The Grand Duke Glossary Compiled by Tim Riley Pfennig Halbpfennig



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Criticaster. A petty or inferior critic.

Choregus. The leader or director of a Greek chorus.

Oboloi and drachmae. Greek coins.

The Kalends that are Greek. Ad kalendas graecas was a Latin saying meaning ‘never’ or ‘at some unspecified future date’; kalends (or calends), a term for the beginning of each month occurred in the Roman but not in the Greek calendar.

In the period Socratic. In the time of the philosopher Socrates (c.469 BC–399 BC).

Every dining-room was Attic. A play on the two meanings of ‘Attic’, the architectural feature, and the adjectival form of ‘Attica’, the region of Greece in which Athens is located.

Recherché. Of high quality; something worth seeking out.

ριστον. Pronounced arriston. Literally, ‘the best’ – the best meal of the day; at various periods applied by the Greeks to breakfast or to lunch.



τρεπεσθαι προς τον ποτοv. Pronounced trepesthai pross ton potton; ‘they turned to drinking’. A quotation from Plato’s Symposium (176a) in which there is a remarkable amount of steady and conscientious drinking.

They mixed their wine with water. The ancient Greeks held that drinking undiluted wine was barbaric.

Which would shock that worthy gentleman, the Licenser of Plays. In Gilbert’s day all plays staged in English theatres had to be licensed by the Lord Chamberlain, an official of the Royal Household.

Corybantian. Adjective for the Korybantes, an ecstatic sect who worshipped the Phrygian goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing

Dionysiac or Bacchic. Adjectives for the god known to the Greeks as Dionysus and to the Romans as Bacchus – the god of wine, and inspirer of ritual madness and ecstasy.

Dithyrambic. The dithyramb was an ancient Greek song to the god Dionysus, noted for its wild and ecstatic nature.

Mrs Grundy. Originally an invented character for Thomas Morton’s play Speed the Plough (1798), subsequently generally taken as the personification of interfering prudery.

Goloshes. Rubber overshoes

Hardbake. A sweet made with molasses, butter and almonds

Butter-scotch. A sweet made with butter and brown sugar

Miminy-piminy. Over-refined

Leman. Sweetheart

Corse. Corpse.

Avaunt! Avaunt! Go away!

Chimerical. Wildly fanciful

Epithalamia. Lyric odes in honour of a bride and groom.

Marsala. Fortified wine from Sardinia.

Bumpers. Well-filled glasses

Pommery seventy-four! 1874 was one of the finest vintages for Champagne in the nineteenth century. Pommery’s brut nature champagne of that year was particularly esteemed.

Auric’lar. Auricular, pertaining to the ear

Tol-lol. Average, not particularly impressive.

Numismatist. One whose hobby is collecting coins.



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