un diavolo scaccia l'altro

italtrav

Senior Member
English
Ciao a tutti

The literal meaning of un diavolo scaccia l'altro is "one devil drives out another," but I'm not clear on what this conveys in Italian. Is this anything like "Set a thief to catch a thief," i.e. to use a thief against other thieves because like recognizes like? Or might it be more like the observation that programs of political reform are of limited value because, 'driving the rascals out only results in a new set of rascals'? Grazie in anticipo.
 
  • italtrav

    Senior Member
    English
    I have no real context, unfortunately. The proverb appeared in passing in the opening credits of a Netflix film, Vincenzo, about a Korean-Italian mafioso who returns to his native land. Searching on the internet has not so far gotten me any more information other than its appearance in some lists of Italian proverbs.
     

    Fooler

    Senior Member
    Italian (Italy)
    Maybe, it’s related to his return to his native land. As a mafioso (a devil), might he become boss there and defeat/drive away an existing one ?
    my try
     

    italtrav

    Senior Member
    English
    You could be right, but I haven't seen the whole film yet. I guess what I was originally asking for was for a gloss on how the expression is ordinarily used (on the assumption that it is actually used at all).
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I found a site that claims it means "un male nuovo libera da uno vecchio" -- presumably with the gloomy but true sense that, say, a broken leg makes you forget about your ingrown toenail, or your spouse walking out on your puts your problems with your boss into perspective. :) The site looks wildly unprofessional, but the information, to the extent I was able to tell, seems reasonably accurate:
    Idioms: diavolo - Italian
     
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