Strength and honor

By Triarius, in 'Latin Mottoes', Sep 14, 2006.

  1. Triarius New Member

    I'm not sure how often you all get asked this (i'd assume it's fairly often) but how would a centurion or legionaire say "Strength and honor"?

    My friend and i are having a dispute over it.

    He says: Vis et Decus.

    I say: Vis vires et decus.

    Here are the differing terms' definitions.

    vis : force.
    vis vires (pl.) : force, power, strength, might, influence.

    Or are we both wrong and neither of the above is right?
    I want to know if there are any other completely different ways to say it also.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. Cato Consularis

    • Consularis
    Chicago, IL
    I think the problem here is that you are misreading the entry in the dictionary. The word vis itself means "vigor, strength".

    The dictionary should also note that the plural form of this word is vires, -ium -"strengths, forces". In the plural, the word takes on the military connotation of "forces in battle, troops".

    Normally the dictionary gives the nominative singluar form of a noun followed by the genitive singular (to help you figure out the declension and, if necessary, the stem). However, this word is highly irregular (acc. sing. vim, abl. sing. vi) and there are no cases of it used in the genitive or dative singular in the extant literature. I think because of this the dictionary doesn't want to commit to writing a form which we can't show existed. This may have led to your confusion.

    decus is an excellent choice for "honor"--particularly a military honor. The other Latin word is quite obviously honor, which has a secondary meaning of "respect", and is used frequently of elected public officials. For strength, consider virtus, which carries more of the idea of strength as a personal quality than vis.
  3. Triarius New Member

    thank you, your post was very helpful.
  4. Triarius New Member

    does decus have to be conjugated?

    could it be decoris or is decus the correct way to say it.
    (if you are saying it to an individual)
  5. Cato Consularis

    • Consularis
    Chicago, IL
    Decus is the nominative form; that word "nominative" looks like the Latin word nomen - "name", and so it indicates this is the word you use when naming a person/place/thing/idea. It is also the form used when the noun is the subject of a sentence. If you are simply stating the word "honor" as part of a short maxim or such, this is the form you want.

    The way nouns change form depending on how you use them in a statement is called declension (conjugation describes a similar process for verbs). Decoris, for example, is the genitive form; a noun is put into this form if (for example) you want to show that is it the objective aim of another noun, e.g. amor decoris - "the love of honor" (for Latinists, this is obviously not the most common use of the genitive, but with an abstract idea like "honor" it's tough to think of, say, a possessive use).

    To summarize, as a simple declaration, decus is what you want. Decoris would be used if the noun was employed in some other way.
  6. Triarius New Member

    thanks again my firend
  7. Triarius New Member

    I'm also getting this definition for Virtus.

    virtus : manliness, excellence, character, worth, courage.
    virtus : valor, prowess, moral virtue, virtuousness,manhood, power.
  8. Marius Magnus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Virtus = manliness

    This is an interesting correspondence. Note that

    vir = man

    Now, let me engage in some linguistic theorization.

    -tu, I would guess, is cognate to a similar ending in Anglo-Saxon, -thu. -thu is used to form abstract nouns, such as

    strength(u), length(u), width(u), filth(u), etc.

    This immediately reminds me of another Anglo-Saxon noun, now largely extinct:

    were = man

    It remains solely in "werewolf", but it used to be an independent word. let us add -thu to form "manliness":


    And this, of course, sounds like our modern derivative:


    And note, in the dictionary definition given for "virtus", "worth" is among the secondary definitions. Hence,

    virtus = vir-tu-s

    vir ("man") + -tu (abstract noun ending) + -s (nominative ending)
  9. deudeditus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Mari, that was futuentiter awesome!

  10. Triarius New Member

    Wow, that's all.
  11. Marius Magnus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    So the next question is, are there other Latin nouns with -tu that can be analyzed the same way (and perhaps, even matched up to cognate formations in English)? As a hypothesis I would expect the other nouns, if they exist, to belong to the same declension as virtus and to also be masculine. I know that one of the oblique cases of virtus is virtu, but I forget which one and I forget which declension is the "U declension".

    Isn't spiritus a similar word? I know that spir- has to do with breath and breathing...not sure if I can make the full connection right now, though.

    There could also be vowel changes involved, just as in English we have strong, but strength, broad, but breadth, etc. These vowel changes originated by i-mutation (and -ithu may have been the original form of the ending), but English has since lost its rounded front vowels, and long â has changed to oa (e.g. in "oak", "boat", "oat", etc.; these used to be âc, bât, ât, where the circumflexes should actually be macrons).
  12. deudeditus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I thought uirtus was declined as a third declension noun (ie. uirtus, uirtutis, uirtutem, uirtuti, uirtute, etc.). It doesn't matter, really as *uirtu: would be the stem.
    Speaking of spiritus and *-thu:

    Breathe to breath seems (verb to noun rather than adj. to n.), in modren english anyway, to be counter to the mutated vowels in length and breadth. while the 'o' sound mutates to a generally standard 'e' sound, and 'i' usually doesn't experience i-mutation, being already an 'i' sound, the 'i' sound in breathe counter-mutation to an 'e' sound. maybe before a vowel the ending wasn't *-ithu, but *-thu, with the '-u' causing a counter-i-mutation (u-mutation?). maybe this is an example of a verb formed on a noun (in which case, the noun's 'e' would be effected by i-mutation into 'i'.), or maybe nouns formed from verbs would be effected differently than those from adjectives.

    please excuse me if i don't really seem knowledgeable aboot this subject (for I am not in the slightest bit learned in this respect). :oops:

    Good sausage,

  13. Marius Magnus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Breathe vs. breath is actually a totally different issue; sorry for the confusion. The distinction in Anglo-Saxon was probably long-short rather than vowel mutation (i.e., "breathe" had a long vowel and "breath" a short one, but the vowels were of the same quality). And the -th is "breath" is not from -thu, in this case.
  14. deudeditus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris

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