Trying for a pithy bit of Latin to echo "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

Carers as in doctors / nurses etc.

Sorry, to clarify...

My understanding / interpretation is that "who guards the guards?" is that it is a cleverly circular idea that you might have a population of civilians/prisoners who might have an army or guards looking after / guarding them, but that the guards themselves also need protecting, or keeping an eye on (in case they stray from their duty).

I am looking for an echo of this idea in Latin to end an essay. The essay is about difficult working conditions for doctors, stress, and professional burnout, and what I would like to get to is something like "who cares for the caregivers". It's not simply who is giving medical care to the medical profession, ideally broader about those who give care, could be family, nurses, doctors.

  • Although I think I understand your question (see answer below), it might be worth formulating it more specifically.
    – brianpck
    May 18, 2016 at 11:13
  • Please try to do some research of your own. This is not "translate my Latin for me", it's "I have a question about Latin, please answer". This one is a superset of that one, which makes the line blurry, but in this case it seems like you haven't even looked up "How to say doctor in Latin."
    – anon
    May 18, 2016 at 19:37
  • If there is no need to use the same root for both words (care and care-givers) AND you value using an attested sentence or a cliche, it is worth noting that medice, cura te ipsum is in Lc 4,23. It excludes family (stricto sensu) but encompasses a broader kind of care.
    – Rafael
    May 19, 2016 at 13:39
  • How about "those who give solace" as in "quis solatus ipsos solatores" .. apologies I never got further than "Cacelius est in horto" at school!
    – Saul
    May 19, 2016 at 18:28
  • That would work, though this word is more commonly found with the prefix con: Quis consolabitur ipsos consolatores?. May 20, 2016 at 0:55

2 Answers 2


If you need to modify the original phrase, here are some possibilities:

Quis medebitur ipsis medicis?

Quis curabit ipsos curatores?

Note that medicus has a more restricted sense than English caregiver, and a curator is more like a superintendent.

The more I think of it, though, the more I think you should just keep the original phrase: remember that custos has many extended senses, among which (according to Lewis & Short) a guard, watch, preserver, keeper, overseer, protector, defender, attendant.

  • Might be worth expanding on the limited sense of medicus in Latin, since that seems to be closest to what the OP is asking about? May 18, 2016 at 11:35
  • I went with Quis curabit ipsos curatores? as the closest I could get, thanks brianpck
    – Saul
    May 22, 2016 at 8:52
  • Quis servabit ipsos servatores?
    – Figulus
    Feb 24, 2023 at 1:15

I second @brianpck's recommendation of Quis medebit ipsis medicis, if you're talking specifically about medical professionals and medical care. My sense of custodire is that most of its uses are in the sense of protecting others from something rather than protecting the thing itself, so I myself probably wouldn't use the original phrase. (However, I'm only familiar with a small part of the literature, so I could be wrong.)

Another option, if you're looking for something more general than "Who will give medical care to the medical professionals?", might be Quis tuebitur ipsis tutoribus?: "Who watches over those who watch over?" or "Who protects the protectors"?"

Tutor in Lewis Elementary is defined in part as as

  1. a watcher, protector, defender
  2. [in law] a guardian, tutor, guardian of the person

and tueor as

  1. to look at, gaze upon, behold, watch, view, regard, consider, examine
  2. [figuratively] to keep in mind, regard
  3. to look to, care for, watch over, keep up, uphold, maintain, support, guard, preserve, defend, protect

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