May the last king be strangled in the bowels of the last priest  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"May the last king be strangled in the bowels of the last priest" is a famous anti-religious and anti-establishment dictum, originating in the writings of the atheist priest Jean Meslier (1664 – 1729) and popularized by French Revolution philosophe Denis Diderot (1713 – 1784).

It has been translated in English since the end of the 18th century.[1].

Jean Meslier version

"je voudrais que le dernier des rois fût étranglé avec les boyaux du dernier prêtre"[2]

or

"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."


English translation:

"I would like — and this would be the last and most ardent of my wishes — I would like the last of the kings to be strangled by the guts of the last priest" [3]"

Diderot version

Denis Diderot popularized the dictum in two lines from the poem "Les Éleuthéromanes" (1796):

"Et ses mains ourdiraient les entrailles du prêtre,
au défaut d’un cordon pour étrangler les rois.[4]

English: And his hands would plait the priest's entrails, for want of a rope, to strangle kings or "his hands would plait the priest’s guts, if he had no rope, to strangle kings."

There is a second different version, also attributed to Diderot and according to this source[5] , to the same poem:

Et des boyaux du dernier prêtre
Serrons le cou du dernier roi.
(Let us strangle the last king
with the guts of the last priest.)

However, it cannot be found in most versions of that poem.

Ultimately the quote is from Jean Meslier, a French atheist priest, famous for his Testament (1725), of which Voltaire published extracts.

See also




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