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I am creating a family coat of arms and at the bottom I would like to write the motto "Noble of heart" in Latin. The underlying meaning is that true nobility is of the heart, not of money or ancestry.

Do you think the translation "Nobilis Cordis" is suitable?


French


Bonjour à tous.

Je suis en train de fabriquer des armoiries de famille.

J'aimerais écrire une devise sous le blason :

"Noble de coeur", en latin.

"Noble de coeur" vient en opposition à "noble de lignée", dans le sens "la vraie noblesse est celle du coeur". Et non celle du sang, des biens matériels ou de l'argent.

Pensez-vous que "Nobilis Cordis" soit correct ?

Merci beaucoup !

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    Welcome to the site! You can also include a French version of your question if you are at all unsure about the wording in English. Just edit your question and put the French one at the end. Many of us know enough French for that to be useful.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 24, 2022 at 8:34
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    Not an answer, but a written thought from the guts: I think cor,-dis needs ablative here: discite a me, quia mitis sum et humilis corde (Mt 11:29). Hence probably nobilis corde. Not sure about the figurative meaning of nobilis though.
    – Rafael
    Mar 24, 2022 at 11:51
  • Done, I put the original french version :)
    – Francky
    Mar 26, 2022 at 8:26
  • Ok I guess you're right for corde and not cordis
    – Francky
    Mar 26, 2022 at 8:26

1 Answer 1

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As Rafael has already commented, we would typically put cor in the ablative case here, and say nobilis corde.

Cor, like English “heart,” is not just the organ (or, as Lewis & Short put it in their inimitable style, “the chief source of the circulation of the blood”), but also the soul, feeling, or courage. I think it fits quite well, and there is no need to look for alternatives, although animus would also be a good fit.

Nobilis can indeed mean “noble” in the idealistic sense (not as in “aristocratic”), as the Valerius Maximus example shows; however, it is quite tightly associated with the idea of high birth. Perhaps you might prefer the more general term generosus.

Who or what is noble of heart? Presumably your family, that is to say, your familia, gens, stirps, domus. These all happen to be feminine, so I would suggest generosa corde. (In case you are wondering, in principle the same issue arises with nobilis, but that form can be masculine or feminine – neutral would be nobile.)


It is perhaps worth mentioning that nobilis cordis would not be incorrect either. This is because nobilis is attested with the genetive, as in Curtius et animi et generis nobilissimus adulescens (Valerius Maximus 5, 6, 2) However, some editions (including the one linked here!) have nobilissimi instead, which may perhaps be due to an uneasiness on part of the editors with the genetive construction. In that reading, nobilissimi modifies et animi et generis, and the meaning is “of the most noble mind and pedigree.” This would also work with nobilis cordis (alternatively generosi cordis), but I don't think it sounds so good as a standalone motto.

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  • This is a good answer and I agree. In particular, you'd use corde because this is a situation for the ablative of specification, no? Mar 24, 2022 at 19:25
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    @AlabamaScholiast Ita vero, tametsi illam sententiam apud Allen & Greenough corde assentior, “As the Romans had no such categories as we make, it is impossible to classify all uses of the Ablative.” 😉 Mar 24, 2022 at 20:11
  • @Sebastian Koppehel: What about the nominative: "longe cor nobilissimum" = "by far the most noble heart"?
    – tony
    Mar 25, 2022 at 9:11
  • @tony no objection from me, but that's not exactly the idea the OP is trying to convey, I believe. Mar 25, 2022 at 20:30
  • I don't know what to say, it's just a full clever answer. I didn't know there were such latin experts here :o Ok for corde and not cordis. Now I have to choose between Nobilis and generosa. I guess I want to say "generous, worker, empathetic, self-sacrifice, etc." In opposite to money or blood descent. I hope I was clearer. According to this, do you think generosa will fit better ? I'm going to make some research about this. I already saw animus, it seems OK but I don't have the opposition with noble of blood descent.
    – Francky
    Mar 26, 2022 at 8:39

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