Where does the saying "Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi" come from? My Google research was not satisfactory. Any book or article you know of that can guide me?

  • Does the answer given here satisfy your question?
    – cmw
    Jun 26, 2022 at 23:58

1 Answer 1


There is a Wikipedia article on that phrase. If it is to be trusted, the first known occurrence is in Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (1826) by Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff. The phrase can indeed be found in the novel; see chapter 9 or search for the phrase.

Terence had a similar phrase, but not quite the same: Aliis si licet, tibi non licet. Cicero also writes: aliud bovi, aliud homini. I think it is fair to say that the thought is ancient and known to the Romans, but the exact wording seems to be much more recent.

  • 1
    It does in fact occur in Eichendorff's famous novel, in chap. 9, end of the third paragraph: gutenberg.org/files/35312/35312-h/35312-h.htm Couriously this is not mentioned in the German Wikipedia.
    – fdb
    Feb 18, 2019 at 19:17
  • @fdb Thanks! I updated the answer to reflect that. It is curious indeed that it has no mention but the article is no stub.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Feb 18, 2019 at 19:25

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