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Favorite Latin Phrases

Beauty and the Beast and Latin

Walt Disney has turned many beloved classical fairy tales into successful movies. Often classical references may be found hidden within them as precious gems. To find them is to better appreciate the artistry of their cinematic work. This is particularly true of the older movies, but can be found in more "recent" creations that have drawn from the earlier tradition. Such is the case with the 1991 animated classic Beauty and the Beast. The opening sequence is stunning for its visual and musical elegance that draws the viewer deep into an enchanted forest. As the castle comes into view the scene focuses attention on a lovely stained glass window that seems to resemble a royal family crest. Beneath the scene, etched on a scroll in Latin one reads Read the rest of this entry »

Veni Emmanuel

Veni Emmanuel, the debut music CD from Classical Academic Press, is a collection of hauntingly beautiful carols, written centuries ago by great scholars, musicians and poets for the celebration of Christmas. Some tunes will be familiar, and some new to our 21st century ears. All in Latin, laced with theology and beautiful poetry, rediscover the rich heritage of sacred Christmas music through the ages. The collection includes carols with lyrics or music from the fifth century through 1900. Recorded with harp, piano, recorder, violin and voice.

You can listen to the title song by clicking on the link for Veni Emmanuel on the right side of the screen.

Now on sale for a limited time!  Visit Classical Academic Press for more information by clicking on the image below.

Veni Emmanuel CD - click here for more information

Sarcinae Volant Gratis

I have a new favorite Latin phrase for all of you frequent fliers out there.  Sarcinae Volant Gratis – Bags Fly Free.  This is the new motto of Southwest Airlines.  If you watch their commercials carefully you will see it written in Latin on the badges of their “bag cops.”  Look for it under the yellow logo in the center of the badge.

Ginny Lindzey, a fellow Latin teacher here in the Austin area, created the Latin motto for SWA.  The father of one of her students handles their advertising account.  It just goes to show that you can never underestimate the power and influence of a good Latin teacher.  Way to go, Ginny!

Many thanks to Magister DeHoratius of Wayland H.S. for sharing this on the latinteach message board.

SWA Bag Cop Badge

SWA Bag Cop Badge


It is amazing how Latin phrases can pop up even where you might least expect them.  This week my husband took our eldest son shopping for athletic shoes.  Michael returned home excited over his new shoes and his latest Latin discovery.  He purchased a pair of ASICS runnings shoes.  I had never thought to wonder at what ASICS meant, but the tag on the shoes explained the inspiration behind the brand name.

Animus Sanus In Corpore Sano

A famous Latin quote meaning “a sound mind in a sound body.”

Here is what says about the history behind the name.

In 1949, Mr. Kihachiro Onitsuka began his athletic footwear company (Onitsuka Co., Ltd.) by manufacturing basketball shoes out of his living room in Kobe, Japan. He chose the name ASICS for his company in 1977, based on a famous Latin phrase “Animus Sanus In Corpore Sano”, which when translated expresses the ancient ideal of “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body.” Taking the acronym of this phrase, ASICS was founded on the belief that the best way to create a healthy and happy lifestyle is to promote total health and fitness.

Caveat:  Some ASICS sites and apparel will misquote the phrase as anima sana in corpore sano. Sadly this shows a lack of classical knowledge on the part of the editors.  Anima is a first declension noun meaning “life” or “breath.”  Animus is a second declension noun that means “mind” or “soul.”  It is the latter that is included in the ancient phrase, and would best fit the ASICS motto as they state it in English.

Te Amo – And Other Declarations of Love in Latin

Want to really sweep your love off her feet? Be a true Latin Lover and woo her with these amorous words. Hey - it worked for the ancients! Read the rest of this entry »

National Mottos

Those of you using Latin Alive Book 1 are learning the many state mottos in our nation written in Latin.  Did you know that there are more than thirty nations around the world that also have Latin mottos?  Some are from places you may not expect like Bermuda or Suriname.  These national mottos will be featured as the chapter maxims for Latin Alive Book 2.  Take a peek at the list below.  If you find one not on my list, please add it via the comment section.  I’d like to include as many as I can!

National Latin Mottos (past and present)

