For context, this is for a tattoo I'd like to get but I want to make sure it's syntactically correct as best as possible.

I think the phrase is a great one, however I would very much prefer it to be something along the lines of "determined", "fierce", "resolved" (etc.) instead of "lucky".

So I pose a few questions here - Would it be syntactically correct to simply replace felicem with, for example, Certus?

  • Any recommended words? My Latin knowledge is near enough no better than your average Joe.

  • If this is too complex or can't be done with a high degree of certainty, any alternative phrases with a similar connotation?

(Also. Though I like the phrase, I can't seem to find it's origin. Anyone know?)


2 Answers 2


You asked about its origin. It is in the Sententiae of Publilius Syrus. Here, towards the end of the section devoted to the letter "C".


It is a verse in iambic trimeter, so if you want to replace "felicem" by another word it might be an idea to find one with the same metrical footprint.


Adjective, "felix" is in the accusative case "felicem" (masculine/ feminine) = happy; lucky; fruitful; fortunate; successful. Here, of course, it means "lucky (man)", where "man" is understood. (The Romans used fewer words, than we do, to convey the same meanings.) Therefore, you may substitute any adjective, in the accusative case.

How about "audax" = bold; courageous; audacious; resolute; desperate (Pock. Ox. Lat. Dict.)?

In the requisite accusative case this fellow is: "audacem".

Alternatively, "fortis" = strong, powerful; hardy; courageous; valiant; manful.

Accusative is "fortem".

Good luck with the tattoo!

  • Thanks for the comments so far guys. (I couldn't find a reply button, sorry!). Are there any other words similar to audacem that would allude to valiance, strength or determination that would work? Apologies if that's a naïve question as far as this goes. I really know nothing, not unlike Jon Snow. :(
    – Faz
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 16:22
  • That would leave two adjacent vowels; elision? Contr' audacem...
    – Hugh
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 1:19
  • @Hugh: Does elision disqualify "audacem"?
    – tony
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 12:44
  • It could, but if I remember right it's absolutely not unheard of for a poet to use hiatus to make the meter work out right.
    – Draconis
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 17:24
  • @Faz From the word "commasculo" meaning "to screw up one's courage/to make (one) manly," you could use the past participle "having been made manly/having been invigorated." I lack the knowledge to check if this is idiomatic, so another commenter might be moved to do that.
    – Nickimite
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 18:26

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