How do you say "be one" in Latin?

As an example, Marcus Aurelius famously states (along the lines of) "Stop asking what a good man should be - be one."

I don't think it can be a direct translation; to begin with, I don't think "unum" in Latin carries the same possible pronoun meaning as "one" in English, although I could be wrong.

1 Answer 1


I did some searching, and the quote originally in Greek, from M. Antonius Imperator Ad Se Ipsum, 10.16

Μηκέθ̓ ὅλως περὶ τοῦ οἷόν τινα εἶναι τὸν ἀγαθὸν ἄνδρα διαλέγεσθαι, ἀλλὰ εἶναι τοιοῦτον.

To match the Greek—particularly τοιοῦτον—you'd use talis, meaning "such", to mean "one". I think this would be the option for most cases like this one. As for "be", strictly speaking the singular imperative is "es", and the plural "este". This makes "be one" es talis (speaking to one person) or este talis (speaking to multiple people, where talis is still singular because it agrees with an implied singular subject.)

I think the Greek uses an infinitive construction, viable in Latin as well. It says something like "Don't decide anymore what makes a good man, but instead to be one". Keep in mind, I don't actually know Greek, but in that scenario "to be one" would be in Latin esse talem.

  • 2
    I might suggest esto for the imperative here, since es talis might well be interpreted to mean 'you are one'.
    – Anonym
    Jul 15, 2021 at 21:31

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