I'd like to use this phrase: "Do not draw the sword without reason do not sheathe it without honour" in Latin, but unfortunately, I haven't used it in years and wasn't particularly good at it during grammar school either. After looking through an old textbook, I came up with this:

Ne gladium sine causa educas. Ne gladium sine honore recondas.

I found a rule that says if you want to prohibit someone from doing something, you're supposed to use "ne" + conjunctive present tense? I know the individual words but I really have no idea how I'm supposed to put it together and what grammatical rules to use.

Any help appreciated.

  • 2
    I found a rule that says if you want to prohibit someone from doing something, you're supposed to use "ne" + conjunctive present tense? <-- where'd you find that, I wonder. It is usually taught to use the perfect tense. Jan 23, 2022 at 19:20
  • I don't have the book with me right now, maybe I misunderstood something. Do you have some tips for correcting the translation?
    – khai
    Jan 23, 2022 at 20:31
  • There's also "noli" + infinitive for telling someone not to do something. You can also probably miss out "gladium" the second time.
    – outisnemo
    Jan 23, 2022 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


I think your verbs are spot-on, and the negative imperative with ne + conjunctive (or, as our English speaking friends like to call it, subjunctive) is appropriate. However, as I already stated in a comment, the perfect subjunctive is usually used for prohibitive commands.

The problem with honos, as I see it, is that, while it does mean “honour,” it is more in the sense of “esteem” or “sign of esteem.” So ne recondideris sine honore would probably read like “do not put it back without the proper show of respect” or perhaps “without holding it in high esteem” or something of that sort. I assume that's not what you mean; instead I guess what you want to say is “do not give up the fight when it would disgrace you” (e.g. out of cowardice, opportunism, etc).

Therefore I would recommend the adverb inhoneste (dishonorably, disgracefully). Unfortunately that destroys the parallelism with sine, so we might want to look for another adverb; temere (casually, heedlessly) fits the part.

Also, as outisnemo writes in a comment, it is not necessary to repeat gladium. And I would recommend joining the two parts with neque or nec. So a possible form would be: Ne temere eduxeris gladium, nec inhoneste recondideris. But I personally would prefer:

Ne temere eduxeris gladium, nec nisi honeste recondideris.

  • Thank you very much for the thoughtful reply! I really appreciate it. I love your translation, although I don't quite understand why it's "eduxeris" and "recondideris" (conjunctive perfect?)? And also, what would be the literal translation of your suggested translation? "Do not casually draw the sword, nor sheathe it without (nisi?) honour"?
    – khai
    Jan 24, 2022 at 22:54
  • @khai Yes, these should be the perfect conjunctive forms. Nisi = "unless," so that literally translates as "nor sheathe it unless honourably," i.e., "and only sheathe it honourably." Jan 25, 2022 at 23:08

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