Looking for a suitable latin translation for the phrase "There is no god above an awakened man" among latin quotes and text examples, I came up with these -obviously imperfect- phrases.

Non deus est super hominem illuminantem

Non deus est super hominem cogitantem

My main problem resides on finding a word for awakened in the same connotation of the phrase (more in the enlightened sense than the "waking up from a dream" sense).

The word god should be also more a generic term (like deity), not the name of certain exclusive god, so I don't know if deus is correctly used.

Can you help me?

  • 1
    Welcome to the site! You explain your question nicely.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 2:17

3 Answers 3


Like Draconis, I opt for a construction with nullus deus.

However, I don't agree with either him or Hugh on the verb: when praesum does vaguely mean "standing above" (it can be considered its literal translation, prae+sum), it really has the specific meaning of presiding over, or commanding, something - it can have other nuances, but these don't include that of being morally or socially superior to someone else. Instead, I would go for antecedo,-is,-cessi,-cessum,-ĕre.

In his Moral letters to Lucilius, Liber VIII, Seneca the Younger wrote:

Iuppiter quo antecedit virum bonum?

"In what is Jupiter superior to a virtuous man?"

To conclude, suscitatus,-a (,-um) was more often than not used with the meaning of "resurrected". At best, it is ambiguous.

It seems to me there is no exact analogue of "awakened", and illuminatus for "enlightened" was only used to describe elegant speech, prose or poetry. Within Church Latin, illuminatus assumes a connotation similar to enlightened, however its religious trait makes it uneffective for the message of your sentence.

I think Cicero gives us a great option (my highlighting):

[...] hoc primum intellegamus, hominum duo esse genera, alterum indoctum et agreste, quod anteferat semper utilitatem honestati, alterum humanum et politum, quod rebus omnibus dignitatem anteponat.

"[...] we first consider this, the fact that there are two kinds of men: one ignorant and rude, who prefers profit over integrity; the other, virtuous and refined, who places dignity above everything."

Wrapping things up, my translation is:

Nullus deus antecedit hominem humanum.

In other words, Man needs nothing but the wisdom to pursue what he can find in himself, to reach godlike virtue.

Note: I translated both bonum and humanum as "virtuous", but they clearly have different connotations. Plus, the juxtaposition hominem humanum better serves the purpose I explained above.

  • 1
    Thanks, I like a lot your examples and I think you got the message that the phrase tries to convey. And the use of the word humanum is quite powerful.
    – user3195
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 18:32

I disagree with Hugh's use of Dīs: instead I would use deus, a nice, standard word for "god" commonly used for the entire Roman pantheon. Praesum is a good word for "stand above", but I would use a more literal word for "awakened", and also change the phrasing: nullus means "not any one", like German keine, while nōn means "not", like German nicht. So:

Nullus deus suscitātō praeest.
No god stands higher than one who is awakened.


For god 'Dis', includes the ancient gods as well as the Olympian gods.

Dis, ditis (Lewis and Short) 'god,' collectively 'the gods.'

For "is above," supersum is not the best word; it can mean: be superfluous, extra. It might be better to try Praesum, -esse, praefui, to be above, to be superior to, (Lewis and Short) followed by the Dative. "is not above" non praeest.

In classical Latin illuminatus describes 'brilliant' rhetoric and 'illustrious' wisdom. But by 1700, the illuminati was the name for advanced students of various Gnostic philosophies. In the Dative, Illuminatis

If you want to dissociate yourself from Gnosticism, Prae-stans: (praestantior, praestantissimi) (L&S)

A. In gen. (class.). 1. Of persons: “omnibus praestans et ingenio et diligentiā,” far surpassing all, Cic. Tusc. 1, 10, 22: “usu et sapientiā praestantes,” noted for their experience and wisdom, Nep. Timoth. 3,

In Dative "in usu et sapientia praestantibus" or shorter, "in sapentia praestantibus."

  • 3
    I don't think I've ever heard Dīs meaning any deity except the lord of the underworld, and L&S seem to back me up on that (in Classical usage at least).
    – Draconis
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 4:39

Your Answer

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