Origin of To Thine Own Self Be True

This phrase is one of the countless famous quotes coined by William Shakespeare. In Act 1, Scene III of the famous play, Hamlet, Polonius says:
“This above all: to thine own self be trueAnd it must follow, as the night the dayThou canst not then be false to any man/Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”Today, these words of Polonius are pearls of wisdom by Shakespeare on living a good and balanced life.

You are watching: To thine ownself be true in latin


The Elizabethan era audience of Shakespeare was well aware of the meaning of his words, though in modern age, words like “Self” and “True” have different. In fact, this phrase implies multiplicity of meanings. The first meaning is that someone can better judge himself if he has done what he should or could have done. The second meaning is that one must be honest in his ways and relations. The third meaning is that one must always do the right thing. Finally, keeping in view the character of Polonius in the play, many scholars are of the opinion that ‘True’ meant beneficial; therefore, his advice to his son meant that he must think of his own benefit first.

Usage of To Thine Own Self Be True


Nowadays this phrase is widely used in context of honesty and commitment. Generally, people use this phrase when someone tries to cheat them. Bosses use it in their offices, lecturing their employees not to waste time, while parents use it to warn their children to refrain from keeping bad company. Service and production companies also use this phrase as a slogan, showing their commitment, dedication, and adherence to quality and standard.

Literary Source of To Thine Own Self Be True


Shakespeare has used this phrase in Act-I, Scene-III, lines 78-82 of his play, Hamlet. Polonius has spoke these words as a token of advice to his son, Laertes, at the time of his departure to Paris. He says:Polonius:“This above all: to thine own self be true,And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man.Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”(Hamlet, Act-1, Scene-III, 78–82)Polonius believes that a person can be harmless and good to others when he is financially sound. Therefore, he must be loyal to his best interests first, then take care of others. However, the modern age has given it an entirely different meaning, as it connotes the ideas of truth, self-ownership, and individuality.

Literary Analysis of To Thine Own Self Be True


Shakespeare uses irony and humor by masterfully presenting his characters, which speak high and act low. Polonius is one of those characters whom Shakespeare does not intend to present profoundly, nevertheless, he lets him speak as a scholar, creating humor and satire. Today, critics believe that the gaudy speeches of Polonius in this play are actually Shakespeare’s own maxims for living a good and noble life.

Literary Devices


Imagery: ‘Self’ and ‘True’ are parts of figurative language.

See more: How Much Is 150 Cm In Inches, Convert 150 Centimeters To Inches

Irony: In the play it is a piece of ‘irony’ on part of Polonius.
Related posts:Brevity is the Soul of WitFrailty, Thy Name is WomanLady Doth Protest too Much10 Examples of Irony in ShakespeareThe Fault, Dear BrutusAlas, Poor Yorick!Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender BeMy Kingdom for a HorseTo Sleep, Perchance to DreamHamlet Act-I, Scene-I Study GuideHamlet Act-I, Scene-II Study GuideSomething is Rotten in the State of DenmarkHamlet Act-I, Scene-III Study GuideHamlet QuotesHamlet SymbolismHamlet CharactersHamlet ThemesIrony10 Memorable Uses of Apostrophe by ShakespeareEt Tu, Brute?15 Irony Examples in Disney MoviesWherefore Art Thou RomeoFair is Foul, Foul is FairA Pound of FleshA Rose by any Other NameAll the World’s a Stage12 Thought Provoking Examples of Irony in HistoryOnce More unto the BreachDramatic IronySituational IronyVerbal IronyHeavy is The Head That Wears The CrownParting is Such Sweet SorrowStar-crossed LoversThe Quality of Mercy is Not Strain’dThere is a Tide in the Affairs of MenThat Way Madness LiesThe Winter of Our DiscontentTomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow11 Examples of Irony in Children’s LiteratureRomeo and Juliet AllusionRomeo and Juliet AsideRomeo and Juliet CharactersRomeo and Juliet Dramatic IronyRomeo and Juliet QuotesRomeo and Juliet ForeshadowingRomeo and Juliet OxymoronRomeo and Juliet MetaphorRomeo and Juliet PersonificationRomeo and Juliet SimilesRomeo and Juliet SoliloquyRomeo and Juliet ThemesMacbeth QuotesMacbeth ThemesMacbeth CharactersMacbeth MotifsOthello QuotesSonnet 73Twelfth Night QuotesTwelfth Night CharactersTwelfth Night ThemesHamlet