- Annuit cœptis
Annuit cœptis (in Anglicized Latin pronEng|ˈænjuːɪt ˈsɛptɨs) is one of two
mottos (the other being " Novus ordo seclorum") on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. Taken from the Latinwords "annuo" (nod, approve) and "cœpi" (begin, undertake), is literally translated as "He approves (or has approved) [our] undertakings".
In 1782, Congress appointed a design artist, William Barton of
Philadelphia, to bring a proposal for the national seal. [ [http://greatseal.com/committees/thirdcomm/index.html Greatseal.com] ] For the reverse, Barton suggested a thirteen layered pyramid underneath the Eye of Providence. The motto which Barton chose to accompany the design was, "Deo Favente Perennis", "Enduring by the Favor of God".
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." [Papers of the Continental Congress, item 23, folios 137-139.] For Barton, Deus (God) and The Eye of Providence were the same entity.
In light of the fact that the theme "13" was included throughout both sides of the seal,Fact|date=July 2008 a month later,
Charles Thomsonamended Barton's motto with a phrase containing 13 letters.Fact|date=July 2008 The motto on the front of the seal (" E pluribus unum") already had 13 letters. Thomson suggested a phrase that was synonymous to "Deo favente" but with thirteen letters: "Annuit Coeptis".Fact|date=July 2008
When Charles Thomson provided his official explanation of the meaning of this motto, he wrote:
"The Eye over it [the pyramid] and the motto Annuit Cœptis allude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favor of the American cause." [ [http://memory.loc.gov/ll/lljc/022/0300/03490339.gifJournals of the Continental Congress, June 1782] ]
Hence, the motto and the Eye of Providence both alluded to the same reality. The
Eye of Providencewas commonly understood as a symbol for Godand destiny. Hence, Annuit Cœptis is translated by the U.S. State Department, The U.S. Mint, [http://www.moneyfactory.gov/document.cfm/18/120 The U.S. Mint] ] and the U.S. Treasury [ [http://www.treas.gov/education/faq/currency/portraits.html#q3 The U.S. Treasury] ] as "He (God) has favored our undertakings." (brackets in original). [U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs (2003). [http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/27807.pdf The Great Seal of the United States] . Retrieved October 22, 2005.]
"Annuit cœptis" and the other motto on the reverse of the Great Seal, "Novus ordo seclorum", can both be traced to lines by the Roman poet
Virgil. "Annuit cœptis" comes from the " Aeneid", book IX, line 625, which reads, "Iuppiter omnipotens, audacibus adnue cœptis". It is a prayer by Ascanius, the son of the hero of the story, Aeneas, which translates to, "Jupiter Almighty, favour [my] daring undertakings." According to the ancient state religion of Rome, properly called the " Cultus deorum romanum", Jupiter was head of the pantheon of gods.
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