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.

For other examples, visit HERE:



Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi 


What is permissible for Jupiter is not permissible for a cow

My first thought (once I remembered that in the Latin alphabet Jovi starts with an “I”)… is the “Jovi” in “Bon Jovi” a reference to the god Jupiter?

From Ancestry.com:

Italian (Sicily; Bongiovì): nickname from belgioìno belgiuì ‘kind of balsam’ (from the Arabic lubān ǧāwī ‘Java’s incense’) probably a metonymic occupational name for a chemist with substitution of bel(lo) ‘beatiful’ with b(u)on(o) ‘good’.

However… in Latin:

Bon = good
Jovi = Jupiter

Moving on… the idea that what is permissible for Jon Bon Jovi might not be permissible for you has been around a very long time. From wiki:

Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi is a Latin phrase, literally “What is permissible for Jupiter is not permissible for a cow”. The locus classicus (origin) for the phrase is the novella Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing (1826) by Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff, although it is not entirely clear that Eichendorff coined the phrase himself. In his play Heauton Timorumenos, Terence, a playwright of the Roman Republic, coined a similar phrase, Aliis si licet, tibi non licet (“to others it is permitted; to you it is not permitted”).

The phrase is often translated as “Gods may do what cattle may not”. It indicates the existence of a double standard (justifiable or otherwise), and essentially means “what is permitted to one important person or group, is not permitted to everyone.”

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