I have been trying to understand the relationship between "sum" and "nemo", to create a phrase meaning something like "I am no one". In all the contexts I personally could find them near each other in Latin, they weren't used as a phrase at all (see answers for an example I didn't find). It tends to be something more like (which it has been pointed out is nonsensical):

Dico igitur ab eruditus vir, nisi sapiens, liber sum nemo.

It has been said then, that no one is free except the wise man.

From: Andrews, E. A. (1868). Latin Exercise Adapted to Andrews and Stoddards Latin Grammar. United States: Crocker and Brewster.

I'm not sure where the sum went, unless it's the is? Which makes me wonder if this is something that would make sense at all? It's been quite a few years since my last Latin lesson in grammar, but something seems off.

However, in trying to figure this out I ran across this question, How to say 'I am myself'?, where emphatic translation would be ego egomet sum, with the explanation that egomet/myself is a predicate nominative. Which makes me think that something like ego nemo sum would make sense, as nemo would be a noun modifying ego.

I also read How would you say “we are no one”?, which brings up nihil and says something about "oblique forms", which confused me (because it's incorrect as pointed out in the comments on this question), but seemed to indicate that nihil might be preferable. Which would give us Ego nihil sum, a phrase apparently used by Cicero, but I'm unsure how (I can't find the intended translation of that). Again, it feels a bit strange. Ego nil sum likewise, but it looks to have been used in a poetic/religious sense in places I can't find translations of.

This is my first question, so I apologize if it's less than great, I was a bit overwhelmed trying to write it (It may have taken me about 5 hours originally).

Further context is that this is part of something larger I'm working on, which is trying to figure out the Latin for I am nothing if I am myself. My current understanding is that it'd be Ego nihil sum si ego egomet sum, but something tells me that the first part of that (if it indeed works) would change something about the latter part (irrelevance of word order notwithstanding). I suppose those might be topics for future questions. There is also the question of declaring how Romans would view a self-declaration that you are no one, for another day.

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    Please note that the Latin sentence from E. A. Andrews is grammatical gibberish. It is apparently a form of prose composition exercise where the student is supposed to put all the words in their proper form. I think the proper form is: Dictum igitur est ab eruditissimis viris neminem esse librum nisi sapientem. (Unless I fail at this prose composition exercise, which would not be the first time.) Jun 9, 2020 at 16:32
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    Regarding the remark about oblique forms: “Oblique forms” is a fancy term for “other cases than the nominative,” and the remark is incorrect: the dative and accusative forms nemini and neminem were used in classical Latin. Jun 9, 2020 at 21:40
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    By the way, this is definitely a great first post! Welcome to the site! Jun 9, 2020 at 22:36

1 Answer 1



Nemo est qui... is a common enough formula in Latin, "there is no one who...". Since nemo can be used with est there is no reason it cannot be used with sum.

Indeed the phrase nemo sum homo is attested. See here.

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    Could you provide a bit more context for the latter example? Perhaps how it's used in that sentence?
    – Lulah
    Jun 9, 2020 at 20:57
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    It's a fragmentary text, so there is not a lot of context: Quis tu homo es? nemo sum homo. (What man are you? I am no man.)
    – Figulus
    Jun 9, 2020 at 21:08
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    Excellent. Is the use of both "nemo" and "homo" for emphasis on "man", then?
    – Lulah
    Jun 9, 2020 at 21:21
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    @Lulah Indeed. Nemo homo is actually pleonastic, since nemo is just a contraction for ne homo (no man). So nemo homo is just an emphatic way to say nemo.
    – Figulus
    Jun 9, 2020 at 21:30
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    Makes good sense. So would my original thought of "Nemo sum si egomet sum" would work as an unemphatic "I am no one if I am myself"? Did I go too far with "Ego Nihil..."? Or would that also work as an emphatic version?
    – Lulah
    Jun 9, 2020 at 21:58

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