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from 16th-century sources

    The following mottoes (mostly in Latin) are taken from various sources printed before the year 1600: Paradin's Devises (1591), Simeoni's Purtratures (1591), Willet's Emblemata (1592), Giovio's Imprese (1585), Domenichi's Devises (1585), and Whitney's Emblemes (1586).

    This is by no means the complete list of mottoes given in those works, but is a selection of the ones which I found insightful, thought-provoking, humourous or just plain cool. You can find a larger list of mottoes (which includes the ones on this page) here.

Aculei irriti.
   Ineffectual stings.

Æquari pavet alta minori.
   A lofty thing fears being made equal with a lower.

Æthiopiem lavare.
   To wash an Ethiopian.

Aliena pericula, cautiones nostrae.
   Others' dangers are our warnings.

Alterutra clarescere fama. Sive bonum, sive malum, fama est.
   To become famous in one way or the other, whether it be good or bad, it is fame.

Amicitia fucata vitanda.
   Feigned friendship to be avoided.

Amico ficto nulla fit iniuria.
   No injury done to a feigned friend.

Aude aliquid dignum.
   Dare something worthy.

Bene agendo nunquam defessus.
   Never weary of doing good.

Bilingues cavendi.
   One should beware of the double-tongued.

Bis dat qui temptestive donat.
   He gives twice who gives on time.

Calumniam contra calumniatorem virtus repellit.
   Virtue turns calumny back against the calumniator.

Cavete a canibus.
   Beware of the dogs.

Cedo nulli.
   I yield to no one.

Colligavit nemo.
   No one has bound me.

Concussus surgo.
   When struck I rise.

Cosi vivo piacer conduce a morte.
   Such intense pleasure leads to death. (It.)

Cum larvis non luctandum.
   One must not struggle with ghosts.

De mal me paists.
   I feed on evil. (Fr.)

De parvis grandis a cervus erit.
   Small things will make a large pile.

Ditat servata fides.
   Loyalty preserved enriches.

Diversa ab illis virtute valemus.
   We are strong because our skill differs from theirs.

Dum spiro spero.
   As long as I breathe, I hope.

Dura usu molliora.
   Difficult things become easier with practice.

Ei, qui semel sua prodegerit, aliena credi non oportere.
   He who has once squandered his own, ought not to be trusted with another's.

Feriunt summis fulmina montes.
   Lightning strikes the mountain tops.

Fidem fati virtute sequemur.
   With my own virtue I shall strive to achieve the promise given to me by destiny.

Flectimur obsequio non viribus.
   We bend out of compliance and not because of force.

Fortia facere et pati Romanum est.
   To do brave deeds and to suffer is Roman.

Frons hominem præfert.
   The forehead reveals the man.

Furor fit læsa sæpius patientia.
   Patience when tested too often turns to anger.

Horrent commota moveri.
   What has been disturbed shrinks from being stirred up again.

Hosti etiam servanda fides.
   Faith must be kept even to the enemy.

Ignis gladio non fodiendus.
   The fire should not be stirred by the sword.

Il me plait le trouble.
   Trouble pleases me. (Fr.)

Improbus a nullo flectitur obsequio.
   The wicked are not swayed by obsequiousness.

Inanis impetus.
   A futile effort.

In hunc intuens.
   Look at this.

Inclinata resurgit.
   When pressed down, it raises itself again.

Infringit solido.
   It breaks against a solid.

Ingenio experior funera digna meo.
   I suffer ruin worthy of mine own invention.

Ingenium superat vires.
   Genius overcomes strength.

Ingratis servire nefas.
   It is wrong to serve the ungrateful.

Interiora vide.
   Look within.

Latet anguis in herba.
   A snake lurks in the grass.

Malo mori quam foedari.
   I prefer to die than to be dishonoured.

Malo undique clades.
   Disaster awaits the wicked on every side.

Mercenarius fugit a grege.
   The hireling flees from the flock.

Merces sublimis honorum.
   The high reward of honour.

