Near the start of Chapter 22 in Howards End, it's said of Mr. Wilcox:

Amabat; amare timebat.

My edition has a footnote translating this as "He loved; he feared to love." And it also notes: "The source of this expression has not been identified."

Presumably that it even has a source is supposed by the editor to be implied by its being in Latin. But that may just be for effect.

A few minutes on Google have not helped me; they just turn up commentaries on this chapter. Have any of you scholarly folks read this phrase anywhere in classical literature?

1 Answer 1


What immediately jumps out is that it's the second half of a dactylic hexameter (used in epic verse/elegiac couplets). That might suggest it's from a Latin poet (the metre doesn't really narrow it down), but equally could just be Forster showing off some epigrammatic felicity. Fairly unusual in the feminine caesura though.

  • 2
    Thanks; that's useful. It occurs to me to wonder if in 1910 when it was published, with Latin being still a core subject in aristocratic schools, it might even have been a grammar exercise or familiar phrase in a copybook. It wouldn't be far from Forster to mock the bourgeois gentilhomme that is Mr. Wilcox by describing his situation in schoolboy prose, as Archie Armstrong mocked a gentleman... May 30, 2023 at 15:02

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