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Tue Dec 11, 2012, 05:09 PM

A Popular Quotation Allegedly from Diderot in Its Original Context (and Verse Form)....

"Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." --Diderot

(http://thinkexist.com/quotation/men_will_never_be_free_until_the_last_king_is/174752.html)


The original text is available on Google:

pg. 96, “Les Éleuthéromanes

...

ANTISTROPHE.

J'en atteste les temps; j'en appelle à tout âge;
Jamais au public avantage
L'homme n'a franchement sacrifié ses droits;
S'il osait de son cœur n'écouter que la voix,
Changeant tout à coup de langage,
Il nous dirait, comme l'hôte des bois:
La nature n'a fait ni serviteur ni maître;
Je ne veux ni donner ni recevoir de lois.
Et ses mains ourdiraient les entrailles du prêtre,
Au défaut d'un cordon pour étrangler les rois.


...

(http://books.google.com/books?id=20cHAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA96#v=onepage&q&f=true)


Which in translation with an interlinear gloss is approximately:

J'en atteste les temps; j'en appelle à tout âge;
I of them attest the times; I of them appeal to all age;
I display the times; I appeal to the age

Jamais au public avantage
Never to the public advantages
The public never has the advantage

L'homme n'a franchement sacrifié ses droits;
The man not has clearly sacrificed his rights;
Certainly, mankind has not sacrificed his rights;

S'il osait de son cœur n'écouter que la voix,
If he dared of his heart not to hear but that the voice,
If mankind dared but to listen to the voice of his heart,

Changeant tout à coup de langage,
changing all at a blow of language,
changing suddenly the language,

Il nous dirait, comme l'hôte des bois:
He to us would say, as the host of the woods:
He would say to us, as he would to the animals of the woods:

La nature n'a fait ni serviteur ni maître;
The nature not has made neither servant nor master;
Nature created neither servant nor master;

Je ne veux ni donner ni recevoir de lois.
I not see neither to give nor receive of law.
I seek neither to rule nor to serve.

Et ses mains ourdiraient les entrailles du prêtre,
And his hands would weave the entrails of the priest,
And his hands would weave the entrails of the priest,

Au défaut d'un cordon pour étrangler les rois.
To the lack of a cord for to strangle the kings.
For the lack of a cord with which to strangle kings.


Without the original text and the interlinear text, one has as my approximate translation of Diderot:

I display the times; I appeal to the age
The public is never advantaged
Certainly, mankind has not sacrificed his rights;
If mankind dared but to listen to the voice of his heart,
changing suddenly the language,
He would say to us, as he would to the animals of the woods:
Nature created neither servant nor master;
I seek neither to rule nor to serve.
And his hands would weave the entrails of the priest,
For the lack of a cord with which to strangle kings.


A similar sentiment is attributed to Jean Meslier (1664–1729), but, as of yet, I have no citation for it:

"Je voudrais, et ce sera le dernier et le plus ardent de mes souhaits, je voudrais que le dernier des rois fût étranglé avec les boyaux du dernier prêtre."


This latter quotation is not originally from verse, but for the sake of completeness is mentioned here.

Would anyone want to make any suggestions that would improve my approximate translation of the Diderot quotation or would anyone like to attempt to put the quotation in verse form?

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