an ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet

A varlet was formerly a menial servant, but the word also took on the sense of ‘scoundrel’ or ‘rogue’. Scarlet was the colour of the official or ceremonial dress of various dignitaries, including judges. Cf. LUCIAN Adversus Indoctum 4 πίθηκος ὁ πίθηκος..κἃν χρύσεα ἔχῃ σύμβολα, an ape is an ape..even if it has gold insignia; ERASMUS Adages I. vii. simia simia est, etiamsi aurea gestet insignia.

1539 R. TAVERNER tr. Erasmus’ Adages 21 An ape is an ape although she weare badges of golde.

1659 J. HOWELL Proverbs (English) I An Ape’s an Ape, A Varlett’s a Varlett, Though they be cladd in silk, or scarlett.

1732 T. FULLER Gnomologia no. 6391 An Ape’s an Ape: a Varlet’s a Varlet, Tho’ they be clad in Silk or Scarlet.

1967 D. MORRIS Naked Ape i. The naked ape is in danger of..forgetting that beneath the surface gloss he is still very much a primate. (‘An ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet.’) Even a space ape must urinate.


Proverbs new dictionary.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • silk — see you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear an ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • scarlet — see an ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • ape — see an ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet the higher the monkey climbs the more he shows his tail …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • varlet — see an ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Thematic Index — absence absence makes the heart grow fonder he who is absent is always in the wrong the best of friends must part blue are the hills that are far away distance lends enchantment to the view out of sight, out of mind …   Proverbs new dictionary


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