Esse Quam Videri

Rick Ridgeway has become one of my favorite authors. He poignantly writes about the environment in his adventure stories. I recently completed Below Another Sky, his story about a trek to Tibet and China with Asia Wright, the daughter of Jonathan Wright, his close friend who died in an avalance on Minya Konka in 1980.

My favorite part of the book was when he spoke of the famous athlete, mountaineer, and friend/tutor of the Dalai Lama, Heinrich Harrer. Ridgeway and Asia Wright were visiting Lhasa on their trek, and he was teaching her another lesson on this journey. He told her how Harrer had a friend and climbing partner, Peter Aufschnaiter, who was not nearly as famous as Harrer, but he was more of a “pure adventurer.” According to Ridgeway, Harrer deeply admired Aufschnaiter for his “self honesty” and the Latin motto that he adopted as a young man: Esse Quam Videri or “To Be Rather than to Seem.” Those are sage words.

Interestingly, I found out that Esse Quam Videri has been adopted as the motto of the State of North Carolina and by many schools.

1 Response to “Esse Quam Videri”


  1. 1 waghormley 30 December 2007 at 1:26 pm

    “Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt” =
    Many are not so endowed with virtue as they wish to seem. Cicero “De Amicitia”

    Truly one of the most powerful expressions in any language, connoting integrity, moral and ethical coherence, and the integration of actions with words.

    The Berklee School of Music has taken it as its motto, which is the perfect embodiment of the concept. How many times have we seen/heard a musician who truly becomes and is their music?

    Thank you for this entry,

    Bill Ghormley


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