I am reading Oscar Wilde's poem "The House of Judgment" and it uses the phrase. I have seen it in other older texts. What does it mean?

Here is a copy of the passage. The phrase is bolded.

And there was silence in the house of Judgment, and the Man came naked before God.

And God opened the Book of the Life of the Man.

And God said to the Man, ‘Thy life hath been evil, and thou hast shown cruelty to those who were in need of succour, and to those who lacked help thou hast been bitter and hard of heart. The poor called to thee and thou didst not hearken, and thine ears were closed to the cry of My afflicted. The inheritance of the fatherless thou didst take unto thyself, and thou didst send the foxes into the vineyard of thy neighbour’s field. Thou didst take the bread of the children and give it to the dogs to eat, and My lepers who lived in the marshes, and were at peace and praised Me, thou didst drive forth on to the highways, and on Mine earth out of which I made thee thou didst spill innocent blood.’

And the Man made answer and said, ‘Even so did I.’*

  • 2
    It means 'I did even as you say,'
    – Mick
    Aug 29, 2020 at 3:44

1 Answer 1


This is an archaic style of English, presumably used by Wilde in an attempt to give the poem a "biblical" feel, mimicking the style of English seen in translations of the Bible such as the King James Bible.

  • "Even" here is used in the following archaic sense:

    (archaic) Exactly, just, fully.

    I fulfilled my instructions even as I had promised.
    You are leaving tonight? — Even so.
    This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.

  • "So" is used in the sense of "thus, as stated, in this way", see meaning 1 (especially 1c) in Merriam-Webster.

  • The order of subject and verb is reversed from the usual, a permissible stylistic choice under poetic license. So "did I" here does not denote an interrogative, as it normally would in modern English ("did I?"), just a way of saying "I did".

The whole phrase, then: "Even so did I" could be rewritten in a more standard/modern English way as "Exactly in this way I did" (a word-for-word rewriting), or more idiomatically as something like "Indeed I did as you describe".

  • Not at all. ‘Even so did I’ is simply a more emphatic version of ‘So did I’ or 'Me, too' even though literally, it would be more like "I did the same." Nothing could ever be written in standard/modern English as "Exactly in this way I did"; not even in the unlikely event idiom allowed anything like "Indeed I did as you describe". Nov 12, 2020 at 23:42

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