For a cartoon project about a veterinary office, I need to translate below phrase into Latin. The shorter, better as it’s going to be the slogan/motto.

"No virtue in being a humankind."

It literally means humankind is no higher than other creatures. I found these so far: nulla virtus in humanum (this one so far looks the best) OR nulla virtus in homine OR homines.

  • Welcome to the site! Could you tell us what you have tried already? E.g. what words have you found? It is great that you already provide the context, by the way: that really helps. I wonder about a humankind: what do you mean by that, exactly? It sounds a bit odd to me (but I'm a dog...). – Cerberus Nov 8 '19 at 23:47
  • Hi, thnx!! It literally means humankind is no higher than other creatures. I found these so far: nulla virtus in humanum (this one so far looks the best) OR nulla virtus in homine OR homines – AL Y. Nov 9 '19 at 3:21
  • OK I understand. It would be great if you could add that to your question, so that answerers may see it. – Cerberus Nov 9 '19 at 3:27
  • In clear: try to translate the sentence first by your own, and give us the result. – Quidam Nov 12 '19 at 10:37

For "no virtue" as in "there is no virtue", the phrase nulla virtus is great. The harder decision is what to follow it with.

The only grammatical one of your suggestions is in homine, "in human". That would amount to "[there is] no virtue in a human". If that matches your intention, you can go with that. The options in humanum and in homines don't work. If you want the plural "in humans", use in hominibus.

One word worth considering is humanitas, meaning "humanity" or "human nature" or "mankind" or other similar things. My suggestion is nulla virtus in humanitate, "[there is] no virtue in mankind". The word order in humanitate nulla virtus also works (thanks TKR!). I think that captures the original idea quite well. The word humanitas has a wide range of meanings, some of which are more positive that you would like here, but I would not consider that an issue; the fact that there is no virtue in it puts it in suspicious light anyway.

Do not trust Google Translate with Latin. It is very unreliable, and often suggests nonsensical translations.

  • Thank you for your input. Not yet very familiar with how this site works so pardon me if I’m no using the commenting feature properly. I’m now between Humanum and Humanitate. According google translate, Humanum translates to Human Race (which I mean exactly) but Humanitate means Humanity. Humanity itself can mean either “Human Race” or “Humaneness; benevolence”. I think the second meaning (Humaneness) which has a positive feeling is more common for humanity & people use mankind/humankind/human being usually to refer to human race. So according this don’t you think Humanum is more appropriate? – AL Y. Nov 9 '19 at 23:18
  • @ALY. Take a look at our introductory tour to learn the basics of the site functionality. Do not trust Google Translate with Latin at all, as the results are horrible. The option in humanum is not valid Latin. If you want to say "in human" or "in humans", say in homine or in hominibus. It is indeed true that humanitas as a wide range of meanings, but it also includes the human race. I would still consider in humanitate best, but in homine/hominibus is also possible. – Joonas Ilmavirta Nov 10 '19 at 11:12
  • Joonas, what do you think of the word order alternative In humanitate nulla virtus? – TKR Dec 10 '19 at 22:52
  • @TKR It's a very good alternative. I edited it in. Thanks! – Joonas Ilmavirta Dec 11 '19 at 8:53

I was thinking along the same lines as Nickimite. The first sentence of Sallust's De coniuratione Catilinae says:

omneis homines, qui sese student praestare ceteris animalibus, summa ope niti decet, ne vitam silentio transeant veluti pecora, quae natura prona atque ventri oboedientia finxit.

'It's fitting that all humans who are eager to stand above all other animals strive with all their might not to pass through life un-talked-about, like cattle, which nature has fashioned face-down and obedient to their stomach.

By saying 'all other animals,' Sallust acknowledges that humans themselves are just animals (though we're capable of rising above the level of the rest through effort). There's also I nice contrast between standing (the root of praestare) and being face-down (prona). I suggest an adaptation of this sentence – for example:

homines minume praestant ceteris animalibus.

'Humans don't stand above all other animals.'

