Pede Claudo

In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, what does the phrase "Pede Claudo" mean?

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poetrymfa's profile pic

poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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"Pede Claudo" is an abbreviated reference to the Latin phrase "pede poena claudo" which translates to "punishment comes limping." This can be attributed to Quintus Horatius Flaccus (or more simply, Horace), the Latin lyric poet and satirist who wrote under the reign of Augustus. 

This phrase arrives in chapter two of the novel, as Mr. Utterson walks home with "a very heavy heart" and considers what information Mr. Hyde must have in order to be able to blackmail Dr. Jekyll. Mr. Utterson comments that, "in the law of God, there is no statute of limitations." It, thus, must be some old disgrace or sin that Mr. Hyde is dragging up, resulting in the "punishment coming, PEDE CLAUDO." No one—not even Dr. Jekyll—may escape retribution, no matter how slow it may be to arrive.

renelane's profile pic

renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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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.

StephanieRR's profile pic

StephanieRR | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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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."

mjaaaz's profile pic

mjaaaz | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

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Punishment comes limping--- I think it is Latin

wlbtyo's profile pic

wlbtyo | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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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.

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