Labor omnia vincit

As U.S. Labor Day approaches, a bow to Virgil and the influence of the slogan Labor omnia vincit ‘Work conquers all’.

From the Wikipedia entry:

Labor omnia vincit is a Latin phrase meaning “Hard work conquers all”. The phrase appears in Virgil’s Georgics, Book I, in the form Labor omnia uicit improbus (“Ruinous work overcomes all things”). The poem was written in support of Augustus Caesar’s “Back to the land” policy, aimed at encouraging more Romans to become farmers.

A frequent motto within the U.S labor movement, the phrase is a historically significant slogan. Used by the earliest U.S labor unions such as the American Federation of Labor and other pre-cursors to the modern AFL-CIO, the motto continues to be a traditional and defining statement of purpose on contemporary labor union emblems including the International Union of Operating Engineers and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. The motto also appears on the original 1925 flag of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the labor union of African-American Pullman Company porters founded by civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph.

The entry goes on to lists many towns and cities, states, sports clubs, and educational institutions that have adopted the slogan as their own.

It might be that the short form of the slogan was influenced by another slogan from Virgil (from Eclogue X): omnia vincit amor ‘Love conquers all’. This appears, with a different word order, in the title of Caravaggio’s Cupid painting, Amor Vincit Omnia (illustrated here); and in translations into various languages in the titles of songs, books, movies, and so on.

I managed to juxtapose the two slogans in an XBlog posting (“Labor/amor omnia vincit”) this morning, about a Falcon Studios sale of gay porn movies for Labor Day: men at work on love (well, sex).


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