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I am translating into English a famous refrain from Spanish, Ahí fue Troya. That means something like Then a big trouble started.

I am looking for some correspondingly recognizable refrain I can use in English for the translation. Because this is a work of literature, having a polished style and wording is very important.

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    Quoth Ozymandias, “There goes the neighborhood!” :) – tchrist Jun 27 at 23:59
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    Interesting question. Can you give a bit more info on the context of usage for your translaton? – S Conroy Jun 28 at 0:32
  • Oh, we got trouble, Right here in River City! With a capital "T" And that rhymes with "P" And that stands for pool – Hot Licks Jun 30 at 2:44
  • @SConroy I am translating a short story of my e-book "Hacia el ruido y la lluvia" smashwords.com/books/view/290273, the original phrase is: "Pero vieras, «ahí fue Troya», como diría mi abuelo –agregó él–" – MrAn3 Aug 20 at 4:24
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Depending on what kind of trouble it is, you could say:

Then all hell broke loose

That implies that the trouble that started was chaotic or disruptive.

If things just started going badly, you would say:

Then everything went to hell

or

Then it all fell apart

  • I like this answer as it provides several options. I like the first option a lot. – MrAn3 Aug 20 at 4:26
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then the shit hit the fan.

Oxford English Dictionary:

a. orig. U.S. Military. (when) the shit hits the fan: (when) a situation suddenly becomes critical; (when) trouble suddenly or rapidly breaks out.

Not as elegant as a classical reference but even people who have never heard it will understand what sort of situation would ensue.

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"Then a big trouble started"--

One possibility, since you want something literary, is "The center was not holding." This phrase resonates with W.B. Yates's poem "The Second Coming" [https://owlcation.com/humanities/Summary-and-Analysis-of-Poem-The-Second-Coming-]. The poem is about the rise of Nazi socialism in Europe. "The Center Cannot Hold" has been used frequently as a book title.

The phrase "the shit hit the fan" would be appropriate only in a locker-room atmosphere or a bar, not in a literary work.

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