Sutor, ne ultra crepidam

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Vasari's home in Florence, Apelles

Sutor, ne ultra crepidam is a Latin expression meaning literally "Shoemaker, not beyond the shoe", used to warn people to avoid passing judgment beyond their expertise.

Its origin is set down in Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia [XXXV, 85[1] (Loeb IX, 323–325)] where he records that a shoemaker (sutor) had approached the painter Apelles of Kos to point out a defect in the artist's rendition of a sandal (crepida from Greek krepis), which Apelles duly corrected. Encouraged by this, the shoemaker then began to enlarge on other defects he considered present in the painting, at which point Apelles advised him that ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret[1] (a shoemaker should not judge beyond the shoe),[1] which advice, Pliny observed, had become a proverbial saying. The Renaissance interest both in painting and classical antiquity made the expression popular again.[2]

A related English proverb is "A cobbler should stick to his last".[3] The Russian language commonly uses variants of the phrase "Суди, дружок, не свыше сапога" (Judge not, pal, above the boot), after Alexander Pushkin's poetic retelling of the legend.[4] In Spanish speaking countries there's also a related proverb, "Zapatero, a tus zapatos" ("Shoemaker, [tend] to your shoes").[5]

The English essayist William Hazlitt is the first to have used in print a disparaging adjective "Ultra-Crepidarian", as he wrote a ferocious letter to William Gifford, the editor of The Quarterly Review: "You have been well called an Ultra-Crepidarian critic".[6] Occasionally the word ultracrepidarianism has been used later.[7]

Karl Marx ridiculed the idea: “ 'Ne sutor ultra crepidam' – this nec plus ultra of handicraft wisdom became sheer nonsense, from the moment the watchmaker Watt invented the steam-engine, the barber Arkwright the throstle, and the working-jeweller Fulton the steamship."[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Simpson, John (2009). A Dictionary of Proverbs (5th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191580017. ISBN 0-199-53953-7; ISBN 978-0-19953-953-6.
  2. ^ (de) Hessler, C., "Ne supra crepidam sutor!" [Schuster, bleib bei deinem Leisten!]: Das Diktum des Apelles seit Petrarca bis zum Ende des Quattrocento, Fifteenth Century Studies, vol. 33 (2008)p/133-50. pdf
  3. ^ Luximon, Ameersing; Ma, Xiao (30 September 2013). Handbook of Footwear Design and Manufacture. Elsevier Science. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-85709-879-5. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  4. ^ SYMBOL NAMES IN RUSSIAN POETRY OF THREE CENTURIES, Valery Somov
  5. ^ https://www.significados.com/zapatero-a-tus-zapatos/
  6. ^ A Letter to William Gifford, in The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, vol. 9 (1932), ed. P. Howe, p. 16; the same form is seen in an unpublished Reply to Z, ibid. p.9; the editor comments that the neologism might have be coined by Hazlitt's friend Charles Lamb.
  7. ^ Gregory Bergman, (2006) Isms: From Autoeroticism to Zoroastrianism (An Irreverent Reference). Adams Media ISBN 9781593374839
  8. ^ Marx K., Das Kapital, Vol. I, ch.15, p. 488, translated by S. Moore and E.Aveling (wikisource).