Other arrangements of the Latin sentence are possible – for example:

minume praestant homines ceteris animalibus.

This version emphasizes the negative: 'It not at all the case that humans stand above all other animals.'

ceteris animalibus minume praestant homines.

Since the verb praestare literally means 'to stand in front of,' the word order of this version helps underscore the meaning of the sentence by actually putting the rest of the animals before humans.


Since this answer has now spawned a related question, I'll point out that I used the form minume, instead of the more commonly seen classical form, minime, solely because I was adapting a passage from Sallust, and he uses such 'archaic' forms as a matter of style. It can easily be replaced with minime without any change in meaning.


If you want to say that humankind doesn't go above other creatures, a good translation would be

Homo omnia non superat. "Man does not conquer all things"


It is actually quite difficult to find out a proper translation without betraying the Latin and classical spirit!

In the Latin world the importance of animals is mainly about what they represent: love for example (the passer of Catullo to Lesbia), they are messengers of human feelings. But they can also represent human virtues and vices, stereotyped and even stigmatized behaviors (just think to Phaedrus and its fables).

Nevertheless, if you are looking for an exact translation to "No virtue in being a humankind", we can easily express it as

Nulla virtus in esse homo.

However, I would suggest also another sentence, that in my opinion strictly links humans and animals, without removing any virtue from both. No classical reference, just me, so see if you may like it...

Homines prosint animalibus et animalia hominibus, meaning "Let humans be of benefit to animals, and animals to humans"; which probably is also related to the office in question and the veterinary work.

Edit 15/12/2019:

Note that, in classical Latin at least, you can't make esse (or any other infinitive) the object of in (or any other preposition). Or perhaps this is a Medieval or later construction that aims to imitate a Greek articular infinitive?

You are perfectly right, this construction is Medieval:

enter image description here

In his De decem praeceptis (Collatio V), S. Bonaventura writes "In esse naturae filius non est coaequus patri". There are also other examples of the same expression, even stronger than the often used in philosophy in esse, in posse.

As written in the comments, I took the freedom to choose the use of the nominative case. In general, this is not a mistake; in some grammars, where sometimes impersonal examples are displayed, it's easy to find the verb as an infinitive, and the subject in nominative: enter image description here

Certainly, if we had an infinitive sentence (such as a subjective or an objective), we could only use the accusative case for the subject of the verb, but here, in the phrase I wrote, we have a substantivized infinitive, which does not make the sentence an infinitive one.

  • 1
    Note that, in classical Latin at least, you can't make esse (or any other infinitive) the object of in (or any other preposition). Or perhaps this is a Medieval or later construction that aims to imitate a Greek articular infinitive? I do quite like your second translation, though I'm not sure it very accurately captures the sentiment that the original poster is trying to express. – cnread Dec 13 '19 at 19:55
  • Thanks for your comment! I perfectly agree with you. Yes, I'm aware that mine is quite a risky attempt, on the line of the Medieval in esse, in posse, etc. It is true that I took the freedom of using esse as a nominal predicate accompanied by a noun and not as a verbal one – Shootforthemoon Dec 13 '19 at 20:11
  • Ah, so it is a Medievalism then. Interesting. And would nominative case be used for the predicate noun with such an infinitive? In classical Latin, an accusative would be used. So, for 'To be a human is x', I'd say esse hominem est…. – cnread Dec 13 '19 at 22:09
  • The verb esse is never transitive, so we cannot use an accusative; we should say esse homo est..., where homo is the one who accomplishes the action or the state expressed by the verb, although the subject of the whole sentence is esse homo itself. – Shootforthemoon Dec 14 '19 at 9:06
  • @cnread For the use of nominative: this comes from a relatively recent book, Logica Magna: fascicule VIII, part 1: Tractatus de Necessitate. i.stack.imgur.com/LJCUl.png, while this other comes from an older work (De Aristotelis casu et contingenti. Dissertatio inauguralis, etc): i.stack.imgur.com/OjGA9.png – Shootforthemoon Dec 14 '19 at 9:15

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