Ad astra ... but how?

Posted by Bob on January 29, 2002 at

In Reply to: Ad astra per aspera posted by Barney on January 29, 2002

: : : : : HELP !
: : : : : Can anyone tell me what the phrase "Ad Astar Per Aspera" means in English ? Even if you only know a part of it, please email me at Thanks!

: : : Ad astra per aspera means 'to the stars through difficulties' and is the state motto of Kansas ( USA ).
: : : More state mottoes in Latin at the link below.

: : "TO the stars through stars" means figuratively "Greatness is only achieved by surmounting problems."

: : Virgil wrote in _Aeneid_ Book 9:

: : Macte nova virtute, sic itur ad astra.
: : (Blessings on your young courage, boy; that's the way to the stars.)

: : The motto of the Mulvany family "Per ardua ad astra" (Through struggles to the stars) has become that of the Royal Air Force in 1913.

: The Royal Air Force did not exist in 1913 - its predessor was the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

: The following extract is taken from the Royal Air Force Website.

: "The Royal Air Force Motto
: "Per Ardua ad Astra"

: As far as can be ascertained, the motto of the Royal Air Force dates back to 1912 and the formation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The first Commanding Officer of the RFC (Military Wing) was Colonel Frederick Sykes. He asked his officers to come up with a motto for the new service; one which would produce a strong esprit de corps.

: Shortly after this, two junior officers were walking from the Officers' Mess at Farnborough to Cody's Shed on Laffan Plain. As they walked, they discussed the problem of the motto and one of them, JS Yule, mentioned the phrase "Sicictar ad Astra", from the Virgilian texts. He then expanded on this with the phrase "Per Ardua ad Astra", which he translated as, "Through Struggles to the Stars". Colonel Sykes approved of this as the motto and forwarded it to the War Office. It was then submitted to the King, who approved its adoption.

: The question of where this motto had come from can be answered by he fact that Yule had read it in a book called "People of the Mist" by Sir Henry Rider Haggard. In the first chapter was the passage, "To his right were two stately gates of iron fantastically wrought, supported by stone pillars on whose summit stood griffins of black marble embracing coats of arms and banners inscribed with the device 'Per Ardua ad Astra'".

: As to where Sir Rider Haggard obtained this phrase is still unclear although it is possible that it originated from the Irish family of Mulway who had used it as their family motto for hundreds of years and translated it as "Through Struggles to the Stars"."

: So now you know.

It seems to me we've got apples and oranges here. We all want to get "ad astra" (that much seems clear) but we're dealing with two different mottoes. If I have to choose, "per ardua" seems too arduous for me. I'll take the lazier "per aspera," since I can aspire without getting out of my comfy chair.