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Seal & Motto

Philliips Academy SealThe account book of Paul Revere, the leading silversmith of the day and one of the iconic figures of the American Revolutionary War, says that on April 5, 1782, he received two pounds eight shillings from John Lowell, a trustee of Phillips Academy, to engrave a silver seal.

The central feature of the seal is a beehive, with an adjacent flowering plant (species unknown) and bees flitting between the two. Samuel Phillips, the academy’s founder, deemed idleness to be the most insidious and demoralizing vice. It is believed that the beehive symbolizes a group of industrious scholars in his academy. The unclouded sun above, with rays extending in every direction, may represent the light of learning shining out from the newly established Phillips Academy.

The mottoes on the seal are Finis origine pendet (the end depends on the beginning) and Non Sibi (not for self). Finis origine pendet, a quote from the Astronomic of the Roman poet Manlius, was probably chosen to stress the importance of getting off to a good start in life. The second motto, Non Sibi, may have been taken from the poet Lucan’s Pharsalia, in a line saying that Cato was born not for self but for the entire world. The message was consistent with the altruistic principles of the founders of Phillips Academy.

This seal and its mottoes have represented Phillips Academy well for over 200 years.


Alumnus Oliver Wendell Holmes, poet, literary leader, and doctor, wrote his 1878 poem, The School-Boy, about Andover.

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