PArmed with the many Latin expressions, “sutor, ne supra crepidam”, literally “cobbler, no higher than your sandal”, is not the most used. Argument of authority used to warn his interlocutor to avoid making a judgment that exceeds his supposed competence, this expression has its origin in book XXXV of theNatural History of Pliny the Elder. The encyclopaedist evokes Apelles, a famous Greek painter of the 4th century BC, whose habit was to exhibit his paintings just finished in view of passers-by… and to stand hidden behind to listen to their comments.
When, one day, a shoemaker criticized the way Apelles had painted a sandal, the painter touched up the work during the night. The next day, in view of the changes made, the shoemaker felt encouraged to make other suggestions for modification. To which Apelles, relatively vexed, replied with a ” sutor, ne supra crepidam » without appeal.
When it comes to sandals, flip-flops and flip-flops, however, the shoemaker can also be a historian, archaeologist or philosopher. Because they are in their way a vestige (of vestigium, either the imprint or the trace that the foot leaves on the ground) summoning, seemingly nothing, very distant cultures and times, perfectly soluble in contemporary fashion. Thus, the oldest sandal found (in 1938, in a cave in Oregon called Fort Rock Cave) may be between 9,000 and 13,000 years old, its flat sole and its straps made of braided mugwort do not would not smudge against the rope models of the current collections.
Proto-thongs and slide-socks
Forms of survival, resulting from an immemorial know-how, all these sandals refer us in turn to Greco-Roman civilization, to the geta Japanese (raised proto-thongs made from a piece of wood) or the paduka Indian, simple sole embellished with a small button engaging between the first and the second toe, and the most complex examples of which can be the subject of offerings or veneration.
In ancient Egypt, one of the most influential characters in the kingdom was none other than the pharaoh’s “sandal-bearer”, present in the hieroglyphic representations, proud, calm, shoes in hand. Not to be confused with the figure of the shoeshiner, still very present today, nor with that of the young wearer of “sock-tap shoes”. This combo, once stigmatized and now essential in streetwear, continues to be available, with or without socks, in versions deemed more chic, made of leather or adorned with pearls.
Not yet, however, a bronze version, like those of the philosopher, poet, engineer and physician Empedocles. “The most colorful of ancient philosophy”, according to Nietzsche, this pre-Socratic threw himself into Etna. The volcano spat out only one thing from him: his bronze sandal. This material of which the statues are made and which contributed to write its burning legend.