Copyright William J. Bahr, 2019-2021
Thanks! “Yes!” especially on your translation of “exitus acta probat.” Per the
American Heraldry Society, George Washington’s family motto (Exitus acta probat!)
translates to “The outcome is the test of the act.” In other words, the real end
(not the aim) pre-exists in the means. In still other words, the end proves
whether the means were good or not. It doesn’t mean, as some would say, “the end
justifies the means.” That definitely was not in George Washington’s character.
More about Washington’s character at
Amazon.com: George Washington's Liberty Key: Mount Vernon's Bastille Key
NB. “Exitus acta probat” is
mentioned in Ovid’s Heroides II, line 85. Phyllis is a character
in Greek mythology, Greek mythology, daughter of a Thracian king (possibly
Sithon, Philander, Ciasus, or Thelus). She married Demophon, King of Athens and
son of Theseus, while he stopped in Thrace on his journey home from the Trojan
War. Demophon, duty bound to Greece, returned home to help his father, leaving
Phyllis behind. In these passages, Phyllis writes to Demophon, after he fails in
his promised return from Athens.
the common translation of the Latin is: “The event proves well the wisdom of
Word by word translation:
Exitus: End, ending, event, outcome,
result, outcome. Singular nominative (subject) (gender male).
Probat: Proves, shows, tests,
Acta: Acts, actions, deeds, means,
courses. Plural of accusative (object) of actum (gender neutral).
proves the means. The result proves the act (was done).
Magazine Vol 14: “The end shows the deed.”
is the test of the actions.”
Justice holds the traditional scales and
a book open to Washington’s motto: “Exitus acta probat,” which can be translated
as “Judge me by the results of my actions.”
shows the deeds.”
end proves the acts (were done)"
- Exitus acta probat.
- The end proves the acts (were done), or the result is a test of the
actions; Ovid's line 85 full translation: “The event proves well the wisdom
of her [Phyllis'] course.”
- Variant translations: The ends justify the means. All's well that ends
well. NB: the end does not always equal the goal.
is the test of the acts.”
The certificate pictured here was
presented to subscribers of the Third Liberty Loan, which was enacted on April
5, 1918. It depicts George Washington's coat of arms, which was used to design
the American flag, as well as his family motto, "Exitus acta probat," or "Judge
acts by results."
Original school motto Exitus
acta probat “The goal is worthy of the effort.”
Additional goal in 2000, “No Excuses.
proves the deed.”
“the result is the test of the
Exitus Acta Probat (“the result is the
test of the action”), was affixed inside the original volumes, Virginia
Libraries: Fred Smith National Library…. Beth Defrancis Sun
I have been able to identify two family
mottoes for Washington: Exitus acta
probat, meaning “The outcome justifies the deed”,
and Virtus sola nobilitas,
meaning “Virtue is the only nobility”.
Exitus acta probat (The outcome
is the test of the act)
“The result validates the deeds.”
“The result has proved the excellence of
Thanks. My research, more and more
extensive, leads me to believe that the proper translation of the Latin "Exitus
acta probat" (quote from Ovid's Heroides II, line 85) properly means "The result
is the test of the acts," or IOW, the end proves the means, or the result proves
the act (was done). There is in interesting story about how this phrase become
associated with the Washington's ancestors; am trying to verify. Am researching
this to update my book "George Washington's Liberty Key." LibertyKey.US
result validates the deed.”
The end proves actions.
"the result is the test of the
have any history of how the Washington family came by its "Exitus acta probat"
motto. Do you have a favored translation of it? Also, I discovered someone
saying that the family had a second motto: "Virtus sola nobilitas, meaning
"Virtue is the only nobility”. I'm updating my book "George Washington's
Liberty Key" and would appreciate any information you may have on the subject of
Washington mottoes and how they came to be. Thanks. Merry Christmas!! Sent 25
December 2019 https://sulgravemanor.org.uk/contact-us
correspondence to me, Kevin Troy stated: “My understanding is that one of
Washington’s ancestors was awarded some honor by the king for winning a battle.
Neither the king nor any of his lords were there to witness his bravery, but
they nevertheless had clear proof that the battle had, in fact, been won. Thus
“results prove the deed” or ‘the outcome proves the act.’”
Comment by "Commando"
Prior to reading The Prince, I had
heard of the aphorism:
The ends justify the means
This was Machiavelli's identifying line to
many people, and in my conversations with them, I got the impression that
Machiavelli meant the following: that, given an ends profitable enough, any
means, even a very immoral one, is justifiable.
Thus, I lived with this impression for a
while, until I actually read The Prince and got to the line in
question (at the end of Chapter 18). In specific context, its meaning seems
In the actions of all men, and especially
of princes, where there is no court to appeal to, one looks to the end. So
let prince win and maintain his state: the means will always be judged
honorable, and will be praised by everyone.
Reply/Comment by Bill Bahr
Thanks for the alert that
Machiavelli did not originate or even directly repeat the original Ovid quote
"Exitus acta probat." I was searching The Prince for it and couldn't
find it. Note, however, that, regardless of Machiavelli's intent in his book and
while many have translated the Latin phrase to mean "The end justifies the
means," others interpret it as "The end preexists in the means," while still
others look to Ovid's meaning in context: "The end proves the act (was done)."
For those interested, there's much more interesting info about the phrase
"Exitus acta probat" at
https://www.bahrnoproducts.com/Exitus%20acta%20probat.htm Thanks again!
Posted 4/16/21 at
Washington had two mottoes:
"Deeds not words."
God and my country."
family Latin motto: "Exitus acta probat." My own translations below are based
upon extensive research:
outcome is the test of the acts." or , perhaps better, "The end proves the acts
(were done)." Or even, "The end proves the means." Based upon Washington's
character, it is definitely not the common mistranslation: "The end justifies
End, ending, event, outcome, result, outcome (singular, nominative/subject,
Proves, tests (verb, transitive)
Acts, actions, means, courses (plural, accusative/object, neutral)
the 25 Magna Carta Sureties are Related to George
Washington Coat of Arms,
Selby Abbey, North Yorkshire,
https://www.amazon.com/William-J-Bahr/e/B01MTU22BW/ Or more at
Revolutionary War and
Strategy Amazon.com Book Reviews
Copyright William J. Bahr, 2021
William J. Bahr
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"No punishment, in my opinion, is too great for the man who
can build 'his greatness upon his country's ruin.'" — George Washington
"Arbitrary power [tyranny, dictatorship] is most easily established on the
ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness [lawlessness,
irresponsibility, anarchy]." — George Washington
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