Dum spiro spero

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"Dum spiro spero" in a stained glass window at Beverly Unitarian Church in Chicago.


Dum spiro spero, which translates to "While I breathe, I hope."[1] is a Latin phrase of indeterminate origin. It is the motto of various places and organisations, including the U.S. state of South Carolina.

Derivation[edit]

The sense of dum spiro spero can be found in the work of Greek poet Theocritus (3rd Century BC), who wrote: "While there's life there’s hope, and only the dead have none."[2] That sentiment seems to have become common by the time of Roman statesman Cicero (106 – 43 BC), who wrote Atticus: "As in the case of a sick man one says, 'While there is life there is hope' [dum anima est, spes esse], so, as long as Pompey was in Italy, I did not cease to hope."[3]

The phrase had begun appearing in its current form by at least the 1780s, as it is present on a representation of the seal of South Carolina printed in March 1785.[4] At some point, it also became the motto of the town of St Andrews,[5] Scotland, and is visible on heraldry around the town of from the mid-19th century onwards.[6][7]

Usage[edit]

As a motto:


As an inscription:


Other uses:

  • A song called "Dum spiro spero" is the theme for the video game Clive Barker's Undying.[14]
  • Japanese Avant-Garde Metal band Dir en grey named their eighth full length album Dum Spiro Spero.[15]
  • In the TV series Spooks, S8E5, Lucas North has a tattoo Dum Spiro Spero across his shoulders.

Family and individual use[edit]

Dum spiro spero is used as a motto by armigerous families including the Corbet baronets of Moreton Corbet (both creations), the Hoare baronets of Annabella, Co. Cork, and the Viscounts Dillon.[16] The Williamson Clan from Co Donegal, Ireland; and the Scottish Clan MacLennan. Individuals who used the motto include Charles I,[17] King of England; Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak,[18] and the merchant seaman and privateer, later Royal Governor of the Bahama Islands, Woodes Rogers.[19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "dum spiro, spero". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  2. ^ Idyll 4, line 42; translation by A. S. F. Gowin Theocritus ([1950] 1952) vol. 1, p. 37.
  3. ^ Epistulae ad Atticum, Book 9, Letter 10, English (Evelyn Shirley Shuckburgh translation)], Latin
  4. ^ "South Carolina State House | South Carolina State Symbols". www.scstatehouse.gov. Retrieved 2021-11-28.
  5. ^ Porteous, Alexander (1906). The Town Council Seals of Scotland, Historical, Legendary and Heraldic. Edinburgh: Johnston. pp. 270–271.
  6. ^ Stuff, Good. "Town Hall And Library, South Street, St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife". britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-11-28.
  7. ^ "Tour Scotland Photography St Andrews". Blogspot. Archived from the original on 2021-11-28.
  8. ^ "Cothill House (@CothillHouse) | Twitter". twitter.com. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  9. ^ 601skss
  10. ^ Nigel Barley (20 June 2013). White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke. Little, Brown Book Group. pp. 101–. ISBN 978-0-349-13985-2.
  11. ^ Lukas Straumann (21 October 2014). Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia. Schwabe AG. pp. 63–. ISBN 978-3-905252-69-9.
  12. ^ SCIWAY "South Carolina State Seal and South Carolina State Mottos". South Carolina Information Highway. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  13. ^ "Survival tips for life on the Barbary Coast". 14 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Clive Barker's Undying OST". Last FM.
  15. ^ "Dum Spiro Spero by Dir en Grey". Metacritic.
  16. ^ The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Bernard Burke, Harrison & Sons, 1884, pp. 228, 286, 494
  17. ^ Flood, Alison (2018-07-05). "Charles I's 'message for the future' discovered in poetry book". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  18. ^ The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Bernard Burke, Harrison & Sons, 1884, p. 129
  19. ^ The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down

External links[edit]