I'm trying to say "No one but [i.e. except] love provokes me with impunity." where love is a metonymic stand-in for the person I love. I hope it makes sense. (You can read it as a personification if it makes things easier.)

Here's what I've come up with so far:

Nemo nisi amor me impune lacessit.

This seems wrong, though. A little help?

  • 1
    As for nemo+nisi, it doesn't seem wrong to me, see Cic. Pis. 7, English, Latin. Is that your only concern?
    – Rafael
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 15:42
  • @Rafael Mostly. I As Draconis points out below, the unless/except ambiguity was also something I was wondering about.
    – mig81
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


As Rafael points out in the comments, the pattern nēmō nisi is attested Classically, though personally I would use nisi quam amō or the like rather than nisi amor. To use Rafael's example, from Cicero's In Pisonem 7:

…ut nemo, nisi qui mecum esset, civium esse in numero videretur.
…that nobody seemed to be among the citizens, unless they were with me.

Nisi literally means "unless", so it needs to be followed by a full verbal phrase. Your nisi amor is perfectly valid, as a shorthand for nisi quī est amor, but the full phrase sounds better to me.

If you want a word for "except" which is followed by a noun, I would use praeter. The "except" meaning is more common in Later Latin, but also shows up in Classical times. For instance, from Cicero's Letters to his Brother Quintus 1.1.5:

…etiam e Graecis ipsis diligenter cavendae sunt quaedam familiaritates, praeter hominum perpaucorum
And even from the Greeks themselves, certain intimacies must be carefully guarded against, except those of a very few people

Interestingly, praeter with this meaning can be either an adverb or a preposition taking the accusative. So for your sentence, I would say:

Nēmō praeter Amorem mē impūnē lacessit.
Nobody except Love provokes me with impunity.

  • While praeter can be an adverb, in this context I think it should definitely be treated as a preposition (praeter Amorem). Every example of nemo praeter in Cicero uses it with the accusative.
    – brianpck
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 17:11
  • 1
    @brianpck Fixed
    – Draconis
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 17:37
  • 1
    @Draconis Yes, I do think that praeter works much better. I hadn't even considered it, but it does effectively eliminate that ambiguity that I'd also been concerned about. Thanks for this! :)
    – mig81
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:29

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