“The day before yesterday I happened to go into school. You know, it can happen.”
I think the most important thing we learn about Bossuet in this chapter, which we didn’t quite get in his introduction, is that while he’s totally chill about bad things happening to him, he hates the idea of bad things happening to other people, and he’ll do whatever he can to help them. It seems to me that he thinks of his bad luck as taking others’ misfortunes onto himself and embraces this role.
Also, of note is the fact that, despite his clear distaste for Blondeau, he does this more for Marius’s sake, not to spite Blondeau.
Basically, wow, Bossuet is a really great guy.
This chapter is really heavy on the Classical references. Most of them are in Bossuet’s speech, which makes sense since he’s talking about lawyer stuff, but they start before he even opens his mouth, with the reference to him as a caryatid. For anyone not interested in doing their own research, a karyatid is basically a column carved to look like a woman (I don’t think the fact that karyatids are by definition female is really relevant here, but if anyone has any ideas, feel free to share).
“Erudimini qui judicatis terram” is from The Book of Psalms and means “receive instruction, you that rule the earth.” Quite fitting for the situation. But there’s more. (Isn’t there always?) That’s only half a line. The full line reads “And now, O ye kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.” So, basically, Bossuet is calling Blondeau a king, which means that this is all just a giant metaphor. (And interestingly enough, one of the instructions that follows is “embrace discipline.”)
And then at the end we get Courfeyrac coming out and casually dragging a complete stranger home.
I love these boys.
I love ‘caryatid on vacation’! I think it is legitimately my favourite line so far. Or at least, my favourite this livre.
Also, just a quick correction to your Latin: the line that Bossuet quotes is the second half, ‘receive instruction, you who judge the earth’.