I am translating an unpublished philosophy text into Latin and I am having a little trouble with the following sentence.

I am not the only conscious being.

My first attempt was Ēns cōnscius ūnicus nōn sum. but I don't know if the word order is correct and more importantly, if these words are well-chosen. For example, I know that ēns is not found before the Middle Ages but I don't know of any alternative in classical Latin.

Edit: I also thought of Nōn sōlus sum quī sē cōnsciō. thanks to cmw's answer.

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    Welcome to the site! Explaining your thought process on why you chose what you chose will help yield better answers. There are much simpler ways to express that, but they risk missing points of the text (since it's presented without context). For example, is "being" an important distinction? Could it not be homo or simply the adjective used substantively?
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 12:13
  • Thanks for your comment but I'm afraid I don't have much to say about the process. It's just picking the word that seems to fit best from a dictionary whenever I hesitate (solus for example is closer to alone than to only from what I understood). As for the sentence itself, yes it is important that there is no reference to men specifically. The point is really consciousness, so a noun from the adjective conscius would fit but I thought that was grammatically correct only in the plural. Thanks again.
    – user9785
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 12:29

1 Answer 1


I would go with something like:

Nōn sōlus sum quī conscĭus sim.
I am not the only one who is conscious.

Cf. the line in the Satyricon:

ait Trimalchio: 'solus sum qui vera Corinthea habeam.'
Trimalcho said, "I am the only one who holds the Corinthean truth."

Or the Justinian Code:

solus est, ui per eum seruum possit adquirere.
...he alone who is able to acquire a slave through him.

These two are in the subjunctive, but a look at the formula in later Renaissance texts show them often in the indicative. The former looks like a type of relative clause of characteristic, which isn't really the case in the first example, but that can be explained by A&G 535.a:

A Relative Clause of Characteristic is used after general expressions of existence or non-existence, including questions which imply a negative. So especially with sunt quī [there are (some) who] and quis est quī (who is there who?).

I think this construction fits that pattern, and so it should be subjunctive.

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    I don't understand how it's "way simpler" but the way you got around it is very good in my opinion. Thank you
    – user9785
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 14:49
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    And also habeam is a subjunctive while sum is an indicative, is there a reason for that?
    – user9785
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 14:59
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    @Discupulus I've edited it. You're right, it's not simpler in word count or syntax. I was thinking more along the lines of not using ens, which I would avoid if you wanted to imitate the Classical style. I also explained the subjunctive use in my edit.
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 15:17
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    @Discupulus Yeah, I saw plenty of Neo-Latin authors use the indicative, but I personally would pull for the subjunctive in this case. Cheers.
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 15:22
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    As far as I understand this, using the indicative might result in ambiguity. as it might mean: I, who is conscious, am not alone. , hence indeed the subjective might be preferred as it prevents this kind of meaning.
    – d_e
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 15:37

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