I was thinking of "homo superus/superior" but I don’t know which one is better.

I’m referring to the concept introduced by Nietzsche.

3 Answers 3


My vote would be for homo superior for two reasons.

First, linguistically, adding the Über- prefix does create something of a comparative. The Übermensch is more than a man. Homo superus by itself would sound more like "God-man," since superi often refers to the gods.

The second reason is that Homo superior was coined already in 1935 by Olaf Stapledon to describe the next evolution of humans. He based the term on Nietzsche's Übermensch. Even David Bowie nods to it in his song "Oh, You Pretty Thing" (which, by the way, is an excellent segue from "Changes," the first track on Hunky Dory).

Given this history, I see no reason to adopt less clear superus when homo superior works so well.


The word history of Übermensch is discussed extensively in the DWB (link below). The word was first used in Protestant theological writings and later adopted famously by Nietzsche. In both cases, it does not mean a superior sort of man (superior homo), but a new species that will overcome man as he exists now. Thus very clearly Nietzsche (as quoted in DWB) when he says:

ich lehre euch den übermenschen: der mensch ist etwas, das überwunden werden soll ... was ist der affe für den menschen? ein gelächter oder eine schmerzliche scham. und ebendas soll der mensch für den übermenschen sein.

For this Latin „superior homo“ is not satisfactory. I would suggest “humano maior” (greater than man, superhuman), applied to the semi-god Hercules in Ovid, Fasti 2,503.


  • Issues with which term is best aside, I'm not sure that Hercules is a good example of an Übermensch. The Übermensch is the next generation, whereas Hercules is the previous generation (going by Hesiod's "Ages of Man" myth, which Ovid knew). I'm also not satisfied with maior as a noun in this sense. I am curious though to know what Protestant writings mention it before Nietzsche. I'm unfamiliar with its pre-Nietzschean history.
    – cmw
    Jul 27, 2022 at 4:05

The general Latin word for this is heros which is derived from Greek and related to our word "hero" and means a man of vastly superior abilities and quality.

Another word used for the superman in Roman philosophy is the Sapiens, the ideal man having all virtues. This concept is particular to the Stoic philosophy and is described in detail by Seneca in his letters to Lucilius (see Ad Lucilium epistulae morales by Seneca). Roman stoicism was closely related to the mos maiorum--the way of the ancients--the ideal set of behavior believed to be possessed by the perfect Roman.

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