Ever to Excel

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"Ever to Excel" is the English translation of the Ancient Greek phrase 'αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν' aièn aristeúein. It has been used as motto by a number of educational institutions.

Origin and etymology[edit]

The phrase is derived from the sixth book of Homer's Iliad, in which it is used in a speech Glaucus delivers to Diomedes. During a battle between the Greeks and Trojans, Diomedes is impressed by the bravery of a mysterious young man and demands to know his identity. Glaucus replies: "Hippolochus begat me. I claim to be his son, and he sent me to Troy with strict instructions: Ever to excel, to do better than others, and to bring glory to your forebears, who indeed were very great ... This is my ancestry; this is the blood I am proud to inherit."

Usage as a motto[edit]

Engraving of the motto on Bapst Library at Boston College

The phrase has been used as the motto of a number of schools and universities, mainly in the United Kingdom, notably the University of St Andrews,[1] but also in the United States and Canada. These include schools such as Caistor Grammar School, The Edinburgh Academy,[2] Kelvinside Academy[3] and Old Scona Academic High School,[4] as well as universities such as Boston College.[5] It is also the motto of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff.


  1. ^ "Coat of Arms". University of St Andrews. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  2. ^ "Edin Acad". Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Kelvinside". Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Old scona" (PDF). Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Boston College". Retrieved 30 January 2013.