Sententiae Latinae - Latin Maxims
- by Johanna Sundberg

This is an extract of "Sententiae Latinae" by Johanna Sundberg. For the complete list of maxims please press the title above.
Ars longa, vita brevis.
Art is long, life is short.
(Seneca, De brevitate vitae)
Ab ovo usque ad mala.
From the egg right to the apple (i.e. from the beginning to the end).
(Horace, Ars poetica)
Ex oriente lux, ex occidente lex.
From the east the light, from the west the law.
Homo homini lupus.
Man is man's wolf.
(Plautus, Asinaria)
Lupus in fabula
The wolf in the tale (i.e. speak of the wolf, and he will come)
(Terence, Adelphoe)
Mater artium necessitas.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Mens sana in corpore sano.
A sound mind in a sound body.
(Juvenalis, Saturae)
Non multa, sed multum.
Not many, but much.
(Meaning, not quantity but quality. Plinius Iunior, Epistulae)
Vox populi, vox Dei.
The voice of the people is the voice of God.
(From Homer, The Odyssey)
Primus inter pares.
First among equals.
(Used about someone who is the first in a group without having any authority over his/her colleagues.)

Summum ius, summa iniuria.
The extreme law is the greatest injustice.
(Cicero, De officiis)
De nihilo nihil.
Nothing comes from nothing.
(Lucretius, De rerum natura)
Omnibus omnia.
Everything for everybody.
(Versio Vulgata, 1 Cor. 9:22)
Qualis rex, talis grex.
Like master, like man.
Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.
Outside the Church, no salvation.
(A principle in Catholic theology.)
Liberae sunt nostrae cogitationes.
Our thoughts are free.
(Cicero, Pro Milone. Cf. Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur.)
Exitus acta probat.
The result validates the deeds.
(Ovid, Heroides. Cf. finis coronat opus.)
Cogito, ergo sum.
I think, therefore I am.
(René Descartes, Discours de la méthode)
Aquila non captat muscas.
The eagle doesn't capture flies.
Medicus curat, natura sanat.
The physician treats, nature cures.

Finis coronat opus.
The ending crowns the work.
(N/A. Cf. exitus acta probat.)
Iniuria non excusat iniuriam.
One wrong does not justify another.
Consuetudo quasi altera natura.
Habit is our second nature.
(Cicero, De finibus)
Nihil agere delectat.
It is pleasant to do nothing.
(Cicero, De oratore)
Silent enim leges inter arma.
Laws are silent in times of war.
(Cicero, Pro Milone.)
Carpe diem!
Seize the day!
(Horace, Carmina)
Dictum, factum.
Said and done.
(Terence, Heautontimorumenos)
Labor omnia vincit.
Labour conquers everything.
(Vergil, Georgica)
Verba volant, (littera) scripta manet.
Words fly away, the written (letter) remains.
Veni, vidi, vici.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
(Written by Julius Caesar about a rapid victory.)

Nulla regula sine exceptione.
No rule without exception.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
Thus departs the glory of the world.
(Words said when a newly elected pope entered St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.)
Audentes fortuna iuvat.
Fortune favours the brave.
(Vergil, Aenis)
Omnia mea mecum porto.
All that is mine, I carry with me.
(Cicero, Paradoxa)
Omnium rerum principia parva sunt.
Everything has a small beginning.
(Cicero, De finibus)
Potius sero quam numquam.
It's better late than never.
(Livy, Ab urbe condita)
Non omne quod nitet aurum est.
Not all that glitters is gold.
Non scholae sed vitae discimus.
We do not learn for school, but for life.
(Seneca, Epistulae)
Inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.
Our heart is anxious until it finds peace in you.
(St. Augustine, Confessiones)
Non mortem timemus, sed cogitationem mortis.
We do not fear death, but the thought of death.
(Seneca, Epistulae)

Canis timidus vehementius latrat quam mordet.
A timid dog barks more violently than it bites.
(Curtius Rufus)
Non ut edam vivo, sed vivam edo.
I do not live to eat, but eat to live.
(Quintilianus, Instituitio oratoria)
Nihil est miserum nisi cum putes.
Nothing is unfortunate if you don't consider it unfortunate.
(Boethius, De consolatione philosohiae)
Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem.
As long as we are among humans, let us be humane.
(Seneca, De ira)
Caveat emptor.
Let the buyer beware.
Numquam se minus solum quam cum solus esset.
You are never so little alone as when you are alone.
(Cicero, De officiis)
Oderint, dum metuant.
May they hate me, if only they fear me.
(Suetonius, Vitae Caesarum, Caligula)
Nosce te ipsum.
Know thyself
(Inscription at the temple of Apollo in Delphi.)
Divide et impera.
Divide and rule.
(Louis XI; adopted by Macchiavelli)
Salus populi suprema lex esto.
Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.
(Cicero, De legibus

Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur.
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
(Ennius, quoted by Cicero.)
Contraria contrariis curantur.
The opposite is cured with the opposite.
Leges bonae ex malis moribus procreantur.
Good laws are born of bad customs.
(Macrobius, Saturnalia)
Promoveatur ut amoveatur.
Let him be promoted to get him out of the way.
Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.
Why are you laughing? Change the name and the story is about you.
(Horace, Satirae)
Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur.
Nobody should be punished for his thoughts.
(Corpus Iuris Civilis. Cf. liberae sunt nostrae cogitationes.)
Quem di diligunt adolescens moritur.
He whom the gods love dies young.
(Plautus, Bacchides)
Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
The times change, and we change with them.
(John Owen)
Si vis amari, ama.
If you want to be loved, love
(Seneca Philosophus, Epistulae)
Ave, imperator, morituri te salutant.
Hail, emperor, those who will die salute you.
(Suetonius, Vitae Caesarum, Claudius. The fighters' greeting to the emperor before gladiatorial games.)

