Here is The English Gentleman as depicted by Richard Braithwait in 1630:

This is a thirty-part question. Can you tell:

(a) What are the Latin words in each box?

(b) What do they literally mean?

(c) What do they really mean?

I'm not looking for crisp English translations, but brief explanations of the meaning, possibly including stories, traditions, or writings that they allude to.

To illustrate, I can make out that under Education, the motto is Ubera et verbera, which literally means "teats and beatings", but what does that mean? Under Moderation, I think the words are moderata durant, which dictionary definitions suggest means "moderated things endure", but that only reminds me that definitions often fail to convey the meanings of the words they define. The middle box says Spes in cælis, pes in terris, the meaning of which I can see is "Hope in heaven, feet on the ground," but why are cælis and terris in the plural? I can't even make out the Latin words in many of the boxes; maybe if you can recognize traditional mottos, you can make out the text better. (Or maybe you can find a higher-resolution image.)

You don't have to get all ten boxes. I'll give you a +1 if you can get even one of them. Here's a higher-resolution image (thanks to brianpck).

A tangent off of researching this question.

  • Brathwaite, Richard, 1588?–1673, English poet. His Barnabae Itinerarium, a doggerel travelogue of provincial England, was written first in Latin (1636) and later published with an English translation ( Barnabee's Journal, 1638). Because the book was published under the pseudonym Corymbaeus, its true authorship was not discovered until 1818. His other works include The English Gentleman (1630) and The English Gentlewoman (1631), books that emphasized the honorable and generous behavior of the landed gentry. -- Columbia Encyclopedia (accessed via factmonster.com)
    – user1466
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 2:57
  • 1
    I'm liking @sumelic's approach of answering this as community wikis. Considering that this is a thirty-part (or ten-part) question, it makes sense to do it collaboratively. A separate answer for each box ought to keep the collaboration manageable.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 15:15
  • 1
    Here's an explanation by Braithwait himself of a smaller version of the picture, included in a double book with The English Gentlewoman. I believe he also provided an explanation with the original picture. If you can find it, please post the URL in a comment!
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 15:53
  • 1
    Perhaps a moderator can comment, but I get the feeling that this topic is getting out of hand: I don't see how it's easier to track five separate answers. Isn't this just as simple as "Latin text->English translation->possible interpretation," which could easily be accomplished in one canonical answer?
    – brianpck
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 16:08
  • 1
    @brianpck We might well remove the "Latin text" and "Literal meaning" answers once the other answers are done. For now, though, they're a handy place to record what we've learned about those two things, along the way to understanding the allusions and intended non-literal meanings.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 16:15

5 Answers 5


Latin text

This is a community-wiki post for simply establishing the text in the boxes.

The format is original spelling (modernized spelling), with the latter given only when they differ, and uncertain sections in brackets.

The English Gentleman


YOVTH (YOUTH): Virtute tute. Vox læta, ſed anxia lethi. (Vox laeta, sed anxia lethi.)
DISPOSITION: Nitimur in vetitum.
EDVCATION (EDUCATION): Vbera et verbera (Ubera et verbera)
VOCATION: Paſcimur et patimur. (Pascimur et patimur.)

RECREATION: Non arcum ſemper tendit Apollo. (Non arcum semper tendit Apollo.)
ACQVAINTANCE (ACQUAINTANCE): Certus amor morum eſt (est).
MODERATION: Moderata durant
PERFECTION: Hâc cœlum (caelum) petitur viâ

Generoso Germine Gemmo

Relevant Textkit thread: "The English Gentleman Latin Title Page"; the post by "mwh » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:41 am" was used as a source for some of the above.

Humanism and Protestantism in Early Modern English Education by Ian Green (2016), p. 332, includes transcriptions.

Braithwait himself includes the mottos set in type on this fold-out page included with a double book also including The English Gentlewoman. The typeset version has Spes in cœlis while the image above clearly has cælis, but the double book has a different frontispiece, too, which really does have cœlis. The Gentleman in the double book stands over one more motto:

Qui genus jactat suum, aliena laudat

  • The post at the bottom seems spot on, especially considering the higher-res image linked there (which I've used to update the OP).
    – brianpck
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 19:57
  • Ian Green confirms vox læta.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 15:01
  • 'Vox laeta sed anxia lethi,' The sweet but doom-laden Siren voice is here pictured in Homer's landscape, (seascape) Distracting voices luring scholars from their books are attacked in Boethius, opening lines of Consolation; and in Adelard's early work on life choices.
    – Hugh
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 22:41
  • 1
    @Hugh That sounds like it belongs in an answer. Where did you find it?
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 2:28

Literal meaning

This is a community-wiki post for information relating to the meaning of these passages. The Textkit thread "[The English Gentleman Latin Title Page][1]" mentioned in the other answer is again useful. It says (bullets and italics not in the original, but added to make it more readable):

mwh » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:41 am

Yes, "Hope in heaven, foot on earth" though it's snazzier in Latin (pes ~ spes, terris ~ caelis), quite apart from the exemplifying pic. Here's a quick and hesitant stab at the other captions – not to be relied on.

