Suum cuique

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Medal of the Order of the Black Eagle, with the motto "SUUM CUIQUE" in the center.
Emblem of the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland, including the motto "SUUM CUIQUE"

"Suum cuique" (Classical Latin pronunciation: [ˈ ˈkuj.kʷe]) is a Latin phrase often translated as "to each his own" or "may all get their due". It has been significant in the history of philosophy and as a motto.



The Latin phrase relates to an old Greek principle of justice which translates literally into English as "to each his own". In Plato's Republic, Socrates offers the provisional definition that "justice is when everyone minds his own business, and refrains from meddling in others' affairs" (Greek: "...τὸ τὰ αὑτοῦ πράττειν καὶ μὴ πολυπραγμονεῖν δικαιοσύνη ἐστί...", 4.433a). Everyone should do according to his abilities and capabilities, to serve the country and the society as a whole. Also, everyone should receive "his own" (e.g., rights) and not be deprived of "his own" (e.g., property) (433e). Aristotle took up this conception of distributive justice as an alternative to justice as fairness in his Nicomachean Ethics.

The Roman author, orator and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC) popularised the Latin phrase:

  • "Iustitia suum cuique distribuit." ("Justice renders to everyone his due.") - De Natura Deorum, III, 38.
  • [...] ut fortitudo in laboribus periculisque cernatur, [...], iustitia in suo cuique tribuendo." (" [...] so that fortitude (courage) may be seen in hardship and danger, [...], justice in attributing to each his own".) - De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, liber V, 67.

The phrase appears near the beginning of Justinian's Institutiones: iuris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. (Inst. 1,1,3-4). (Translated into English: "the precepts of law are these: to live honestly, to injure no one, [and] to give to each his own".)


Suum cuique serves as the motto of the Order of the Black Eagle (German: Hoher Orden vom Schwarzen Adler; founded in 1701), the highest order of chivalry of the Kingdom of Prussia.

The motto continues in use in Germany - in the insignia of the military police (the Feldjäger) and in association with the Berlin-based Masonic Lodge, Black Eagle Lodge (German: Johannisloge Zum schwarzen Adler).[1]

The Faculty of Advocates in Scotland uses the motto Suum cuique.

The phrase also serves as the motto of the Faculty of Law at Lund University in Sweden.

In popular culture[edit]

Valentin Pikul's 1985 novel on the career of the French General Jean Victor Moreau (1763-1813), Kazhdomu svoyo, uses as its title a Russian-language version of suum cuique.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of suum cuique at Wiktionary
  • Media related to Suum cuique at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Cicero at Wikiquote


  1. ^ "Wir über uns". Johannis-Loge - Zum schwarzen Adler - Freimaurer Berlin (in German). Johannis-Loge. 2013. Retrieved 2016-07-22. Suum Cuique [...] Die Gründer unserer Loge haben sowohl den Namen unserer Loge als auch ihr Logenabzeichen, das so genannte Bijou und unser Siegel, dem alten preußischen 'Hohen Orden vom Schwarzen Adler' nachempfunden. [...] Der Wahlspruch des Ordens lautete 'suum cuique' lat. für 'Jedem das seine' und bedeutet soviel wie Recht und Gerechtigkeit üben und jedem das Seine zu geben.[...] Dies ist auch unser Anspruch und der Leitgedanke der unsere Arbeit bestimmen soll.