Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Patience

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

Act I

Elysian Fields

In Greek mythology, "the abode of the shades of the virtuous dead in the nether world where the inhabitants lived a life of passive blessedness" (75). See also HMS Pinafore.

Bilious [I am not as bilious as I look]

Suffering from trouble with the bile or liver, which may turn the skin yellow. (Eating butter with a tablespoon may be to blame.) The word also means peevish and disagreeable. Perhaps Bunthorne means he is not as ill-tempered as his complexion might indicate. See also The Grand Duke.

Touch-and-go jocularity

Light-hearted jesting.

Aceldama [this black Aceldama of sorrow]

Pronunciation: ass-el-DOM-ah, a-SEL-da-ma (see definition)

Brewer (54) tells us this is from the Aramaic and means "Field of Blood." Figuratively, it is used for any scene of great slaughter. The name was applied to a potter's field near Jerusalem used from Biblical times until the seventeenth century. According to Matthew (XXVII: 7, 8), when Judas repented betraying Jesus, he gave his thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders and went out and hanged himself. The chief priests concluded that they could not put such "blood money" into the treasury, and so they used it to buy "the potter's field to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day." In Acts I: 18,19, however, we find that Judas "bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Akel´dama, that is, Field of Blood." With all that as preamble, let us venture the opinion that Bunthorne meant the word in its figurative sense -- if he meant anything at all.

Now how should you pronounce the word? No one knows how the classics pronounced the letter c, nor is there agreement about which syllable should be emphasized. In short, you have a choice of at least four acceptable pronunciations. To me, ass-el-DOM-ah sounds best within the context, and Cameron (66) prefers it too. He points out, however, that some dictionaries give a-SEL-da-ma, "which accords with the rules of Latin accent, since the word came into the King James version through Latin."

Eros [Oh, forgive her, Eros!]

The Greek god of love.

Abstraction [the abstraction of refinement]

The essence.

Hey … willow waly O

Filler words, commonly used in ballad refrains. Willow has many melancholy associations including the famous "I'll hang my harp on a weeping willow tree," Desdemona's willow song, and the tale of that poor little tom-tit in The Mikado. Waly means "alas" or "well-a-day!"

Fain [I would fain discover]



Father Time in Greek mythology, often identified with the Roman god Saturn.


Pertaining to the city of Florence, one of the great centers of art during the Renaissance.

Pandaean [Gaily pipe Pandaean pleasure]

Pronunciation: pan-DEE-enn

Sketch of A trustee for beauty

Pertaining to Pan, the Greek god of pastures, forests, flocks, and herds -- and pan pipes.

Double pipes

A double pipe is more correctly called an "aulos," one of the two major musical instruments of classical Greece. An aulos comprised two oboe-like instruments joined at the upper end and strapped behind the player's neck. Such instruments were frequently used to accompany stage productions. You may also see them in paintings of classical celebrations (105, 323).

Daphnephoric bound

Before we wrestle with this term we need to provide some background. To begin with, in Greek mythology Daphne was a young virgin. Pursued by Apollo, she was saved from a fate worse than death by her father -- or mother, depending on which source you believe -- who changed her into a laurel tree. Daphne, then, is the personification of virginal timidity. She is also the personification of the laurel tree, whose leaves and boughs are associated with Apollo. He, in turn, appropriated laurel wreaths and garlands for poets (hence the term "poet laureate"). Derived from that we have Daphnephoria, a periodic festival held in Thebes in honor of Apollo. The festival featured a procession, the chief figure in which was called the "Daphnephoris" (meaning laurel bearer), a youth, the priest of Apollo, who wore a long, splendid robe, a crown, and wreaths of laurel. He was preceded by another honored individual who carried a sort of maypole decorated with laurel and flowers. The Daphnephoris held onto the laurel, and he in turn was followed by a band of maidens carrying garlands and singing hymns to Apollo (103). This parade must certainly have been in Gilbert's mind when he wrote the stage directions for the finale of Act I. Bunthorne enters wearing a crown of roses; he is bound up in garlands by which Angela and Saphir lead him. He is followed by the women's chorus, who are described as "dancing classically." We could imagine "a Daphnephoric bound" as referring to the bound-up poet. Prestige (244) says he finds this suggestion attractive. Cameron (66) believes that Gilbert most likely had in mind the gentle, graceful little leaps of a poet laureate. Aurora (18) endorses this. The connection with the virginal Daphne, of course, may also suggest timid hops of maidenly shyness. Here, there are two difficulties. One is that to me the verb "bound" implies a vigorous exertion more appropriate to a stag than to an aesthetic poet or a gentle maiden (although you might argue that a bound might be involved in trying to escape from Apollo). The other is that Green (145) confesses that in all his years with the D'Oyly Cartes he never saw anyone leaping about. All this leads me to think that Gilbert meant bound as a leap, but that Sullivan took it to mean "bound-up," and so implied no jumping about in his score. Wright (323) suggests that Gibert might have intended both meanings as a pun. We must keep in mind the final, and perhaps most likely, possibility that in mouthing the words, the rapturous maidens didn't know, themselves, what was meant. Let us, then, Daphnephorically bound on to the next term, which promises to be as prosaic as this one has been poetic.

Sketch of On the advice of my solicitor

A raffle is a special kind of lottery in which many people each pay a fixed amount, but only one is awarded the prize. Raffled makes a verb of it. The more general term, lottery, allows awarding of more than one prize.

Martial [dews each martial eye]







Oriental ceramics that were then all the rage among the aesthetes, especially Whistler. They ranked in popularity with lilies and peacock feathers.


Stedman (274) notes that Gilbert is using the example of pot/pottery to make a plural of terra-cotta, unglazed earthenware such as the familiar everyday flower pot.

Lottery [You may draw him in a lottery]

See "Raffled" above.

Guinea [Put in half a guinea]

Guineas were gold coins first issued in 1663 and initially valued at £1.00. In 1717, owing to changed relative values of silver and gold, the guinea's value was adjusted to 21 shillings, i.e., £1.05. The coin was no longer minted after 1817, when it was supplanted by the 20-shilling (£1.00) gold sovereign. Ever since then, however, certain prices have been quoted in those imaginary guineas, principally because of the snob appeal (105). As for "half-guineas," they are but another example of Bunthorne's transcendental imagination. See also The Sorcerer and Princess Ida.


Chance or luck personified as a goddess who capriciously doles out Life's lots.

Make a clearance [Of this bold girl I pray you make a clearance]

Get rid of her!

Without alloy

Undiminished in value by impurities.


Everybody sings!


Pronunciation: COME-lee-ness

Good looks.

Act II


A clearing in a woods.


In truth.


Childish or whimpering, hence immature.

Dim her eyes

Why is the expression in quotation marks? Because it is a euphemism derived from "Damn your eyes!" (11, 194, 274, 303).