Of jobs, justice and peach dumplings

The very discouraging news here at B/D HQ (book/daddy headquarters) is that a local media job that book/daddy had been angling for for several months -- a job that seemed practically created for him, a job that isn't likely to come along again in the Dallas area -- went to someone else.

Alas. Back to the drawing board.

The good news is that book/daddy's daughter, the Comic Book Queen, won a contest at her arts magnet high school, the Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Her painting will now hang in a Dallas courthouse and she has received $500. The winning image is a close-up portrait of blind justice with a scroll coming out of her mouth containing the Latin motto, "Fiat justitia, et pereat mundus."

The phrase has been most commonly translated as "Let justice be done lest the world perish." Or "Let justice reign even though the world perish." There is the related line, "Let justice be done should the sky fall (Fiat justitia ruat caelum)" -- attributed to Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus (died in 43 BCE.) The general meaning is that reasons of state (or other powerful interests) must not sway the course of justice, no matter the consequences. Or justice must prevail lest the (human) world cease to be truly human.

The truly interesting thing is trying to track down the motto's origin. Many people cite Hegel in 1821. Karl Marx quoted the line approvingly. The Anglican clergyman and author Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) attributed a version of it to St. Augustine. By the time it first appears in English literature in the early 1600s, it was already considered a commonplace-- no need to give an author.

The most common origin is the personal motto of Ferdinand I. Don't know him? We didn't either. While trying to track him down, the Comic Book Queen and book/daddy came upon Ferdinand I of Austria, who was a feeble-minded nut case propped up on the throne by Metternich. For a brief moment, the Queen had the happy thought that she had actually gotten a Dallas courthouse to post a quotation from a king whose most famous command -- when told by his cook that peach dumplings were out of season -- was "Ich bin der Kaiser und will Knodel!"

"I am the emperor and I want dumplings!"

Alas for such a bit of courthouse dadaism, the appropriate Ferdinand I is actually Ferdinand I of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperor, younger brother of the better known Charles V and, in general, a punching bag for Suleiman the Magnificent and his Ottoman invasion of Hungary. He was also on the losing side, ultimately, of the Counter-Reformation in trying to suppress German Protestantism, though he did win a victory or two, establishing the archdiocese of Prague and inviting the Jesuits into Prague and Vienna.

Where he got such a rousing Latin tag line for his personal motto is not clear. book/daddy doesn't believe for a second that Ferdie came up with it on his own.

May 5, 2007 11:36 AM | | Comments (2)



Well, shoot!

But now maybe you will go on Internet TV, where I might be able to catch the show.....

And congrats to the Comic Book Queen! That is just too cool.

Damn their decision. It will be a loss for Dallas, I am certain. However, kudos to Suz for turning an assignment into cash, public art and bragging rights. I can't wait to see it.


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This page contains a single entry by book/daddy published on May 5, 2007 11:36 AM.

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