Latin Quotes Worth Knowing

Here is my collection of important Latin quotes. Memorizing these has been very valuable for learning the language. I have tried, wherever possible, to locate and include the actual reference to where these appear in ancient texts.


Ab ovoFrom the eggUsed to describe excessive detail in storytelling.
The poet Horace wrote that the Trojan War should not be recounted  “nec gemino bellum Troianum orditur ab ovo,” that is to say, from the story of how Helen of Troy was born from one of the twin eggs after Zeus turned her mother Leda into a goose.
Horace, Ars Poetica, 147
Ab ovo usque ad mala
From the egg up to the apples
(I.e., from start to finish, akin to “From soup to nuts”)
Horace, Satires 1.3.6
Ab uno, disce, omnes
From one person, learn everyone
(i.e, one example describes a larger group)
Vergil, Aeneid 2.65-66

Acta est fabula, plaudite!
The play is over, applaud!
(Reportedly, the Emperor Augustus' last words, but delivered 
in Greek)
Suetonius, Divus Augustus 99.1Ad kalendas Graecas
On the Greek Kalends
(Since the Greeks did not have Kalends in their calendar.
Meant, in essence, “When hell freezes over.”)
Augustus, quoted by Suetonius, Divus Augustus 87
Alea iacta estThe die has been cast
(Spoken when Caesar was about to cross the Rubicon River,
a thing he was not authorized to do with his army. From this,
the phrase “Crossing the Rubicon” has come to mean any
irreversible action which one hopes will turn out well.).
Suetonius, Divus Julius 32
Alter ipse amicusA friend is another self
Attributed to Cicero, but closest quote is
verus amicus numquam reperietur est enim is qui est 
tamquam alter idem
 (De Amicitia 80)

Amantium irae amoris integratio estThe quarrels of lovers are the renewal of love
Terence, Andria 555
Amicus certus in re incerta cerniturA true friend is known in an uncertain situation
Cicero, De Amicitia 64.8
Amor tussisque non celanturLove and a cough cannot be hidden
Latin proverb (often erroneously attributed to Ovid)
Amor vincit omniaLove conquers all
Vergil, Eclogues 10.69
Arma virumque canoI sing of arms and a man
Vergil, Aeneid 1.1
Ars longa, vita brevisArt is long, life is short
Seneca, De brevitate vitae 1, quoting Hippocrates, Prognosticum 1
Aspirat primo Fortuna laboriFortune smiles upon our first effort
Vergil, Aeneid 2.385
Assiduus usus uni rei deditus et ingenium et artem saepe vincitConstant practice given to one matter often conquers both genius and art
Cicero, Pro Balbo 45
Audentes fortuna iuvatFortune favors those who dare
Often quoted with 
audaces (the bold).
Vergil, Aeneid 10.284
Aurea mediocritasThe golden mean
(Moderation in all things is described as golden.)
Horace, Carmina 2.10.5
Aut viam inveniam aut faciamEither I will find a way or I will make a way
(Attributed to Hannibal)
Ave atque valeHail and farewell
(Catullus addressed to his deceased brother, whose tomb he had visited in Bithynia.)
Catullus, Carmina 101.10
Bella detesta matribusWars, detested by mothers
Horace, Carmina 1.24-25
Carpe diemSeize the day
Horace, Carmina 1.2.8
Carthago delenda estCarthage must be destroyed
(This exact quote appears nowhere in ancient literature, but Pliny the Elder makes a close reference in Natural 
History 15.74, referring to Cato the Elder “
cum clamaret omni Senatu Cartaginem delendam.”)
Cato the Elder.
Cave canemBeware of the dog
(A famous mosaic from Pompeii preserves this quote, as well as the author Petronius.)
Petronius, Satyricon 29
Cedant arma togaeLet arms yield to the toga
(I.e., let warfare defer to civility and law.)
Cicero, De officiis 1.22.77
Cui bono?To whose benefit?
(A legal maxim asserting that whoever most benefits from a crime may be the guilty party.)
