_ANNUIT CœPTIS_ (/ˈænjuːɪt ˈsɛptᵻs/ ; in
Classical Latin :
) is one of two mottos on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the
United States . (The second motto is _
Novus ordo seclorum _; another
motto appears on the obverse (front) side of the Great Seal: _E
pluribus unum _.) Taken from the
Latin words _annuo_ (third-person
singular present or perfect _annuit_), "to nod" or "to approve", and
_coeptum_ (plural _coepta_), "commencement, undertaking", it is
literally translated, " favors our undertakings" or " has favored our
undertakings" (_annuit_ could be in either the present or perfect
* 1 On the Great Seal
* 2 Change from _Deo Favente_ to _Annuit Cœptis_
* 3 Classical source of the motto
* 4 References
* 5 Further reading
* 6 External links
ON THE GREAT SEAL
In 1782, Sam Adams created the third Congress and appointed a design
artist, William Barton of
Philadelphia , to bring a proposal for the
national seal. For the reverse, Barton suggested a thirteen-layered
pyramid underneath the
Eye of Providence . The mottos which Barton
chose to accompany the design were _Deo Favente_ ("with God's favor",
or more literally, "with God favoring") and _Perennis_
("Everlasting"). The pyramid and _Perennis_ motto had come from a $50
Continental currency bill designed by
Francis Hopkinson . (The note
can be seen here , and the pyramid portion here .) _ Barton\'s
Design with Deo Favente_ and _Perennis_.
Barton explained that the motto alluded to the
Eye of Providence :
"_Deo favente_ which alludes to the Eye in the Arms, meant for the Eye
of Providence." In western art, God is traditionally represented by
the Eye of Providence, which principally symbolizes God's omniscience
When designing the final version of the Great Seal, Charles Thomson
Latin teacher) kept the pyramid and eye for the reverse side
but replaced the two mottos, using _Annuit Cœptis_ instead of _Deo
Favente_ (and _Novus Ordo Seclorum_ instead of _Perennis_). When he
provided his official explanation of the meaning of this motto, he
The Eye over it and the motto Annuit Cœptis allude to the many
signal interpositions of providence in favor of the American cause.
CHANGE FROM _DEO FAVENTE_ TO _ANNUIT CœPTIS_
Detail of the U.S. one-dollar bill .
_Annuit Cœptis_ is translated by the
U.S. State Department , the
U.S. Mint , and the
U.S. Treasury as, "He has favored our
undertakings" (brackets in original). However, the original
not explicitly state who (or what) is the subject of the sentence.
Robert Hieronimus, who wrote a Ph.D. dissertation about this portion
of the Great Seal, argued that Thomson's intent was to find a phrase
that contained exactly 13 letters to fit the theme of the seal. On
the obverse was _
E Pluribus Unum _ (13 letters), along with 13 stars,
13 horizontal stripes (on the shield on back of the US $1 Dollar
Bill), 13 vertical stripes, 13 arrows, 13 olive leaves, and 13 olives.
The pyramid under the motto, _Annuit Cœptis_, has 13 layers.
According to Hieronimus, _Annuit Cœptis_ has 13 letters and was
selected to fit the theme. _Deo Favente_ had only ten letters.
CLASSICAL SOURCE OF THE MOTTO
According to Richard S. Patterson and Richardson Dougall, _Annuit
coeptis_ (meaning "favor our undertakings") and the other motto on the
reverse of the Great Seal, _Novus ordo seclorum_ (meaning "new order
of the ages") can both be traced to lines by the Roman poet
_Annuit cœptis_ comes from the _
Aeneid _, book IX, line 625, which
reads, _Iuppiter omnipotens, audacibus adnue coeptis_. It is a prayer
by Ascanius, the son of the hero of the story,
Aeneas , which
translates to, "Jupiter Almighty, favour bold undertakings", just
before slaying an enemy warrior, Numanus.
* ^ "
E Pluribus Unum - Origin and Meaning of the
Motto Carried by
the American Eagle". _greatseal.com_.
* ^ "Annuit Coeptis - Origin and Meaning of the
Motto Above the
Pyramid & Eye". _greatseal.com_.
* ^ MacArthur, John D. (2011). "Third Committee". Retrieved
* ^ "Third Committee\'s Design for the Great Seal - 1782".
* ^ Papers of the Continental Congress, item 23, folios 137-139.
* ^ Journals of the Continental Congress, June 1782
* ^ "The Great Seal of the United States" (PDF). U.S. Department of
State, Bureau of Public Affairs. 2003. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
* ^ Bureau of Engraving, _Currency Notes_
U.S. Treasury (2010). "Portraits & Designs". Retrieved
* ^ In _The Oxford Handbook of Church and State in the United
States_. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010]
* ^ Hieronimus, Robert (2005). _Founding Fathers, Secret Societies:
Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great
Seal_. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. pp. 111–. ISBN
* ^ Vergilius Maro, Publius (29 - 19 BC). _Aeneid_. Retrieved
* Richard S. Patterson, Richardson Dougall, _The Eagle and The
Shield: A History of The Great Seal of The United States_ (United
States; Department of State; Department and Foreign Service series;
Department of State publication, 8900). 1978