  1. Andorra: Virtus unita fortior (Strength united is stronger)
  2. Austria: Austriae est imperare orbi universo (It is for Austria to rule the world)
  3. Australia: Orta recens quam pura nites!  (Recently risen how bright you shine!)
  4. Austria-Hungary: Indivisibiliter ac Inseparabiliter (Indivisibly and inseparably)
  5. Bahama Islands: Commercia expulsis piratis restituta (Commerce restored with the pirates expelled)
  6. Belize: Sub umbra floreo (Under the shade I flourish)
  7. Bermuda: Quo fata ferunt (Whither the fates carry us)
  8. Canada: A mari usque ad mare (From sea all they way to sea)
  9. Denmark: Dominus mihi adiutor.  (The Lord is my helper)
  10. Hungary: formerly Regnum Mariae Patrona Hungariae (Kingdom of Mary, the Patron of Hungary)
  11. Kingdom of Italy: Foedere et Religione Tenemur (We are held together by pact and by religion)
  12. Mauritius: Stella clavisque Maris Indici (Star and key of the Indian Ocean)
  13. Monaco: Deo juvante (With God’s help)
  14. Netherlands Antilles: Libertate unanimus (Unified by freedom)
  15. Newfoundland: Terra nova, haec tibi dona fero. (New Land, these gifts I bring to thee)
  16. Panama: Pro mundi beneficio (For the benefit of the world)
  17. Kingdom of Portugal: vis unita maior nunc et semper (Unity is the biggest strength, now and forever)
  18. Prussia: Suum cuique (To each his own?
  19. Puerto Rico: Joannes Est Nomen Eius (John is his name)
  20. Prince Edward’s Island: Parva sub ingenti (small things under great)
  21. Rhodesia: Nomine digna (May she be worthy of the name)
  22. Romania: formerly Nihil Sine Deo (Nothing without God)
  23. Sain Vincent and the Grenadines: Pax et justitia (Peace and justice)
  24. San Marino: Libertas (Liberty”)
  25. Saxony: Providentiae memor.  (Keep Providence in Mind)
  26. Scotland: Nemo me impune lacessit (No one strikes me with impunity.)
  27. Seychelles: Finis coronat opus (The end crowns the work)
  28. South Africa: Ex Unitate Vires (From unity, strength)
  29. Spain:Plus ultra (Further beyond)
  30. Suriname: Justitia, pietas, fides (Justice, piety, loyalty)
  31. Switzerland: Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno (One for all, all for one, traditional, but not official)
  32. Trinidad: Miscerique probat populos et foedera iungi. (He approved of the mingling of peoples and their being joined together by treaties)
  33. United States: E pluribus unum (Out of many, one)
  34. Windward Islands: I Pede fausto.  (Go with a lucky foot)

Arma virumque cano . . .

The famous opening  to Vergil’s Aeneid:  “I sing of arms and a man.”  Truly, this is a line that every Latin scholar must know.  In my classes I often like to introduce each new chapter with such a famous quotation.  Even the youngest of  students seem to really enjoy the opportunity to read bits of real Latin, especially when the author is someone they have learned about in their history studies.  I love to use these quotations as a bonus question on the weekly quiz.  Occassionally, the translations put a new twist on an ancient phrase.  Recently this quotation appeared on a quiz for my third grade class.  The translation one little linguist gave: “I sing of arms and legs.”


“errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum.”

The first half of this phrase is probably very familiar, but did you ever hear the second half?  Literally translated this ancient proverb means, “to err is human, to persevere [in erring] however [is] of the devil.”  At first one might think this proverb originated with the Latin Fathers, but it did not.  This quotation comes from Seneca the Younger. 

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (known to us simply as Seneca or Seneca the younger) lived c. 4 B.C. – A.D. 45.  He was a Roman stoic philosopher, statesman, and author of tragedy during what is called the Silver Age of Latin Literature.  Several of Seneca’s works have survived the passage of time and are still available to be read today.  One such work is De Clementia (Concerning Mercy).  It is a letter of advice that Seneca wrote to his pupil, the young emperor Nero.  Sadly, Nero did not always follow his tutor’s advice.  In fact, Seneca eventually met death at Nero’s orders.  His work on mercy did survive long past his lifetime.  John Calvin’s first published work was a commentary on Seneca’s De Clementia in A.D. 1532.  Some scholars believe this work may have even influenced Calvin in writing the King of France to ask for clemency for the protestant reformers.

An excerpt of Seneca’s De Clementia may be found in Latin Alive! Book 2 along with other excerpts from pieces of Latin Literature.

Dum Spiro, Spero

This quotation by Cicero is perhaps my favorite Latin quote of all time.  Short, simple, and yet profound.  It means “while I breathe, I hope.”  What a beautiful testament to the indomitable human spirit.  This wonderful quote was adopted as the state motto of South Carolina in 1776.  The quotation also appears on the Great Seal of South Carolina along with two other Latin phrases.

There are 25 different states in the U.S.A. whose state mottoes are Latin, many are quotations taken from the ancients.  Latin Alive! Book 1 introduces a state motto at the beginning of each chapter.   The TE guides teachers and students not only through a history of the phrase, but also through an exploration of the state seals and the classical images they bear.

Felix Dies Tibi Sit!

Felix Dies Tibi Sit – This blog goes out to my “little” sister on her birthday.  Literally, this phrase translates as “May it be a festive day for you.”  The phrase has been found on several ancient letters celebrating the birthday of family and friends.  At our school we set the words to the popular tune of “Happy Birthday” and serenade students celebrating birthdays.  Kristen, I am sorry I can’t be with you on your birthday, but know that I am serenading you in cyberspace!  Te amo, soror!

Nota Bene:

  • The Latin word for birthay is natalis.  We derive all sorts of words from this such natal, nativity, etc.
  • The phrase “happy birthday” could also be rendered in Latin as natalis beatus.