Cicero, Pro Milone 12.32
Cui dono lepidum novum libellum?To whom do I give my new elegant little book?
Catullus, Carmina 1.1
Cum Timendi sit causa nescireWhile ignorance is the cause of fear
(Sometimes quoted as 
Timendi causa est nescire)
Seneca, Quaestiones Naturales 6.3
Da mi basia milleGive me a thousand kisses
Catullus, Carmina 5.7
Davus sum, non OedipusI’m Davus, not Oedipus
(Meaning, I can’t solve riddles.)
Terence, Andria 1.2
De mortuis nil nisi bonumSay nothing but good about the dead
(Latin translation of words attributed to the Spartan Chilon, quoted by Diogenes Laertes, Vitae 1.70)
Difficile est longum subito deponere amoremIt is difficult to suddenly give up a long love
Catullus, Carmina 76.13
Difficile est tenere quae acceperis nisi exerceasIt is difficult to retain what you have learned unless you practice it
Pliny the Younger, Epistulae 8.14.3
Dulce bellum inexpertisWar, sweet to those who have not experienced it
Erasmus, quoting Pindar
Dulce et decorum est pro patria moriIt is sweet and proper to die for one's country
Horace, Carmina 3.2
Dum spiro, speroWhile I breathe, I hope
Attributed to Cicero, who speaks similarly in Ad Atticum 9.11.2
Dux femina factiA woman was the leader of the deed
Vergil,  Aeneid 1.364
Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume, labuntur anniOh no, the fleeting years, Postumus, Postumus, slip by
Horace, Carmina 2.14.1
Errare humanum estTo err is human
(Attributed to Seneca the Elder, who does write “
per humanos errores” (through human errors [Controversiae 
4.3]). A closer parallel is found in Cicero “
cuiusvis hominis est errare” (It is every human’s tendency to err 
[Phillipics 12.2.5])

Et tu, Brute?Even you, Brutus?
(Shakespeare [Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1] popularized this Latin version of Julius Caesar’s actual final words, 
spoken in Greek, 
καὶ σὺ τέκνον)
Suetonius, Divus Julius 82.2
Etiam capillus unus habet umbramEven one hair has a shadow
Publilius Syrus, Sententiae 148
Ex ossibus ultor!An avenger from our bones!
(Vergil, Aeneid 4.634
Exegi monumentum aere perenniusI have erected a monument more enduring than bronze
Horace, Carmina 3.39.1
Experto crediteBelieve the expert
Vergil, Aeneid 9.283
Facilis descenso AverniEasy is the descent into hell
Vergil, Aeneid 6.426-427
Facilius enim per partes in cognitionem totius adducimurWe are more easily led part by part to an understanding of the whole
Seneca, Epistulae 14.1
Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius ullumRumor, faster than which there is no other evil
Vergil, Aeneid 4.173
Felicior Augusto, melior TraianoLuckier than Augustus, Better than Trajan
Eutropius, Breviarium 8.5
Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causasHappy is he who has been able to learn the causes of things
Vergil, Georgics 2.490
Fere libenter homines id quod volunt creduntMen readily believe what they want to believe
Caesar, Gallic Wars 3.18
Festina lenteMake haste slowly
(Erasmus [Adagia 2.1.1] gives us the Latin translation of Augustus’ Greek original quote, 
Σπεῦδε βραδέως)
Suetonius, Divus Augustus 25
Fluctuat nec mergiturIt is tossed by the waves but it does not sink
Latin proverb
Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabitPerhaps it will even help to remember these things one day
Vergil, Aeneid 1.202
Fortes fortuna adiuvatFortune helps the brave
(Cf. 
audentes fortuna adiuvat above.)
Terence, Phormio 203
Fugit inreparabile tempusIrretrievable time flies
(Often quoted as 
Tempus Fugit)
Vergil, Georgics 3.284
Gens togataThe toga-clad race
(I.e., the Romans, since only they wore togas. Nominative case version from Vergil’s original, where the phrase is 
accusative, 
gentemque togatam.)
