the appeal to antiquity

Gabriel Aparta

Senior Member
Español - Venezuela
Hi everyone, please, from The Picture of Dorian Gray:

“You have a rival.”
“Who?”
He laughed. “Lady Narborough,” he whispered. “She perfectly adores him.”
“You fill me with apprehension. The appeal to antiquity is fatal to us who are romanticists.”

This is a conversation about Dorian between Henry Wotton and Lady Gladys, Duchess of Monmouth. Gladys likes Dorian and flirts with him. Lady Narborough is an old widow. I find strange that part in bold, is she saying "the appeal, allure of antiquity..."? The "to" confuses me.
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The Duchess is saying that the attraction of romanticists to old objects is famous, so the appeal of this elderly widow to Dorian will be overwhelming.

    She could have said the appeal of antiquity, but the appeal to antiquity sounds more arch, more affected, as if Dorian will be supplicating this old woman for sexual favours.

    There has been earlier talk of romance as an art form.
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    An "appeal to antiquity" is a logical fallacy; it's an argument based on a claim for the superiority of some tradition simply because it has been done for a long time.

    She's just playing with the expression because Lady Narborough is an old woman. She jokes that as a "romanticist", still at that time relatively modern, she doesn't stand a chance against her elderly rival.

    (Laboriously cross-posted and not quite agreeing with Mr TT. )
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    An "appeal to antiquity" is a logical fallacy; it's an argument based on a claim for the superiority of some tradition simply because it has been done for a long time.
    You've lost me there. What is logical or fallacious about it? I'm afraid I don't see it either as an argument or even a statement, any more than is wishing someone a good morning.

    Isn't it probably in the vocative case? :)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I assumed it was a reference to argumentum ad antiquitatem, because otherwise I can't account for that "to".
    Appeal to tradition - Wikipedia.

    Vocative case? I don't follow, I'm afraid.
    Good. Thank you. I'm sure you're right about the reference, and that you've explained the use of the preposition, which was puzzling Gabriel.

    It is, surely, deeply ironic here and has nothing to do with an argument or with tradition.
     
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