ne te quaesiveris extra

My most recent tattoo:

I drew inspiration from Emerson’s opening line in his essay Self-Reliance. It literally translates: No you seek yourself outside. More poetically: ‘Do not seek yourself outside yourself’ or, ‘seek yourself within’.

Quaesīverīs is the second-person singular perfect active subjunctive of quaerō. Or quaesīveris, which is the second-person singular future perfect active indicative of quaerō. Quaerō means: I seek, look for; I ask, question, inquire; I strive for; endeavor; seek to obtain; I miss, lack; I desire, require.

Some interpretations:  ‘Stretch your arm no farther than your sleeve will reach’, or ‘Cut your Coat according to your Cloth’

Many think it was a misquote from the Satires of A. Persius Flaccus, who lived in the first century AD: “… nec te quaesiveris extra” which means: “Nor look for yourself (what you can find only in yourself) outside yourself.”  “Be your own norm.” Others arrange it: “ne quaesiveris extra te,” or “nor ask any opinion but your own.” Pretor translated “nec te quaesiveris extra” from “do not try to correct the tongue of your delicate balance by applying it to a pair of ordinary scales.” That is, do not seek out the opinion of another beside yourself.

Essentially the message is, you find yourself by looking inwards, not by turning to the pedagogy and opinions of teachers and preachers and judgments of others.”