The official seal of Middlebury College shows an open book, with simple marks for letters. The College’s motto, Scientia et Virtus (Knowledge and Virtue), is written on either side of the book. Around the edge of the seal are four abbreviated Latin words: Coll. Med. Virid. Mon. Their full form is Collegium Medioburiense Viridis Montis; in English, Middlebury College of Vermont. (The name Vermont is French in origin, and the Latin viridis mons is a translation; the English is green mountain. The University of Vermont is commonly referred to as UVM, from Universitas Viridis Montis.)
The author of the motto is unknown. The word scientia is formed from the verb scio, to know. The word virtus corresponds most literally to the English word ‘manliness’. It is derived from vir, the Latin word for man, and means the essence of being a man. For the Romans, virtus meant above all physical courage, but the word gained connotations of moral courage. English ‘virtue’ is derived from it but has unfortunately lost the root meaning of the Latin.
A seal is provided for in Middlebury’s charter (1800), the earliest known depiction is from an early diploma, that of Noadiah Moore, class of 1808:
Photo (c) by R.J.O'Hara; used with permission.