The state motto of Virginia is "Sic Semper Tyrannis,” meaning “Thus Always to Tyrants.” The motto was adopted in 1776, with the words symbolizing victory over tyranny. Virginia's state motto was recommended by George Mason to be incorporated into the Seal of Virginia during the 1776 Virginia Convention. Even though the words are Latin, the exact origins are unknown, unlike the mottoes of most states in the US.
One very unique factor of the state motto of Virginia is that it is thoroughly incorporated into the state seal. The state seal is circular, with a garland of flowers forming an inner circle. Within this circle, two figures actually act out the meaning of the state motto. The female image represents the Roman figure, Virtus, which is a figure of peace. The male figure represents Tyranny, who lies at the foot of Virtus. Virtus is shown holding a long spear, and the whole impression is that of a battle that has already been won.
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On the ground, beside the prostrate Tyranny, lies a royal crown. Tyranny represents Great Britain, and the image of Virtus standing victorious over Tyranny represents the victory of Virginia over Great Britain. Tyranny is shown with a broken chain in his hand, symbolizing Virginia’s victory from Britain’s hold on colonial trade. The words of the state motto of Virginia, “Thus Always to Tyrants,” are written underneath his prostrate form, giving the motto a literal meaning. Much of the design of the state seal is derived from Roman mythology.
Aside from the official state motto of Virginia, the state has several unofficial nicknames, including “The Old Dominion” in reference to the status of Virginia as the oldest American Settlement of King Charles. “Mother of States” refers to Virginia’s huge territory from which other states including Kentucky, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and West Virginia were carved out. “Mother of Presidents” is a direct reference to the fact that Virginia has produced as many as eight United States presidents. “The Cavalier State” is a reference to the entry of English Cavaliers into the state during and after the reign of King Charles I.
Other official state symbols include the American foxhound, which is the official state dog, the brook trout, which is the official state fish, and the cardinal, which is the official state bird. Virginia’s state flower is the American dogwood, while the official state fossil is Chesapecten jeffersonius, named after both the Chesapeake Bay and Thomas Jefferson.