Vergil, Aeneid 1.282
Genus irritabile vatumThe irritable race of poets
Horace, Epistolae 2.2.102
Gladiator in arena consilium capitThe gladiator is making his plan in the arena (i.e., too late)
Seneca, Epistolae 22.1
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes intulit agresti LatioCaptive Greece conquered her savage victor and brought her arts into rustic Latium
Horace, Epistulae 2.1.156-157
Gutta cavat lapidemThe drop excavates the stone
Ovid, Pontica 4.10.5
Hannibal ante portas!Hannibal is at the doors!
From Cicero, “
Si Hannibal ad portas venisset...negaret esse in malis.” De Finibus 4.9.22
Hinc illae lacrimaeHence those tears
Terence, Andria 126.
Homines, dum docent, discuntPeople learn while they teach
Seneca, Epistolae 7.8
Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum putoI am human, therefore nothing human is alien to me
Terence,  Heauton Timorumenos 1.1
Ille mi par esse deo videturHe seems to me to be equal to a god
Catullus, Carmina 51.1
In medias resInto the midst of things
Horace, Ars Poetica 148
In silvam ne ligna ferasDon't carry logs into the forest
Horace, Satirae 1:10:34
Incidit in Scyllam, cupiens vitare CharybdimHe runs onto Scylla, wanting to avoid Charybdis.
(Frequently quoted as “Between Scylla and Charybdis.”  It’s the same sentiment as “Out of the frying pan and into the 
fire ” or “Between a Rock and Hard Place.
Gauthier de Chatillon (Alexandreis 5.2549), describing Darius as he fled from Alexander the Great
Insanabile cacoethes scribendiAn incurable passion for writing
Juvenal, Satires 7.51-52
Labor omnia vincitWork conquers all things
Vergil, Georgics 1.145
Maecenas atavis edite regibusMaecenas, born of monarch ancestors
Horace, Carmina 1.1
Manus manum lavatHand washes hand
(I.e., You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.)
Seneca, Apocolocyntosis, 9.9
Medici graviores morbos asperis remediis curantDoctors cure the more serious diseases with harsh remedies
Curtius Rufus, Historiae Magni Alexandri 5.9
Mens sana in corpore sanoA sound mind in a sound body
Juvenal, Satires 10.356
Miles gloriosusPraiseworthy soldier
Title of play by Plautus
Nemo repente fuit turpissimusNo one ever became thoroughly bad all at once
Juvenal, Satires 2.83
Non est ad astra mollis e terris viaThere is no easy way from the earth to the stars
Seneca, Hercules furens 437
Non omnia possumus omnesNot all of us are able to do all things
Vergil, Bucolics 8.63
Non ut edam vivo, sed vivam edoI do not live to eat, but eat to live
Quintilianus, Institutes 9.3.85
Nosce te ipsumKnow thyself
Latin translation of the famous Greek slogan inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, 
γνῶθι σεαυτόν.
Nulla dies sine lineaNot a day without a line
Apeles, Greek painter, quoted by Pliny, Natural History 35.36
Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiaeThere is no one great ability without a mixture of madness
Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi 18.10
Nullum saeculum magnis ingeniis clausum estNo generation is closed to great talents
Seneca, Epistolae 102
Nunc est bibendumNow we must drink
Horace, Carmina 1.37
O di immortales!O immortal gods!
Uttered by Cicero on the Senate floor, Pro Milone 38.104
O tempora, O mores!Oh, the times! Oh, the morals!
Cicero, In Catilinam 1.2
Oderint dum metuantLet them hate so long as they fear
From the now lost tragedy Atreus by Accius (2nd BCE), quoted by Cicero in Philippicae 1.14
Odi et amoI hate and I love
Catullus, Carmina 85.1
Omnia vincit amor; et nos cedamus amoriLove conquers all things; let us too surrender to love
Vergil, Bucolics 10.69
Panem et circensesBread and circuses.
(Food and games to keep people happy.)
