Emmanuel Macron

What is a Jupiterian president?

We had the hyperpresident, the normal president. Today we have a Jupiterian president. Emmanuel Macron announced it last October in an interview with the newspaper... Challenges. The choice of Jupiter, who was not a simple god but the king of the gods, is not insignificant, a most emphatic formula for a metaphor carrying enlightening symbols. Julien Longhui, professor of linguistics at the University of Cergy-Pontoise, deciphers this expression in which he sees no pretension but the search for a political figure rich in meaning.
An October 16, 2016, when he was still a candidate, Emmanuel Macron used the adjective "candidate" to describe his candidacy. Jupiterian to qualify how a president should exercise power:


"I don't believe in the normal president. The French don't expect that. On the contrary, such a concept destabilizes them, makes them insecure."

And to castigate "a presidency of anecdote, event and reaction [that] trivializes the function" - a kind of in-depth criticism of everything that François Hollande has wanted to embody since his election on May 6, 2012. On the contrary, France needs a "Jupiterian" head of state, the former minister believes. His models? General de Gaulle and François Mitterrand, who had "a capacity to enlighten, a capacity to know, a capacity to enunciate, a meaning and a direction rooted in the history of the French people. »

Since his election, the media has been widely using this adjective, which seems to have become a buzz word:

As is often the case in these cases of lexical propagation, the meaning of words may take a back seat to the benefit of its use. Of course, the Jupiter reminder is generally mentioned in the commentaries, but without questioning the functioning in speech of such a proper name. The subject of the proper noun (Np) is the subject of a number of academic works in language sciences, for example in this article by Guy Achard-Bayle :

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"The Np is a label that "sticks" variously to the skin of people whose identity is changing more or less radically; but it does not depending on whether this personal identity changes more or less radically. The result is a particularly plastic behaviour of the Np in these cases: on the one hand, it is capable of functioning or continuing to function "meaningless" or as a strict referential, extensional "label", that is to say, whatever the conditions (contextual, pragmatic, ontological, descriptive or intentional) of its use; on the other hand, it is likely to "disappear", if the person himself loses his identity as such. »

The discourse that adjusts

Two things interest us here to analyze the qualification of Emmanuel Macron by the adjective Jupiterian :

  • by using the reference to Jupiter, the discourse "adjusts" the meaning of the term Jupiterian to stick to a reality that is constructed in the texts. This term becomes a "label" to categorize the President, to create an image, whose line can be forced also by contrast with the "normal" President that François Hollande wanted to be;

  • the term can be emptied of its meaning, or embody dimensions that are not initially present in the meaning of the word. Speeches bring the meaning to life, and it is more a scriptwriting of the President that is at work than a strict categorization.

Le CNRTL online dictionary confirms that this adjective "evokes the god Jupiter or his attributes", and is embodied in examples such as the Jupiterian contraction of her eyebrows... "which has an imposing, dominating character" (Balzac, Langeais, p. 255). Derived from Jupiter, lat. Jupiter The adjective "son of Saturn, king of gods and men" already has a greater semantic charge than the simple "verticality" or "relationship to power" evoked in most media. In Macron's use of this adjective, authority and the relationship to power are certainly in the making. But we also have domination, power of divine order, possession of attributes of power. Le Larousse online tells us that there are many epithets that can specify these powers:

"Homologous to the Etruscan deity Tinia, he was both father god and god of Heaven. Having become the main and sovereign god, he was assimilated to the Greek Zeus. His powers were defined by numerous epithets: Jupiter Elicius, who made rain fall; Jupiter Fulgur, god of Thunder and Lightning; Jupiter Stator, who stopped the enemies; Jupiter Feretrius, the god of Trophies; Jupiter Capitolinus, to whom the great temple of the Capitol of Rome was dedicated and where he was worshipped with Minerva and Juno. »

The Jupiterian character thus covers a very broad potential meaning, which remains enlightening for the consideration of the conception of the power of the President, and the way it is perceived by commentators.

From Christ to God

Taking the "divine" side of the word literally, I cannot help but find an echo of the Christic, even biblical, figure that appeared in the countryside.

As in this excerpt from Bernard Dugué :

"The other interpretation is based on Macron as a biblical character. During a television program on the Three, one of the guests mentioned a Christ figure and then shifted to another figure, that of Moses. In this case, the march of Macron symbolizes the exit from Egypt and for more precision, we will read this luminous text that the Exodus represents and which, if interpreted at the highest level, tells not of an exit from a space but from a time. »

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Or in the About Emmanuel Macron I do not deny the Christic dimension; I do not claim it. I do not seek to be a Christic preacher.

How can this passage - from Christ to God - be concretely incarnated? The first hypothesis lies in the analysis of the inauguration speech, and its comparison with the campaign speeches. Indeed, from the analysis of all of the candidate Macron's tweets during the campaign, we notice that "Europe" is a central pivot of his discourse, particularly in articulating "France" and "French".

Julien Longhi/DR

A quick analysis of the inaugural speech shows that "world" has replaced "Europe".

Julien Longhi/DR

So President Macron is indeed "rising to the occasion" by changing scale.

From Christ to God, from Europe to the world, the comments on Emmanuel Macron, and his first discursive steps, confirm the "Jupiterianism" of his presidency. But one should not focus on the buzz of this qualification, and see the semantic thickness of this word: the conception of power is coherent with the rapid reform projects (by ordinance); the change of scale (from Europe to the world) represents the presidentialization of the candidate and his politics; the taking into account of power (in the investiture speech) as "protection" of the French, and the taking into account of responsibility.

Julien Longhi...University Professor of Language Science, University of Cergy-Pontoise

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