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What is the most accurate translation for the command "Be of highest value!"? The meaning of the phrase is to behave as someone who brings out the best in others. As in, be the highest value person (for others, or to others)... Imagine it as advice a wise elder is imparting to a young man.

This translation will be engraved on a piece of jewelry.

Google Translate offered many translations, which I generated starting from both English and Italian, two languages I am fluent in. While I don't have the full record of prompts used in Google Translate, they focused on varieties of: "be the highest value"; "be of the highest value"; "be of highest value"; "sii l'altissimo valore"; "sii di altissimo valore"; "sii di valore altissimo".

erit summum valorem

esse maximi pretii

erit magni pretii

esse summi pretii

esse summum valorem

Google Translate offered a variety for each word in the phrase:

Be - erit & esse

highest - summum, maximi, magni, & summi

value - valorem & pretii

...leaving me a little confused on how to best express this translation. Thus, I have come to the community for help. Thanks in advance.

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    What do you mean by 'be of highest value'? It is grammatical but unusual English, and I can imagine various different possible interpretations. It could also be helpful if you mentioned the Italian phrase you have in mind, if that's what you started with.
    – dbmag9
    Jan 9, 2023 at 21:32
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    @dbmag9 I updated the post with answers to your questions. Jan 9, 2023 at 22:03

1 Answer 1

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I would use the future imperative "You shall be..." along with a genitive of quality.

I think that summus may be better than maximus as it is well attested with virtus 'value' (both moral and military — which in the Roman spirit is embrassed under a single notion), and faithfully conveys the idea of highness.

  • I found in Titus-Livius, History of Rome (XXII):

per summam virtutem se patriae restituerunt
"by their supreme courage, they restored themselves to their fatherland"
(translation by Benjamin Foster, Loeb edition)

  • And in Cicero, Against Verres (II, 2):

propter summam virtutem summamque nobilitatem
"thanks to his very high virtue and nobility" (translation mine)

Also, if you wish to emphasize the adjective, i.e. "of the highest value you shall be", it might be a good idea to put the verb in the middle (it's also more "maxim-style").

I therefore suggest:

SUMMAE ESTO VIRTUTIS
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