Esse quam videri
Esse quam videri is found in Cicero's essay "On Friendship" ("De amicitia", chapter 98). "Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt" (Few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so).
Previous to both Romans, Aeschylus used a similar phrase in Seven Against Thebes at line 592, at which the scout (angelos) says of the seer/priest Amphiaraos: "ou gar dokein aristos, all' einai theile" (his resolve is not to seem the best but in fact to be the best). Plato quoted this line in Republic (361b).
Usage as a motto
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It is unusual that, until the act of 1893, the state of North Carolina had no motto since its declaration of independence. It was one of the few states that did not have a motto, and the only one of the original thirteen without one.
The state motto had also been adopted as a temporary motto by the Virginia class submarine USS North Carolina until being replaced by primus in proelio, which means "first in fight", a play-on-words for the North Carolina slogan "first in flight".
Esse quam videri is (or was) the motto of a number of schools around the world including:
- Academy at the Lakes, Land O Lakes, Florida
- Academy of the Holy Names Tampa, Florida
- Accra Academy High School Accra, Ghana
- Albert Academy Freetown, Sierra Leone
- Amarillo High School Amarillo, Texas
- S. Anselm's Preparatory School Bakewell, England
- Appalachian State University (1899) Boone, North Carolina, USA
- Ashford School (1899) Ashford, Kent, England
- Ashville College (1877) Harrogate, England
- Augusta Preparatory Day School (1972) Augusta, Georgia, USA
- Beaconsfield Primary School (1883) Tasmania, Australia
- Bedford College, University of London until c.1990, when Bedford and Royal Holloway Colleges merged and it became the motto of the joint college
- Ben Franklin Academy (1987) Atlanta, Georgia, USA
- Bennett, Instituto Metodista, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Berklee College of Music Boston, Massachusetts, USA
- Boys' Latin School of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
- Brigham Young University Men's Chorus, Provo, Utah, USA
- Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
- University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK, USA
- Cégep du Vieux-Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada
- Central Technology College,Gloucester England.
- Chania Boys High School, Thika, Kenya.
- Clifton House Preparatory School Harrogate, England
- The Colleton Primary School, Twyford, Berkshire, UK.
- Colyton Grammar School (1546) Colyford, England
- Columbia College Chicago (1890) Chicago, Illinois, USA
- Connells Point Public School, Sydney, Australia.
- Cranbrook School Sydney (1918), Sydney, Australia.
- Desert Heights Preparatory Academy, Glendale, Arizona
- Darwin High School, Darwin, Australia.
- Dubbo High School, Australia
- The Ellis School, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
- Ellis Robins High School, Harare, Zimbabwe
- Esquimalt High School, Esquimalt, BC, Canada
- The Episcopal Academy, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA
- The Forest School Winnersh, Wokingham, Berkshire, UK
- Friarwood Ltd, London, England
- Garrison Forest School for Girls (1910) Owings Mills, Maryland, USA
- St. George School, Havana, Cuba
- Groton School (1884), Groton, Massachusetts, USA. The motto changed to "Cui Servire est Regnare" shortly after the school's founding.
- The Hermitage School (1906), Geelong, Australia which has subsequently become that of The Hermitage House, Geelong Grammar School.
- Hampden DuBose Academy, Zellwood, Florida, USA
- Hartford Public High School, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
- Highsted Grammar School, Sittingbourne, Kent, England
- Hillside Secondary School, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Homewood School, Tenterden, Kent, England
- Hudson Catholic High School, Hudson, Massachusetts
- The Hemel Hempstead School, (1931), Hemel Hempstead, England.
- The Ellis School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
- Irving High School, Irving, Texas, USA
- Instituto Metodista Bennett (1888) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- JMA Armstrong High School, Salisbury, New Brunswick, Canada
- John Caldwell School, Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Canada
- The King's College, NY (House of Susan B. Anthony)
- KIPP Houston High School, Houston, Texas, USA
- Kingsbury Grammar School, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, UK
- Kingsfield Grammar School, Kingswood, Bristol, UK in the form 'Esse non videri'
- Kingsley School, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England
- Kutama College Norton, Zimbabwe
- Leicester High School(1962)The last graduating class before changing to Leicester Elementary School, Leicester, NC, USA.
- Littlemead (Grammar) School, Oving, Chichester, Sussex, England. School dated from mid 60s in Chichester, then moved to Oving in 1974 and finally closed in the mid/late '90s due to retirement of Ivan Bowler
- Magee Secondary School, Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Miami Coral Park Senior High School, Miami, Florida, USA
- Montreat College, Montreat N.C.
- Moravian Academy Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA current motto is "mind, body, spirit",
- The Mount School, Mill Hill. London, United Kingdom.
- National University of Health Sciences, Lombard, IL (previously National Chiropractic College)
- New Orleans Academy, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
- North Adelaide Primary School, (1877), Adelaide, Australia
- Peace College, (1857), Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
- Priory Heath Primary School
- Queen's College, Queenstown, South Africa
- Regent's College, London, United Kingdom
- Rhodesway School, (1958), Bradford, UK
- Rockridge Secondary School, West Vancouver, B.C., Canada
- Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK
- Salisbury School, Salisbury, Connecticut, USA
- Scott Park Secondary School (1967) Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
- Selaiyur Hall, Madras Christian College, Chennai, India
- Seton Hall High School in Patchogue, New York, United States
- Southampton Grammar School for Girls Southampton, UK
- St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, New York, United States.
