Folks have been asking what is the meaning of hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue?
Well, read on…
There are two English translations of: “L’hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend à la vertu“:
Hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue
Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue
So what is the meaning of this line?
What Is The Meaning Of Hypocrisy Is The Homage Vice Pays To Virtue
This witty French author François de La Rachefoucauld had a way with words.
He is known for his cynical sarcasm.
If you have read through all his maxims, you know he did not express his thoughts directly.
Just like this quote: “Hypocrisy is the homage (compliment) vice pays to virtue“.
He sarcastically used the word “homage” in this maxim.
As you know homage means a deep respect or honor and often praise shown for a person or god.
When you say, “to pay homage“, means to openly honor or worship someone or something.
Hypocrisy is the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do.
Or it is defined as saying or feeling one thing and doing another.
To put it in a simplified way, the quote “hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue“, it is saying:
In a society, naturally everyone wants to be seen as a virtuous person, even though he or she is full of vices. That is the accepted norm.
Therefore one needs to disguise or cover up one’s vices.
In order to do that, one has to be a hypocrite.
In a way, hypocrisy is kind of a compromise for vice.
Therefore vice has to pay homage (respect, admit or concede) to virtue in the form of hypocrisy.
By the way, there is another similar epigraph found in the same book.
“Our virtues are most frequently but vices in disguise” (Nos vertus ne sont, le plus souvent, que des vices déguisés)
This line is easy to interpret. It means most of our virtues are not actually virtues.
They are vices disguised as virtues.
In short, we all have more vices than virtues. More bad than good. But we covered them up or pretend to be righteous.