In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, what does the phrase "Pede Claudo" mean?
It's in the chapter "Search for Mr. Hyde." I looked it up online and according to answers.com, it's French for "homeless homosexual" but I'm not sure that fits in with the surrounding text in that context.
4 Answers | Add Yours
Pede claudo on its own means "on halting foot." The full sentence in the book is "Ah, it must be that; the ghost of some old sin, the cancer of some concealed disgrace; punishment coming, pede claudo, years after memory has forgotten and self-love condoned the fault." The surrounding context is what connects the Latin phrase to any idea of punishment. Mr. Utterson is thinking that Dr. Jekyll is finally suffering punishment for past sins. The punishment has come after Jekyll "on halting foot."
I believe it has more to do with the punishment coming. There is a latin expression "Pede poena claudo" which means that punishment comes limping.
It means "punishment comes limping" and is often rendered as meaning "retribution comes slowly but surely." It is from the Roman poet Horace (Horace Odes 3.2.32). Now this is a dismal thought, of course, but Horace was a bit of a prig, full of moralistic aphorisms and apothegms, so it's not surprising to hear this from him. Quite different from Catullus, the most delightful of the Latin poets.
Stevenson is talking about the fear that Dr. Jeckyll's youthful sins might be coming back to haunt him after lo these many years, so it is a fitting quote. Sounds pretentious, but back then educated people were versed in the classics, so they might understand it better than we do today.
Punishment comes limping--- I think it is Latin
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes