Is this an accurate Latin translation of "God himself will come to the aid of those who help themselves?": Sese iuvantes Deus ipse adiuvat (or adiuvabit)?

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    Welcome to the site! Do this question and the corresponding answers help?
    – Rafael
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 12:17

2 Answers 2


It is a very ancient proverbial topos, widespread in Greece (cfr. Aeschylus, Pers. 742 and fr. inc. 395 Radt; Euripides, IT, 910-911) and Rome.

In Latin you can consider:

  • Varr. rust. 1,1,4: dei facientes adiuvant
  • Hor. serm. 1,9,59-60: nil sine magno / vita labore dedit mortalibus

The same topos underlies the concept expressed by Sallust Cat. 52.59: non votis neque suppliciis muliebribus auxilia deorum parantur; vigilando, agundo, bene consulendo prospere omnia cedunt, and in Erasmus' Adagia (3,1,55) we find industriam adiuvat deus.

Considering Varro's text, I would suggest “Ipse Deus sese iuvantes adiuvat”, but your sentence might be fine too.

  • To all those can be added the hundreds of phrases about fortuna and audentes.
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 13:08
  • Of course. I preferred to cite some examples where there is a god who helps those who work for themselves.
    – qwertxyz
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 13:26
  • Don't let Fortuna hear you talk about her like that!
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 13:29
  • Sure, but the topos with Fortuna (Fortes Fortuna adiuvat, cf. eg Ter. Phorm. 203; Cic. fin. 3,4,16; Liv. 8,29,5 and 34,37,4; Plin. ep . 6,16,11) has a different semantic value; also, in Audentes Fortuna iuvat (Verg. Aen. 10.284), audentes properly designates a temporary state of mind which is just the opposite of fortis
    – qwertxyz
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 13:41
  • That was tongue-in-cheek, of course, but I do think the Romans would have been cognizant of the semantic overlap of Fortuna (dea) and fortuna (idea). In some ways, I'd also argue that audentes is a closer analogue to the iuvantes - in both cases the object of the gods' aid is doing something on their own accord, whereas fortes describes what those people simply are. All are temporary, though, since as we all know, valet ima summis deus/Fortuna.
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 14:04

Where did you get the Latin from? Did you translate it yourself? Providing more details will always yield a better and more accurate response.

The Latin as you have it is technically correct. Deus ipse is in the nominative, adiuvat is present tense, iuvantes is plural accusative participle, the object of adiuvat, and sese is an acceptable form of the reflexive, also in the accusative because it's now the object of iuvantes. More literally, "God helps the ones helping themselves."

  • 1
    Thanks very much for your comment. I translated this version of the common adage "God helps those who help themselves," into Latin, after slightly modifying it for emphasis, because I could not find a literal Latin translation online. I then posted the question to reassure myself that my (German) high school Latin (4 years),which is 1960's vintage and thus very rusty, was still adequate for a simple task like this. Thanks again!
    – Harry B.
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 23:05

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