Esse quam videri
is a Latin
phrase meaning "To be, rather than to seem
". It has been used as motto
by a number of different groups.
Esse quam videri
is found in Cicero
's essay "On Friendship" ("la:Laelius de Amicitia
", chapter 98). "Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt
" (Few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so).
Just a few years after Cicero, Sallust used the phrase in his Bellum Catilinae (54.6), writing that Cato the Younger "esse quam videri bonus malebat" (He preferred to be good rather than to seem so).
Previous to both Romans, Aeschylus used a similar phrase in Seven Against Thebes at line 592, at which the scout (angelos) says of the seer/priest Amphiaraos: "ou gar dokein aristos, all' enai thelei" (his resolve is not to seem the best but in fact to be the best). Plato quoted this line in Republic (361b).
In "The Prince", Niccolò Machiavelli twists this phrase to Videri Quam Esse (To seem rather than to be) with respect to how a ruler ought to act.
Usage as a motto
Esse quam videri is the state motto of North Carolina, adopted in 1893.
It is unusual that until the act of 1893 the sovereign state of North Carolina had no motto since its declaration of independence. It was one of the few states which did not have a motto and the only one of the original thirteen without one.
The state motto has also been adopted by the Virginia class submarine USS North Carolina.
Esse quam videri
is (or was) the motto of a number of schools around the world including:
- Academy of the Holy Names Tampa, Florida
- Albert Academy Freetown, Sierra Leone
- S. Anselm's Preparatory School Bakewell, England
- Appalachian State University (1899) Boone, North Carolina, USA
- Ashford School (1899) Ashford, Kent, England
- Ashville College (1877) Harrogate, England
- Beaconsfield Primary School (1883) Tasmania, Australia
- Bennett, Instituto Metodista, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Berklee College of Music Boston, Massachusetts, USA
- Brigham Young University Men's Chorus, Provo, Utah, USA
- Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
- Trevecca Nazarene University, Nashville, Tennessee
- Clifton House Preparatory School Harrogate, England
- Colyton Grammar School (1546) Colyford, England
- Columbia College Chicago (1890) Chicago, Illinois, USA
- Connells Point Public School , Sydney, Australia.
- Cranbrook School Sydney (1918), Sydney, Australia.
- Darwin High School , Darwin, Australia
- Ellis Robins High School, Harare, Zimbabwe
- The Episcopal Academy Merion, Pennsylvania, USA
- The Forest School Winnersh, Wokingham, Berkshire, UK
- Garrison Forest School for Girls (1910) Owings Mills, Maryland, USA
- Groton School (1884), Groton, Massachusetts, USA. The motto changed to "Cui Servire est Regnare" shortly after the school's founding.
- The Hermitage School (1906), Geelong, Australia which has subsequently become that of The Hermitage House, Geelong Grammar School.
- Hampden DuBose Academy, Zellwood, Florida, USA
- Highsted Grammar School, Sittingbourne, Kent, England
- The Hemel Hempstead School , (1931), Hemel Hempstead, England
- The Ellis School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
- Instituto Metodista Bennett (1888) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- KIPP Houston High School, Houston, Texas, USA
- Kutama College Norton, Zimbabwe
- Miami Coral Park Senior High School, Miami, Florida, USA
- Moravian Academy Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA current motto is "mind, body, spirit"
- North Adelaide Primary School, (1877), Adelaide, Australia
- Peace College, (1857), Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
- Queen's College, Queenstown, South Africa
- Rhodesway School, (1958), Bradford, UK
- Rockridge Secondary School, West Vancouver, B.C., Canada
- Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK
- Salisbury School, Salisbury, Connecticut, USA
- Southampton Grammar School for Girls , Southampton, UK
- St. Malachy's Memorial High School (http://stm.nbed.nb.ca/) in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
- Suffield Academy in Suffield, Connecticut, USA.
- Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy , (1999-Present), Rutherford County, NC
- Trevecca Nazarene University , (1901-Present), Nashville, TN
- Truro School , (1880-Present), Truro, Cornwall, UK
- The Boys' Latin School of Maryland (1844), Baltimore, Maryland, USA
- Villa Devoto School (1908) Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Wavell State High School Brisbane, Australia
- St Audries School, West Quantoxhead, Taunton, Somerset, England (since closed and now a hotel)
- Wyomissing Area School District , Wyomissing, PA, USA
- Yeovil School , Yeovil, Somerset, UK
- Scott Park Secondary School(1967)Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
- Magee Secondary School, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
- Queens College Boys High, Queenstown, South Africa
- Augusta Prep, Augusta, Georgia
- Streetsville Secondary School, Streetsville, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
- Accra Academy Senior Secondary School, Accra, Ghana.
"Esse Quam Videri" is also the motto of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority
, founded in 1917 at New York University Law School
"Esse Quam Videri" is also the motto of the Lambda Kappa Sigma sorority , founded in 1913 at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
Phi Lambda Sigma, Lebanon Valley College, est. 1867
Esse quam videri
is the motto used on the coats of arms
of the following families: Acraman
It was also the motto used within the Brockman coat of arms circa 1700.