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I came across this phrase: Potestas est in veritate. Quis vero, robustior.

From what I was told it means: Power is in truth. [He] who has the truth is stronger (more powerful).

However, Google translate instead says: Power is in truth. But who is stronger?

My Latin skills don't go far beyond a few phrases from the Tomb Stone (eg, In vino veritas). And, my googling skills brought me here. :)

Would someone please confirm the meaning of this phrase and whether it is proper Latin?

Thank you!

2 Answers 2

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Potestas est in veritate does indeed mean "Power is in truth" or "There is power in truthfulness," etc.

When it comes to the second part, though, both translations given seem wrong to me. I should say I believe the comma is misleading and does not belong there. The most probable meaning of

Quis vero robustior?

is, especially given the context,

Who is stronger than the truth?

In this interpretation, vero is the ablativus comparationis of verum, "the truth." You could also say: Quis robustior quam verum?

It cannot mean "He who has the truth is stronger," because, well, that's just not what the Latin says. Cui verum, is robustior might work. Google's translation is closer; apparently the algorithm "decided" to translate vero as an adversative particle, "but/however." This is defensible in principle (although in a direct question I would rather expect autem), but makes little sense in context.

Note: veritas can mean "truth" as a concept, or it can mean "truthfulness." Verum, on the other hand, literally "the true," i.e., that which is true, means "truth" in a concrete sense.

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    Interestingly, cui verum, is robustior is very close to the Russian from Vegawatcher's post.
    – cmw
    Apr 11, 2022 at 21:44
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    I think Google's interpretation is by far the default because vērō appears in the adversative adverb's usual, unstressed position. To force its reading as a noun under nuclear sentence stress, one has to fill in this unstressed position with something actually unstressed - enim is the automatic choice. Without this your reading seems all but impossible; if you want to have vērō stressed, the only other option to signal this in writing is to front it to be sentence-initial: vērō quis est rōbustior? Apr 12, 2022 at 1:13
  • @Unbrutal_Russian How about Vero vero quis robustior? 😉 Apr 12, 2022 at 16:41
  • Thanks Sebastian. The phrase does seem to be a mis-translation from Russian into Latin. So, what @Unbrutal_Russian said makes more sense: vero quis est robustior. He knows better ;) :P Thank you guys, this was very helpful. Apr 12, 2022 at 18:42
  • Sebastian: As an editor, the diplomatic term for this is "haplology"; as myself, I can think of some less diplomatic ones xD @InnocentBystander Hehe, but keep in mind that even that word order is still pretty bad because it confusingly switches from vēritās to vērum and starts talking about physical strength, so you start thinking that vērō is a guy's name or means "the correct guy" rather than "the true thing". Apr 12, 2022 at 19:04
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The Latin appears to be offered as a translation of a popular Russian movie quote: сила в правде: у кого правда, тот и сильнее. More here in Russian (https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A1%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B0_%D0%B2_%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%B4%D0%B5) and here in English (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strength_is_in_truth). I don't know enough Russian to confirm whether the last three words are grammatical, but the first part does, I think, mean "Power is in truth. Who(ever) has the truth....(stronger)."

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    Good find. You can tell the Latin is a bad translation of the Russian. They probably should have translated it as "qui verum habet fortior."
    – cmw
    Apr 11, 2022 at 21:44
  • I think you are right. The guy who tried to explain the meaning to me sounded Russian. Apr 12, 2022 at 18:22
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    I wonder if they thought quis vero robustior could be translated as something like "he who is with the truth is stronger." You could twist descriptions of the various uses of these words and their endings to fit that the theory, but these words would never be used together with those meanings Apr 12, 2022 at 18:44

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