  • Youth. virtute tute (a good jingle), "by virtue safely"; vox laeta, sed anxia lethi (a hexameter ending) "A joyful voice, but one mindful of death" (?, or "distressed by death"?; and how does this relate to the image?)
  • Disposition. "Nitimur in vetitum (a quote from Ovid Amores 3.4), we strive for what is forbidden" (Garden of Eden)
  • Education. Ubera et verbera, "Plenties and beatings"
  • Vocation. Pascimur et patimur (hexameter beginning), "We are fed and we suffer" (again, better in Latin!)
  • Recreation. Non arcum semper tendit Apollo (a not quite accurate quote from Horace Odes), "Apollo does not always stretch his bow" (i.e. shoot)
  • Acquaintance. Certus amor morum est (hexam. beginning), "love of morals (character) is certain" (i.e. something that won't let you down)
  • Moderation. Moderata durant, lit. "Tempered things, things in moderation, last/endure" 0 Perfection. Hac caelum petitur via (modified hex. beginning?), "By this route is Heaven sought"
  • Motto: generoso germine gemmo (alliterative hex. ending), "I grow from noble stock."

I haven't tried to identify the quotes (if that's what they are), beyond the couple I recognized. Maybe others will.


Acquaintance: Certus amor morum est

Certus amor morum est is an excerpt of a line from Ovid's Medicamina Faciei Femineae, ln. 45:

Prima sit in vobis morum tutela, puellae.
Ingenio facies conciliante placet.
Certus amor morum est: formam populabitur aetas,
Et placitus rugis vultus aratus erit.

English translation:

First make sure to guard your manners, girls.
With an accompanying good nature, your face will please.
The love of character is true: age will will spoil beauty,
and a pleasing face will be ploughed with wrinkles.

Braithwait explains the picture thus:

ACQVAINTANCE is in two bodies individually incorporated, and no lesse selfely than sociably united : two Twins cannot be more naturally neere, than these be affectionately deare; which they expresse in hugging one another, and shewing the consenting Comfort of their mind, by the mutuall interchoice of their Motto; Certus amor morum est.

Jeffrey Masten, in Textual Intercourse: Collaboration, Authorship, and Sexualities in Renaissance Drama (1997), offers other possible readings, including: "a secure love is a virtue" and "the love [that is, the conjunction or agreement] of desires [or wills, or mores] is a secure thing", but these readings are scarcely justifiable, especially in light of the context.

  • @brianpck Fantastic! Explaining the reference to Ovid is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for. I concur that Masten's translations are too far-fetched to stay. Masten does have a couple interesting observations about the double cartoon "bubble" and Braithwait's use of the singular in English. Maybe we can include something of that.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 16:12
  • @brianpck That's no "rough" translation—that's really good! Ovid-like in English, even. I just edited to remove the first-person wording.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 2:33

Education: Ubera et verbera

Braithwait himself explains on this page:

EDVCATION preſented with an ingenuous countenance, is inclosed with the ſeven Liberall Sciences; ſo many Portals being ſhadowed, on whoſe Frontispiece, each diſtinct Science is inſcribed; neere to the feature are figured Breſts and Rods: from which Adjunct he derives this Motto; Ubera & Verbera.

The breasts represent life-giving wisdom and the rods represent correction. (Source)

  • I'm following sumelic's lead and making a community wiki for the explanation of the deeper meaning that the literal meaning is intended to suggest, and why. There is surely more to the motto of ubera et verbera than I've collected so far. I'm pretty sure I've seen that motto elsewhere; it might be much older than Braithwait.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 14:59


--to his right a virtuous figure waves a branch (?of sweet laurel); to his left a mermaid with mirror and comb entices him off the path.

Virtute tute: Safely with Virtue.

but both words carry baggage; Virtus is the abstract noun from 'Vir' 'an adult.' 'Tute' is the emphatic 2nd S. pronoun, 'You.' So there is a sub-text; 'By being grown-up be (truly) yourself.' See more Ben Kovitz /questions/4238/nil-virtus-generosa-timet Virtus

Vox læta, sed anxia lethi. 'The voice is sweet, but plangent with oblivion.' (or/ mind-troubling with nothingness)

Mermaids Sirens, and, much later, Loreley, all distract sailors with their sweet voices, and lure them into danger.

Lethi is usually translated as 'death,' but it is one of the seven rivers of the underworld, and it destroyed memory; oblivion, blurring of memory, seems appropriate here with the Student about to be distracted from his studies rather than drowned on the shore.

The distracting influence is not always an animal-human chimaera. In Boethius, Philosophy shouts at a 'scarlet' Muse who inspires bad and depressing poetry.

" quis," inquit, "has scenicas meretriculas ad hunc aegrum permisit accedere, quae dolores eius non modo nullis remediis fouerent, uerum dulcibus insuper alerent uenenis?"
[H. R. JAMES, M.A archive.org translation]
And when she saw the Muses of Poesie standing by my bedside, dictating the words of my lamentations, she was moved awhile to wrath, and her eyes flashed sternly. Who , said she, has allowed yon play-acting wantons to approach this sick man these who, so far from giving medicine to heal his malady, even feed it with sweet poison ? These it is who kill the rich crop of...

And on p.17 in 'On the Same and Different,' an early work by Adelard of Bath, Philosophy and her seven nerds, get rid of Philocosmia with her five beauties, Divitie, Potentia, Dignitas, Fama, Voluptas all competing for attention. Adelard of Bath: Conversations; C Burnett Cambridge Medieval

Hic illa dextra in modestum turgorem elata,"Huncne etiam," inquit [Philosophia] "inpudica, venenis tuis michi eripere conaris, dum fallacias tuas et tegis nominibus et vestis exemplis? Set apud alios. Me enim praesente...

At this point Philosophy... roused to controlled fury, said, "Are you trying, you shameless one with your poisons, even now to snatch this one of mine, while hiding fallacies in terminology and dressing them up with choice gobbets. It might work with others. But with me here....."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.