Invictus: My head is bloody, but unbowed; I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul

By Anonymous, in 'English to Latin Translation', Oct 22, 2006.

  1. Anonymous Guest

    Hi everyone, I would be forever grateful if someone could help me with a text translation for a tattoo I'm looking to get.

    Since I was very small, I've loved the poem Invictus, by William Ernest Henley. There's one line from it, that I find incredibly inspirational – I guess it's a motto of sorts. This is the poem:

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.


    The line, "My head is bloody, but unbowed," stands out to me. It reminds me of all the things in my life that I've learned from, however scarring. It reminds me to keep my chin up when things seem bleak. It reminds me to be strong when I feel my weakest.

    I've shortened the text I wish to for a tattoo to, "bloody, but undefeated". Can anybody help? The rough version I've come up with is, "Cruentus Sed Invictus"

    Thanks so much! Looking forward to seeing a reply.
  2. Iynx Consularis

    • Consularis
    I think your rough version is pretty good: cruentus sed invictus (sum), presuming you are male-- "(I am) b__y but unconquered".
  3. Anonymous Guest


    thanks lynx. I am male yes... is the "sum" necessary to add to the end?
    J.M likes this.
  4. Akela dat affluenter

    • Princeps Senatus
    No, 'sum' is not necessary, but you could add it if you think the sentence sounds better with it. Latin is quite flexible in this way.
  5. Iynx Consularis

    • Consularis
    I agree that it is unnecessary. I included it in parentheses to make the grammar more clear, but such verbs are often omitted in mottoes and the like. The sum means specifically "I am", the rest "bl__y but unconquered"; the rest also tells that the person referred to is singular and masculine.
    J.M likes this.
  6. Anonymous Guest

    This is my absolute favorite poem as well and I am also considering having these words added to my tattoo, but I am a girl.
    If it is not too much trouble can you tell me how would it change for me

    thank you sooo much
  7. QMF Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Virginia, US
    Well it's my head, so it would be: caput meum cruentum (et/atque/ac) invictum(que) est.
    The est isn't necessarily necessary and all the things in parantheses are your choices of ways to say "and". I suggest using -que (that is, adding the suffix -que to invictum) but I'm just fond of that usage.
  8. deudeditus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris

    cruentus sed invictus sum
    is, as specified before, what you would use if male, so the adjectives cuentus, invictus would need to be changed to the feminine form.

    cruenta sed invicta is what you're after, Louise.

  9. Anonymous Guest

    Thank you Jon
    I think this site is way cool Wish I could speak another language!!!!!

  10. Anonymous Guest

    Nice choice Louise :)

    Language to meet is fascinating, and I wanted my tattoo in latin because I think the language is forever, much like a tattoo would be.
  11. Iynx Consularis

    • Consularis
    I want to be sure we're clear on the endings here. Because "my head" (caput meum) is neuter, it would be cruentum sed invictum (bl__y but unconquered), as per QMF (though he chose to use conjunctions meaning "and" rather than "but").

    To say "I am bl__y but unconquered" one would use cruentus /invictus if male, and cruenta /invicta if female.
  12. deudeditus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Iynx is right, of course. I should have mentioned it, but, alas I did not. Sorry.

  13. Anonymous Guest

    Just wanted to say thank you again I got my tattoo on Sunday on the inside of my right wrist. It looks like this Cruenta
    with flames going thru Sed Invicta which is closest to me hand but ending before Cruenta.
    It looks amazing Everyone that sees it loves it. Sometimes I tell people what it means and sometimes I don't !!!!
    Hope it is ok that I stole your idea Green Balloon!!!

    Take Care all

  14. Anonymous Guest

    'I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.'

    Lovely poem, BTW!
    Can anyone please help me with a Latin translation of these lines?

  15. Iynx Consularis

    • Consularis

    Magister fati mihi sum;
    Navarchusque animae

    I would be very interested in what others think of this, in particular with respect to the question of mihi versus mei.
  16. Anonymous Guest

    "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my sou

    Hi everyone!

    Could somebody help me with the translation of these two:

    1. "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul"

    2. "Either I will find a way, or I will make one"

    I've found some options for the first one on the internet:
    a "Dominus fati mei sum: Dux animae meae sum"
    b "Fati mei dominus: Animae meae dux sum"
    c "Sum dominus fati mei: Sum dux animae meae"

    As you can see they are a bit different.. Which one is the most accurate? Or do you have another suggestion? For the second one I found: "Aut viam inveniam aut faciam". How accurate is it?

    I would really appreciate any help!
    Greetings from Sweden
    Liza :mrgreen:
  17. cepasaccus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    As far as I see all three are correct, but especially in such wisdoms the "sum" is often omitted and hence "Dominus fati mei, Dux animae meae" would also be fine.

    The translation of the second sencence looks to me also good. "viam" could be moved to the beginning: "Viam aut inveniam aut faciam".
  18. Anonymous Guest

    Wow, thank you for your fast answer! What would the correct translation be for "Dominus fati mei, Dux animae meae"?. What does the "sum" do in the other ones?
  19. cepasaccus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    "sum" means "I am". "Dominus fati mei, Dux animae meae" means "Master of my fate, leader of my soul". Because word order is not so strict as in English there are a lot of possibilities. Also an "ego" can be added to really emphasize that is "I" who is responsible, e.g. "Ego sum dominus fati mei, dux animae meae".
  20. Iynx Consularis

    • Consularis
    1. To make things a little more explicit: we are dealing here with the last two lines of Henle's Invictus. In the context of that piece I think that Cepasaccus is quite right; one might well include the personal pronoun (ego).

    Personally, I don't care for that dux. I think that we have a nautical metaphor here, and would go with navarchus or navicularius, or perhaps gubernator, or even magister (provided we have not used the last in the first half of the quotation, in preference to dominus).

    Magister mei fati sum ego; ego sum animae meae navarchus.

    2. For your second quote we have not such freedom, because it is a commonplace in Latin; your version is fine.

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