Non nobis solum

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Non nobis solum (English: not for ourselves alone) is a Latin motto. A common variation is non nobis, sed omnibus ("not for us, but for everyone") and non nobis solum, sed omnibus. It means that people should contribute to the general greater good of humanity, apart from their own interests.

"Non nobis solum" on a shield, in crest a lit oil lamp, above the motto "Courage, Industry, Purity."
Non nobis solum on the seal of Massanutten Academy.

The motto is derived from a sentence in Cicero's most influential philosophical work, his treatise On Duties (Latin: De Officiis). In full, Cicero writes, "non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici" ("Not for us alone are we born; our country, our friends, have a share in us"; De Officiis, 1:22). The sentence, as Cicero himself says, is a literal translation of a sentiment from Plato's Letter to Archytas.[1] In the context of the passage, the sentence means that "humans have been created for the sake of others of their kind, indeed, to benefit each other as much as possible".[2] Cicero associates this concept with the Stoic ideal of cosmopolitanism, according to which all men have a natural kinship with all other men and need to "contribute to the general good by an interchange of acts of kindness (officia), by giving and receiving."[3]

The motto is used by numerous organisations, including the United States Army 1st Maintenance Company[4] and schools including Massanutten Academy, Pennthorpe School, Lower Canada College, University College, Durham,[5] University of Victoria's St. Joseph School of Nursing[6] and Willamette University.[7] It is the motto of the Baron Haden-Guest and appears in the Baron's coat of arms. The motto was also incorporated into the coat of arms for Frank Seiberling and appears over the entrance to Stan Hywet, their Akron, Ohio mansion built in the early 1900s.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ps.-Plato, Epistle 9.358a
  2. ^ Dyck, Andrew R. (1996). A Commentary on Cicero, De Officiis. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. pp. 112–113. ISBN 978-0-472-10719-3. 
  3. ^ De officiis 1.22, transl. Walter Miller, 1913
  4. ^ Stein, Barry Jason; Capelotti, Peter Joseph (1993). U.S. Army Heraldic Crests: A Complete Illustrated History of Authorized Distinctive Unit Insignia. University of South Carolina. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-87249-963-8. 
  5. ^ Durham University (2013-06-25). "University Calendar: Arms and Mottos - Durham University". Durham University. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  6. ^ Vogel, Theresa (2010-11-05). "Non nobis solum" (PDF). Washington State History Museum. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  7. ^ Large, Larry (2010-05-15). "Non Nobis Solum Nati Sumus" (PDF). Willamette University. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 

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