- St. Malachy's Memorial High School in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
- St. Peter's School in Mazagaon, Mumbai, India
- St Thomas à Becket Catholic College in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
- Streetsville Secondary School, Streetsville, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
- Suffield Academy in Suffield, Connecticut, USA.
- The Taieri High School, Mosgiel, Otago, NZ
- Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy (1999–Present), Rutherford County, NC.
- Trevecca Nazarene University, Nashville, TN
- Truro School, (1880–Present), Truro, Cornwall, UK
- Boys' Latin School of Maryland (1844), Baltimore, Maryland, USA
- University of Tampa, Tampa, Florida
- Villa Devoto School, (1908) Buenos Aires, Argentina
- War Academy of Chilean Army, Santiago. Chile
- Wavell State High School Brisbane, Australia
- St Audries School, West Quantoxhead, Taunton, Somerset, England (since closed and now a hotel)
- Woodward Career Technical High School, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA (Formerly Woodward High School) (Alma mater of the 27th president of the United States, William Howard Taft)
- Wyomissing Area School District, Wyomissing, PA, USA
- Yeovil School, Yeovil, Somerset, UK
- St. Clare's College, Colombo 6, Sri Lanka
Esse quam videri is the motto of the following sororities:
- Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, founded in 1917 at New York University Law School.
- House of Susan B. Anthony, founded exclusively at The King's College NYC.
- Phi Delta Alpha, founded in 2002 at University of Oklahoma
- Alpha Chi Lambda, founded in 1998 at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.
Esse quam videri is the motto of the following fraternities:
- Phi Lambda Sigma, Lebanon Valley College, est. 1867.
- Alpha Pi Alpha, SUNY Albany, 1952 through 1987.
- Epsilon Kappa Delta, Florida Institute of Technology, 1968 through 1972.
- Archons, Kenyon College
- Phi Beta, founded 1912
- Lambda Kappa Sigma, founded in 1913 at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
- Phi Gamma Nu, National Professional Fraternity in Business, est. Northwestern University 1924.
- Nu Kappa Phi, Est. 1952 - University of Nueva Caceres, Naga City, Philippines
Kingswood Rugby Football Club, Bristol, UK, use a variant of the motto, "Esse Non Videri" as their club motto.
White Wolves MC, Oradea, RO, use a variant of the motto, "Esse Quam Videri Malim" as their club motto.
- Swire Group
- A computer and management training company, who are based in Leicestershire, UK.
- The phrase is found on the Sibley Mill along the Augusta Canal in Augusta, Georgia. The structure was completed in 1882 and operated until 2006.
- Raleigh Denim, based in Raleigh, North Carolina
Esse quam videri is the motto used on the coats of arms of the following families: Acraman, Adams, Allies, Bakewell, Barnard, Beadon, Bonham, Bostock, Bourne, Bowen, Bowne, Breamore, Brownlee, Brownlow, Cady, Cambria, Cavallaro, Roy Clarke, Clavering, Cook, Coutts, Crawley, Creer, Croft, Crofts, Dickinson, Downes, Frank, Harmer, Halliday, Hamill (O'hAdhmaill, O'hAghmaill, Hammill), Hannum, Henshaw, Hood, Houk, Isserman, Ivey, Lee, Longley, McManners, Manning, Mannion, Maxson, Miller zu Aichholz, Morrisset, Oglethorpe, Panon-Desbassayns de Richemont, Planta, Proud, Partridge family coat of arms, see A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the landed gentry of England..., Volume 2 By Sir Bernard Burke, Pickard-Cambridge, Pridgen, Renshaw, Reynes, Round (Essex County), Rowe, Seward, Shreeve, Sherriff, Sibley, Sturges, Swire, Strickland, Thurston, Thruston, Turner, Tyler, Vorsatz, Walmsley, Womack and Woodgate.
It was also the motto used within the Brockman coat of arms circa 1700 as well as the Polish Urbanowicz coat of arms.
It is also the motto of The National Honor & Merit Scholars Society.
The motto is part of the family coat of arms of Sir William Hooker, Lord mayor of London in the 1600s, mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his diaries; also the English Kent Hookers on memorials in Brenchley Church Kent.
It is also the motto of the Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship, a wilderness EMS training program based in western North Carolina.
Esse quam videri is the slogan of custom motorcycle shop FTW CYCLES, and is often seen on their t-shirts, flyers and other promotional material.
No. 77 Squadron RAF (active during three periods between 1916 and 1963) used the variant, Esse potius quam videri with the same meaning.
Esse quam videri is the motto of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew, 19 of which died in the Yarnell Hill fire in Yarnell, Arizona on June 30, 2013.
Television personality Stephen Colbert inverts this statement on his show The Colbert Report to be Videri Quam Esse, meaning "to seem to be rather than to be." This is in reference to the concept of truthiness, which is a term that Colbert himself created to describe things which he believes in because they "feel true". It is also engraved across the faux hearth, above the video fireplace, in his studio, under his portrait.
The phrase was also used on stationery as the slogan of notorious impostor Ferdinand Waldo Demara.
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