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Nosce Te Ipsum or Nosce Te Ipsam?

by Anonymous

I've read a few of your posts as I am contemplating having 'nosce te ipsum' tattooed on my torso and I noticed that you instructed another person to use ipsam not ipsum when addressing a woman. As a woman addressing myself (through my tattoo), which term do you feel is more appropriate?


Dear Reader,

If you use the masculine word ipsum, the phrase refers to anyone, male or female. For generic advise, Latin uses the masculine for all people. If you go with the feminine form ipsam - which is NOT attested in any literature that I know - the phrase would then speak only to women. It would sort of translate to Know thyself, woman!

The masculine form has been around for centuries. The feminine form is correct grammatically, but it has no authority from Latin literature. Nevertheless, a Roman would have known exactly what it means! It's for you to decide.

Hope this helps, and thanks for asking a Latin teacher.



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