Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi
Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi is a Latin phrase, literally "What is legitimate for Jove (Jupiter), is not legitimate for the ox." The phrase was created by Terence, a playwright of the Roman Republic, in reference to the myth wherein Jupiter took the form of a bull to seduce Europa, in the form Aliis si licet, tibi non licet. The rhymed version of the phrase probably was created in the Middle Ages.
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." 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.
- H. J. Rose, A Handbook of Latin Literature, 1954.
- D. J. Boggs, Challenges to the Rule of Law: Or, Quod Licet Jovi Non Licet Bovi. Cato S. Ct. Rev. 2007: 7-18