Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

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tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito


you should not give in to evils, but proceed ever more boldly against them

This famous Latin phrase comes from the Roman poet Virgil, and his famous book, The Aeneid, which detailed the aftermath of the fall of Troy and then the founding of Rome. The line has since been repurposed in various ways which the poet could not possibly have anticipated – including as the mottos of organizations and cities.

From Ludwig von Mises:

How one carries on in the face of unavoidable catastrophe is a matter of temperament. In high school, as was custom, I had chosen a verse by Virgil to be my motto: Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito. Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it. I recalled these words during the darkest hours of the war. Again and again I had met with situations from which rational deliberation found no means of escape; but then the unexpected intervened, and with it came salvation. I would not lose courage even now. I wanted to do everything an economist could do. I would not tire in saying what I knew to be true.”

Mises is a controversial figure from the 20th century, who wrote extensively on economics and other topics. The phrase is the motto fo the Mises Institute, founded on his beliefs after his death.

The Bronx, New York, also adopted a variant of the quote as its own motto: Ne cede malis (“Yield not to evil.”)