Notes on Joyce's "Portrait..."


All page & line references are to Chester Anderson's Viking Press edition.

Epigraph: Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes: Latin, "And he applies his mind to unknown arts" [the line continues, "and changes the laws of nature"]. Description of Daedalus in Ovid's Metamorphoses, VIII:188.


7.32 press: closet

7.25 cachou: a candy and breath freshener

8.17 prefects: teachers who work as housemasters and supervise outside activities

8.25 the third line: Clongowes children under thirteen

8.27 greaves in his number and a hamper in the refectory: shinguards in his locker and a private supply of treats in the dining hall

9.28 peach on: to "tell on"

9.29 rector: administrative head of the college

9.30 soutane: black gown with sleeves

10.11 Hamilton Rowan... ha-ha: Patriot and friend of Wolfe Tone, in 1794 supposedly took refuge from soldiers in the castle and threw his hat on a bank or dry moat as a decoy

10.31 hacking chestnut: dried chestnuts were attached to strings and swung sharply against one another; the one that does not break is the winner

11.10 lower and third lines: see 8.25; the lower line is boys from thirteen to fiteen

11.18 suck: a sycophant, a boy who "sucks up" to a teacher

12.3-4 York... Lancaster: the two English houses opposed in the War of the Roses

12.10 a wax: a rage

12.17 elements: English, math, geography, history, Latin

13.30 higher line: boys fifteen to eighteen

16.1 a cod: a joke or prank

17.30 hob: shelf at back or side of a fireplace

19.15 ironingroom: room where armor was formerly stored

20.2 cars: horse-drawn vehicles

22.21 Brother Michael: a man bound to the Jesuit order by vows but not educated as a priest would be; usually assigned housekeeping duties

24.06 cope of black and gold: a long vestment in the colors appropriate for a Funeral Mass

27.29 boss: a sort of hassock or footrest

28.9 a birthday present for Queen Victoria: Casey was probably picking oakum as hard labor in prison for political activities

28.37 jack foxes: male foxes

29.36 Ally Dally: the best

30.1 pandybat: a stiff, reinforced leather strap

32.33 pope's nose: part of the turkey's rump

35.30-31 Tower of Ivory. . . House of Gold: epithets for the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Roman Catholic Litany of Our Lady

36.1 tig: a game like hide-and-seek

38.5 whiteboy: member of a group working for land and tax reform sometimes using terrorist means

40.11 fecked: stole

40.16 scut: literally, tail of a rabbit; here, "turned tail and ran"

41.1 boatbearer: one who carries the container of incense before it is lighted

41.03 censer: vessel in which incense is burned

41.13 sprinter: someone training in short-distance bicycle racing

41.22 prof: captain of cricket team

41.23 rounders: British ball game

42.10 square: the school latrine or urinal

42.15 smugging: probably a mild sort of homosexual play

43.23 The Calico Belly: joke on Caesar's Comentarii de Bello Gallico (Commentaries on the Gallic Wars)

43.33 six and eight: number of blows with the strap given as punishment

44.2 prefect of studies: assistant to the rector in charge of academics

46.14 monstrance: vessel of precious metal in which the host is displayed

48.9 provincial. . .general: highest jesuit authority in Ireland, ultimate Jesuit authority, in Rome

55.35 saint Ignatius Loyola: (1491-1556) founder of Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order)

55.36 Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: For the Greater Glory of God, the Jesuit motto. Students in a Jesuit school might abbreviate the phrase "AMDG" and attach it to their compositions.

59.17 gallnuts: rounded growths on trees caused by insects

59.18 long shies: long hits by the batsman in cricket


60.02 black twist: strong tobacco twisted into a rope

65.15 caravans: horse-drawn, covered cart or wagon

67.21 pantomime: popular show with song, dance, a loose story line and local references

67.29 stone: fourteen pounds

68.30 crackers: decorated noisemakers, often with small gifts inside

69.9 tram: means of public transport, during this period changing from horse-drawn to electric-powered

70.10 emerald exercise: patriotic green notebook for student work 70.21 second moiety notices: legal notices involving bankruptcy

71.4 L.D.S.: Laus Deo Semper (Praise to the Lord Always), a jesuit motto that might be appended to student work

71.21 christian brothers: another order like the Jesuits, thought to be less prestigious

72.16 the corporation: the Dublin Corporation, the city's administrative and legislative body

73.1 Whitsuntide: week beginning with Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter

73.5 Stewards: ushers

73.11 fastened: detached

76.22 beads: saying of the Rosary

78.9 Confiteor: prayer in preparation for Confession

81.9 slates in the yard: on the walls of the urinal

81.9 the loft: place for punishment at Clongowes

83.9 in a great bake: angry or agitated

87.35 jingle: a horse-drawn car

89.29 come-all-yous: street ballads

89.4 drisheens: a sort of sweetbread, made with sheep's intestines

90.36 street arabs: poor or gypsy children

91.10 free boy: boy on a scholarship

92.2 maneens: insulting term ("little men")

93.6 slim jim: a long jelly candy

93.25 lob: some amount of money

93.29 jackeen: arrogant, lower-class person

94.8 Tempora mutantur nos. . . illis: "Circumstances change and we change in them" (in the second version, "with them"). Both are grammatically correct, the second metrically correct.

