Juvenal writes in Satire VI, VIII, line 20:

Nobilitas sola est atque unica virtus.

Translated variously as "Virtue is the one and only nobility", "Nobility is the one only virtue", "Goodness is the only and unparalled nobility".

I want to shorten that to "Virtue is the only Nobility". Would "Nobilitas est unica virtus" be correct? And could I shorten that further to "Nobilitas unica virtus"?


Yes, Nobilitas (est) unica virtus is a very good translation. Leaving est out is common, and Nobilitas unica virtus is very much in the style you would see in a coat of arms, for example. I recommend using the shorter variant.

Two small remarks:

  • The quote is somewhat ambiguous (as things often are): it could be "virtue is nobility" or "nobility is virtue". Word order and context can suggest which one is more likely, but grammar does not determine it uniquely. In this case the ambiguity does not seem dangerous.

  • The words solus and unicus are almost synonymous. Having them both adds emphasis. The English phrase is similar, as one could often say "X is the only Y" but "X is the one and only Y" is more emphatic. Removing solus simplifies the phrase but does not have a significant effect on its meaning.

  • Thank you very much Mr Joonas. Hats off to you again, Sir.
    – Johan88
    Nov 17 '17 at 2:31

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