In William Gilbert's De Magnete (1600), while he writes about electricity and the amber effect (the tendency for amber, when rubbed, to attract bits of chaff) he quotes Hieronymous Fracastorius (Girolamo Fracastoro), a philosopher he disagrees with. At the end of the quote, he says

[...]. Haec Fracastorius. Qui si observasset plurimis experimentis, omnia corpora duci electricis, prater ardentia, & inflammata, summéque rara, nunquâm talia fuisset meditatus.

It's on page 50 of an 1892 Mayer & Muller facsimile I'm reading from. In one translation, this sentence is translated as "So much for Fracastoro." While in another it is translated as "Thus far Fracastoro." These translations have widely different meanings, one being a dismissal of Fracastoro's authority, the other simply ending the quote.

What is the intended usage of haec here? And which is the more appropriate translation?

1 Answer 1


Haec is neuter plural, and there is an implied dicit: Haec dicit Fracastorius, "F. says these things".

I don't read "So much for Fracastoro" as necessarily dismissive: it's just a way of concluding the discussion of what F. says and moving to something else.

  • 3
    The short formulaic phrase can also be seen as punctuation, especially in speech; it indicates the end of a quote.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 7, 2021 at 6:12
  • “So much for X” is an idiom meaning “X has shown itself to be done/infeasible/not worth considering,” and applied to a person generally means “X is useless here” if not “X is dead, or as good as.” It’s very dismissive. I notice dictionaries indicating a secondary definition of the phrase meaning that “we’re finished discussing X,” but quite frankly that doesn’t match my experience (native AmE speaker in my 30s). It may be that this meaning of the phrase is dying out, which is why it might have been an appropriate translation for Mayer & Muller, but seems less so to Sam and I.
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 7, 2021 at 18:47
  • 1
    @KRyan I agree with that as a description of contemporary usage, but my sense is that the phrase didn't necessarily have that connotation in older English. I don't know the date of the translation in question, though.
    – TKR
    Commented Nov 7, 2021 at 19:20
  • 1
    @KRyan I am also a native AmE speaker, and I understand "So much for X" both ways: as now giving up on X (because X is now expended either in useful life or in hope for being of use), and as indicating that X's speech or speech about X is now at end—though of course the former is now much more common. Both indicate completion and a transition to something new. Here's a non-disparaging example from 1870 where X is a topic just completed.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 0:32

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