96.20 exhibition: outstanding performance in one of the annual national academic examinations


103.17 balefire: large fire in the open air

104.22 prefecture. . .of the sodality: leadership of an honorific student association

105.3-8 Quasi cedrus. . .odoris: from Ecclesiasticus 24, 13-15, a Biblical book oif the Catholic Bible, from what Protestants call the "Apocrypha" ("I was exalted like a cedar tree of Lebanon, or a cypress on Mount Sion. I was exalted like a palm tree in Engadi, or like the rose bushes in Jericho; like a fine olive tree in the field; I was exalted like a plane tree. I gave forth a perfume like cinnamon and camel's thorn, and I spread fragrance like choice myrrh. . . .)

105.23 sums and cuts: math problems, generally based on Euclid

105.30 game ball: good luck

106.26-27 first beatitude. . .second beatitude: being "poor in spirit" and "meek", from the Sermon on the Mount in the Douay (Catholic) Bible version, Matthew 5.

107.13 special confessors: priests to whom a penitent goes regularly

108.22 simoom: a hot wind, seasonal in some deserts

117.28 non serviam: "I will not serve," Satan's defiant statement

125.16 blue funk: extreme depression and fear

128.22 poena damni: torment of the damned (removal from God's sight)

134.27 act of contrition: formal prayer expressing remorse

142.9 brown habit of a capuchin: belted robe worn by Capuchins, a branch of the Franciscan order of friars

146.21 ciborium: vessel that holds the host during communion

146.22 Corpus Domini nostri: the Body of our Lord

146.26 In vitam eternam: unto everlasting life


147.18 ejaculations: brief outcries or prayers

147.28 supererogation: acts beyond the requirements of duty to establish a "reservoir of merit"

148.17 chaplets: The cycle of prayers called a rosary is divided into thirds, each called a chaplet, and subdivided into decades.

149.1 Paraclete: term for the Holy Ghost

150.36 twigging: brushing with a short broom

152.11 foxpapered: having pages that are "foxed," or discolored

152.13 canticles: the "Song of Songs" or "Song of Solomon" in Protestant Bibles

152.19 Inter ubera mea commorabitur: "He shall lie between by breasts," from "Song of Solomon."

154.24 dominican: order founded by Saint Dominic

154.25 franciscan: order founded by St. Francis of Assisi

155.7 les jupes: French for "skirts"

156.12 muff: a bungler, novice, or outsider

157.17 a vocation: a "calling" for the priesthood

158.25 thurible: censer, in which incense is burned

158.25 chasuble: long outer vestment worn by a priest celebrating the mass

158.33 tunicle of subdeacon: vestment with wide sleeves worn by the person who prepares the sacred vessels during the celebration

158.35 humeral veil: veil covering the shoulders

158.35 paten: plate on which the eucharistic bread is placed

159.1 dalmatic: wide-sleeved vestment worn during celebration of High Mass by the deacon, the person ranked second to the celebrant himself

159.3 Ite, missa est: "Go, the mass is completed"

159.35 novena: a series of spiritual exercises lasting nine days

160.31 novitiate: time of probation for aspiring priests

161.19 S.J.: Society of Jesus (the Jesuit Order)

167.20 thingmote: place where Danes held council of law when they ruled Dublin in medieval times

167.35 Stephanos: Greek for crown, wreath, or garland

168.2 stuff in the kisser: punch in the mouth

168.4-5 Bous Stephanoumenos! Bous Stephaneforos!: Greek variants for "ox bearing wreaths" (i.e., being led for sacrifice).

169.1 artificer: inventor or craftsman (i.e., Daedalus)

170.8 the stoneblock: term for a group of rocks on the side of Bull Wall suitable for diving

171.4 cerements: burial clothes


174.28 going for blue: working as hard as possible (alternatively, "bluing" is used in washing clothes)

176.12 sloblands: local term for a particular trashy area of tidal flatland

176.29 waistcoateers: prostitutes (Elizabethan term)

176.30 chambering: wanton sexual indulgence (Elizabethan term)

176.35 Synopsis Philosophiae. . .: A Synopsis of Scholastic Philosophy for the Understanding of St. Thomas (Aquinas)

177.13 hoardings: billboards

179.14 Ivory, ivoire, avorio, ebur: the same word in English, French, Italian, and Latin.

179.16 India mittit ebur: India sends (or produces) ivory

179.23 Contrahit orator... vates: "The orator summarizes; the poet [or prophet] amplifies [or transforms]"

179.25 in tanto discrimine: "in such a crisis"

