[OPE-L:7794] Re: Re: Re: "Hic Rhodus, hic salta!"

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Thu Oct 10 2002 - 08:28:39 EDT

Many thanks for this instructive elucidation. I agree with Paulo that Marx
in ch 5 uses it in an imprecise way. Notwithstanding the fact that Marx
knew his Hegel, I think Fowkes' footnote to Hegel here is a red herring.
Of course Marx shared Hegel's antipathy to ungrounded criticism and utopianism.
Chris A

>On Mon, 7 Oct 2002, Francisco Paulo Cipolla wrote:
>> My dictionary of Latin and Greek sentences says that sometimes Hic
>> Rhodus, hic salta is used to mean (unproperly) "here is the
>> difficulty". The impression I have from the context is that Marx is
>> using the phrase exactly in this imprecise and "distorted" way...
>Henry Hardy has a nice (and seemingly authoritative, but what do I
>know?) discussion of this:
>Hic Rhodus, hic salta.
>"The origin of this odd saying, whose currency is largely due to Hegel
>and Marx, takes a little explaining. Its original form is 'Hic Rhodus,
>hic saltus' ('Rhodes is here, here is the place for your jump'), a
>traditional Latin translation [see, e.g., Erasmus, Adagia 3. 3. 28] of
>a punchline from Aesop. In the fable 'The Braggart' an athlete boasts
>that he once performed a stupendous jump in Rhodes, and can produce
>witnesses: the punchline is the comment of a bystander, who means that
>there is no need of witnesses, since the athlete can demonstrate the
>jump here and now.
>"The epigram is given by Hegel, rather out of the blue, first in
>Greek, then in Latin (in the form 'Hic Rhodus, hic saltus'), in the
>Preface to his Philosophy of Right. [Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,
>Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts [Sa"mtliche Werke, ed. Hermann
>Glockner, vol.  7] (Stuttgart, 1928), p. 35.] He does not explain what
>the proverb meant in its original context (without which it can hardly
>be understood);  indeed a comment he makes about jumping over Rhodes
>suggests that he may not have fully understood it himself. At any
>rate, he then offers an adapted German version with a different
>meaning, 'Hier ist die Rose, hier tanze' ('Here is the rose, dance
>here', an allusion to the rose in the cross of rosicrucianism,
>implying that fulfilment should not be postponed to some Utopian
>future), punning first on the Greek (Rhodos = Rhodes, rhodon = rose),
>then on the Latin (saltus = jump [noun], salta = dance [imperative]).
>Marx adopts the saying in the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
>[Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Werke (Berlin, 1956-83), vol. 8, p.
>118.], where he first gives the Latin, in the form 'Hic Rhodus, hic
>salta!', a garbled mixture of Hegel's two versions, and then
>immediately adds 'Hier ist die Rose, hier tanze!', as if it were a
>translation, which it cannot be, since Greek Rhodos (despite what all
>the standard commentators say to the contrary), let alone Latin
>Rhodus, does not mean 'rose'.
>"The confusion, both deliberate and inadvertent, does no credit to
>either Hegel or Marx as classical scholars, and the epigram loses much
>of its original power - as well as its original meaning - in their
>hands.  They were evidently intent on turning it to other purposes,
>but it seems doubtful whether their attempts to improve on Aesop have
>been of much use to their readers."
>Allin Cottrell.

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