According to the declension in Wiktionary, tyrannis is a nominative or vocative singular form of tyrannis.

So, I can see a literal translation "Thus always, Tyrant!" using the vocative.

But "to tyrants" implies the dative or genitive plural to me, tyrannidibus or tyrannidum.

(This saying is a paraphrased translation into Latin of a quote from the Iliad, done in Colonial Virginia, used as the motto of Virginia and famously cried by John Wilkes Booth inside Ford's Theater right after he shot Lincoln in 1865.)

1 Answer 1


This is not tyrannĭs, a form of tyrannis "tyranny", but tyrannīs, a form of tyrannus "tyrant".

Without the macron, it could also be read as "thus always, o tyranny", but that doesn't make as much sense as "thus always to tyrants" (i.e. "this is what always happens to tyrants").

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    In a more meaningful way, without the macron it could also be ‘tyranny is always thus’ (sic [est] semper tyrannĭs), with a nominative rather than vocative. Commented Feb 20 at 13:37

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