hic Rhodus, hic salta

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The phrase arises from the Latin form of Aesop's Fables (Gibbs 209; Perry 33; Chambry 51), as translated from Ancient Greek "Αὐτοῦ γὰρ καὶ Ῥόδος καὶ πήδημα" (literally) "Here is Rhodes, jump here!". In the fable, a boastful athlete brags that he once achieved a stupendous long jump in competition on the island of Rhodes. A bystander challenges him to dispense with the reports of the witnesses and simply repeat his accomplishment on the spot: "Here is Rhodes, jump here!"


hic Rhodus, hic salta

  1. (politics) Prove what you can do, here and now.
    • 1820, Hegel, “Philosophy of Right”, Preface, from SW Dyde 1896 translation
      As a philosophic writing, it must be on its guard against constructing a state as it ought to be. Philosophy cannot teach the state what it should be, but only how it, the ethical universe, is to be known. Idou Podos, idou kai to pidima / Hic Rhodus, hic saltus.
    • 1852, Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, Chapter 1, from Saul K Padover English translation, published 1937
      On the other hand, proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals – until a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves call out: Hic Rhodus, hic salta!
    • 1967, Guy Debord, “The Society of the Spectacle”, Chapter 4, from Black and Red translation, published 1970
      The repeated retreat of the mass of the European workers' movement in the face of the Hic Rhodus, hic salta of the 1918-1920 period, a retreat which included the violent destruction of its radical minority, favored the completion of the Bolshevik development and let this false result present itself to the world as the only proletarian solution.