The Info List - Sic Semper Tyrannis

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Sic semper tyrannis
Sic semper tyrannis
is a Latin
phrase meaning "thus always to tyrants".


1 History 2 Usage in the United States

2.1 Motto of Virginia

3 Usage in popular culture 4 See also 5 References 6 External links

History[edit] The phrase is sometimes said to have originated with Roman Marcus Junius Brutus during the assassination of Julius Caesar on 15 March 44 BC,[1][2] 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.[3]

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[edit]

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.[4] During the Civil War, at least one regiment of the United States Colored Troops used it as their motto.[5] 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.[6][7][8] 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
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.[9] The phrase is also the motto of the U.S. city Allentown, the third largest city in Pennsylvania. Motto of Virginia[edit] The phrase was recommended by George Mason
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.[10] 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."[11] "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[edit] 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. In House of Lies
House of Lies
Season 3, Episode 2, "Power(less)," junior consultant Christy stabs her tyrannical boss, Monica, while uttering the full Latin
phrase. 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." In Venture Brothers
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.[12] 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". See also[edit]



^ 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 Times.  ^ "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

External links[edit]

Webster entry - a