Fex urbis lex orbis  

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Fex urbis lex orbis is a Latin saying, meaning "Dregs [classical Latin faex] of the city, law of the world", that is, the lowest class of citizens determines how the world works.

Victor Hugo attributes it to St. Jerome at the beginning of Volume V of Les Misérables:

"Athens was an ochlocracy; the beggars were the making of Holland; the populace saved Rome more than once; and the rabble followed Jesus Christ."
There is no thinker who has not at times contemplated the magnificences of the lower classes.
It was of this rabble that St. Jerome was thinking, no doubt, and of all these poor people and of all these vagabonds and of all these miserable people whence sprang the apostles and the martyrs, when he uttered this mysterious saying: "Fex urbis, lex orbis," — the dregs of the city, the law of the earth."

However, as of May 2020, the source in the writings of St. Jerome was not found.

Dutch translation

"Geen denker, die niet soms de schitterende deugden der lagere klassen bewonderd heeft.
Ongetwijfeld dacht de H. Jeronimus aan dit kanalje, aan al deze arme lieden, aan al deze schooiers, aan al deze ellendigen, waaruit de apostelen en martelaars zijn ontstaan, toen hij deze geheimzinnige woorden sprak: Fex urbis, lex orbis."

De Ellendigen by Victor Hugo

See also

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