Thinking of Classical Parallels

E.M. Forster, The Longest Journey (Chp. 4):

Mr. Pembroke remarked to himself that Frederick was improving.

“If a man shoots straight and hits straight and speaks straight, if his heart is in the right place, if he has the instincts of a Christian and a gentleman—then I, at all events, ask no better husband for my sister.”

“How could you get a better?” he cried. “Do you remember the thing in ‘The Clouds’?” And he quoted, as well as he could, from the invitation of the Dikaios Logos, the description of the young Athenian, perfect in body, placid in mind, who neglects his work at the Bar and trains all day among the woods and meadows, with a garland on his head and a friend to set the pace; the scent of new leaves is upon them; they rejoice in the freshness of spring; over their heads the plane-tree whispers to the elm, perhaps the most glorious invitation to the brainless life that has ever been given.

“Yes, yes,” said Mr. Pembroke, who did not want a brother-in-law out of Aristophanes. Nor had he got one, for Mr. Dawes would not have bothered over the garland or noticed the spring, and would have complained that the friend ran too slowly or too fast.

“And as for her—!” But he could think of no classical parallel for Agnes. She slipped between examples. A kindly Medea, a Cleopatra with a sense of duty—these suggested her a little. She was not born in Greece, but came overseas to it—a dark, intelligent princess. With all her splendour, there were hints of splendour still hidden—hints of an older, richer, and more mysterious land. He smiled at the idea of her being “not there.” Ansell, clever as he was, had made a bad blunder. She had more reality than any other woman in the world.

Socrates in a basket.jpg

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