Homo homini lupus

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Homo homini lupus est is a Latin phrase meaning "man is a wolf to [his fellow] man." First attested in Plautus' Asinaria (195 BC, "lupus est homo homini"), the phrase is sometimes translated as "man is man's wolf", which can be interpreted to mean that man preys upon man. It is widely referenced when discussing the horrors of which humans are capable.

As a counterpoint, Seneca the Younger wrote that "man is something sacred for man."[1] Thomas Hobbes drew upon both aphorisms in the dedication of his De Cive (1651): "To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an errant Wolfe. The first is true, if we compare Citizens amongst themselves; and the second, if we compare Cities." Hobbes's observation in turn echoes a line from Plautus claiming that man is inherently selfish.

It can also be taken further: "Man is a wolf to Man, which, you will agree, is not very kind to the wolf." (Serge Bouchard, Quinze lieux communs, Les armes, Boréal editions, p. 177)

Notable citations[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Homo, sacra res homini (...)". Lucius Annaeus Seneca: Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, XCV, 33.
  2. ^ English translation by Manya Harari and Max Hayward, William Collins & Co, 1958.