Vivere est cogitare.
To live is to think.
(Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes)
Margaritas ante porcos iacere.
Throw pearls before the swines.
(Versio Vulgata, Matt. 7:6)
Facilius est multa facere quam diu.
It is easier to do many things than to do one for a long time.
(Quintilianus, Institutio oratoria)
Beneficium accipere libertatem est vendere.
To accept a favour is to sell freedom.
(Publilius Syrus)
Accipere quam facere praestat injuriam.
It is better to suffer an injustice than to do an injustice.
(Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes)
Noli equi dentes inspicere donati.
Do not look a gift horse in the mouth.
(St. Jerome, Commentarius in epistulam Pauli ad Ephesos)
Docendo discimus.
We learn by teaching.
(After Seneca Philosophus, homines dum docent discunt - men learn while they teach.)
Ad nocendum potentes sumus.
We have the power to harm.
(Seneca, De ira)
Dubitando ad veritatem venimus.
We arrive at the truth being sceptical.
(Pierre Abélard, Sic et non?)
Tamdiu discendum est, quamdiu vivas.
We should learn as long as we may live. (We live and learn.)
(Seneca Philosophus, Epistulae)

De duobus malis minus est semper eligendum.
One must always choose the lesser of two evils.
(Thomas a Kempis)
De gustibus non est disputandum.
That is a matter of taste.
Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi sed saepe cadendo.
The drop excavates the stone, not with force but by falling often.
(Ovid, Ex Ponto)
Mendacem memorem esse oportet.
A liar needs a good memory.
(Quintilianus, De institutione oratoria)
Faber est suae quisque fortunae.
Every man is the artisan of his own fortune.
(Appius Claudius Caecus)
Brevis ipsa vita est sed malis fit longior.
Our life is short but is made longer by misfortunes.
(Publilius Syrus)
Aliis si licet, tibi non licet.
Even though it is permitted for others, it isn't permitted for you.
(Terence, Heautontimorumenos. Cf. quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi.)
Cui peccare licet peccat minus.
One who is allowed to sin, sins less.
(Ovid, Amores)
Non omne quod licet honestum est.
Not everything that is permitted is honest.
(Corpus Iuris Civilis: Digesta)
Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu.
The important thing isn't how long you live, but how well you live.
(Seneca Philosophus, Epistulae)

Bis dat qui cito dat.
He gives twice, who gives promptly.
(Publilius Syrus)
Ille dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet.
He mourns honestly who mourns without witnesses.
(Martialis, Epigrammaton liber)
Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.
Let him who wishes for peace prepare for war.
(Vegetius. Also quoted si vis pacem, para bellum -- if you desire peace, prepare for war.)
Qui dormit, non peccat.
One who sleeps doesn't sin.
Qui nimium probat, nihil probat.
One who proves too much, proves nothing.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Who is to guard the guards themselves?
(Iuvenalis, Saturae)
Qui tacet, consentit
Silence gives consent.
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
What I have written, I have written.
(Versio Vulgata, Ioh. 19:22)
Stultum est timere quod vitare non potes.
It is foolish to fear what you cannot avoid.
S.P.Q.R. (Senatus Populusque Romanus)
The senate and the Roman people
(Abbreviation used on banners and such in ancient Rome to show the world the unity between the Roman people and its rulers. Still officially used in Rome.)

Amor vincit omnia et nos cedamus amori.
Love conquers all and let us yield to love.
(Vergil, Eclogae)
Horas non numero nisi serenas.
I count only the bright hours.
(Inscription on ancient sundials.)
Cum tacent, clamant.
When they are silent, they cry out.
(Cicero, In Catalinam)
Dum spiro, spero.
While I breathe, I hope.
(Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum)
Impossibilium nulla obligatio est.
Nobody has any obligation to the impossible.
(Corpus Iuris Civilis: Digesta)
Cave canem!
Beware of the dog!
(Inscription at the entry of Roman houses.)
Certum est, quia impossibile.
It is certain, because it is impossible.
(Tertullianus, De carne Christi. Later in the form Credo, quia absurdum -- I believe, although it is absurd.)
Primum est non nocere.
First of all, do no harm.
(Hippocrates; The maxim has become an ethical guiding principle in medicine.)
Commodum ex iniuria sua nemo habere debet.
No person ought to have advantage from his own wrong.
Optima enim est legum interpres consuetudo.
The best interpreter of the law, is practise.
(Corpus Iuris Civilis: Digesta)