Juvenal, Satires 10.80-81
Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus musMountains will be in labour, and a ridiculous mouse will be born. (A lot of work and nothing to show for it)
Horace, Ars Poetica 139, from Plutarch, Agesilaus 36
Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olimBe patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you
Ovid, Amores 3.11.7
Pollice versoWith turned thumb
Juvenal, Satires 3.36
Potius sero quam numquamBetter late than never
Livy, Ab Urbe condita 4.2
Purpureus PannusPurple patch
(I.e., a passage excessively full of literary devices.)
Horace, Ars Poetica 1:15-16
Qui non est hodie cras minus aptus eritHe who is not prepared today will be less so tomorrow
Ovid, Remedia Amoris 94
Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentesWhatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even bearing gifts
(Quoted in English as "Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts.")
Vergil, Aeneid 2.49
Quos amor verus tenuit, tenebitTrue love will hold on to those whom it has held
Seneca, Thyestes 551
Quot homines, tot sententiaeFor as many people, there are that many opinions
Terence, Phormio 2.4.14
Qualis artifex pereoSuch an artist dies in me
(Emperor Nero's famous last words)
Suetonius, Nero 49
Rara avisA rare bird
(I.e., any unusual or rare thing.)
Juvenal, Satires 2.6.165
Sapere audeDare to be wise
Horace Epistolae 1.2.40
Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?Who shall keep watch over the guardians themselves?
Juvenal, Satires 6.347-348
Si vis pacem, para bellumIf you want peace, prepare for the war
(After Vegetius’ Institutiones rei militaris, 3, prologue, 
Ergo qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum)
Sic itur ad astraThus is the way to the stars
Vergil, Aeneid 9.640
Sic semper tyrannisThus always to tyrants
(Often mistranslated as "Death to Tyrrants!")
Attributed to Marcus Brutus (though not in his own time) and reportedly said by John Wilkes Booth after shooting 
Lincoln.
Silent enim leges inter armaLaws are silent in times of war
(Sometimes quoted as 
Inter arma silent leges)
Cicero, Pro Milone 4
Sine ira et studioWithout rage or bias
Tacitus, Annals 1.1
Solve senescentem mature sanus equumBe wise in time and release an aging horse
Horace, Epistolae 1.1.8
Stultum est timere quod vitare non potesIt is foolish to fear that which you cannot avoid
Publilius Syrus, Sententiae 752
Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tanguntThese are the tears of things, and mortality touches the mind
Vergil, Aeneid 1.462
Tabula Rasa in qua nihil est scriptumA clean slate upon which nothing has been written
Aristotle, De Anima 3:4, as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Quaestiones de anima 8
Taedium vitaeTiredness of life
Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.54
Tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentemSo great a burden it was to found the Roman people
Vergil, Aeneid 1.33
Tantaene animis caelestibus irae?Can such great angers reside in heavenly minds?
Vergil, Aeneid 1.11
Tempus edax rerumTime, the devourer of things
Ovid, Metamorphoses 15.234
Utinam populus Romanus unam cervicem haberet!If only the Roman people had one neck!
(I.e., so he could strangle them all together.)
Suetonius, Caligula 30
Vare, Vare, redde mihi legiones!Varus, Varus, give me back my legiones!
(Thus it is quoted. The original quote is 
Quinti Vare, legiones redde!)
Suetonius, Divus Augustus 23
Vae victis!Woe to the conquered!
Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 5.48
Veni, vidi, viciI came, I saw, I conquered
Spoken by Julius Caesar, Suetonius, Divus Julius 37
Vir bonus, dicendi peritusA good man, expert in speaking
Quintilianus, describing Cato the Elder in Institutes 12.1.
Vitae Necisque PotestasThe power of life and death
(The absolute power of the Paterfamilias within his family.)
Sallust, Jugurtha 14
Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemusLet us live, my Lesbia, and let us love
Catullus, Carmina 5.1
Vixere fortes ante AgamemnonaBrave men lived before Agamemnon
(Meaning, great people’s lives have gone unrecorded.)
Horace, Carmina 4.9


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