In Roman mythology, Veritas, meaning truth, was the goddess of truth, a daughter of Saturn, and the mother of Virtus. It was believed that she hid in the bottom of a holy well because she was so elusive. Her image is shown as a young virgin dressed in white.
Veritas is also the name given to the Roman virtue of truthfulness, which was considered one of the main virtues any good Roman should possess. In Greek mythology, Veritas is known as Aletheia (Ancient Greek: ἀλήθεια) and is the daughter of Zeus, or a creation of Prometheus. Veritas was often depicted nude, holding a hand mirror.
This Latin word "veritas" now appears in the mottos of many colleges and universities. It is typically capitalized in mottos (as "Veritas") for being an ideal (such as: Truth, Kindness and Beauty). Veritas is the motto of Hutchesons' Grammar School, Harvard University, The University of Western Ontario, Drake University, Knox College (Illinois), Bilkent University, the University of California - Hastings College of the Law, as well as the Dominican Order of the Roman Catholic Church, and Providence College, which is run by the Dominicans. Additionally, the Buckley School of the City of New York employs the phrase Honor et Veritas as their school motto. The University of Indonesia included Veritas in "Veritas, Probitas, Iustitia" as their motto. University of Cape Coast in Ghana also included Veritas in "Veritas Nobis Lumen". University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong also included Veritas in "sapientia et virtus".
Caldwell College in Caldwell, New Jersey issues a "Veritas Award" each year in honor of the Dominican Sisters who founded and administer the college. "Veritas" is included in the motto of Indiana University and Yale University, Lux et Veritas ("Light and Truth"). It also appears on the California State University's motto Vox Veritas Vita ("Speak the Truth as a way of Life"). "Veritas vos liberabit" ("The Truth Will Set You Free") is the motto of The Johns Hopkins University. Veritas Curat ("Truth Cures") is the motto of the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, a medical school in Puducherry, India. Howard University, in Washington, D.C., goes by the motto "Veritas et Utilitas", translated to "Truth and Service". It also exists in the logo of Seoul National University, Korea: "Veritas Lux Mea" – meaning "Truth is my light". Villanova University also uses Veritas in its school motto, Veritas, Unitas, Caritas ("Truth, Unity, Love"). Uppsala University in Sweden also uses Veritas in its school motto, "Gratiae veritas naturae".
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Navy's primary counterintelligence arm and law enforcement agency, uses the motto on its official seal.
- Mercatante, Anthony S. The Fact on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend. Facts on File, 1988, p. 654, ISBN 0-8160-1049-8.
- Pindar Olympian Ode 10: But come, Muse, you and the daughter of Zeus, unforgettable Truth: with the hand that puts things right, keep from me the blame for lying, for wronging my friend. Approaching from far away, the future has arrived and made me ashamed of my deep debt. Still, payment with interest has a way of dissolving the bitter reproach of men.
- Aesop Fables 530 (from Phaedrus Appendix 5): Prometheus, that potter who gave shape to our new generation, decided one day to sculpt a statue of Truth, using all his skill so that she would be able to regulate people's behaviour. As he was working, an unexpected summons from mighty Jupiter called him away. Prometheus left cunning Trickery in charge of his workshop (Trickery had recently become one of the god's apprentices). Fired by ambition, Trickery used the time at his disposal to fashion with his sly fingers a figure of the same size and appearance as Truth with identical features. When he had almost completed the piece, which was truly remarkable, he ran out of clay to use for her feet. The master returned, so Trickery quickly sat down in his seat, quaking with fear. Prometheus was amazed at the similarity of the two statues and wanted it to seem as if all the credit were due to his own skill. Therefore, he put both statues in the kiln and when they had been thoroughly baked, he infused them both with life: sacred Truth walked with measured steps, while her unfinished twin stood stuck in her tracks. That forgery, that product of subterfuge, thus acquired the name of Falsehood, and I readily agree with people who say that she has no feet: every once in a while something that is false can start off successfully, but with time the Truth is sure to prevail.
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- History of Truth: The Latin "Veritas"
- Aletheia and Other Terms for Truth in Ancient Greek—Origins and developments of the concept of Truth (From the Greek "Aletheia" to the Latin "Veritas")