Friday, 5 March 2021


Though already acquainted with the wonderful term and its etymology and provenance but had forgotten how the advice from the cobbler if not exactly solicited (see also) regarding painter Apellis’ depiction of Alexander the Great criticising his sandals was well received and acted upon and then went on to embolden the shoemaker to critique other parts of the painting. Speaking ‘beyond the shoe’ had placed the cobbler definitely out of his element and squandered any previous goodwill or faith the artist might have harboured for the critic.This Sutor, ne ultra credpidam proscription was an unfair invective against the engineer and craftsman , Karl Marx thought, since those individuals drove innovation (in an ideal society with division of labour, “it makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow: to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, critise after dinner—just as I have a mind without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic”), lamenting how the anecdote, fable had become idiomatic across European languages. It occurs in the English saying, “A cobbler should stick to his last”—that is the term for a wooden foot model, Pushkin’s “Суди, дружок, не свыше сапога”—judge not above the boot, “Zapatero, a tus zapatos—shoemaker, tend to your shoes, “Schuster, bleib bei deinem Leisten!”—stay in your lane or “Chacun son métier, les vaches seront bien gardées”—to each his own profession and the cattle will be well looked after. More to explore including a compelling, complementary after though at Language Log at the link up top.