NCCPAC | Civics
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Great Seal of the State of North CarolinaNorth Carolina's state motto, "Esse Quam Videri," means "To Be...Rather than to Seem to Be." Although uncommon to the modern ear, the phrase has appeared often in the writings of antiquity, most notably in an essay by the Roman philosopher Cicero and then later in a contemporary account of the Roman Republic by the historian Sallust. Referring to Cato the Younger — who was well-known for his tenacity in fighting the entrenched corruption and arrogance of the Roman city-state — Sallust wrote of the great statesman "esse quam videri bonus malebat" ("he preferred to be good rather than to seem so"). Our state adopted these inspiring words as its motto in 1893 and they appear on the Great Seal of North Carolina, pictured here.