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North Dakota gets a Latin motto?!

Twenty five of these United States of America have a Latin motto to represent their state.  Soon North Dakota may be added to that list.  The Associated Press reports that the state of North Dakota has voted to pass a new official motto:  Serit ut alteri saeclo prosit [One sows so that it benefits another age].  The motto was proposed by a group of Latin students from Fargo, North Dakota.  This is in not the first time in recent history that a state has added a Latin motto.  In 2002 the state of Kentucky adopted Deo Gratiam Habeamus [Let us be thankful to God].

In many cases the Latin mottoes chosen to represent a state are taken from an ancient source.  The most popular sources seem to be the Vulgate Bible and the writings of Cicero or Vergil.  Cicero seems to be the source for North Dakota’s proposed motto.  In Cicero’s piece titled de Senectute, he quotes Caecilius Statius as saying, “Serit arbores, quae alteri saeclo prosint.” [He sows trees, which may benefit another age.]  Statius (c. 220 – c. 166 B.C.) was himself was a successful comedic poet.

You can read this quote in context of De Senectute at The Latin Library a wonderful online resource for original Latin work.

Read more about this story:

The Republic, Columbus, Indiana

InForum, Fargo-Moorehead

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