Après nous le déluge
"Après nous, le déluge" ("After us, the flood") is a French expression, attributed to Madame de Pompadour, the lover of King Louis XV of France. An alternative form, attributed to Louis himself, is "Après moi, le déluge" ("After me, the flood"). The saying came after the Battle of Rossbach in 1757, which was disastrous for the French.
The expression has two possible meanings: "After me, the deluge will come", asserting that if the revolution ended his reign, the nation would be plunged into chaos; or "After me, let the deluge come", implying that he does not care what happens after his disappearance.
Karl Marx wrote in Das Kapital (Vol. 1, Part III, Chapter Ten, Section 5) "Après moi, le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Hence Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the labourer, unless under compulsion from society."
During the trial of Dimitri Fyodorovich Karamazov in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the prosecution uses the phrase to describe the defendant’s reprobate father and to lament the deterioration of Russian values more generally.
The phrase "Après moi le déluge" was adopted as the motto of the Royal Air Force 617 Squadron, which carried out the "Dambuster" raids on German dams in the Ruhr region on the night of 16–17 May 1943.
- Entsiklopedicheskii slovar [Encyclopedic Dictionary] (in Russian). 1890. p. 930.
- "The Routledge Dictionary of Cultural References in Modern French". p. 43.
- Laguna, Gabriel (13 January 2006). "The Expression 'Après moi le déluge', and Its Classical Antecedents". Tradición Clásica.[self-published source]