Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi

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Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi is a Latin phrase, literally "What is permissible for Jove is not permissible for an ox". The locus classicus for the phrase is Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (1826) by the German novelist Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff, although it is not entirely clear that Eichendorff coined the phrase himself. In his play Heauton Timorumenos,[1] Terence, a playwright of the Roman Republic, coined a similar phrase, Aliis si licet, tibi non licet.

The phrase is often translated as "Gods may do what cattle may not". It indicates the existence of a double standard (justifiable or otherwise), and essentially means "what is permitted to one person or group, is not permitted to everyone."[2] It is also used as the maxim for victor's justice, where a State that wins a war tries and punishes the vanquished, while avoiding such procedures with their own personnel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Terence: Heauton Timorumenos". Retrieved March 27, 2014. 
  2. ^ D. J. Boggs, Challenges to the Rule of Law: Or, Quod Licet Jovi Non Licet Bovi. Cato S. Ct. Rev. 2007: 7-18