While shopping for Gold online, I've come across this coin which is engraved with the following writings:

ens causa sui and ex unitae vires

Now, you would think a quick online search would return a mostly direct translation of ens causa sui but it appears there are many ever so slightly different interpretations of the meanings which has yet to give me the certainty of what it really means.

This is the coin from the movie John Wick. Perhaps this could add more context to it?

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    Pics of the coin in question. Typo and all. (i.sstatic.net/xS8Zt.jpg) (i.sstatic.net/T2Ewc.jpg) Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 20:32
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    @Awe.and.inspire I converted your answer into a comment because it did not answer the question. I suggest you take a look at our tour. Welcome to the site, by the way! If you have questions about Latin or answers to existing questions, feel free to go ahead and post them.
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 3:34
  • As Ayn Rand has explained it: “Man—every man — is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.” Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 8:47

2 Answers 2


The second motto is an embarrassing typo for a similar phrase. Ex Unitate Vires literally means, "From Unity, Strength."

"Ex unitae vires" doesn't make any grammatical sense. Why someone would impress such a solecism on 1 oz of gold, without checking for typos, is beyond my ability to comprehend.

"Ens causa sui" means, "A being [that is] the cause of itself." The vocabulary is scholastic, but I don't think it is a direct reference. Thomas Aquinas does not speak of God as a "causa sui," but rather as an "uncaused cause." He does, however, speak of "freedom" as a kind of self-causation.

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    That Aquinas did not speak of God as causa sui may be so, but Spinoza sure did ;-) The specific phrasing Ens causa sui seems to be mostly associated with Sartre, judging by Google Books, though I would have guessed it is older. Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 20:46
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    I am still wrapping my mind around the fact there is a typo on that coin...
    – suchislife
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 12:04
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    @suchislife: You won't be buying it, then?
    – tony
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 15:56
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    @suchislife Coins (and stamps, for that matter) with typos have been coined on purpose before. It can give them added value due to rarity.
    – Rafael
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 21:52
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    The John Wick universe has more wild Latin by the way. Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 22:26

There's an explanation I've read somewhere that philosophical meaning for "ens causa sui" is "being it's own cause". So:

Ex unitate vires: Unity is strength

Ens causa sui: Being it's own cause

  • Perhaps.. "Unity is strength in and of itself"?
    – suchislife
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 17:25
  • Philosophers normally know how to spell.
    – fdb
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 21:20

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