esse quam videri

to be, rather than to seem

Notes

Truly being something, rather than merely seeming to be something. Motto of many institutions. From chapter 26 of Cicero's De amicitia ('On Friendship'). Earlier than Cicero, the phrase had been used by Sallust in his Bellum Catilinae (54.6), where he wrote that Cato esse quam videri bonus malebat ('he preferred to be good, rather than to seem so'). Earlier still, Aeschylus used a similar phrase in Seven Against Thebes, line 592, ou gar dokein aristos, all' enai thelei; 'he wishes not to seem the best, but to be the best'.

Words

  • essebe, nature of being