The context is Enlightenment thinkers wishing to embrace the pagan writer Celsus. Celsus's Platonism was not popular in the Enlightenment, since the Platonists were considered too mystical and irrational. So labelling Celsus a covert Epicurean meant the Enlightenment thinkers could read his works with a more open mind.

The sentence I have so far is

Celsus was held to be an Epicurean who did not lay his cards on the table.

I'm looking for something in English -- if it exists -- closer to the German idiom 'to fight with an open visor' (mit offenen Visier kämpfen). Failing that I would also be interested in other similar idioms.

  • Was not an open book. Was not what he appeared [to be]. – aparente001 May 12 '19 at 5:09

'Fighting with an open visor' would express openly combating without any attempt at disguise.

'Nailing one's colours to the mast' has the same connotation.

The phrase originated in England and it is generally agreed that the expression was coined in reference to the exploits of the crew of the Venerable, at the Battle of Camperdown, a naval engagement that was fought between English and Dutch ships as part of the French Revolutionary Wars, in 1797.


It is worth reading beyond the link : stirring stuff.

  • Thanks. I like that. – S Conroy May 11 '19 at 20:45
  • @SConroy You're welcome. – Nigel J May 11 '19 at 21:18

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