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Monday, April 27, 2015

Sketches in European Solidarity I


Georg_von_Frundsberg   Wilhelm II Viel Feind, viel Ehr 800   fdr_addressing_press cropped

Varoufakis fingergate 4-format530

What goes around comes around in Western culture.

From the darkest depths of their collective subconscious, Europeans in their moments of crisis are waking up to the fact that they actually have much more in common than they had been aware of.

Thus, after his dressing down last weekend in Riga by the Eurogroup finance ministers as “a time-waster, a gambler and an amateur,” Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis tweeted back an honor-salvaging quote from American New Deal President Roosevelt:


He may not have realized that this quote actually places him firmly in the cultural camp of his prickly German counterparts, for it is only a variant of the 1513 battle motto of German Landsknecht commander Georg von Frundsberg at the Battle of La Motta:

Viel Feind', viel Ehr' ("Much foe, much honor"),

a philosophy that also stood German Kaiser Wilhelm II and German Führer Adolf Hitler in good stead in their respective (if somewhat flawed) battles for European ‘solidarity.’ Notice that the original German also has the advantage of being much more succinct and alliterative.

1 comment:

  1. The translation "Much foe, much honor" is from the Wikipedia and neither grammatical nor very poetic. Better translations might be:

    The more the foes, the more the glory.
    Many enemies, much honor.
    A lot of enemies, a lot of honor.

    You are invited to try your hand in your own language at a pithy translation, or in the inimitable words of George W. Bush: Bring them on!