The literal meaning is “circumlocutory.”

Socratic [in the period Socratic]

Pertaining to the Greek philosopher Socrates (469?-399 b.c.).

Recherché [on a recherché cold ἄριστον]

Pronunciation: ruh-SHARE-shay

French for “choice” i.e., tasty.

ἄριστον (ariston)

Pronunciation: AIR-iss-tahn or ah-RISS-tun

This transliterates ariston, meaning roughly “breakfast.” (66).

τρέπεσθαι πρός τόν πότον (trepesthai pros ton poton)

Pronunciation: TREPP-iss-tie prahs TAHN POT-ahn

Translates “Turn toward the drink, or to imbibe” (66). Gilbert explains it in the next line as [the way they went at] “a steady and a conscientious drink” in Attica.

Corybantian [Corybantian maniac kick]

Pronunciation: CORE-eh-BANN-tee-en

Refers to the Corybants, priests of the goddess Cybele, whose worship was conducted with wild orgies and frenzied dances.

Dionysiac or Bacchic

Pertaining to the alternative names for the Greek god of wine.


Refers to the dithyramb, an ancient Greek hymn sung at grape-harvesting festivals in honor of Dionysus. The inference can be made that this was no stately mass, but a wild and boisterous revel. Yesh indeed.

Mrs. Grundy

A character referred to (“What will Mrs. Grundy say?”) in Thomas Morton’s comedy Speed the Plough (1798). Her name has come to represent conventional mores (223).

Macintoshes [For they hadn’t macintoshes]

Coats made of a waterproof material invented by Charles Macintosh. Oddly enough, the preferred spelling in the OED (228) is “Mackintosh.” See also Ruddigore and Cox and Box.


What Americans call galoshes (from the French galoshe): waterproof overshoes that come up over the ankles. See also Thespis.

Played the very deuce

Played the very devil, i.e., caused great mischief.

Coan [their dress of Coan silk]

Pronunciation: Sounds more or less like “Cohen”

Refers to silk from the Greek island of Cos or Koa, just off the Turkish coast (103). As Ludwig leeringly points out, Coan silk was rather transparent and hardly fit for Victorian ladies’ attire.

“Altogether” [something like the “altogether”]

Being in the nude. It is supposedly derived from Middle English altogeder (11).

Assiduously [you must assiduously watch:]



Almond toffee; a kind of candy.

Hoity-toity [hoity-toity vixenish viragoes]

A colloquialism for “peremptory, waspish, and quarrelsome” (115). We might say “pretentious.”


Like a vixen, which is a female fox. The word as used here is a colloquialism for an ill-natured, snarling female.


Pronunciation: vih -RAY-goes or vih-RAH-goes

Bad-tempered, scolding women. (The phrase “hoity-toity vixenish viragoes” forms a prolix plethora of tautologies arising from Gilbert’s legal training.) See also Princess Ida.




Pronunciation: IN-jen-oo

Sketch of an Ingenoo

Ingénue: An actress who plays the role of an artless, naive young woman.