What is the proper English translation of "legum servi sumus ut liberi esse possimus?"
Is it "We are slaves to the law to make freedom possible?"
"Service to the law makes freedom possible?"
Or something else? I believe this is attributable to Cicero.
“Legum omnes servi sumus ut liberi esse possimus”, which is a quotation from Cicero’s oration “Pro Aulo Cluentio” (For Aulus Cluentius) literally translates as follows:
“We all are servants of the laws in order that we can be free” i.e. “ We all are servants of the laws, for the very purpose of being able to be freemen".
As you can see, the translations “We are slaves to the law to make freedom possible" and “Service to the law makes freedom possible” are a little bit approximate.
Please read more below.
-LEGUM (genitive plural of the noun LEX, 3rd.declension, meaning “law”) = of the laws
-OMNES (nominative plural of OMNIS) = all
-SERVI(nominative masculine plural of the noun SERVUS, 2nd.declension)= servants
-SUMUS (1st.person plural, present indicative of SUM, I am)= we are
-UT (conjunction that introduces the Final clause) =in order that
-LIBERI(nominative masculine plural of the adjective LIBER ) = free
-ESSE (present infinitive of SUM)= be
-POSSIMUS (1st.person plural, present subjunctive of POSSUM, I can)= can/may
As you can see,Latin word order can be variable because Latin is an inflected language where syntactical relationships are indicated by the ending, not by the order of words.