Militamus sub spe.
   We fight under (the banner of) hope.

Mitem animum agresti sub tegmine servo.
   I have a soft soul beneath a rough appearance.

Nec spe, nec metu.
   Without hope or fear.

Nec verbo, nec facto, quenquam lædendum.
   Neither in word nor in deed should anyone be injured.

Nil penna sed usus.
   Not the wing, but its use.

Noli tuba canere Eleemosynam.
   Do not trumpet your charity.

Non deest generoso in pectore virtus.
   There is no lack of courage in a noble heart.

Non inferiora secutus.
   Following not the inferior.

Non quam diu, sed quam bene.
   Not how long, but how well.

Non vi sed virtute, non armis sed arte paritur victoria.
   Not by force but by virtue, not with arms but with art is victory won.

Nous scavons bien le temps.
   We know well the time. (Fr.)

Num flatus telluris honor.
   Surely honour is not simply a blast (of air) from the earth?

Pacis & armorum vigiles.
   Vigilant in peace and arms.

Paupertatem summis ingeniis obesse ne provenhantur.
   Poverty hinders the greatest talents from advancing.

Patent oves, timent canes, intrepidus maneo.
   The sheep are frightened, the dogs fear, I stand intrepid.

Perculsus elevor.
   Though struck I am raised.

Porto le corna ch'ogni Huomo le vede, e qualch' Altro le porta che nol crede.
   I bear horns that everyone can see. Someone else bears them too, but does not believe it. (It.)

Posthac occasio calva.
   Later, opportunity is bald.

Prius mori quam fidem fallere.
   Die rather than betray trust.

Prostibuli eligantia.
   The elegance of a whore.

Pulchritudo vincit.
   Beauty conquers.

Quæ ante pedes.
   Things at our feet.

Qui pulchra affectat ardua perferat.
   He who strives after beauty, let him endure the arduous.

Qui se exaltat, humiliabitur.
   He who exalts himself will be humbled.

Quietem nemo impune lacesset.
   Though I am peaceful, no one will attack me with impunity.

Quis contra nos?
   Who is against us?

Quod huic deest me torquet.
   What this creature lacks torments me.

Quod in te est, prome.
   Bring forth what is in you.

Quod non capit Christus, rapit fiscus.
   What Christ does not take, the treasury snatches.

Rhinoceros nunquam victus ab hoste cedit.
   The rhinoceros never turns away defeated from the enemy.

Sæpius in auro bibitur venenum.
   Poison is more often drunk in gold.

Scandala removenda sunt.
   Things causing offense must be removed.

Scribit in marmore læsus.
   The injured man writes in marble.

Scripta non temere edenda.
   Writings should not be published readily.

Sero sapiunt Phryges.
   The Phrygians are wise too late.

Si sursum non efferor alis, saltem cursu prætervehor omnes.
   Though I do not soar high on my wings, I outstrip all in running.

Simul astu et dentibus utor.
   I use my cunning and my teeth simultaneously.

Sine iustitia, confusio.
   Without justice, confusion.

Sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram.
   Let the sun not set on your anger.

Stultorum quanto status sublimior, tanto manifestior turpitudo.
   The higher the status of fools, the more manifest is their baseness.

Totum adimit quo ingrata refulget.
   The ungrateful takes away all with which she shines.

Tu decus omne tuis.
   You are all glory to your people.

Turpibus exitium.
   Destruction for base men.

Ulterius ne tende odiis.
   Do not go forward in your hatred.

Usus libri, non lectio prudentes facit.
   The use, not the reading, of a book makes men wise.

Venena pello.
   I banish poisons.

Verbum emissum non est revocabile.
   A word once spoken cannot be recalled.

Victoria limes.
   Victory is the boundary.

Vindictæ trahit exitium.
   It brings the ruin of revenge.

Virescit vulnere virtus.
   Virtue grows in strength from wounds.

Vis nescia vinci.
   A power ignorant of defeat.

Votis subscribunt fata secundis.
   Destiny makes wishes come true.

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