Sic semper tyrannis
Sic semper tyrannis is a
Latin phrase meaning "thus always to
2 Usage in the United States
2.1 Motto of Virginia
3 Usage in popular culture
4 See also
6 External links
The phrase is sometimes said to have originated with Roman Marcus
Junius Brutus during the assassination of Julius Caesar on 15 March 44
BC, but according to Plutarch, Brutus either did not have a
chance to say anything, or if he did, no one heard what was said:
Caesar thus done to death, the senators, although Brutus came forward
as if to say something about what had been done, would not wait to
hear him, but burst out of doors and fled, thus filling the people
with confusion and helpless fear.
The phrase has been invoked historically in
Europe and other parts of
the world as an epithet or rallying cry against abuse of power.
Usage in the United States
John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth (left) acting in Julius Caesar in 1864; the
following year, he supposedly shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!" after
assassinating Abraham Lincoln.
The Insignia of the 149th Fighter Squadron
In American history, John Tyler's father uttered the phrase to a
schoolteacher who had been tied up by Tyler and his fellow pupils.
During the Civil War, at least one regiment of the United States
Colored Troops used it as their motto.
John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth wrote in his diary that he shouted "Sic semper
tyrannis" after shooting U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14,
1865, in part because of the association with the assassination of
Caesar. The phrase was also in the pro-Confederate Civil War
song "Maryland, My Maryland", which was popular at the time with
Southern sympathizers in Maryland, such as Booth. The song, containing
the phrase, is now the official state song of Maryland.
Timothy McVeigh was wearing a
T-shirt with this phrase and a picture
of Lincoln on it when he was arrested on April 19, 1995, the day of
the Oklahoma City bombing.
The phrase is also the motto of the U.S. city Allentown, the third
largest city in Pennsylvania.
Motto of Virginia
The phrase was recommended by
George Mason to the Virginia Convention
in 1776, as part of the commonwealth's seal. The Seal of the
Commonwealth of Virginia shows Virtue, spear in hand, with her foot on
the prostrate form of Tyranny, whose crown lies nearby. The Seal was
planned by Mason and designed by George Wythe, who signed the United
States Declaration of Independence and taught law to Thomas
Jefferson. A joke referencing the image on the seal that dates as
far back as the Civil War, is that "Sic semper tyrannis" actually
means "Get your foot off my neck."
"Happy While United" was the slogan on a medal coined by the State of
Virginia in 1780. First envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, the medal was
minted and designed to be given to Indian signatories to the treaties
Jefferson planned with the First Peoples of Virginia. The medal
portrays a Virginia colonial sitting enjoying a peace pipe with a
Native American. The obverse portrays a variation of the Virginia
state seal of the state symbol standing triumphant over a slain enemy
with the legend: "Rebellion to Tyrants Is Obedience to God".
The phrase is the motto of the
United States Navy
United States Navy attack submarine
named for the state, the USS Virginia. Before that, it was the motto
of the nuclear-powered cruiser USS Virginia.
The phrase appears on the Insignia of the
149th Fighter Squadron
149th Fighter Squadron which
is located at Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Virginia.
Great Seal of Virginia with the commonwealth's motto.
Usage in popular culture
The English version of the phrase is alluded to in
The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski by
the character Wu, who snarks, "Ever thus to deadbeats" as he urinates
upon the Dude's rug.
House of Lies
House of Lies Season 3, Episode 2, "Power(less)," junior consultant
Christy stabs her tyrannical boss, Monica, while uttering the full
In Seinfeld, Season 4, Episode 24, "The Pilot (Part 2)," "Crazy" Joe
Davola cries out the phrase and then jumps off the stands into the set
in an attempt to attack Jerry. George asked Jerry what it meant; Jerry
incorrectly said, "Death to tyrants."
Venture Brothers Season 2, Episode 23, Henchman 21 botches the
phrase when battling Dr. Killinger, shouting "semper fidelis
tyrannosaurus!" Killinger corrects him, remarking that he actually
said "always faithful terrible lizard."
In The Punisher Season 1, Episode 9, the phrase is uttered by Lewis, a
PTSD-support veteran after claiming responsibility for a series of
bombings in NYC.
In the end of season 2 of The Last Ship, it was said by the murderer
of Dr. Rachel Scott.
In Timeless Season 1, Episode 2, the phrase is shouted by John Wilkes
Booth, after assassinating Lincoln and falling off the balcony in a
tussle with another man, he follows the phrase by saying "The South
shall be free".
^ Mitgang, Herbert (12 April 1992). "Booth Speech Reveals a Killer's
Mind". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
^ Mulvihill, Amy (13 April 2015). "The Fault in His Stars". Baltimore
Magazine. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
^ Plutarch, "Caesar", Plutarch's Lives, with an English Translation by
Bernadotte Perrin. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. London.
William Heinemann Ltd. 1919. ch. 67. On Line text.
^ "From Classroom to White House". google.co.uk.
^ "USCT Regimental Flag – 22nd United States Colored Infantry".
Jubilo! The Emancipation Century.
^ "Diary Entry of John Wilkes Booth". umkc.edu.
^ "TimesMachine April 15, 1865 - New York Times". The New York
^ "Ford's Theater Historic Site Visit". fords.org.
^ Kilzer, Lou; Flynn, Kevin (1997-12-19). "Did McVeigh Plan to get
Caught, or was he Sloppy?". Denver Rocky Mountain News.
^ Rowland, Kate Mason (1892). The Life of George Mason, 1725-1792.
G.P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 264–265.
^ von Borcke, Heros (April 1866). "Memoirs of the Confederate War for
Independence". Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. American edition, vol.
62. New York: Leonard Scott & Co. 99 (606): 462. Retrieved 21
August 2010. ...the coat of arms of the state of Virginia, bearing the
motto, Sic semper tyrannis, which the soldiers translated, "Take your
foot off my neck", from the action of the principal figure ...
representing Liberty, who, with a lance in her right hand, is standing
over the conquered and prostrate tyrant, and apparently trampling on
him with her heel.
^ The Punisher
Webster entry - a