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Trollope in Orley Farm refers to "the wisest Rustums of the law." Who was the original Rustum?

He had left that congress, though the wisest Rustums of the law from all the civilized countries of Europe were there assembled, with Boanerges at their head, that great, old, valiant, learned, British Rustum, inquiring with energy, solemnity, and caution, with much shaking of ponderous heads and many sarcasms [...]

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From the novel’s metaphorical context it would mean renowned perspicacious practitioners of the law . Rustum was indeed a legendary Persian warrior of great renown , and Trollope would probably have encountered his name from Matthew Arnold’s 1853 poem ‘Sohrab and Rustum’ .A footnote in one of the many editions of the novel at the internet archive says as much.

Here’s the Matthew Arnold poem, a helpful explanatory page, a pertinent page from a reissue of Trollope’s book.

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  • This answer could be improved by quoting the references as well as linking to them. Dec 20, 2023 at 6:55
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Rustum seems like a variant spelling of Rostam, and I am surprised that someone would not have heard of Rostam.

Rostam or Rustam (Persian: رستم [rosˈtæm]) is a legendary hero in Persian mythology, the son of Zāl and Rudaba, whose life and work was immortalized by the 10th-century Persian poet Ferdowsi in the Shahnameh, or Epic of Kings, which contains pre-Islamic Iranian folklore and history. However, the roots of the narrative date much earlier.

Rostam allegedly lived in time of the legendary Kayanian Dynasty. Many historical persons have been named Rostam. When I first read about Rostam Farrokhzad (d. 641) I wondered if he was the legendary hero Rostam. I haven't heard of any Rostam who stands out to me as a great lawmaker or legal expert.

The name of Rustum doesn't seem to have been used by any famous lawmaker either. So unless Trollope used "Rustum" as a metaphor to mean someone who was as great a hero of the law as Rostam was a hero in battle, I have no idea what he meant.

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