[Note 5, Chapter Three, in print version]

Charles T. Phipps, "The Bishop as Bishop: Clerical Motif and Meaning in 'The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed's Church,'"Victorian Poetry, 8 (1970), p. 207, points out:

The Bishop seems to parallel further Christ's ultimate sacrifice and his own ironic hope for ultimate aggrandizement when he instructs his sons to dig for his absconded lapis lazuli in "the white-grape vineyard where the oil-press stood" (37). The suggestiveness of this latter bit of rural detail may possibly have been a happy accident. But it is not inconceivable that Browning remembered that the garden on the slope of the Mount of Olives where Christ suffered his Agony was called Gethsemane, which is Aramaic for "olive-press." If so, he has subtly suggested that the Bishop's hopes are soon to dissolve into a bizarre and fruitless imitation of Christ's redemptive Agony.


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Print version published 1980; web version 1998