179.27 implere ollam denariorum: to fill the jar with denarii (Roman silver coins)

180.34 Gael: Irishman or Celt

181.12 cycles: related groups of Irish myths and legends

181.20 tame geese: joke on "the wild geese," term for Irish who went into exile

182.4 hurling match: Irish game, a sort of field hockey

182.7 buff: skin

182.7 minding cool: playing safety

182.10 woeful wipe: huge blow to the ball

182.11 camaun: curved stick used in hurling

182.11 aim's ace: very small amount or distance

182.18 yoke: any artifact

183.25 handsel: good luck omen or gift; also money, as in a tip

185.15 levite: subordinate priest

185.17 canonicals: prescribed vestments

185.17 ephod: Old Testament religious garment

186.1 Pulchra sunt quae visa placent: "That is beautiful which gives pleasure to the eye"

186.7 Bonum est in quod tendit appetitus: "That is good toward which the appetite is moved" [or which is desired]

186.27 Similiter atque senis baculus: "Like an old man's walking stick"

189.15 insufflation: breathing on someone or something to symbolize the coming of the Holy Ghost and the banishing of evil spirits

190.19 Per aspera ad astra: "By rough ways to the stars" (a clich )

190.35 Kentish fire: prolonged stamping or clapping to show impatience or disapproval

194.11 Closing time, gents!: How the end of legal drinking hours might be announced at a pub

194.26 Ego habeo: "I have," in "Dog-Latin," a humorous schoolboy imitation of Latin that translates English words literally and is scattered throughout the following conversations.

194.28 Quod?: "What?"

194.32 Per pax universalis: "For universal peace"

195.5 Credo ut vos. . .estis: "I think you are a bloody liar, because your face shows you are in a damned bad humor"

195.18 Quis est. . . vos: "Who is in a bad humor, you or me?"

196.28 rescript: originally, an epistle issued by the pope regarding some question referred to him

197.5 cod: a joker or fool

198.3 Pax super. . .globum: "Peace over the whole bloody world"

198.31 Nos ad. . .jacabimus: "Let's go play handball"

199.27 matric men. . .second arts: referring to a set of four examinations to be passsed before a degree is granted

200.28 super spottum: "on the spot"

202.2 fianna: Irish (Gaelic) for Fenians

202.17 league class: class in Irish language sponsored by the Gaelic League 204.20 eke: archaic for "also" [Cranly probably means to say "e'en"]

205.27 carmelite: order of nuns

207.32 Pulchra sunt. . .placent: see 186.1

210.7 Pange lingua gloriosi: "Tell, my tongue, in glorious. . .", part of the opening line of a hymn by Aquinas

210.10 Vexilla Regis: from "Vexilla Regis Prodeunt", "The Banners of the King Advance"

210.14 Impleta sunt. . .Deus: "Fulfilled is all that David told / In true prophetic song of old: / Amidst the nations, God, saith he, / Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree."

210.23 plucked: flunked

216.15 stewing: unintelligent, grinding study

216.20 Ego credo. . . Liverpoolio: "I believe that the life of the poor is simply awful, simply bloody awful, in Liverpool" (Dog-Latin)

217.8 seraphim: the highest order of angels

217.35 villanelle: nineteen-line poem using only two rhymes, with rhymes and lines repeated according to a set pattern

218.16 censer: holder for incense, often roughly spherical

221.11 potboy: waiter who serves beer or ale

224.4 ashplant: Joyce's term for a staff made of the wood of an ash

225.7 augur: Roman professional prophet

229.16 a touch: sexual play or intercourse

229.17 hack. . .hunter: ordinary horse. . . prize horse

230.14 Pernobilis et pervetusta familia: "Of a noble and venerable family"

230.24 paulo post futurum: grammatical term referring to the verb form used for an event about to happen

231.26 ballocks: set of testicles (figuratively, a clumsy oaf or a mess)

231.35 dual number: obsolete grammatical form for nouns indicating a pair

233.14 pavan: a formal kind of Elizabethan dance

236.23 sugan: rope made of straw (Irish)

238.8 jarvies: horse-cab drivers

239.1 easter duty: going to communion service on Easter

243.31 penal days: period (mostly in the eighteenth century) when especially repressive "penal laws" against Irish Catholics were enforced

244.13 Mulier cantat: "The [or a] woman sings"

244.24 Et tu cum Jesu Galilaeo eras: "And you were with Jesus of Galilee"

244.27 proparoxyton: rhetorical term for a (Latin) word having the acute accent on the next to last syllable

248.14 Item: term used in wills in enumerating bequests

248.16 veronica: a cloth bearing the image of Jesus' face

248.19 decollated: beheaded

248.29 B.V.M.: Blessed Virgin Mary

249.6 risotto alla bergamasca: a rice dish made as in Bergamo (Italian)

250.21 Tara. . . Holyhead: Tara is the traditional Irish seat of kings, Holyhead a Welsh port commonly used by Irish leaving the country.